Monday, March 31, 2014

No One Does It Perfectly!

So how's your Lenten journey going? Or your spring cleanse ... Or your New Year's resolutions ... all aimed at eating healthier?

As long as we're doing as we always do, or thinking as we always did, things probably have not changed a whole lot.

Disappointing as it may be, there's a nugget of truth there. Nothing changes unless we really want it to, and that usually means leaving a part of ourselves ~ our ego ~ behind. Few of us consciously want to do THAT because it will probably be uncomfortable.

It's called growth ~ that level of transformation that finds us different today than we were yesterday.

Food can do that.

There's an alchemy that awaits when whole foods are allowed to work their magic. Well, it's not really magic; it's just what food can do. That's why food rituals have been so prominent a part of religious customs, because it was recognized that the body is where the spirit resides and the quality of the spiritual experience can be tied to what's going on in the body.

When we can get out of our heads and be present with what our body is telling us, we can usually make better food choices and actually feel the benefits.

Consider this: processed foods laden with sugar, fat and salt build up a level of toxicity in the body that can affect our level of sleep and our ability to focus, not to mention increased feelings of anxiety and stress. Switch to whole, high-fiber foods like fresh fruits and vegetables for a week or two, and you begin to feel the difference. You don't have to analyze it. When you feel better and have more energy, you know it's a good thing and you naturally want more of it.

Make it a daily practice to drink more water, eat more whole foods and add a 10 or 15 minute walk each day, and see what happens.

It's my mantra: healthy eating is affordable health care!


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Lenten Season Supports Mindful Eating

Lent is once again upon us, offering the opportunity to be more focused on healthy eating.

Most would associate this historically religious season with fasting and abstinence, a period when we "go without", while we eagerly count the days until Easter when the Lenten season concludes.

Framing it as a period of penance, we fail to see the advantages. 

But there are many.

Biologically, eating foods and drinking beverages rich in chemicals and preservatives gradually builds up a toxicity that fertilizes our internal environment for inflammation and illness.

However, even making slight, but consistent changes during this six-week season could be framed in the context of a cleanse.

For the most part, the guidelines call for meatless Fridays, and only one full meal a day, except on Sundays. Those who participate are also called to give up something they really like ~ in the old days it was TV or candy. Now it could be any of the many forms of digital entertainment, or a whole realm of junky foods we might regularly and mindlessly ingest.

The desired outcome, of course, is to become more in touch with our inner selves.

So while we might resist cutting back on all that stuff that tastes so good, but is so bad for us, we're delivered this golden opportunity to dial it back.

Our bodies are the temples where our spirit resides. To the degree that we clean out some of those pollutants, we enhance both our bodies and our souls!


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Let Food Be Your Medicine!

We're such a chemical soup!

If our interior ecology is off, we get sick. The challenge, of course, is to strike a balance. When that happens were pretty happy on all levels.

I say this because I have been reading about the effects of low healthy bacteria population in the gut, what I'm learning is the true "seat" of our health. If the bacteria is depleted, then fungus can take hold, and that can manifest as chronic sinus infections, skin problems, fatigue, moodiness, anxiety, insomnia... it's a pretty long list!

Using food as medicine, you can go about replacing all that bacteria (most often depleted by too many antibiotics) with the foods that promote it and eliminating those foods that don't. Basically, what's not good is any food that's acid-forming, so pretty much all sugars and starches. Some alkaline foods are on the list, too ~ all fruits except lemons, limes and cranberries.

That leaves vegetables, cultured foods (those packed with probiotics, or healthy bacteria), some seeds, almonds, herbs and herb teas ~ and that's about it. Dairy is totally off the list. Meat is acidic, but it's allowed if it is no more than 20% of your diet.

Sounds like about as much fun as a stair master, huh? That's what I thought, but I decided to try it anyway. One week later, I have to say it's been interesting, and not that difficult.

First of all, I don't have to ask myself what I think I'll have to eat. I've subsisted on mainly baked or cooked vegetables, almonds, and eggs or oatmeal in the mornings. Tea or water are about my only drink options. I've also added a good probiotic towards a healthier internal climate.

I'm getting lots of fiber so it's filling. Also, I'm not dealing with cravings for something sweet
to eat. I'm feeling calmer and more focused ~ unlike my usual compulsive self. The post-nasal drip I've dealt with for several years now is improving.

As a result of this frugality in the kitchen, I really appreciate and enjoy those social gatherings when I eat with friends.

I'll stay with this awhile to see what other benefits might emerge. I'll do as Hippocrates suggested and let food be my medicine!


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Holy Water

I'm sipping a glass of water as I write this.

It's my reminder that my first obligation is to nourish myself so that I can continue to do the things I need to do. It's the talisman I need these days to remind me that my health is my real 401 -K.

