Category Archives: Conscious Eating & Living

Feast On Your Life At Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving celebration word cloudWe all have many memories of past Thanksgivings. If you are like me, some are fantastic and a few are not all that great.  When I was a little girl and life seemed much simpler, I absolutely adored Thanksgiving.  I loved playing with my cousins that I didn’t get to see that often.  Sure, the food was good, but it was the company that made it the most fun.

As I got older, some Thanksgivings had pieces of the usual family dramas that make the holiday more difficult—misunderstandings between family members, alcoholism, split family rivalries, and guilt trips.  Of course there were still many Thanksgivings filled with loving connections between friends and family and tables filled with amazingly delicious food.  Sometimes both of these types of Thanksgivings occurred simultaneously!

My best advice for facing Thanksgiving is this—make it the Thanksgiving you want it to be. Even if you find yourself around some people that you find a little irritating, you can make the day a success. The key is attitude, focus, and gratitude.  Let’s break those down.

  1. Attitude:  You can choose the attitude you want to have every day.  On Thanksgiving morning when you wake up, choose the attitude you want to have.  You can be happy or you can be upset.  It is totally up to you.  Remember to keep choosing your attitude all day long. Even in the face of sometimes difficult circumstances and people, you can be the person you want to be.
  1. Focus: Are you focusing on the things that you like or the things that you don’t like?  Our brains tend to focus on the negative and you have to rein it in to focus on the positive.  It can take some mindfulness practice to remember to focus on what you like, not what you don’t like.  Talk with your favorite Aunt Sally and don’t get into an argument about politics with your Uncle Harry.  Be present for the wonderful smells and tastes of Thanksgiving. Don’t worry if everything isn’t perfect. It’s called “life” and there’s nothing perfect about it. That’s okay!
  1. Gratitude: Since Thanksgiving is the holiday to give thanks, this is probably the most important point to remember.  Gratitude can help you have a better attitude and better focus.  By enumerating the many blessings you have in your life, you feel better and, the better you feel, the more you are able to see the positive instead of the negative.  When your mind shifts away from the problem and into what’s right, you can often find solutions to any problems that might arise during the day.  When you express gratitude to others and speak about gratitude, you might rub off on everyone else around you.  Positive energy is contagious and you might even get a grumpy relative to crack a smile.

For a little extra helping of gratefulness go to theses daily grateful living practice ideas.  Make your life a feast on Thanksgiving.  It can be a feast of right attitude, focus on the positive, and gratitude.  Then there is a lot to be grateful for.  The yummy food is just extra!

 

 

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A Mindful Halloween Meditation

Tick or treating is so much funYes, anything you bring your attention to turn it into a meditation—even Halloween! So, let me tell you a little story and share my meditation on Halloween.  Last year for the very first time I was struck by the irony of me giving out full size, sugary candy bars to innocent children as they paraded up to my door on Halloween.  I also was struck by the irony of me then thinking about taking the left over candy to work to perpetrate the sugary treats on my innocent co-workers.  These behaviors were ironic because I teach a mindful eating class which raises the awareness of the impact of loads of sugar on our emotional and physiological well-being.  And, here I was inflicting it on others because of Halloween. Continue reading

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Be Mindful of Your Day

FlowerPlanning a presentation recently, I decided I wanted to give people an idea about how you could spend a mindful day. These are the three suggestions I came up with that could enhance each and every one of our lives.

1.  At the beginning of the day, make a plan to engage in at least one activity that brings you joy.

2.  Choose the attitude you want to have throughout the day.

3. At the end of day, remember three pleasant moments you enjoyed.

Enjoy an Activity

How much of your life is spent doing something for someone else or just getting through the work of the day.  Each day make some time for yourself.  The activity can be something as simple as reading a few pages from the book you’re reading, listening to some music, taking a different route home to see something new, walking on the trail, learning something new, or having lunch with a friend.  It’s your life. The key is to enjoy it every day.

Choose Your Attitude

In the stress reduction class I teach, I tell people to take a slip of paper from a bag marked “choose your attitude” — referring to the attitudes of mindfulness.  It is one of the favorite things that people do.  One the slips of paper are the attitudinal qualities associated with mindfulness. They are patience, non-striving, non-judging, acceptance, beginner’s mind, trusting, and letting go.  You could choose one of these or you could choose to be kind, gentle, helpful, confidence, optimistic, reliable, honest, and happy. The list is endless.  It’s your life. The key is to choose how you want to be.

Three Pleasant Moments  

Pleasant moments are occurring all of the time and we miss them because we’re lost in thought—planning, remembering, worrying.  Don’t miss your moments filled with smiles, tastes, touches, sights, sounds, laughs, cries, nature, pets, children, spouses, and friends. Life is all around you with pleasures that abound. It’s your life. Be present for the pleasure that’s available to you.

~One of my pleasant moments today was writing this blog.  I hope it adds something positive to your life.

