Friday, January 6, 2012

31 Days to Better Health - Day 6

*Woo Hoo* Today is my favorite day or the week. Hello Friday, I have missed you. Not only is it Friday but we are expecting temperatures in the upper 50’s today. Wow, what a treat for January! I woke up today with a big smile on my face anticipating a wonderful weather day and a gorgeous start to the weekend. I hope your Friday started off this well. :-)

I have been enjoying the recap of what we have done so far because I find it encouraging. Here are the tasks we tackled during the first 5 days:

Day 1 – Defined Success and What is/was Holding Us Back

Day 2 – Determined our Purpose and Looked at Passion

Day 3 – Listed Our Goals for January

Day 4 – Listed the Things We Have Needed to Work on for a While

Day 5 – Looked at Optimism vs. Pessimism and Fear vs. Intuition

How are you feeling about the posts so far? Have my words caused you to look at your life and your reactions to events in different ways? I hope so, I want as many people to learn from my life, and my mistakes as possible. The one benefit of be the ripe old age of 49 is that I have had plenty of time to make mistakes. Additionally you can view those mistakes as things from which you learn and grow or as just mistakes. Doesn’t it make much more sense to see your mistakes as learning opportunities?

Conscious Eating:

Today I want to talk with you about conscious eating. I am going to look at this from a number of different angles. The classic approach is to be aware of what you are eating so that you don’t eat mindlessly and I will discuss that. But first I want us all to look at what we are eating. Remember it is not a cliché that we are what we eat so the composition of our food intake is important.

First let’s look at what we eat. Please take out your notebook and jot down what you had for breakfast, lunch and dinner yesterday. List as many ingredients in your meals as you can. For example if you had a sandwich for lunch list what type and brand of bread, all the fillings, basically as many details as you can. Do this for all your meals for the day.

Second, next to each item on the list I want you to write, animal, produce/natural, or processed. Animal would be meat, fish, poultry, dairy, butter, and honey. Processed would be anything that came from a factory and has more than one item in its ingredient list, this would apply to bread, condiments, lunch meat, frozen meals (yes even Amy’s brand), protein powder, etc. Any item that didn’t fit in one of those categories would most likely be produce. If you think a category that I missed please let me know.

Third, now mark if these items were organic or not. If you don’t know because you ate out assume it wasn’t organic unless is specifically indicated that is was.

Finally, what was the country of origin of the food? Most of us aren’t used to looking for this information so you might not know. But this is important and as you become more interested in nutrition you will find yourself buying food closer and closer to your geographic location for a number of reasons.

Here is my list from Thursday:

breakfast: savory oatmeal
oats – produce – conventional - Ireland
nutritional yeast – produce/processed – ? Bob’s Red Mill - ?
oregano – produce – organic - US
paprika – produce – organic - US
spinach – produce – organic - US
mushrooms – produce – organic - US
raw pumpkin seeds – produce – organic - US

lunch: Ezekiel wrap with veggies and hummus
Ezekiel wrap – processed – organic - US
hummus – organic - ?
spinach – organic - US
broccoli – organic - US
pine nuts - ? - Turkey

dinner: brown rice risotto and salad
short grain brown rice – organic - US
nutritional yeast – produce/processed – ? Bob’s Red Mill - ?
truffles – produce – organic - Italy
shitakes – produce – organic - US
onions – produce – conventional - ?
garlic – produce – organic - US
spinach – produce – organic - US
salsa – produce – organic - US
cucumber – produce – conventional - US
avocado – produce – conventional - US

beverages: tea with citrus and cinnamon
green and white tea – produce – organic - Japan
fresh squeezed grapefruit juice – produce – conventional - US
cinnamon – produce – organic - US

Other than the Ezekiel wrap I did pretty well today. Admittedly I don’t usually eat Ezekiel wraps but I really wanted a sandwich-type thing and I had them in the freezer so I had one and I really enjoyed it I might add. I debated about whether to list nutritional yeast as processed or not, I think that one could go either way which is why I listed it in both categories. But overall I thought my list was clean and I felt as though I made good choices on Thursday.

