Mindful Eating

MINDFUL EATING

So often we eat mindlessly. We stuff food in while working on our computer, watching TV, or on the run. The pleasure of eating lies in slowing down and fully experiencing all elements of food. Take some time to explore each of the following during your next meal:

Sight: In many cultures, the aesthetics is just as important as the taste. Take a moment to recognize the art in food.

Smell: Bring the food up to your nose. Without naming the scent, experience smelling the food, then describe what you smell.

Physiological reaction: Now focus on what is going on in your mouth. Begin to notice that saliva happens, even though you haven’t put the food in your mouth. You’re noticing a mind/body phenomenon the senses responding to the anticipation that something’s going to be eaten.

Touch: Now explore how the food feels. Without naming the feeling, just experience touching your food.

Motion and movement:  How is it that your hand actually knows how to get the food to the lips, without going past the face altogether? As you bring the food up to your lips, notice what happens next. The mouth receives the food. Nothing goes into the mouth without it being received. And who or what is doing the receiving? The tongue. Now watch what the tongue does with it. How does it get the food between the teeth? It’s amazing that the tongue is so skilled, such a remarkable muscle that it can actually receive food and then keep it between the teeth.

Taste: After becoming aware of the food in your mouth, start biting into it, very slowly. Then begin to chew. Notice that the tongue decides which side of the mouth it’s going to chew on. Give all your attention to your mouth and take a few bites. Then stop to experience what’s happening. And what’s happening is invariably an explosion of hundreds of words that describe the experience called tasting.

Texture: As you continue to chew, the taste changes. And so does the consistency. At a certain point you will become aware of the texture of the food because the taste has mostly passed. The texture becomes a bit aversive and you may want to swallow it.

Swallowing: Don’t swallow it yet. Stay with the aversion, as well as the impatience and the inborn impulse to swallow. Do not swallow until you detect the impulse to do so. And then observe what is involved in actually getting the food over to the place where it’s going to be swallowed. When you detect the impulse to swallow, follow it down into the stomach, feel your whole body and acknowledge that your body is now exactly one bite heavier.

Breath: Next, after a pause for a moment or two, see if you can taste your breath in a similar way. Bring the same quality of attention that you gave to seeing the food, feeling the food, smelling the food, tasting the food to the breath.

Silence: Then, drop into silence. By this point, you understand something of what meditation is. It’s doing what we do all the time, except we’re doing it with attention: directed, moment-to-moment, non-judgmental attention.

The main thing is to have fun, learn something and understand yourself better.  Here is a check list that will help get you going:

Mindful Eating Checklist

*Make eating an act all by itself.

*Be aware of the types of conversation you are having with others while you eat.

*Do not eat when upset.

*Eat while you are sitting down, this does not mean sitting in a car and driving.

*Check in and see how hungry you are before starting.

*Sit in silence a minute before you begin eating.

*Imagine the food you are going to eat before you eat and see how it feels in your body.

*Do not gulp down your food savor each mouthful and chew well before you swallow.

*Do not eat until you are overly full. Leave some room in your stomach to enhance digestion.

*After you are done notice how the food you just ate is making your body feel.

~BON APPETIT ~

 

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YOUR MIND! OPT TO OBSERVE IT

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How often throughout our busy workday do we genuinely observe where our mind naturally wanders?  Does it take us into a state of fantasy? humor? stress? fear?  More importantly – do we like where we end up..  The beauty of pausing to recognize what emotional state our mind brings us into, is that we might also realize the choice is actually ours, not our minds.  The power of choice when it comes to our thoughts is just as (or perhaps more) important as where we choose to spend our time and with whom.  Once we can harness our minds as a true tool, we can free ourselves of emotional states that do not serve us.  

So today I invite you to take 5 minutes for observation.  Follow your mind, where does it lead you? Do you like what you see?  

NOT HAPPY WITH WHERE YOUR THOUGHTS TOOK YOU?  

Rather than our minds being the boss, we can start to master our own minds.  It is key to listen, get to know your thought tendencies, acknowledge the underlying messages, make peace with your thoughts and retrain where/when needed.  Remember to always maintain an attitude of compassion when approaching thought control, our minds have downloaded years of information from our environment and experiences.

Below are six tips that might help you land in a more desirable place:

TIP 1:  LISTEN AND UNDERSTAND

Our thoughts are just like people, they have a need to be listened to and understood.  Before we can shift our thoughts, we have to listen to and acknowledge them.  Once our minds know we are paying attention to them, they can relax and let us guide them in a different direction.  We might even initially thank our minds for reminding ourselves to not repeat mistakes from our past.

