What speed are you living at?

What speed are you living at?

“If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a  perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live”

– Lin Youtang

 

Twice this week I had reminders of the modern speed of living. Early in the week a colleague posted on Facebook about the convenience of buying “cauliflower rice” all ready to go, and then another colleague posted a link to a lovely article reminding of us about the importance of slowing down. From one extreme to another, basically…

This picture of the cauliflower rice, really got me thinking. What speed are we living at when we don’t even seem to have time to chop a head of cauliflower for dinner? Do we need more things to simplify our lives, or do we simply need to slow down a bit?

Trust me, I am all for keeping it quick and simple, hence why many of the recipes you find here have just a couple of core ingredients and are straightforward enough to make. Many of the meals I make for myself take less than 30 min to put together.

So when you can buy a head of cauliflower grounded up, in a plastic bag and for triple the price, I’m not sure if it is true convenience or just very clever marketing!

mindful living

Of course I’m not the first one to mention neither the speed of modern day living or the benefits that can be had if we slow down. But it seems like it is something that we all (or most of us at least, myself included) need to be reminded of on a fairly regular basis. Though how do we do it? Like how can we achieve balance in the midst of our full on lives?

Back to the pre packed cauliflower rice…

Here are my take aways; Don’t fall for that kind of clever marketing! You’ll be paying triple the price for convenience that is minute. I love cauliflower and it is a really useful and versatile vegetable. One that is also packed with important nutrients that can support the body’s detoxification system as well as being cancer protective. And it is one of the cheapest vegetables around, which usually does NOT come wrapped in plastic. (I have a thing for vegetables being  wrapped in plastic.)

To make a quick meal  from it, i.e. “cauliflower rice”, which is finely chopped cauliflower and quickly cooked in boiling water,  all you need is a sharp knife. And a pot of boiling water, of course. It will take just minutes. I promise!

The other thing that I feel is slightly off with the idea of cut and pre-packed vegetables, aside from the plastic packaging and the fact that much nutrition has been lost in the process, is that when eating this way we lose connection. Connection with where the food comes from. Connection with nature and perhaps even connection with ourselves.

Or maybe we are already feeling disconnected and out of touch…?

mindful living

Rather than seeing cooking and feeding ourselves as an inconvenience or just another thing to tick off on our to-do list, we can flip it on its head and look at it as a way of engaging in a creative endeavour. As a way of being mindful and present in that moment. And as a way of taking care of ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong, I eat the odd take away, bag of chips from the chip shop or even a bar of chocolate as a snack… But over the years I flipped this one on its head too. So now, rather than getting stuck in a cycle of guilt that I happen to have these types of foods, on occasion, I try see these occasions as cues.

 

Why am I feeding myself on autopilot?

 

So when I notice that one meal of mindless planning, turns into a second grab-and-go one, that is my cue to look at what it is I need to change and improve upon  in my life, to bring things back into balance and practice some selfcare!

And just like one of my clients came to realise for herself is, “cooking is selfcare”.

Or like the brilliant Harvard Researcher Ellen J. Langer puts it;

“My research has revealed that our mindlessness can be very costly and that an increase in mindfulness results in an increase in competence, health and longevity, happiness, creativity, charisma and makes us more satisfied with our work, to name a few of the findings.”

 

So this week, how are you going to take care of yourself?

Food + Love

Food + Love

Food + Love. I was recently reminded of the healing power of having a meal made and shared with love.

You know, the truly nourishing experience that it is, when you allow yourself to be fully present and engage all your senses in the eating experience. It becomes not just about the food, but the company, the conversations and the surroundings as well.

To me it is such a blessing to be having food and sharing the eating experience with people who not only appreciate the food for its taste and quality, but also from where it has come. The appreciation of beauty, that is fresh colourful ingredients and the gift itself that is in giving, and the blessing that is in receiving.

It had me humbled and reminded that what an lesson in receiving it is to be gifted in this way.

THIS is when food and eating is not all about nutritional value but rather all about Vitamin P – P for Pleasure.

 

food+love

 

The meal was such a fulfilling experience on every level. A simple reminder of the little things in life to savour, both literally and symbolically.

We may consider LOVE as the ultimate nourishment for our whole selves, and food, of course, is the fuel for our physical existence. Alongside air and water food is something we cannot survive without.