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Does stress make you overeat at work?

stress_eaterJack is sitting at his desk intently focused on his work. He is getting a little stressed because he has a deadline to meet and he has a lot of other work that is beginning to pile up.  Automatically, his left hand reaches down to the desk drawer that is filled with food in case he gets hungry.   Is Jack really hungry? Or, is he stressed?  Continue reading

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Just BE – 7 Tips for a Mindfulness-based Approach to Life

IDo you multitask your way through life? Do you find yourself constantly making a to-do list or planning? Do you feel restless if you aren’t doing something? Do you think you don’t have time to meditate or engage in other self-care? Do you eat to keep yourself busy or from being bored?  If so, then you may have become a “human doing” rather than a “human being.”

The art of “being human” has been lost in the midst of our need for entertainment, distraction, and constant motion.  In fact, I just asked the people in one of my classes if anyone felt their lives were too busy and every person raised their hand.  And, although everyone thinks they are too busy, if you ask them to sit and meditate or do yoga there is often a resistance to it. So, we have quite the conundrum.  I can’t “be” because I’m too busy.

Here are seven tips to help you become human again.  Try them on a regular basis and notice how you feel.  You can start with just one and work your way up. Each attempt to come back to sanity will be a healing moment for your mind and body. Continue reading

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“Fed Up” Shows How Sugar Is Killing Our Kids!

child-drink-sodaAnd it’s killing you if you consume a lot of processed food or sugary drinks.

I just saw the film “Fed Up” last night which was produced by Katie Couric and Laurie David (Oscar winning producer of An Inconvenient Truth) and I was very moved by it. It’s not like I didn’t already know that processed food and drink were a major reason for the obesity epidemic, but I had not been exposed to the dramatic rise in obesity in children and the impact that it is having on them.

Try watching a teenage go in for lap band surgery because he weighs 400 pounds. Wrap your head around the fact that 93 million Americans are affected by obesity. One soda a day increases a child’s chance of obesity by 60%. One 20-ounce bottle of soda contains the equivalent of approximately 17 teaspoons of sugar. And don’t think that switching to diet soda is going to save you. Artificial sweeteners trigger the same parts of your brain that sugar does and lead to sugar addiction and compulsions to eat and drink more.

The old paradigm of “energy in/energy out” that says all calories are the same appears to be wrong. The calories in an almond are not the same as the calories in a can of soda. An almond can actually help lower glucose levels in the body and the soda obviously increases them substantially. In other words, a calorie is NOT a calorie. Different food and drink products affect the body differently and set off different processes that either enhance our health and help us lose weight or diminish our health and lead to gain weight.

The emphasis of the film “Fed Up” is that sugar that is the biggest culprit contributing to the obesity epidemic. The use of sugar in almost all of our food products came about through a number of governmental decisions about how to subsidize the agriculture industry many years ago and any efforts to change this practice has met with powerful food lobby resistance. Even the Michele Obama campaign against childhood obesity got hijacked by the food industry giants and turned the focus to physical activity instead of the food that children consume.

To learn more about the movie and the campaign to save our health go to http://fedupmovie.com/#/page/home or take the Fed Up Challenge and see what it feels like to go sugar free.

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March into Spring at your Local Farmers Market

Herb BasketI’m getting excited because our Columbia Farmers Market is getting ready to move OUTSIDE for the spring! They hold the market indoors for the winter but spring starts Thursday and it’s time to move into the great outdoors.

No matter where you live, visit your local market this week and join in the fun of eating local and eating healthy.  Get to know your local farmers and how they raise their food.  Ask them questions.  This is a great opportunity to support your local community, support your health, see your friends or make some new ones, listen to music, and get some fresh air.  You are what you eat. Eating fair, clean, and healthy food will get you ready to enjoy the summer ahead.

The Columbia Farmers Market will be at the ARC (1701 W Ash St.) on Saturday, March 22nd from 8am to noon (March 22nd until October 25th). Get ready for spring, warm weather and the outdoor farmers market! In March they’ll have fresh vegetables, pork, lamb, beef, organic produce, chicken, goat cheese, canned goods, baked goods, eggs, fresh pasta, plants, seedling and tons more!!!Featured Entertainment:  River Ghost Revue Creek will welcome you on opening day!

 

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Food Label Makeover — Fat is In, Sugar is Out, and Calories Take Center Stage

new_labelAlthough not approved yet, the Federal Drug and Food Administration is working on changing our food labels for the first time in 20 years.  It will be a long process (2 years or more) before we would see all of the changes, but I think we are moving in the right direction.  Two proposals suggest the calorie count for one serving be much more boldly listed on the label.  Unfortunately, they are still going to make you do the math.  Most packaged items have more than one serving size so you will have to multiply the calorie count times the servings to know how many calories you are getting in a package.  And, knowing the amount of calories in a package or product helps the consumer (you and me) make mindful and conscious choices about our health.