For all the cerebral inventory of what's good to eat and what's not, who among us is disciplined enough not to continue reaching into a bowl of salt and vinegar potato chips if it's sitting right there? It depends on how mindful we happen to be; in other words, focused.

But that's tricky territory, particularly in our US culture; where most everyone has some level of addictive behavior.No shame or blame intended here, because I equate "addiction" to "imbalance." We all experience varying spots on that continuum throughout our lives, depending on what's happening around us, and how centered we are in spite of it.

That centeredness come from the daily practice of reminding ourselves of what's important to us, and creating goals and strategies that support that.

Which is why I don't buy salt and vinegar potato chips. They might sit in my cupboard unopened, until something triggers my innate instinct to obsess or worry about something. Then I'm headed that direction to get some quick relief.

Of course, it's not really relief, but it sure feels like that ~ briefly, anyway.

That's because we resist emotional discomfort at all costs because something deep within us might change if we let those emotions and uncomfortable feelings wash over us. But feelings stem from thoughts ~ and thoughts are just, well...thoughts.

So back to the water. As I drink it, I focus only on the thought that I'm lucky to have clean water to drink, and that it's providing what my body wants and needs.

In this moment, I'm grateful; and in this moment, I don't need anything else.



Sunday, July 7, 2013

Want to Meet Your Neighbors? Start a Supper Club!

Our little supper club has been an interesting experiment!

We've nearly finished five of our six Tuesday night gatherings of the Redlands Village Supper Club, and the outcomes have been interesting. Just a handful responded, and it turns out that has been perfect. Everyone who's been there has been interested in good food and delving into and sharing various nutritional benefits.

We've met people we didn't know, the conversation has been positive and supportive, and the food has been absolutely delicious!

Last week one neighbor brought gluten-free chicken enchiladas seasoned with a scrumptious tomatillo sauce straight from her garden. Someone else contributed fresh tomatoes sprinkled with basil, and my donation was a red leaf romaine salad with sliced fennel and red onion, tossed with a homemade dressing of parsley, mint, olive oil, paprika, garlic and soy sauce.

The flavors were delicious in and of themselves, but I'm convinced there is the added alchemy of dining among friends that enhances the whole mix.

The other component was to walk 30 minutes five days a week with someone, to meet individual health goals.

One person shared a desire to loose weight and lower her high blood pressure, and so she and I have partnered over the past weeks at 6:30 am every weekday morning to walk a mile and a half through the neighborhood.

Last week she shared that she's lost nearly 10 pounds and her blood pressure is hovering in the normal range.

Food is medicine, to be sure, but encouragement and support are also essential for lasting health changes.

Try dining together with a few neighbors, partner for some walks, and see if that isn't the case!


Sunday, June 16, 2013

We had our first Supper Club meeting for my neighborhood.

Three people showed up, including myself. We enjoyed a very large spinach salad, mixed with other salad greens, walnuts, red and green peppers, walnuts, mushrooms, carrots and raisins ~ seasoned with a homemade mustard vinigarette. Some rosemary bread and some iced tea and we were set.

We talked about our health challenges and goals. Each person had the basic belief that food can do amazing things, but came to our gathering because they felt some group support would help keep them on a healthier track.

Everyone reviewed their current exercise regime, or lack of one. Two of us are partnering every weekday to walk 30 minutes a day (about a mile and a half) about an hour after sunrise.

This coming Tuesday we will each bring a whole food dish to share, and talk further about our challenges and our progress. 6:30 a.m. will arrive soon so I'm heading to bed!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Redlands Village Supper Club

I'm taking my food talk for a new walk...

So that I can "walk the talk," I'm starting a neighborhood supper club this month. I've invited residents of Redlands Village interested in improving their health to dine together on whole foods once a week, enjoy stimulating conversation, and applaud those improvements, however small.

While I firmly believe that awareness of our eating behavior is an essential part of learning to eat well, the support and connection with other people is essential, as well, because we all crave that. It may or may not happen in our homes around our own dinner tables. We seek it, nevertheless.

It will be fun to see who decides to join us, what new ways we'll learn of preparing healthy foods, the information we'll share and the friendships we'll make. And because we're gathering for such a laudable purpose, namely good health, I fully expect much good to come of it.

Exercise is part of the deal, and so each person will partner with a neighbor or spouse to walk our beautiful streets at least 30 minutes a day. We'll also drink more water and eat an apple a day. Everything else is optional.

So if someone has high cholesterol and high blood pressure, for example, I'm interested to see if it changes. I'm interested in finding out whether people notice that they sleep better, or that they have more energy. All or any of those things will show them that they're one the right track.

Who knows what else might emerge as a result of the little social experiment.

Our first gathering is next Tuesday evening over at Meadowlark Gardens Nursery. 

We'll see what happens. I can't wait!