You may notice that some of the items have a ? listed as my response. I tend to throw out containers that the items come in when purchased which means that I wasn’t certain of the country of origin and therefore left it blank.

I hope you also noticed that many of the items on my list are conventional. While I try to buy organic I will also buy conventional produce. However if I purchased meat or dairy (which I don’t) those I would only buy organic. The reason for this is that animal products contain much higher levels of pesticides and chemicals than produce ever contains. Remember that the toxins that the animal consumes are stored in its fat. Given how much food the animals eat in order to grow one can only imagine the levels of toxins that are stored in the animals. No you can’t trim the fat or skin and remove the toxins. All animals have subcutaneous and intramuscular fat. You can’t trim away the intramuscular fat. I wanted to point that since this was a topic of conversation with a friend of mine recently.

Now review the list you created of the items you ate. What do you notice? Did you know where your food came from, where it was grown, what was in it, and whether it was organic or not? Are you happy with your choices or do you think that you might want to make some changes now that you have looked at your list?

The next part of the assignment is to contemplate how our food came to us. Do you know the farmer or did your food come from a grocery store? Do you have any idea how the workers on the farm are treated? That is one of the benefits of buying locally and/or belonging to a CSA. If you eat meat and animal products do you know how those animals were treated and raised? This is probably something that you don’t want to think about but that is precisely the reason that you should be thinking about it. Many of us avoid thinking about things that are unpleasant because that way we can also avoid taking action.

Now let’s think about the reasons behind why we ate. Was it simply time to eat, like lunchtime? Were you physically hungry each time you ate a meal or was there some emotion driving you to eat? Many people eat to avoid feeling something that is unpleasant. Those feelings could be: anger, loneliness, boredom or sadness as well as many other emotions. If you aren’t sure if you were eating out of hunger or emotion ask yourself if your hunger came on slowly and built over time or it came on quickly. True hunger builds slowly but emotional causes of hunger happen fast. If you are eating due to emotions don’t judge yourself but be aware of it so that you can spot it the next time it happens. It is good to keep in mind that none of us can change what we aren’t aware of. Awareness is the first step to making any change.

Did you stop eating once your hunger was satisfied or did you keep eating until your plate was empty? If you aren’t sure think back to if you left anything behind on your plate. Lots of us grew up being told to clean our plates and we eat everything without ever thinking of leaving anything behind. I will talk about this later in the month and give you some ideas for how to cope with this if it is a problem you struggle with.

The final part of this exercise is to determine if you truly enjoyed your food. Most people in our culture eat too fast. They try to slip in meal time between meetings, errands, taking care of the kids or some other activity. However this means that they aren’t fully present to what they are doing which in this case if fueling their bodies. Have you ever eaten a meal and then not really remembered doing so? If you find yourself eating too fast that is also a sign of mindless eating. To remind ourselves to eat with awareness I have an exercise for you when you eat your next meal. I thought it was over the top before I tried it but once I was finished I had to admit that it was a very pleasant way to eat, though I will admit that I am not sure that I would do it with anyone other than my husband. Here is what you do:

1. Set the table with your favorite dishes and glasses. You might want to add some fresh flowers and a special cloth napkin. I played some very quiet instrumental background music too. If you normally watch TV or read the paper when you eat, don’t. Instead of being distracted concentrate all your attention on the food.

2. Plate your meal as nicely as you can and sit down to dinner.

3. Pay special attention to the food. Observe the following:
a. What does it look like?
b. How does it smell?
c. Is it hot or cold?
d. What is the texture?
e. Does it remind you of any food memories, like something you mother used to prepare for you?

