During busy days, hectic seasons and stressful times it is easy to experience difficulties in your relationship with food.  Sound familiar?

I, for one,  have a couple of tensions in my foodways which are perpetually challenging to me.  If I don’t take time to plan and prepare for these times, I quickly fall into eating patterns which only put further stress on my body and mind.   It is easy to find myself convenience eating, creating imbalances in my body and setting the stage for disease.

To stay on track, reminders are always helpful.  Terry Walters, of Clean Food (if you haven’t checked out this cook book, you need to) has a beautiful summary of what we need to remain mindful of with respect to foods and eating.

  1. Chew, Chew, Chew! The more you chew, the slower you eat, the more digestive enzymes you secrete, the less stress on your digestive organs, the more nutrients you absorb from your food, the more easily you eliminate. . .
  2. Practice Good Habits Take the time to sit down when you eat so you have more energy for proper digestion and nutrient absorption.  We also need to eat regular meals to fuel our metabolism and daily activities.  The more we practice good habits, the more automatic they become and the better an example we set for our children and others.
  3. Stop Eating Three Hours Before Bedtime Digestion is directly linked to movement and exercise.  When we sleep, everything slows down – including our digestive functions.  If you go to sleep with food in your belly, your mind may sleep, but your body works overtime all night long.  Over the long term, this regimen make the body weak, out of balance and less able to maintain good health.
  4. Don’t Buy It If You Don’t Want To Eat It It’s much easier to have strength and willpower once (in the grocery store) than every time you open up your pantry!  Do yourself a favour – fill your kitchen with nourishing foods so that you can’t help but make a healthy choice.  This includes what you stock for your children – why are you willing to feed them the health-leeching products you no longer wish for yourself?
  5. Colour + Taste = Balance A balanced diet includes a full spectrum of colour and all five tastes:  sweet, bitter, salty, sour, pungent.  Go for variety and start adding tastes and colours that have been missing from your palette.  Make sure to put extra emphasis on green – the colour of healing.
  6. Listen To and Honour Your Body At the end of the day, as you rummage through the kitchen looking for the perfect snack to fill that elusive need, ask yourself, “Am I hungry or thirsty, or do I need connection, touch, an emotional outlet, some pampering or sleep?”  Answer these questions instead of reaching for the snack and discover how to truly nourish and nurture your inner self.  Sometimes a massage, a foot bath, a tub soak, time alone with a journal or early to bed will do the trick; other times a bite of chocolate is simply the only answer!
  7. Change Slowly Go easy on your body, your lifestyle and even your sense of taste.  Too big a jump from processed to unprocessed foods can bring uncomfortable side effects.  Changes made too quickly can add stress to the body and are more likely to backfire.  Gradual changes allow your body and your life to adapt more easily and are more likely to be long lasting.
  8. Make Peace with Your Food and Your Choices Ultimately, life is just a series of choices – one at a time.  Every choice nourishes some part of us – whether physical or emotional.  The goal is to accurately identify the need and then nourish it as best as possible.  The more ways we have to nourish ourselves, the less we use (and misuse) food, and the happier and healthier we can be.
  9. Let Go It’s just food, after all.  It will be there later.  What you see isn’t always what you get, and we can’t make good choices unless we have good information.  But overemphasis on food and diet isn’t healthy either.  Don’t let the food control you.  Put it in a healthy place, and nourish yourself lavishly with all that life has to offer.

These are wise words, great signposts  for healthy eating.  Food is sometimes more complicated in our lives than it needs to be, our relationship to it dogged and slavish.  Food isn’t calories, nutritional values, or numbers on a weight scale.  It is nourishment, family connection, cultural identity.  We engage in a life sustaining relationship with our food and need to treat this relationship with honesty, integrity and respect.

I like to be reminded of this essential, vital, joyous relationship when I allow mindlessness to take over my life.