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Archive for the ‘Food and family’ Category

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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I came across this brief talk by Michelle May, MD, as I survey videos from various colleagues. She does a great job of exploring the Why/When/What/How/Where of out-of-control eating, and reminds us of the value of intuitive and mindful eating. Also, “nutrition should be a tool, not a weapon.”

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“Eat bread and understand comfort.

Drink water, and understand delight…” (Mary Oliver, To Begin With, the Sweet Grass)

Our relationship with food can reveal something about who we are, where we’ve been, or where we hope to head in the future; how we respond to hunger and our needs for nourishment, both individually and collectively as a culture.

Severalfamilymealtimes weekends ago, I attended a workshop for the first time at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, on the Oregon Coast. What a peaceful, scenic campus, set back in the hollow of an old growth forest. From their website: “By helping others discover more about their core creative selves and their connections to nature, the Sitka Center works to fulfill its mission of expanding the relationships between art, nature and humanity.”

The workshop I attended was on Sustenance and Food Writing; together, we explored published work by various authors, as well as past and current experiences with food, well-loved recipes, family mealtimes, and food-related travels. My fellow writers came from all walks of life but shared a passion for food, along with an equally thoughtful, poignant collection of their own work on this topic. (more…)

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As the mother of a toddler, I know how challenging mealtimes can be. Why not invite our young children into a more active (and positive) relationship with food, which might pique their interest, encourage healthy food competencies, and simultaneously decrease the frequency of mealtime power struggles? My 2 1/2 year old daughter loves “Soup Day,” a book by Melissa Iwai that we recently discovered through the Multnomah County Library, and she enthusiastically ate the soup that we recently created together on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  Seriously, ate it up, “green stuff” and all. We’re now scheduling a weekly “Soup Day,” beginning with the picking or shopping of vegetables, through the slicing, dicing (with adult supervision, of course), and stewing of ingredients.  Give it a whirl – this is a lovely opportunity for mindful practice with food, as well as quality time with our little ones.

This is just the first of many upcoming blog postings I’ll be adding related to the topic of mindful eating and the family. Reclaim the lost art of preparing and cooking our own food (without pressure, “should’s,” or expectations of perfection) and engage the whole family in this fun, nourishing experience. More to come soon!

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