Not too long ago I walked into a salad and sandwich shop that lists the calories on their menu.  I usually don’t pay that much attention to them and just order what I want.  But, that day I wasn’t really sure what I wanted so I asked the cashiers what they thought was their best sandwich.  Their eyes lit up as they told me it was the super-duper, extra cheese, all-the-works turkey sandwich.  Hmmm… Continue reading

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The right way to eat–easy, delicious, fast, and good for you!

cauliflowerThe best recipes for me are ones that are easy and quick to make, good for you, and delicious—my idea of “healthy fast food.”  So, when I find a new recipe that fits all of those categories, I have to share it with you. I first had this dish when I visited my niece, Sarah, in Oregon last August.  It was absolutely delicious but I forgot all about it once I got home.  Fortunately, Sarah gave me a cookbook  over the holidays (Gwyneth Paltrow’s, It’s All Good) and the recipe was in there.  I’ve changed it only slightly. I’ll give you my version. By the way, despite some of the negative press that Gwyneth got about this cookbook, the recipes are often quite simple, very appealing, it reads easily, and has lots of gorgeous pictures of food—my idea of a good cook book.

Roasted Cauliflower and Chick Peas

14 oz. can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces
Green olives (pitted) – approximately 3/4 cup (depending on how much you like them)
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea Salt
1 Tb.  Dijon mustard
1 Tb. seeded mustard
1 Tb. white wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup Italian parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Toss the chickpeas, cauliflower, and green olives together in a large roasting pan with 3 Tb. of olive oil and a pinch of salt.  Roast, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are beginning to turn brown and the cauliflower is soft.  (about 30 minutes)

Dressing: Meanwhile whisk together the mustards, vinegar, and ¼ cup olive oil with a big pinch of salt and a few healthy grinds of black pepper.  After the chickpeas and cauliflower are done roasting, take them out of the oven and toss them with the dressing and the parsley.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

I served the dish with some heirloom tomatoes and this made a nice meal.  Don’t forget, you can roast almost any vegetable in a little olive oil and salt and it comes out delicious! Be adventurous and make your own version of this basic recipe.

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When all else fails, check in with the wisdom of your own body.

imagesCAXK8S3UThe problem: Conflicting and confusing diet and nutrition information.

The New York Times had an article on Sunday entitled “Why Nutrition Is So Confusing” that I want to share with you.  It resonates with me a lot, because I teach a class on mindful eating filled with people who come in confused about what they should or shouldn’t eat because of all of the different and conflicting messages we hear and read.  I am sure they are not alone.

Even when you follow the research carefully, as I try to do, you will be left shaking your head in wonder.  There are studies showing success on many diets –low carbohydrate/high protein, moderate-carb, high protein, moderate-fat, Mediterranean, etc.  Then there are the lists of diets that “experts” have determined are the best.  According to U.S. News rankings, even the Slim-Fast Diet made the list at #6 this year.  Granted, there has been research demonstrating it’s efficacy in the short term. The problem is that we also know that most diets aren’t realistic over the long haul.  You go off the diet and then you gain the weight back. Are you really going to drink Slim Fast all of your life?  Even if you did, chances are you will also eat a lot of other things that will not result in long term weight management.

The solution:  Mindfulness of the Body

In lieu of waiting for the definitive answer on what to eat and why, there is a fount of wisdom inside your body just waiting for you to listen.  It may take some time for you to really hear what the body has to say if you have ignored it for a long time.  However, before too long you will be able to discern the food it does and doesn’t like for you to put into it.  When you eat food that it likes, you will have more energy and feel healthier.  When you eat the “right” amount, you will not feel weighed down.

When I started mindfulness meditation practice, I was shocked at the messages my body was giving me that I had managed to miss for most of my life.  The first thing I noticed was the chemical taste of Diet Coke.  I had been a dedicated Diet Coke drinker for years and, all of a sudden, I REALLY tasted it.  The taste was so unappealing I immediately stopped drinking the stuff.  Do you really think your body wants colour (caramel E150d), sweeteners (aspartame, acesulfame-K), caffeine, phosphoric acid, citric acid and phenylalanine (the ingredients besides water in Diet Coke).  Granted, I still drink coffee and get my cup a day caffeine fix, but without the extra chemical additives.

Fifteen years after that discovery, I’m still checking in with my body at every meal to see what it wants and how much.  Just today at noon, at lunch with a friend, I looked down and saw that both of us had left food on our plates.  Just because there was food doesn’t mean that we needed to keep eating.  We were both full.  We threw the rest away.  My body feels good this afternoon because it’s not loaded down with food I didn’t want or need.

Body awareness is a key component in the road to weight management. Any program or diet that doesn’t include this as a foundation is likely to be doomed. Start your body awareness practice right now by simply scanning your body from head to toe (with particular attention to the belly).  Spend even a minute in this way and you can begin to notice and release tension.  Done before you eat, you are more likely to discern what and how much you need.  Practice with all of the BASICS of mindful eating and find out what you’ve been missing about what you eat and drink.

 

 

 

 

 

To re-train your taste buds and your mind to listen to your body, start by using the BASICS of mindful eating.  Here is a reasonable road to weight management.  If you followed these guidelines alone, you would solve most of your problems with food.

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