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Archive for the ‘Food and family’ Category

warm-drink-786x524In the winter of 2005, I was a pre-doctoral psychology intern working at a college counseling center in a mid-sized town in the agricultural heartland of Oregon. I lived four counties away, and because we had a home (and pets) to care for, and my military spouse was recently stationed on the East Coast, I commuted a total of two hours each way. (Yes, it’s as crazy as it sounds.)

Each weekday morning, I left our home before dawn, after I’d fed our two dogs and given them time to play in the backyard. I tried to make a game of it – how mindful could I be of the rising sun? Too often, I’d find myself lost in NPR or my own sleepy thoughts, only to blink, mid-commute, at the bright sky. (more…)

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20190925_134730 (2)My fondest memories from childhood occurred around the dinner table at my grandparents’ house. In this picture taken when I was five years old, I’m visiting our “East Coast relatives” in New York City. My grandfather, a labor activist and steel mill worker, grew up on the Lower East Side, and my grandparents met in Queens, before they eventually migrated to the West Coast.

I remember how my grandfather loved to reminisce about the many diverse foods he missed from his old neighborhood. He’d laugh and slap his knee as he described his own father, a Ukrainian immigrant, peddling fruit on the street corners, calling out: “Apples! Bananas! Pears!” (more…)

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As I wind down the final month of my practice as a psychotherapist, things are exploding (in a good way) at home on our little farm. But rest assured, I’m hard at work growing the SAVOR Project, as well, and updates will be coming soon!

In the meantime, here are a few farm shots. I love playing in the dirt so very much. Some of these herbs will show up as plant starts in a future SAVOR workshop – maybe my Back to Food Basics, exploring food literacy through a variety of fun mindful eating exercises, in the fall?

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Sharing-meal-eating-habits_blogCheck out the NPR podcast, the Hidden Brain, interviewing a social scientist who has spent his career investigating our relationship with food.

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/618941407/619011338

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farm to plate WH photo

As farm-to-school programs, community gardens, CSAs, and farmer’s markets grow in number, more individuals are participating in and gaining an appreciation for the entire food cycle, from growing their food to procuring, preparing, cooking, and savoring it. First Lady Michelle Obama’s famous White House Garden will continue under the stewardship of new First Lady Melania Trump, who said: “Gardening teaches us the fundamentals in care and the evolution of living things, all while inspiring us to nurture our minds and to relax and strengthen our bodies.”

Here at A Mindful Meal, I’m not just a psychologist and mindful eating educator, but I’m also a cook, hobby farmer, and food justice activist. I love food from just about every angle, and part of my mission is to help reconnect you to meaningful experiences with food, too.

In the book Mindful Eating, Dr. Jan Chosen Bays, MD, a physician and well-respected Zen Buddhist leader, engages readers in an exercise she calls “Looking Deeply into Our Food,” which takes us through the origins of our food. Imagine the person who stocked a particular food item – a box of raisins, a loaf of bread, a carton of milk; the driver who delivered the food to the store; the farms that tended to the trees, plants, or livestock. Dr. Bays reminds us of something that is said before every meal at Plum Village, the Zen practice center founded by Thich Nhat Hanh: “In this food I see clearly the presence of the entire universe supporting my existence.”

Water nourished your food. Sun nourished your food. Soil and many tiny organisms nourished your food. Your food has a story, and a family; it possesses deep roots that likely go back hundreds of years. The seeds of  your food may have come from a landscape far, far away from your kitchen. Your food may have been grown, picked, handled, and delivered by someone who looks similar to you. Or very different.

We are united as beings in our desire to live, eat, and thrive. By fully showing up with awareness for our meals, we are honoring our bodies, the food itself, and the many individuals and complex systems that sustain us.

 

 

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girl-cooking-soup-ladle-home-47328087Yesterday I made an old favorite, Split Pea Soup with Frizzled Ham, from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook. More of an autumn gal, personally, I was thrilled by the morning’s cloud cover and seized the brief spell of cool weather as justification for a kettle of soup. Plus, I love this particular recipe – I’d heard Mark speak at the Schnitzer a few years ago when he was promoting his book and felt a certain affinity for the fellow food enthusiast.

Soup making is a ritual; one I’ve learned to treasure over the years. A way to slow down, savor, and fill up -not just belly, but heart. (more…)

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SONY DSCIs mindful eating a practice that is beneficial to everyone, or is it just for the wealthy, the self-indulgent, or the foodie few?

For a number of years, I’ve actively promoted mindful eating as a helpful set of practices which can increase awareness, pleasure, and balance in our relationship with food.  I believe mindful eating practices benefit everyone, and a growing body of research supports this conclusion. At the same time, I need to keep working on conveying a more inclusive message.

I haven’t explicitly addressed the reality that many women regularly face: a reality where they have little time for meal planning or food preparation, limited resources to purchase the foods that might be received best by their bodies, or little support in a life that already overflows with responsibilities to children, employers, aging parents or other family members.

tired-working-woman

The thing is – and folks, you’ve heard me say this before – it’s not just about meal planning or food choices. It’s not simply about willpower, or a lack of knowledge regarding basic nutrition (although we do sometimes hold some distorted beliefs about “good” and “bad” foods). It’s about how we approach our experiences of eating in general, and about our relationship with our bodies, as well. (more…)

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