Culinary Medicine: Eating Consciously

By Debbie Roberts , LMT

Culinary Medicine: Eating Consciously

By Debbie Roberts, LMT

People generally begin a new year with good intentions — often with goals to take charge of their health. A conversation with oneself may occur and sound something like this, "I am not going to let anything get in my way because after all I am important." Then something happens — it usually take about a month for people to abandon their goals and revert to their old eating habits.

Why does this happen? Well most of the time it happens because there isn't enough of a plan or awareness in place for this new lifestyle to take hold. It isn't just about the way you want to consciously eat less sodium, less fats, or less carbohydrates. It is about the way you consciously choose foods that are alive, as these will offer nutritional value not just a calorie value. It is being mindful of choosing foods that will help boost your immune system to ward off colds, the flu, or other diseases.

Your View of Food

The other thing that needs to be considered is what view or choices got you into a poor state of health to begin with. Have you ever considered how you view food? Do you view food as a friend of comfort when things don't go right, a friend of necessity when you need a boost of energy, or a friend of survival just grabbing anything at that moment to fill a void? Conscious eating can become a way of life, not just a temporary destination set by an obscure goal once a year.

This is why I am sharing Tina's story with you, so you can see it's possible to regain your health and vitality. This is not an altered picture, but an altered human being. Remember just like in massage therapy there are hundreds of methods and not every one of them works on every client. Therefore, understanding the principle behind the method is how we know which and what method to choose for the client. The same is true with diets, there are hundreds of methods for weight loss but weight loss without understanding the principles of health is really a waste of time.

Changing the outlook

Tina, a past client of mine, gave me permission to share her story because it's her mission to help others who face the same struggle with food. Over 10 years ago Tina was battling obesity, high blood pressure and low energy. She owned a catering business with her husband and although they were taking care of their customers they were not taking care of themselves. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Then tragedy struck, her husband had a fatal heart attack. He had been battling weight gain and high blood pressure because of their combined dietary choices. It was a walk-up call for her to change her lifestyle. She quit the catering business and hired me and a friend of mine to launch her personal training program — along with a new life.

Having over 130 pounds to lose, I knew it was going to be tough. Most people can take the steps to lose the first 10 pounds, but lack the commitment to making their dietary habits a priority for the long haul. Tina had witnessed firsthand that her health had to become a priority, so her motivation was high. She told to me that neither she, nor her husband really ever considered what they were eating or why.

As our journey began my first step was to find out what she knew about making conscious eating choices. Answer, nothing. Every training session we talked a lot about her culinary choices, what nutritional value the food she ate offered her, the difference in healthy carbohydrates, unhealthy carbohydrates, seasonal eating, fiber content, eating for blood sugar levels and less brain fog, etc.

Unfortunately, there is no magic pill, but by changing your food philosophy you can begin to eat appropriately for your individual energy demands. Food in, food used as fuel, and food (waste products) out. Ask yourself if you are disconnected from the foods you are choosing to eat.

Tips for Conscious Eating

  • Eat when you are actually hungry — there is a difference between physical hunger and emotional eating, stress eating, eating from boredom, or like some programs that promote timed-eating. You can practice recognizing physiological hunger by just stopping and asking a simple question why are you reaching for food right now.
  • Slow down when you eat — digestion begins in the mouth with chewing your food thoroughly. The taste buds are on your tongue not in your stomach! This may mean chewing it 10 or 30 times.
  • Stop depriving yourself — skipping meals, low caloric intake, lack of fiber can all lead to binge eating.
  • Create an inviting environment — clear off the table, put down the book, turn off the TV, get away from the computer, put down the phone, get out of the car, sit down, eat with a friend or family member, add candles or flowers to the table and enjoy your food.
  • Stop when you are full — just like hunger, you can practice recognizing fullness. You don't have to be a member of the "momma told me to clean my plate club."

Food affects the body, mind and spirit. As holistic practitioners we need to study the effects of food as a source of healing medicine. Help yourself and your clients discover what "Mother Nature" has to offer and not what man has provided as a substitute.