However the dynamic dance between food and love is not always as straightforward as this, though I would like to think it should be, or perhaps at least could be. Though if you have ever struggled with this intricate dyamic, you know…

 

There is a shadow side of Food + Love.

 

Sometimes we use food not as a part of a loving experience but rather as a substitute for love.

Like those moments when we  use food as the “fix” to sooth a broken heart, a bruised ego or a just as a way to fill the void in our lives?

Somehow this message that food is comfort is reinforced when you start paying attention to what the media is portraying. I’m sure you have seen, just like I have, the images of someone drowning their sorrows with a spoon and a tub of ice cream in front of the telly. I mean, it is a natural thing as the most fundamental part of nurturing a baby is given the breast as both food and comfort.

Thing is though, that when we use food to numb our feelings (or any other substance for that matter), and / or as a way to fill up an internal hole which is not a physical hunger, it may give some short term relief but usually not as a longterm one.

Using food as a substitute for love can have longterm consequences. And not always are these longterm consequences about health impacts either, though it can be a factor that plays a part.

The more immediate consequneces that I am thinking of here is what usually follows eating certain kinds of foods that we may have assigned the label “bad” to; feelings of guilt and shame.

Food + Love

 

Brené Brown defines guilt as “I did something bad / wrong” and shame as “I am bad / there’s something wrong with me“. Look at this definition, we may realise how counterproductive it is to attach feelings of guilt to what we are eating, and if we go down the shame route, we are all of a sudden skating on thin ice…

How did we get here?? When did we end up with this kind of thought pattern?

 

This is where I feel opening up some awareness around the subtle messages the dieting culture is imposing on us, becomes very important. That if we don’t eat “clean” we must be eating something that’s “dirty” or bad.

I’ve lost count of how many times in my 20s that I was so entrenched in this kind of thinking. Often feeling disheartened that I could never stick to THE plan, or lose the weight I wanted (so I could finally be happy), when in fact trying to rely on willpower with my blood sugar on a roller coaster all day would make it physically (and mentally!) impossible.

After that one cookie, I’d usually end up having another one and then most of the package because at that point I had moved from feeling guilty about having one into a state of shame.“I’m useless so I may as well keep eating…”

Then I felt even more lonely and sad… Which would continue the cycle of comfort eating. And other times it was the feelings of loneliness that would be the initial trigger. During this time in my life, food was definitely serving as a replacement for love, for me.

Is it possible to break the cycle of using food as substitute for love and arrive at a place where food becomes part of self-love?

 

I would really like to think so! It may not be an overnight kind of experience, and the journey there may not  just be paved with good intention but can also become littered with many blessings of self discovery.

straightforward nutrition

 

With Halloween just been and the next holiday season only a short while away, it is all to easy to get caught up in “dieting mode”. Restricting and / or feeling guilty about having  certain types of foods.

However if you have decided to try stepping off the “dieting treadmill” and are working on healing your relationship with food, then I invite you to be mindful and watch your thoughts with kind non-judging awareness.

Do find yourself feeling guilty after eating sweets / cakes / chocolate?

Do you feel like you need to go on a diet over the next few weeks to get ready for the holiday season ahead, knowing that you may put on some extra few pounds then?

Here’s my ‘two penny’s worth; Please don’t.

Instead of focusing on letting go of certain kinds of foods, focus on letting go of the guilt, so that you don’t let any guilt  feed into shame.

Learn to listen to your body and trust  it’s wisdom.

 

What foods make you feel great? What would it look like for you if food and eating formed part of caring for yourself from a place of kindness and selfcare?

Don’t forget that there’s more to food than calories and sugar. And there’s more to eating that worrying about same.

Give yourself permission to;

Let your whole self be nourished by the entire experience of eating food that has been grown with care and cooked with love, and if possible in the pleasure of great company.

THAT is medicine for body, mind and soul. <3


 

Do you long to let go of obsession around food, eating and weight? Would you like to feel freedom and peace around meals and beyond, but need some help and support to get there?

It would be an honour to walk with you on this path. Please email me HERE to set up a free 30 min consultation to explore how this may be possible for you too.

Spicy & Warming Cashew Milk

Spicy & Warming Cashew Milk

This hot drink is surprisingly easy to make, so don’t be put off just by looking at the (long) ingredients list! Admittedly that used to be one of the things that was a deciding factor for me in the past when trying out new recipes, but slowly but surely I’ve extended my both my skills and my spice selection, through evoking some curiosity and a desire to keep pushing outside my comfort zone.