4. Place a bit of food on your fork and bring it to your nose and smell it before you put it into your mouth.

5. Once the food is in your mouth put your utensil down. Notice the following:
a. How does the food feel on your tongue? Roll it around a little before you start to chew.
b. What is the texture of the food between your teeth?
c. Is the food hot, warm or cold?
d. Does it taste like you expected it to based on the smell?
e. Make certain to chew the food well, until it has no substance left before you swallow.
f. How does the food feel as it travels down your throat?

6. Place another bite of food on your utensil and repeat the process.

7. Pay attention while you are eating to whether your hunger has been satisfied or if you are still hungry. Stop when you are satisfied and but the leftovers away.

8. Now reflect on what this experience was like for you. Answer the following questions in your notebook:
a. How did this experience differ from your usual meal time?
b. Was the food more satisfying eating this way or was it frustrating for you?
c. Were you satisfied with less food than usual?
d. Did eating this way cause you to slow down?

I found that his practice made me much more aware of what I was eating. The flavors of the food were much more intense than usual. I also realized that when I ate this way I tended to close my eyes and concentrate on the experience. If you haven’t tried this exercise at least one please do. You may be surprised by the things that you notice. You can do this with an entire meal or just a piece a fruit. It doesn’t matter what you use just take your time and notice everything about the food and your experience with it.

If you want to share what this is experience is like for you I would love to hear it. I was surprised by how much I learned when I did this.

Progress on my goals:

1. Newsletters – spent 60 minutes on this Thursday and the first month is looking good. Soon I will be working on the second newsletter. *woo hoo*

2. Body Bugg – four days in a row wearing my bugg and going strong.

3. Date with Dan – Dan came home early on Thursday and we watched a meditation lesson before my webinar. Not a date in the classic sense of the word but it works for us.

4. Measuring calorie dense food – I am still doing this, and it is annoying me a little less. As a result I am adding more seeds and nuts to my food.

5. Working on my business – I spent 60 minutes focused on my new business which was very productive and made me happy.

Are you making progress on your goals? I continue to review mine each morning after I finish my reading and meditation and it seems to help me to stay focused. If you are having difficulty making progress on your goals try my technique of reviewing yours each morning. Alternately you could write your goals down and post them in prominent places around your house, in your car, on your desk, etc. Maybe you could make your goals your screen saver at work. Another idea would be to set an alarm in your phone to remind you to work on a task at a particular time. Keep trying different ideas until something works for you. If you find something that works for you please share the technique with others to help them be successful too.


Dan had fruity oatmeal with nuts and seeds again because we were out of kale. But since I made my way to the store for kale later in the day I don’t have to tell you what he is having on Friday do I? I love it that my husband enjoys healthy food enough that he requests it. You have no idea how far we have come. Trust me when I say that if we can eat a healthful diet anyone can do it. Less than 10 years ago I would have told you that we weren’t capable of being this healthy. It is so good to have exceeded my expectations by leaps and bounds.

My breakfast was a bowl of savory oatmeal once Dan was out the door to work. Unlike my husband I feel no particular need to have something sweet in the morning, or really any time of the day. I was never the type of person who craved sweets. However Dan was a huge sweets person and he says that after a couple of months of not eating them his cravings literally disappeared. I ask him about this all the time because I am looking for insight to share with those of you who are battling the dessert demons. According to Dan understanding the impact of eating the sweets made it much easier for him to avoid them initially. He went on to say that after a while the cravings disappeared and then he was fine. He thinks that smoothies, fruity oatmeal and strawberry and banana soft serve also helped him to get over his desire for sweets. I hope those tips help you.

Back to the food, my savory oatmeal yesterday had nutritional yeast, cumin, paprika, no-salt seasoning, garlic, fresh spinach, mushrooms and a little salsa. I finished it with a teaspoon of raw pumpkin seeds. It was delicious, if I do say so myself. ;-)

Lunch was one of my favorite comfort foods. I heated an Ezekiel wrap over the grate of my stove until it was hot and a little crispy. Then I smeared it with hummus, and topped it with spinach, broccoli and pine nuts. *yum*

Dinner was a truffled short grain brown rice risotto with shitakes. I added a little nutritional yeast for umami and topped the risotto with fresh parsley and walnuts.

