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Here is Your Nutrition Redefinition

Feeding Your Mind Through Your Body

In this issue, it may appear that I am deviating from my personal growth theme. Yet I am curious how many people really know the importance of proper nutrition for their emotional states. What we choose to eat reflects back to us what we think about ourselves and how we value ourselves. If your body does not have the essential nutrients it requires, your mind cannot function at full efficiency.

Without proper nutrition you will be more susceptible to being tired, irritable, more easily overwhelmed, defensive, etc. You feel more unsafe, because your body and mind become more focused on survival, due to a lack of the nutrients needed to feed your brain and make it function properly. When you have the proper nutrition, you are much better able to handle things, see things more clearly, are far less emotional, and less likely to go into reaction.

There are multiple aspects to food that need to be explored so that you can learn how to directly relate what you eat to what you think and how you feel. With all the movements towards eating healthy and organic whenever possible, this is a prime time to better understand the role of food in your emotional health.

I am going to get personal here. I love food. I live for food. I am passionate about food. I would eat all day long if I could! Food is a big celebration of who I am and how I experience life. I have created a relationship with it that allows me to fully and thoroughly enjoy it, while respecting myself by what I choose to eat.

What is this magical relationship? Food allows me to use all of my five senses. It brings me into the present moment. I use it to nourish not only my body, but my mind, creativity and my spirit. I become acutely aware of the effects of the lack of it or when I eat poor quality foods. As an example, the combination of sugar and caffeine make me almost instantly irritable!

Don’t get me wrong, I love junk food, but only in very small quantities and infrequently. I think that over time people become somewhat immune to the reactions that their bodies have to food that is not nourishing. Needless to say health risks abound, but because poor food choices also affect your mind, this is why this is an important topic to bring up for my readers.

Rediscovering the Pleasure of Food

The vibrant colors and textures of what you are about to prepare to eat is nature’s art. Have you forgotten to see that? Nature is amazingly talented. What interesting shapes different food comes in. Stop for a moment each time and really look at the beauty of what you are putting in your body. We are in such a rush that we really forget to see what we are looking at.

When you touch foods, close your eyes for a minute and enjoy the texture wholeheartedly like a child would. There is a whole range of experiences and sensations to be had through touching. Stop and feel what it is that you are preparing, if only for a second. When you cut into something, watch it closely to see how it changes.

Pay attention to what you smell, bringing the item right up to your nose to startle it and to wake it up. Break it open, rub it, cut it, and notice how the preparation of that food changes your experience with it. Find adjectives to describe what you smell: pungent, fragrant spicy, strong, sweet, fruity. Involve your thoughts about what is happening in front of you.

Taste what you are preparing (within reason obviously for raw meats and such!). Take a little nibble here and there. When you are hungry your taste buds are on the hyper alert. It is as if you have tasted something for the first time. The flavors rush out to meet you. Take the time to notice and appreciate this.

Listen to the sounds of the food that you prepare and eat. Notice how in their different forms that they even have sounds. Every food has a different sound that we generally don't pay attention to when we eat. When you put something in your mouth, what does it sound like when you bite into it and as you chew it?

Get the Most From Your Food Experience

Mindless eating is commonplace in this society. Slowing down and becoming aware of how you eat is far better for your health. I have a challenge for everyone. Choose one meal where you are not rushed and can spend some extra time eating, making it a family game if need be and do a food meditation. Do this meditation as follows.

First observe the food you are about to eat. Take in everything you can about it visually. Think about how that food was grown and processed to get to your plate. Think of the number of people involved in getting that food to you. Feel appreciation for all involved. If you are doing this with another person, share your thoughts out loud with each other.

Pick up a piece of food very slowly, being aware of the muscles that move your arm from the moment it starts to move. Open your mouth and slowly place the piece of food in your mouth. Notice how your mouth anticipates the foods arrival! As you close your mouth and press down with your teeth, notice how it feels, the sensations you get from the texture of the food. What tastes hit your mouth first? How do you smell the food?

Chew the food at least 8 times, each time noticing everything you can about what you are eating. Swallow the food, pausing to feel the sensation of the food moving down your throat to your stomach. Imagine the muscle contractions, which carry the food down into your stomach. Wonder at the marvel that is your body, at its ability to take the nutrients out of the food, bringing you well-being and strength.

Repeat this process with each piece of food, putting your hands down in between bites. As you maintain this high level of awareness, you will also notice when your body has had enough. There will be a point where your body will communicate to you that you have given it enough food. It may be a strong feeling, or just a nuance of a feeling, but it will be there. Do you easily recognize it and listen to it or do you automatically move past it?

There are so many ways in which to slow yourself down when you eat, without going to the extreme of a food meditation each meal!

  • Put your utensil and your hands down between each bite.

  • Use chopsticks to eat your meal.

  • Focus on chewing as long as you can for each bite.

