C is for Cookie: May 2006

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Begin Again

I read an article the other day on the late Vanda Scaravelli and her method of teaching yoga. Vanda was well-known for starting yoga in midlife, and being amazingly strong, capable and flexible well into her 80s. This article spoke about a phrase she used commonly: "Begin again" to help her students try to surrender anew into each pose, to not be attached to their experience in the pose last time.

I think this phrase can be applied to so many other aspects of our lives, and I believe it's relevant to our relationship with food too. How many times have we felt we were on a downhill slope with our diet, and that it was all "going to pot"? That we had somehow ruined things by not eating healthy. We all have days where we eat what's too rich, too heavy, just too too much. Yet every next meal is a new start, a new chance to begin again and do what's right for our bodies.

I love the hopefulness of that phrase 'begin again'. It encourages a letting go of what came before, underlines the importance of this moment, and suggests an optimism about what is to come. Start fresh, make this time count, try now.

If we can remember these two words each time we sit down to eat, we can put aside feelings of guilt or remorse and focus on what we're going to give our body for fuel right now. It doesn't matter what we ate (or didn't eat) for breakfast, the point is that each new meal gives us a chance to reach our optimal health. Each time we eat, it's an opportunity to take in the vital nutrients our bodies need to perform well for us all day long. And with each meal, our journey to optimal health can begin again.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Guilt-free chocolate

Everyone has been asking me for more info on my guilt-free chocolates, and so since I'm waiting for my website to be built, I thought I'd put my pic of them up here. Aren't they cute? And the marketing blurb:

- sugar-free, no added or transfats
- diabetic-friendly: contains inulin
- contains Omega 3s

UPDATE: My new website is up and running! Please see www.chocolibrium.com for all the chocolatey details :0)

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Only Drugs Can Heal You!

...or at least that's what the FDA wants us to believe. Call me cynical - because I am! - but this news item with the FDA's assertion that green tea has absolutely no health benefits has I'm-in-bed-with-Big-Pharma written all over it.

I'm all for regulation of food, to ensure that all the world's people can have access to a basic survival necessity: clean, safe food. Those of us who've worked in the food industry know that food can easily be contaminated. But as more and more studies indicate that pesticide-free fresh foods are protective against modern diseases, the FDA's heavy dismissal hints at a more insidious story behind the story.

The only way to research food is finding serious funding to pay for clinical trials, long study periods and expert scientific analysis. Most foods items that are being studied ultimately come from farms, and few farmers have the money to pay to prove the benefits of their products. So companies with an interest in the outcomes of these studies are the only ones who can afford them, along with disease-research organizations. Very few studies get put forth and it's often companies (such as vitamin or sports nutrition manufacturers) competing with pharmaceutical giants who foot the bill to test the food components of their products. In this case, a large Japanese green tea company wanted to put some science behind what we've come to know as an obvious truth: drinking green tea daily helps Japanese people live longer healthier lives. But the FDA squashed their attempt, stating that after reading 105 articles on the matter, they could still find "no evidence to support claims of the beverage's health benefits."

I think the truth of the matter lies here in the article's final sentence: "A health claim, in the language of the FDA, characterizes the relationship between a substance and a reduction in the risk of contracting a particular disease." And what would happen, I ask you, if FOOD could be a factor in reducing risk of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer? Well, then people wouldn't spend so much money on drugs, they might spend it instead on food. And informed people wouldn't spend their money on processed food either because the real preventive and protective foods are foods our grandparents ate. Foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, legumes and grains that nobody but silly old farmers can profit from. What would happen to the economy if people stopped buying drugs, multivitamins, "enriched whole grain" Lucky Charms cereals and the like?! I'm sure Big Business is feeling faint just imagining such a scenario.

UPDATE: The FDA has just seen fit to approve a new drug for children to treat Crohn's disease, despite the fact that this same drug has been linked to an increased risk of cancer in some patients. Many people have been cured of Crohn's through dietary modification, such as the Specific Carbohydrate Diet to name just one. Once again, there's much less profit in hawking fruits and veggies than the billions of dollars that over-the-counter medications bring in each year.

When the FDA is so utterly unwilling to acknowledge the benefits of food, and yet so willing to play a role in pushing potentially harmful drugs on children it makes me leery to say the least. The FDA may exist to protect me from food poisoning, but they do not really care about me reaching optimal health. Unless, of course, their stakeholders can benefit from it in some way. Shrug. The truth is, I don't need their help. I don't need a scientific study to show me that eating a fresh orange gives me vitality and makes me feel good. A Dairy Queen Blizzard, on the other hand, makes my tongue feel happy for a while, but makes me feel bloated and twitchy soon afterwards. So I'm going to continue to seek out the freshest, most wholesome food for my diet because I know it is beneficial to my health. And the FDA can go to Hell. I hear the road there is paved with good medications.

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Monday, May 01, 2006

Are You Really Hungry?

Recently I've met a few people who don't eat very much, or very often. As someone who's either eating or thinking about food most of the time, I'm amazed by people like this. "Don't you get hungry?!" I asked them. Because to me, hungry people need to eat three times a day or more. Now, of course they do, but the way they deal with their hunger is markedly different from the rest of us.

What I've learned is that these individuals recognise their hunger and seek out food if they have time, or if busy they just put off eating until later. Eventually, they eat, but they rarely overeat, as many of us do when we've put off eating and are starving.

Sitting and eating with these folks, I see that they don't rush to eat food when it's placed in front of them, nor do they eat everything on their plate. They stop when they feel they've had enough. What I observe here is a very relaxed and almost ambivalent approach to food. They don't see their food as anything but something their body needs occasionally, and they rarely have thoughts such as "eating this will make me happy" or "I need to eat this or..." The most surprising revelation? These folks don't like feeling stuffed, so they make sure to stop eating before they get to that stage. "Don't like feeling full?" I ponder. "But it's like a hug from the inside!"

This is complete contrast to my own intense interest and occasionally anxious need for food. I think their style seems very foreign, but it has made me question my own.

From a physiological perspective: food is fuel that keeps us alive. We're programmed to detect when we're low on fuel and are motivated to seek out more. Once we've consumed enough to store some energy away, the idea is to stop eating, assuming there is a sufficient supply nearby for next time the hunger arises. Because, in times of scarcity we're programmed to overeat as a protective measure. Animals in the wild will gorge themselves on a kill, if they're not sure where their next meal will come from.

I wonder sometimes, if many of us have our internal hunger dials mistakenly set to famine mode. Could it be that the highly advertised availability of rich food around us, or the fact that most of us lead stressful lives makes most of us anxiously reach for larger quantities of food than we need?

I'm going to be asking myself this question a lot in the next few weeks: "Am I really hungry?" to bring my attention to times when I'm eating because I'm stressed or unhappy. Also, it may help me to better determine when I'm full. So I can stop and avoid the bloat. Hug or not, it's still a bit uncomfortable, like an unwelcome hug from an overzealous relative.