“When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.”
What It Means To Be Truly Grateful For Your Food
Recently, I was talking to a new client about improving her nutrition. She told me she was concerned that the small town in Kentucky where she lives has very few choices for organic produce. Even though she lives in a rural area, she has to travel 1 1/2 hours to find markets where she can find a wide selection of organic foods.
While I am a proponent of organic food, I feel the very first emotion that we should all have when we sit down to eat is gratitude.
If you can sit down to dinner and have a meat, a vegetable, a healthy fat and a fruit, you are among the privileged few in the world.
As part of my practice, I empower my clients to resolve their emotional issues with food.
Your emotions about food may have contributed to your anorexia, bulimia or obesity or simply unconsciousness about how much what you eat contributes to your physical or emotional well-being.
One thing that I feel helps us to resolve these negative emotions is to understand what other people in the U.S. and around the world have to go through just to have enough to eat.
Here are a few thoughts to chew on as we celebrate Thanksgiving this year:
An estimated 1 in 6 Americans face hunger on a daily or weekly basis.
About 22 percent of children in the U.S. live in poverty and are vulnerable to not receiving enough food.
Our very own state of Georgia is one of the top 5 states in the U.S. where children struggle the most to get enough to eat.
About 8.8 percent of households with senior Americans don’t have enough to eat.
About 1 in 4 African American households do not have enough to eat.
About 1 in 4 Hispanic and Latino households do not have enough to eat.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that nearly 870 million people of the 7.1 billion people in the world, or 1 in 8, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012.
One of the other things that helps me feel true gratitude for my food is to grow at least part of it myself.
Accordingly, my garden is currently full of Swiss chard, parsley, kale, spinach, all different kinds of lettuces, boy choy, pineapple sage, garlic, rosemary and even red bok choy.
All these are in season at the moment so I can just go out in my yard with a pair of scissors and either juice my own produce, sautee it or toss it all in a salad.
As we sit down at our Thanksgiving tables this week, let us give thanks for all our food, whether or not it is organic, gluten-free, fat-free, kosher, dairy-free, low calorie, low fat, free range, grass-fed or any of the other many requirements that many of us place on our diet.
Let us give thanks for all the farmers who grew our food, all the animals that were sacrificed so that we can eat and all the people who took time to prepare our food.
When we can let go of all the negativity surrounding food and come to the table with our hearts full of gratitude, recognizing that how many of us are in fact extremely blessed to be well nourished.
My Organic GardenHow To Create A Healthy, Easy Dinner for Your Family
One of the challenges many of us face after a long day of work is how to make healthy easy dinners.
Recently one of my clients came in asking for help with her nutrition.
Being a certified Schwarzbein practitioner and long-term nutritionist, I immediately printed out very detailed guidelines and complete menu plans for breakfast, lunch and dinner along with snack ideas.
“I know all that already,” she said to me as I began explaining.
Note from a long-time nutritionist. Many of us either know a lot about nutrition already – or we think we know – but the real trick is actual implementation. If you are overweight or sick, more than likely there is a gap between what you know and what you are actually doing.
“Just bear with me,” I said. “I am explaining how you can make this work in your life.”
I sometimes reflect on the fact that I am actually a very successful nutritionist as I don’t find cooking particularly exciting. To me, it’s something that has to be done, just like washing your clothes, making the bed or vacuuming the house.
I think the reason I am so successful is that I like to make the whole process as easy as possible for everybody.
We can all look at very detailed menu plans – like the ones I have stored on my computer – giving precise meal plans with carb counts, designated number of ounces of this and tablespoons of that – but the truth is I don’t actually believe
anybody really follows those plans.
What I like to do is take you from where you actually are – where ever that is – and move you forward to being more and more of a healthy eater all the time, everywhere you go.
After all the most important instrumentation is between your ears. It’s called your brain. Once you know how to eat healthy, you can take that knowledge and experience with you anywhere and manage just fine.
So here’s how I like to explain how to plan healthy dinners.
1. Make a list of four healthy meats that you would actually eat. On my menu plans, I have dinners that include things like halibut. Personally, I am never going to eat halibut. It’s no good to you whatsoever to have plans for foods that you aren’t going to actually eat, so start with what you like. See if you can vary the meats so that you are including meats from different food families, such as:
Skirt steak, grass-fed
Wild caught Alaskan salmon
2. Then make a list of four vegetables you would actually eat. Once again, kale is a wonderful choice but having it on your plan will do you know good if you won’t actually buy it in the first place. Your list might include:
3. Great! You are on your way to becoming a world-famous nutritionist, getting out of pain, losing body fat, having more energy and becoming annoyingly helpful to other family members. You now have the first two requirements for fulfilling what I call a PFVC meal – Protein, Fat, Vegetable and Carbohydrate. Every meal needs to have all four of these ingredients. When you make sure you are including all four (the protein, the fat, the vegetable and the carbohydrate), you will discover your food cravings will disappear because you are providing your brain and body with what you need in order to feel full and balance your brain chemistry and be healthy. Now pair your meat and your vegetable. For example, you could have:
Lamb skewers with steamed broccoli
Steak with steamed green beans
Turkey with steamed asparagus
Salmon with spinach salad
See – wasn’t that easy?
4. Now you have to pick a healthy fat. Healthy fats to include are:
Olive oil – best used at room temperature
Coconut oil – best for high heat cooking
Real butter and ghee, which is clarified butter
Nuts, especially walnuts, almonds and pecans
Once you have your meat and your vegetable, choose a healthy fat that makes sense. For example, you could put butter on your broccoli or asparagus, almonds with your green beans and pour olive oil on a spinach salad with some vinegar, or saute your spinach in a little olive oil.
5. Almost there! Once you have your meat, vegetable and the logical fat, you will want to pick your carbohydrates. Carbs fall into two categories:
Manmade carbs – such as breads, cakes, cookies
Healthy carbs – such as lentils, beans, artichokes, yogurt, rice, English peas, black beans, cooked tomatoes, squash, cooked carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes
Of course, since you are my client, you are going to choose manmade carbohydrates only occasionally and pick the healthier carbs more often. You recognize that “real” carbohydrates have valuable nutrients such as fiber, vitamins and minerals and that the more fruits and vegetables you eat the better you are going to feel.
Good choices at dinner might include:
Fresh fruit for dessert
6. Now you have your menu for four days. I like to plan for four days because on the fifth day you may go out to eat, you may go visit with a friend or end up scrounging for leftovers from the bounty of what you prepared but didn’t manage to finish. Being healthy, I am sure you have learned how to stop eating before you are completely full, so more than likely you will have leftovers that can be enjoyed another day. So your final four days of menus could look like this:
Lamb kebab skewers with steamed broccoli and butter. Fresh fruit for dessert.
Skirt steak with steamed green beans with sliced almonds and brown rice.
Turkey breast with steamed asparagus and baked sweet potatoes with butter.
Wild caught Alaskan salmon with spinach salad with a homemade olive oil vinaigrette and baked squash.
Once you have your list of what you would actually eat for four days, now you are ready to go shopping. Get all the ingredients for four days.
Check! You can move on to other areas of your life, knowing that you have all the ingredients to make healthy, easy dinners in less than one hour.
A note on preparation: To me, the simpler the better. I recommend every household should own a vegetable steamer. My favorite steamer died after 20 years but I managed to find its twin at a second hand store. This is a simple, easy and healthy way to prepare your vegetables. Usually you can steam a vegetable in 10 to 15 minutes while you are preparing your meat at the same time.
For meats, either grill out, bake in your oven or saute in a pan on your stove.
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