Thursday, May 15, 2014

Lentil Spaghetti Sauce with Spaghetti Squash

Lentils beat out meat analogs any single day. Protein and fiber for sustained goodness, iron for energy, and phosphorus/copper/magnesium for strong bones. Not to mention, lentils have a pretty incredible texture that make them easy peasy to swap out traditional "meat" equivalents. Take for example my lentil sloppy joes. Another really great way to share the lentil love is in spaghetti formation...using them as the base in spaghetti sauce vs real or faux meat crumbles. I promise, the zesty, hearty sauce will have everyone scooping up seconds regardless of their bean affection.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

What is mindful eating?

Food is such an integral part of our society from family traditions to friendly gatherings and nourishment to pure deliciousness. Most of us are both blessed and cursed with abundant choices about what food we consume. Blessed that we can express (and usually satisfy) our likes or dislikes, but cursed having to decide among so many options simultaneously labeled “good” and “bad,” depending on who you ask.
See, when we consume food, we are also consuming information about that food. Information we’ve collected and then labeled for our purposes. These labels can be useful or limiting. If we, the media, our friends have labeled a food in a negative way, unpleasant feelings may be arise when that food is consumed. Likewise, if a food is perceived positively, it can create reinforcement for continuing to consume that food.

Through a practice of mindfulness, we can develop skills and the strength to explore the habits that challenge healthful eating. Mindful eating asks that we start to recognize physical signs of hunger versus turning to food for comfort, boredom, or one of the other many reasons we eat. If you’re eating from a craving that doesn’t come from hunger, eating will not satisfy it. And typically, this is when we reach for the high fat, salt, and sugary foods that increase our serotonin or dopamine (feel good) levels short term but can become habitual.

Mindful eating cultivates a healthy relationship with food. Mindful eating asks that we don’t ignore or pretend angry and uncomfortable feelings don’t exist. Mindfulness means turning toward them, even when it’s difficult. In time, with gentle curiosity, we can learn to be with overwhelming feelings of anger, sadness and fear that may typically result in leaning on food or alcohol.

Acknowledging there’s not a quick fix to healthful eating, begin by slowing down. Try taking one breath in and one breath out before each bite, slowing down and experiencing eating. Pause to notice the color, shape, texture, smell, taste of the food. These sensations are rarely experienced in day to day eating. You’ll be amazed how food becomes so much richer and rewarding when we turn on our awareness. Maybe you start to notice on the detailed arrangement of seeds on strawberries, close your eyes while cooking to let the aromatic garlic in, or the savor the refreshing crunch of a cucumber. By deliberately engaging your senses, you can bring a gentle curiosity to habituated and automatic eating behaviors. Then, you’ll be able to identify behaviors that no longer serve you and open the door to healthier choices.