TIP 2: BE AT PEACE

No matter how negative, intense or off the wall you find your thoughts – learn to make peace with them.   If you were trying to avoid a fight with an aggressive person, would you run into their fist when they are  swinging?  Probably not.  Remember that pain usually lies underneath anger.  Once the thoughts simmer, become a detective and try to figure out what your thoughts are truly saying.

TIP 3: THOUGHTS ARE NOTHING BUT THOUGHTS. 

Because we cannot physically see our thoughts, it might be hard to step outside of them.  Hence it’s easy to accept them as they are rather than stop to consider how much they are influenced by our environment, physical state, relationships, what we read and what we see.  We can let ourselves fall prey to our mental habits or take the time to change the unhealthy ones into healthy thinking.  ,

TIP 4:  STOP AND OBSERVE

Meditation is simple – all you need to do is hit the pause button and shift from doer to observer.    Even just 1-5 minutes of mindfulness will go a long way.   What must precede knowledge?  Time.  We must take the time to get to know our minds and what thoughts they tend towards.  It’s just like any relationship – in oder to develop knowledge of and respect for – we must spend time with the other party.   Start checking in with your mind on a daly basis, otherwise it may have you “checking out” of life a bit too much 😉

TIP 5: REWIRE NEGATIVE PATTERNS

Most of us are familiar with the sayings “we are what we repeatedly do” and “we see what we believe”.  Our thinking literally becomes patterned in our brains through specific neural connections.  In essence, our minds can become stuck on autopilot.  Before we can get off of autopilot, we have to acknowledge the negative patterns we are stuck in and how they are biasing our perceptions.   We must refocus our mind on the PRESENT experience rather reacting in ways that belong to our past.

TIP 6:  EMBRACE THE MESSAGE WITH COMPASSION

We cannot change our gut reactions nor the thoughts they bring, but we can change how we react to them.  Some of us may have been taught to believe that negative thoughts are wrong.  Yet in actuality if we judge our feelings, we may be missing the signals they are trying to give us.  Instead of criticizing ourselves, we can support the needs that we may be neglecting.   When we manage our vulnerable thoughts properly we end up in a place of growth that leads to confidence and strength.  Take the time to navigate the difficult feelings while staying grounded in the present and seeing through the right perspective.  Focus on the message underlying the negative emotion, not the emotion itself.

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8 SIMPLE SELF-CARE TOOLS

  1. MEDITATION:  Believing that mediation requires an hour of silence in a zen-like atmosphere is a common misconception.  A mere THREE MINUTES! of stillness and focused breathing has proven to quell anxiety, ease depression and ignite a positive mental state.  Anywhere, anytime – one can “meditate”.

2.  LAUGHTER:  Let it be thy medicine.   Why? Well, first off it triggers the release of       endorphins (our bod’s natural feel-good chemicals) which in turn promotes an overall sense of wellbeing.  Secondly, laughing decreases stress hormones while it increases immune cells – keeping us more resistant to disease.   Here are two clean one liners should you need a dose:

one: Why don’t scientists trust atoms?  Because they make up everything!!

two: Knock knock. Who’s there? Smell mop. (finish this joke in your head)

3.  A PLEASURE A DAY KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY:  Think about what activities you LOVE to do and relish in one of them everyday, however small.  Ten minute walk, coloring, sipping hot cocoa, writing, soaking in the bath tub, you name it.

4.  SUPPORT:  Join a group!  With access to the internet these days, finding the right group for you is but a google search away.  Other places to discover such groups are your local public library or community college.  Support, fresh ideas and camaraderie are so essential to our health.   Many folks who work from home struggle from depression and it has been linked to lack of face-face interaction.  Get out there!

5.  Say “NO” – We are bombarded with demands from others in our fast paced society – socially and professionally.  Remember, you are allowed to say no, you are allowed to turn your phone off and disconnect, set your boundaries!

6.  PURCHASE (or make!) A WEIGHTED BLANKET: These blankets are typically used for ADHD and anxiety, but can provide soothing relief for just about anyone who is experiencing being a human 😉  Drape it on yourself when you watch a movie or nap.

7.  EAT CLEAN: Yes, you’ll feel better about yourself, but (most importantly) feeding yourself well allows your body to function optimally.  We were designed to run on whole, not processed, foods!

8. MOVE:  Movement IS medicine.  Any kind of movement – gardening, dancing, weight lifting, stretching – get off that rear and into gear!