Like all things worth pursuing, it’s often outside that (in)famous comfort zone where some of the magic happens.

As the seasons change, it thought it was time to have something warming and nourishing back on the menu and I feel myself back craving for more warm comforting meals and warming foods which means more spices.

This week, we are more than half ways through Whole Detox, and we’ve traveled through from rooty red to the gorgeous gracious greens of love. For the final week we are moving into TRUTH, INSIGHT and SPIRIT, which is usually great fun, albeit uncomfortable at times when it comes to unraveling and walking on our path of self-discovery.

The other thing apart, from all the delicious focus on eating lots of colourful foods, is the nourishing community. The support, care and camaraderie, found in a small space online is just great. I think we sometimes forget how important it is for our wellbeing to surround ourselves with likeminded people. And as well as that, when we are working though difficult things such as negative thought patterns and emotions, both sharing our stories with others in a safe space and to be witness to other people’s stories is so healing.

spicy warming cashew milk

I feel like when we read and listen to others’ stories that we realise that we are in fact not alone in our human struggles. Somewhere out there is someone else who has been through something similar and we can take comfort in this, knowing that what we are feeling is normal.

For me hearing about other people journeys through difficult times have given me both hope and courage to carry on believing in possibilities of change, when I’ve been in a head space that’s made it difficult to imagine so for myself. And the resilience of the human spirit never seem to amaze me either.

nourishing warming winter drink

But let’s return to the recipe! This one actually came about as an inspiration from one of the recipes in Whole Detox called “Spice Shake”. Then I spotted that one of the other participants had made a warm version, simply by heating up the ingredients! Which totally appeals to m at the moment, satisfying all my cravings for warm nourishing comfort foods.

I’ve seen some variations of this type of drink around the internet over the past year or so, and I actually tried one, I think it was last year, but I was so put off by the overpowering combination of coconut and turmeric (which felt to me like I was drinking a curry!) so I abandoned the idea of having a go at it again. Normally this is the warming turmeric drink that I go for.

 But I think this one might be repeated! I have made a couple of tweaks to the original recipe that inspired me. One is to use cashew milk instead of almonds or other nuts. Cashew nuts are a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. And they are really versatile as they are starchy but without insoluble fibre, which means they make the nicest and thickest nutmilk you can imagine and you don’t have to strain it either! However, you do need to plan ahead a little bit and get your nuts soaking the day before. Or at a push, for a few hours. It is worth it though and not actually much of an effort at all.

Spicy & Warming Cashew Milk

Serves 2 ( you will get more spice mix to use for future cups)

For the Cashew Milk

1/2 cup cashew nuts, raw

500ml water

For the Spice Blend

2 tbsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp mixed spice or pumpkin spice blend (usually a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger & allspice)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp ground ginger

For the final cup

1-2 star anise

1 tsp coconut oil, raw & organic – optional

1/2 – 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup

To make the cashew nut milk; Soak the nuts in enough water to cover, overnight. In the morning rinse and then blend with fresh water. Store in a glass bottle or jar until ready to use.

To make the spice mix: Add all ingredient into a small glass jar. Mix until well combined.

To make the warm & spicy cashew milk drink; Add the cashew milk into a saucepan. I usually use the cup that I’m intending to serve out of as my measurement. Add 1/2 tablespoon of spice blend per person to the milk plus one – two star anise. Gently health the milk whilst stirring with a whisk. Once the milk is warmed through, add the coconut oil, if using as well as the honey or maple syrup. Give it all another whisk so that the oil and sweeteners are dispersed throughout.

Serve up!

straightforwarn nutrition

Mindful Eating vs Intuitive Eating

Mindful Eating vs Intuitive Eating

I really wanted to explore the topic(s) of Mindful Eating vs. Intuitive Eating. And this is by no means and exhaustive blog post about it either… Albeit still a bit of a lengthy one.

What is the difference between mindfulness and intuition? And what’s the difference between eating mindfully and eating intuitively?

 

Let’s get clear first of all, that this is not an “either or” thing, and also for me there is no “doing it wrong” when it comes to either bringing mindfulness to the table or using your intuition when making food choices.  Because isn’t it this “right or wrong”, “good or bad” mentality  and way of thinking that gets us into trouble in the first place?