  • Speak out loud between each bite.

  • Look up from your plate and look around you before you take the next bite.

  • Pick up very small amounts of food with your utensil and/or take very small bites.

The more you develop your relationship with food in this way, the better you will feel, you will develop healthier habits, and all of this will affect other areas of your life in a positive way. If your body is happy, it contributes to your emotional happiness.

Honoring Yourself Through Food Choices

Every bite you take counts. Your weight = calories in – calories out. If you were to use a calorie counter for every speck of food that entered your body, you would be shocked at how many actual calories there are in your favorite foods and how quickly they add up. It is almost like a scare tactic to challenge you to do this, but it is a must if you are trying to lose weight.

When it comes to different tricks to help you with your food choices, there are suggestions that can really help you with your weight. Avoid carbohydrates at night. Eat them for breakfast or lunch. A salad, vegetable, and a protein will be more than plenty to fill you up at dinner and taste great.

You must have variety in what you eat. The body needs the nutrients from all the colors of the vegetable as well as from the fruit families. Aim to eat a different color every day. Put at least one new, unusual or not typically eaten fruit and vegetable into your shopping cart each trip.

You have heard this one so many times before, but please do limit the amount of white foods (including sugar) in your diet. Use trial and error to find products you like that have whole grains. White foods include pasta’s, breads, rice, pizza dough, potatoes (baked sweet potatoes are amazing!), pastries, etc. Do you remember ever making glue out of flour and water as a child (think paper mache). That is pretty what you are putting in your body!

White foods like these have empty calories that your body has to work very hard at to get rid of. There is a limited amount of calories that you can ingest in one day, and these empty calories take up very precious room. That short-term pleasure causes long term pain.

Drink water. Not sodas, sugar loaded sports drinks, fruit juices, coffee with sugar and cream, etc. If you must have juice, have it twice a week, 4 ounces maximum. Otherwise eat the fruit! If you can drink it, I personally feel that there is a lot of value in drinking milk for the calcium and other vitamins.

Whatever the portion size you eat now, make it smaller. Then eat more often. Having two small lunches a few hours apart fuels your body far more efficiently than one big one, which causes you body to over work. It creates stress in your body and mind to overeat.

For proteins, add more fish and seafood into your diet. Eat meat every other day if you eat it every day now. If you have meat for lunch, eat fish or seafood for dinner and vice versa. Again have variety in what you eat. Your body and mind depend on it!

Maximizing What Food Can do for You

Eat fresh. It is that simple. Eat fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, fresh starches, and fresh proteins. Almost all prepackaged food is processed in some way, even organic foods. Fresh/flash frozen is a okay secondary choice, as long as there are no (or minimal) chemicals added for preservation. 

The quality of frozen fruits and vegetables can vary wildly. If they are frozen and don't taste good, switch brands. Everything needs to be carefully checked for ingredients. If you are not sure about what you are looking at, make it a rule to choose items with the shortest ingredients list. But choose fresh over anything else when you can.

Find a local farmers market and make it a fun outing to go visit it, get your basics, and find new things to eat. Eat what is in season as much as you can for ultimate freshness and of course eat local. Ask for recipes for things you have never eaten before. Try new preparations for things you have eaten and did not like. You will most likely be pleasantly surprised.

Use websites like epicurious.com to find Quick and Easy recipes loaded with flavor. Read articles from Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazines online, get subscriptions, or find them at the library. They have a great “Eat This Not That” section for when you do eat out. Once or twice a month make big batches of food that you can freeze in smaller portions to enjoy over the next few months when you are busy.

Be careful of claims made on packaged foods. Low fat usually means that there is additional sugar added. Low sugar usually means that more fats are added! Avoid chemical ingredients. Sugar substitutes are all chemically created and are worse than sugar itself. Use honey, stevia, molasses, etc. Do not get fooled by the hype. Sugar free products are bad for you if they just substitute chemicals your body has even more difficulty processing.

Many people are pressed for time, which is why they turn to packaged foods. It is a vicious catch-22, the one where you are too tired to cook, so then you don’t cook fresh. But if you don’t cook fresh, then you will be even more tired than you should be. Cooking with fresh ingredients can be very simple and still be loaded with flavor. It is just another habit that you can learn to form.

Some small tricks are to use a higher quality sea salt instead of table salt. Different salts add an amazing variety of flavors to the food you eat. Regular salt just makes food salty! Use mixed peppercorns in a grinder for fresh pepper. Use fresh (or dried) herbs to add different flavors to your food. Use olive oil for sautéing. Deep fried foods should be an occasional treat at home and rarely eaten out.

Take care of your body and it will help take care of your mind.

If you want help with Your Nutrition Redefinition  or with any other issue, contact me to get The Help You Need. Right Here. Right Now.

Ewa Schwarz

OnlineCounseling.org

https://www.onlinecounseling.org/

Thank you for your continued support.


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