Posted by: renaissance2wellbeing | December 4, 2010

Train Yourself for Good Health (November ’10)

Train Yourself for Good Health!                                

“On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence”  ~William Jennings Bryan  

Want to wish you a healthy and happy thanksgiving. Can you believe it’s that time of year again? It seemed like summer was yesterday and before you know it, it will be the New Year.  

Now that cooler days pervade and daylight hours diminish, it’s a harbinger of the coming festive season. With the festive season comes the yearly food-fest, and the temptations to consume more is greater. Still, if we consume healthy foods on a regular basis, being derailed a few times over the holidays should not be a problem. One key to sate our appetite and consume less is masticating or chewing our food thoroughly. In our fast paced lives, taking time to chew our food is put on the back burner and as result we consume more, leading to weight gain and digestive disorders. This month’s article looks at chewing.

                     Train Yourself for Good Health  

I have made it a rule to give every tooth of mine a chance, and when I eat, to chew every bite thirty-two times. To this rule I owe much of my success in life. -William Gladstone  

But before we get to chewing, the key to staying healthy over the holidays and the rest of the year is consuming whole, unprocessed foods on a regular basis – ideally organic or locally grown. As much as possible, avoid processed, packaged food. But if you do purchase packaged foods, read my previous newsletter on understanding nutritional labels. As I have noted before, “never, ever, believe anything on the front of any packaged food product- ever!” You must read the “Nutrition Facts Label” and the “Ingredients List.”  

If we consume meats and dairy (e.g. milk, butter), these products should be organic and pasture-fed, as there are more pesticides and other deleterious ingredients in non-organic meats and dairy, than fruits and vegetables. The following offers healthier choices:  

Pastured Meats:

Pastured Poultry & Eggs:

Fish:

You may be able to buy these foods at your local farmers markets. So check them out.  

Another good place to buy these and other products (fruits and vegetables) is at your local Trader Joes. They have good prices and selections to choose from.  

Furthermore, during the holidays, there are more temptations and vices floating around. The key is moderation and not feeling guilty about having that dessert or scrumptious chocolate cake. Don’t beat yourself up. 

Say, “Okay, I had that dessert – I enjoyed it – and move on.” Tomorrow I get back on track with my healthy eating patterns. Ideally if you want something sweet, eat the healthiest choice available. The worst thing you can do is feeling guilty about your choices – you have not committed a crime! The bottom line is to eat the healthiest choices available and enjoy it – no guilt involved. Enjoy!  

Remember the Sound of a Train, “Choo, Choo, Chew” Your Food!  

When it comes to increased health, it’s not just what we eat, but how we eat. Digestion actually begins in the mouth, where contact with our teeth and digestive enzymes in our saliva break down food. But these days most of us rush through the whole eating experience, barely acknowledging what we’re putting in our mouths. We eat while distracted-working, reading, talking, and watching television-and swallow our food practically whole. On average we chew each bite only eight times. It’s no wonder that many people have digestive problems.  

There are many great reasons to slow down and chew your food. Saliva breaks down food into simple sugars, creating a sweet taste. The more we chew, the sweeter our food becomes, so we don’t crave those after-meal sweets. Chewing reduces digestive distress and improves assimilation, allowing our bodies to absorb maximum nutrition from each bite of food. More chewing produces more endorphins, the brain chemicals responsible for creating good feelings. It’s also helpful for weight loss, because when we are chewing well, we are more apt to notice when we are full. In fact, chewing can promote healing and circulation, enhances immunity, increase energy and endurance, improve skin health and stabilize weight.  

The power of chewing is so great that there are stories of concentration camp survivors who, when others could not, made it through with very little food, by chewing their meager rations up to 300 times per bite of food. For most of us 300 chews is a daunting and unrealistic goal. However, you can experience the benefits of chewing by increasing to 30 chews per bite. Try it and see how you feel.  

Taking time with a meal, beginning with chewing, allows for enjoyment of the whole experience of eating: the smells, flavors and textures. It helps us to give thanks, to show appreciation for the abundance in our lives and to develop patience and self-control. Try eating without the TV, computer, newspaper, or noisy company. Instead just pay attention to the food and to how you are breathing and chewing.  

This kind of quiet can be disconcerting at first, since we are used to a steady stream of advertising, news, media, email, and demands from others. But as you create a new habit, you will begin to appreciate eating without rushing. You have to eat every day-why not learn to savor and enjoy it?   

In addition to chewing your food thoroughly and aiding digestion, I recommend not drinking liquids while eating, though dark red wine (organic) is an exception, as it contains digestive enzymes. Liquids dilute stomach acids and interfere with the digestion process. Furthermore, digestive enzymes secreted in the mouth in saliva are washed away with liquids, which are needed to break down food.  By forgoing liquids, and chewing thoroughly, makes it easier for food to be digested and assimilated in the body. Leading to consuming less and feeling sated.  So train your mind to choo, chew your food, and your body will thank you for it. Have a great, safe and guilt-free holiday. 

Recipe  

Brown Basmati Pilaf

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Cooking Time: 30-40 minutes

Yield: 4 servings      

Ingredients:

1 cup brown basmati rice

2 cups of water

1/2 cup of dried cranberries

1/2 cup of walnut pieces

1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley

pinch of salt  

Directions:

1.  Rinse rice in fine mesh strainer until water runs clear.

2.  Boil the water and add rice and salt, cover and reduce heat.

3.  After 15 minutes add cranberries and walnuts to top, do not stir.

4.  Cook 15-25 minutes more, until all the liquid is absorbed.

5.  Remove from heat, add parsley and fluff with fork, cover and let set for 3-5 minutes and serve.

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