Sunday, June 21, 2015

On Gratitude

Food is life. Food sustains life. I am grateful to have wonderful quality food I have access to which nourishes me daily and wish the same for all.  How can we all show our gratitude to the world for this nourishment everyday? It’s easier and more rewarding than you think to be mindful.

Cherish food. If we purchase and eat only what our body needs and enjoy every bit of it, you will be kinder to your body, your mind, your family, your wallet and more. When you think that food prices are too high, as is the cost of healthcare, consider the latest information from the National Resources Defense Council, released this week.

Waste occurs in all areas of the U.S. food supply from the farms to what doesn’t make it to your mouth.  In the U.S. alone, 40% of food is wasted, representing 20 pounds of food per person per month. American families toss about 25% of the food they buy. If this information is more relevant to you in terms of dollars and cents, we waste $1,350 to $2,275 annually for a family of four - that is up to nearly $200 per week.

The average size of a U.S. dinner plate is 36% bigger than it was in 1960.  Waste even occurs in what is consumed when we over consume leading to disease. Nearly one in three adults are obese and diabetes is on the rise. We want to be healthy by purchasing wholesome food but eating too much of the healthiest food is harmful.  Calorie restriction is one of the few proven routes to a longer healthier life. By eating less and wasting less, not only will we be more respectful of our resources but will be healthier but happier. That’s win win gratitude.

Almost everywhere I go - to the supermarket, a restaurant, a friend or family home, I see food being wasted and being fully aware of the labor that goes into providing that food - I know we can all do more. Is the food too ugly, is it not convenient enough, does it not taste quite as wonderful as it should in our minds, is it the information we are told by friends, family, educators, government and corporations, what we are not told or what we don’t want to hear? The simple answers are all available.

I’m sure if we knew better, we’d do better to stop, take a moment and be mindful for all we have. So I asked myself, are we simply hardwired to get the biggest, best feast and/or do we fear illness for that which looks less than perfect? Perhaps, we crave short term gratification. Perhaps, because we don’t think that what we do matters, and it’s not worth our effort as we skimp on higher priced food that is better for our bodies. I am here to tell you that what you do does matter to make a difference for your own health and for the health of others.

I promised you easier and more rewarding ways to show gratitude that benefits you. Because this topic is so important, I will continue to write on it with a realistic, fun, positive and actionable spin. Changes in the U.S. diet do not serve your long term interests well and truths will enlighten and guide you to better health based on the latest science.

Do you know that we actually make about 200 decisions everyday about food. Let’s make wiser decisions since we already think about food so often.  After much research in this area for many years, I know that most of the answers we seek are within us once we learn how to listen well to our own bodies, minds and senses as we are designed for survival. Will you begin to be mindful of food as a road to health by following the first exercise below?

Truths: *We eat on plates that are 1/3 larger than they were 50 years ago leading us to eat more than is good for our health.  *Humans adapt easily if we are not denying ourselves but rather gradually learning how much we need to satiate ourselves and feel good. *If you better align your actions with your values you will be more content.

MindSense Exercise: Let’s play a game so you are mindful of what you feel when you are eating.To get started, just notice what you do. All you need is two plates - a typical dinner plate you eat from (likely 12 inches in diameter), and one smaller plate that is about two inches smaller in diameter,  preferably 9 or 10 inches. There are no measuring cups or spoons needed - your body will be your guide. Eat on the largest plate for 2-3 days and notice how hungry you are to start on a scale of 1-10 with one being the hungriest you could ever be and 10 being the fullest you can image. Most of the time you will want to eat when you are a 3 or 4 on the scale and eat only until you are no longer hungry (a 5) but not at all full. The goal is to not let yourself get more than a little hungry. That’s how you win the game. Your brain will take up to 20 minutes to register how much you ate so stop eating before you are full. You never want to eat until you feel full because you will feel even fuller after a while.

Extra Tips: If you have a phone camera and think it’s fun, you can even take a picture of the full plate and another picture how much you ate was left on your plate when you were no longer hungry for a given eating occasion - meals and snacks included. If you want to keep notes you can record reminders about where you were, how you felt, what drove your desire to eat, how you portioned your plate. If you eat too fast, challenge yourself to count your chews and gradually increase your chews with each bite of food.
If you feel you are ready for a smaller plate based on how you feel and what you actually consume, go to the next smaller plate size. Of course, if you always finish everything on your plate or what is in front of you, you may need to help yourself along. Some easy tips are moving to the smaller plate after a few days and cooking or preparing 20% less and not leaving extra helpings in front of you.

Please comment on how you are doing. Share your challenges and questions. Find others that might  find value in a having a healthy relationship with food.   For now, just keep your focus on the first MindSense exercise above. Much more to come….


About Me

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First trained as a food chemist and nutritionist, my career began enriching a Twinkie, comparing the nutrition of a Twinkie to an apple and studying the role of sugar in the diet. With an M.B.A. and years in food and pharma understanding consumers and manufacturers, I'm back to where I started - food should taste great and serve to keep us healthy. To do so, there needs to be consumer awareness. Consumers need to vote for what they want by buying what they really want. If they buy impulsively, that's what they will see more of. They need to practice balance and responsible choices. That's when change will come. Please engage me with your conversation so that I can help you make and stick to better food choices that you enjoy. You'll gain a deeper appreciation of food not only from farm to table but farm to health. My vision is to promote solutions for healthful food and food practices you can happily embody and embrace!