 

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Life Lessons From A Remote Medical Professional

I recently returned home from a month-long Wilderness First Responder and Emergency Medical Technician course in Leavenworth, Washington.

The course content was invaluable, but the icing on the cake was the people I interacted with daily.  Having served in the military I have crossed paths with many folks who dedicate their lives to the service of others.  I am always intrigued to learn more about what inspired them to step onto such a path. Two people stood out at me at the Remote Medical International training.  One of my instructors and one of my classmates.  I know that myself and the other 24 students learned a ton from them both during the four weeks we spent together, and I wanted to pay forward their lifestyle wisdom to as many people possible.  As they sure do make this world a better place.

This first interview is with Megan McCarthy, Remote EMT and Training Instructor

  1. How do you prepare yourself physically, mentally and emotionally for a trip?

“In general, I maintain a baseline fitness.  That means every day I expect myself to get in some sort of cardio and some strength work.  I’m very into yoga as well, it combines breathing and meditation which is huge for mental health.  Again, it’s all about maintenance.  Prior to going on a bigger trip, I start tweaking my training to the specific sport I’m going on.  For example, if it was a sea kayaking trip I would work more on upper body and core strength.   In between trips I never become so sedentary that I am out of shape.   I find that because of this I have stayed very healthy and have had very few overuse injuries.

  1. You are clearly leading a life of extreme service, a path that not every person takes.  What led you to this path and what keeps you on it?

“The generic answer is that I like helping people, but what I’ve found is that this is the way for me to reach the greatest amount of people – to have the biggest impact possible within my community.   What keeps me going is that I love the work and the community that surrounds me. “

  1. Who has been the most influential leader in your life and why?

“My patrol director, Sam Llobet.  He’s a good friend of mine first and foremost, but he is also my boss.   Yet if I were to introduce as my boss, he’d get really mad at me.  Sam prefers to be known as my friend.  He leads by building mutual respect, but he also has one of the soundest minds and makes crystal clear decisions.  I trust him wholeheartedly. “

  1. Given all your experience up until now I imagine you have seen things that have been quite challenging to process. If there were one piece of advice you could give your past self to keep her emotionally strong, what would it be?

“It’s OK to ask for help”

  1. As an emergency medical provider in remote settings you are putting yourself in precarious situations. Do you have a fear of death and, if so, how do you handle it?

“I absolutely do.  And the people I work with are my family so the fear that they may get hurt and die is also very prevalent.  It is a huge fear of mine.  So, I live in the present.  Each day is each day.

6.  You learn a lot in a short amount of time, how do you keep your brain sharp?

“Nutrition and exercise.  And coffee 😊.   When it comes to nutrition I’m a huge fan of eating when you’re hungry and keeping a well-balanced diet of proteins, veggies and a few carbs.  I also love probiotics, like yogurt and kombucha. I think there is a definite connection between mental health and gut health.

7.  Not everyone is forced to take a hard look at themselves in life. Has your career in the field shown you your biggest strength and weakness?

“Yes. It absolutely has shown me my strengths and weaknesses. I think it’s because it forces me to be vulnerable every day.  It does not allow me to live with an ego. “

 

Thank you, Megan, for your time and service.  Thank you for being passionate about what you do and for finding what makes you come alive.  Congratulations on your marriage to Ben come this August!

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

 

 

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ADRENALINE

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Adrenaline, (aka adrenalin or epinephrine), is a hormone, neurotransmitter, and in modern day – a medication. Epinephrine is normally produced by both the adrenal glands and certain neurons.  Specifically it is secreted by the medulla of the adrenal glands.  It plays an important role in our body’s fight-or-flight response by increasing blood flow to muscles, output of the heart, pupil dilation, and blood sugar.

Interestingly enough, strong emotions such as fear or anger can cause adrenaline to be released into the bloodstream, which causes an increase in heart rate, muscle strength, blood pressure, and sugar metabolism.