To accompany the risotto we had a simple salad of shredded romaine, cucumber, avocado, salsa and no-salt seasoning.

After dinner I had a webinar while Dan relaxed with his little fur child. They were curled up in their favorite chair doing Sudoku. BTW I picked up a few tid-bits during this webinar that I am going to research and experiment with on my own. If they work for me I will share them with you soon.

Happy thoughts:

• It was wonderful to have the weather warm up so much today. It was in the upper 50s here so it was completely comfortable outside in a T-shirt when I walked to the store. This is a wonderful treat for us in January. Tomorrow we may reach 60 which I think will mean and boat relaxing time. *woo hoo*

• I got carried away again with the mindful meditation DVDs from The Great Courses. I am have finished watching 9 of the 12 hours in a just a few days. When I ordered this I knew I would enjoy the subject matter but had no idea how much. I can already tell you that I will be watching this over and over. The level of detail that the professor covers is fabulous. I have gained a lot of insight about myself and expect this to continue with multiple viewings at least for a while. I will review this properly once we are in February and I have more time. Additionally I now feel like I need to learn more about Buddhism which is a big step for a girl who went to a Jesuit college (Loyola).

• I am happy that I am learning to accept my perfectionism and disregard it. Earlier today I felt like I should turn off the mindfulness meditation DVDs and attend to my to-do list. However I recognized this as my drive to be perfect and consciously disregarded getting to my to-do list. This is a huge step for me and I was proud of myself for making the decision to disregard what I “knew I should be doing”.

• Dan called to tell me that carpenter repaired the teak door to the V-berth and delivered it to his office today. *nice* I can’t wait to get that reinstalled on the boat. Now we need to schedule a time to meet the carpenter at the boat so he can look at the woodwork and give us a bid on replacing some of the teak that is weather damaged in the galley.

• I am really looking forward to a little boat time tomorrow. With weather in the 60s it should be a wonderful day to sit in the cockpit, drink tea, talk to the neighbors and just kick back with our feet up. There really is nothing like relaxing on the boat.

• I love Fridays as you know by now. Needless to say I am very happy that today is Friday and that means extra time with my hubby. *woo hoo*

Signing Out:

Dan is on his way home from work so that is my cue to finish up this post. I was so involved in my mindfulness meditation DVDs that I haven’t even started to think about dinner. Nothing like planning on my part huh? ;-)

For those of you who want to know what is coming up for tomorrow that post will be an extension of conscious eating. Specifically the post will be about the Japanese concept of hara hachi bu.

I hope you had a wonderful week and have some fun planned for your weekend. Talk with you again tomorrow.


  1. I notice that you use a lot of salsa on your foods and I was wondering what salsa you use. Do you make your own? Do you have a recipe?

    I love your series so far. I love how it addresses the emotional reasons behind the way we eat rather than just providing us with a bunch of food rules.

  2. Unknown,

    I do you a ton of salsa, you are right. Without salt salsa is one way that I add flavor ourfood. I have modified a recipe from an old cookbook called "Putting Food By" which I make in the summer when tomatoes are plentiful. I will experiment with making my salsa from canned tomatoes to make certain that works, though it should. Assuming it works as expected I will post the recipe soon.

    Thanks for the feedback on the January series. I have long thought that we all knew what we should be eating and doing, but that for emotional reasons most people have trouble making it happen. I appreciate you letting me that I am on the right track. :-)

    thanks again,

  3. I hope you are enjoying your weekend and that your weather held up so that you get to spend some time on the boat today :-)


  4. Thanks Courtney,

    The weather is beyond gorgeous here today. It was 66 degrees earlier and yes we are on the boat now. It is very nice here this evening. You know us we are drinking green tea while I try to work on the post for this evening.

    talk with you later,


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