FOODS TO HELP KEEP YOUR ADRENALS HEALTHY AND PREVENT ADRENAL FATIGUE:
  1. Vitamin C-rich Foods
The adrenal glands require Vitamin C-rich foods to help produce cortisol. The Indian Gooseberry or Amla is so accessible and helps to change your mood. A person with Vitamin C deficiency tends to feel fatigued and depressed. The Amla is definitely a mood changer. Other Vitamin C-rich foods in this category are oranges, mangoes, peaches, leafy greens and tomatoes.
  1. Vitamin B-rich Foods
It is found that Vitamin B-rich foods help to support the adrenal glands and also increase the energy levels during stress. Beneficial foods with vitamin B are avocados, bananas, potatoes, oats and legumes.
  1. Use Healthy Oils to Improve Your Mood
Including healthy oils in your diet aid the adrenal glands. Oils with fat content like coconut oil, olive oil, oil from seeds and nuts like groundnut, almond and cashew nuts are certain examples. These oils make one feel full and satisfied. Rational thinking is optimum when there is contentment – even in small measures.
  1. Warm Lemon Water
Start your day with a glass of warm lemon water with a little salt. This aids in blood circulation.
  1. Green Tea

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Green tea is a lot beneficial in the digestion of food. Having a high metabolism rate is essential to have healthy adrenal glands.
  1. Protein-rich Foods
Protein-rich foods help to stabilize the sugar levels and reduce undue cravings for sugar. Sprouted grams, fresh green peas, beans and almonds are recommended for a balanced protein diet to aid healthy adrenal glands.
  1. Ashwagandha
This natural herb is very essential for a strong nervous system. It enables the body to build a strong nervous system while supporting the adrenal glands and their function. This herb is mainly consumed in the form of tablets.
  1. Chyavanprash*

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This is a treat which tops all good health prescriptions. Made up of essentials like cow ghee, Indian gooseberry, and jaggery, this ayurvedic magic has been India’s heritage medicinal treat since ancient times. The newborn to the old alike consume this for a healthy living and a disease-free life. The Vata, Pitta and the Kapha are controlled by consuming a teaspoonful once or twice in a day. The Chyavanprash aids in building a strong immune system.
*  a cooked mixture of sugar, honey, ghee, Indian Gooseberry (amla), jam, sesame oil, berries and various herbs and spices. Email me for a great recipe!
  1. Milk And Turmeric
One of the age-old treats, a glass of warm milk and turmeric is essential for a good night’s sleep. This invigorating treat helps to rejuvenate tired muscles and nerves for an energy-packed day to face flights or fights of the adrenaline.
 Image result for golden milk
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CILANTRO 101!!

Often we forget that sometimes our best medicine is sitting right in our kitchen, not in our medicine cabinet!  The highlight of this post is the fresh herb, cilantro, and its related health benefits.  Scroll to the bottom if you’d like a tasty recipe to try out!

What is it? 

You have most likely already tasted cilantro whether it was in fresh salsa, an Indian curry or a Thai dish.  Tasted alone would be a whole different experience, with its robust bittersweet citrus flavor Cilantro packs a punch! On top of its strong flavor, Cilantro boasts a high mineral content and tons of antioxidants.

Origin? 

Cilantro originated in the Mediterranean and Western Asian regions, but it can be found found around the world in many windowsill herb gardens. The plant’s formal name is coriandrum sativum. The leafy greens are referred to as cilantro and the seeds are called coriander, each offering a wealth of health benefits and different flavors.  You may hear it referred to as “Chinese parsley”.

Health benefits?

Cilantro is a powerful antioxidant and a great source of vitamins and fiber. It contains a flavonoid called quercetin that has demonstrated numerous antioxidant properties.

TASTY RECIPE TIME!

The Naturopathic Kitchen: Cilantro 101

FISH TACOS WITH CILANTRO CABBAGE SLAW

*Cod is used in this recipe. For a more robust flavor, substitute wild red snapper or Mahi Mahi.  You can also enjoy this on a bed of leafy greens if tortillas are not your favorite.

Ingredients

  • 1 large fillet of fresh (not farm-raised) cod
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ t sea salt
  • ¼ c. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 t chipotle chili powder
  • 1 t oregano
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced
  • 1 t olive oil
  • 8 radishes, julienned
  • 3 scallions, julienned
  • 1 avocado, peeled and mashed
  • 2 1/2c shredded Napa cabbage
  • 4 non-GMO corn tortillas

In a small bowl combine garlic, salt, cilantro, chili powder, oregano, lime zest and olive oil. Place fish in an oven-safe pan and brush half of the garlic mixture on each side of the fillet. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, flipping the fillet half way through. Remove from oven and discard any skin. Flake the fish into bite size pieces using two forks. Toss fish with remaining half of the garlic mixture, radishes, scallions, avocado and cabbage. Serve in tortillas. *hot sauce optional

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Best Ever Definition of FEAR

“An opportunity for self discovery and self growth; a well of untapped personal power and strength; the gateway from wishing and wanting to doing and being.”

FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY, MY FRIENDS…

 

 

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