In this great article Sharon Salzberg, one of the first people to bring mindfulness to the west, asks the question “What is mindfulness anyway?”.

We think of mindfulness as slowing down, paying attention to what we are actually doing. Or we think it is when we sit still on a cushion (trying to)focusing and pay attention to our breath.

But in the article Salzberg goes on to put her definition of mindfulness as this;

“Mindfulness isn’t just about knowing that you’re hearing something, seeing something, or even observing that you’re having a particular feeling. It’s about doing so in a certain way — with balance and equanimity, and without judgment. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention in a way that creates space for insight.”

What becomes important, whether we are talking about life in general or about food and eating in particular is this that we pay attention in an open, curious way with no judgment. When we start  paying attention like this, especially to our thoughts, it gets very interesting. It also my own personal experience that “mindfulness is the practice of paying attention in a way that creates space for insight”, is truth.

 

straightforward nutrition

 

So if our aim is to get off the “dieting treadmill”, and finding our way back to a less restrictive way of eating, which may not just open us up to more food choices but also to a whole new world of space for possibilities, we need to tap into our insight.

The definition of Insight is; the capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of something.  Some of the synonyms are: intuition, perception, awareness and discernment.

To bring this back around to intuition and intuitive eating, my personal definition for intuitive eating would be; to let our body guides us in making the food choices to support it needs.  With the consideration that the definition of intuition is; “ the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning”.

But I wasn’t the one who coined the term Intuitive Eating. It originally comes from Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RDN who wrote the book with the same name.

When I started out on my own journey to heal my body and my relationship with food, the first thing was to ditch the scales and surrender to the fact that my happiness did not and would never depend on whatever number it would show. I also had to make peace with the fact that I maybe I would or maybe I wouldn’t lose any weigh. However, at the time weighing myself wasn’t making me lose weight either, it was only making me feel more miserable…

The other thing I did was to give myself full permission to eat whatever I wanted, no restrictions whatsoever. With just the simple guidelines of focusing on just eating when I was hungry and learning to tune into stop when just comfortably full. At this time I had never heard of Intuitive Eating, but I had read countless dieting books… It wasn’t actually till a few years ago that I came across Evelyn and Elyse’s work.

Yet somehow my own intuition told me that this was the next logical step.

 

mindful eating vs intuitive eating

In the book Intuitive Eating, there are 10 guidelines to help you eat intuitively. They are the following:

 

10 Principles of Intuitive Eating

 

1. Reject the Diet Mentality Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. Get angry at the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all of the weight. If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better diet might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being free to rediscover Intuitive Eating.

 

 2. Honor Your Hunger Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Otherwise you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for re-building trust with yourself and food.

 

3. Make Peace with Food Call a truce, stop the food fight! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, binging When you finally “give-in” to your forbidden food, eating will be experienced with such intensity, it usually results in Last Supper overeating, and overwhelming guilt.

 

4. Challenge the Food Police .Scream a loud “NO” to thoughts in your head that declare you’re “good” for eating minimal calories or “bad” because you ate a piece of chocolate cake. The Food Police monitor the unreasonable rules that dieting has created . The police station is housed deep in your psyche, and its loud speaker shouts negative barbs, hopeless phrases, and guilt-provoking indictments. Chasing the Food Police away is a critical step in returning to Intuitive Eating.

 

5. Respect Your Fullness Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show that you’re comfortably full. Pause in the middle of a meal or food and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what is your current fullness level?

 

6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor The Japanese have the wisdom to promote pleasure as one of their goals of healthy living In our fury to be thin and healthy, we often overlook one of the most basic gifts of existence–the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. When you eat what you really want, in an environment that is inviting and conducive, the pleasure you derive will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content. By providing this experience for yourself, you will find that it takes much less food to decide you’ve had “enough”.

 

7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food Find ways to comfort , nurture, distract, and resolve your issues without using food. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, anger are emotions we all experience throughout life. Each has its own trigger, and each has its own appeasement. Food won’t fix any of these feelings. It may comfort for the short term, distract from the pain, or even numb you into a food hangover. But food won’t solve the problem. If anything, eating for an emotional hunger will only make you feel worse in the long run. You’ll ultimately have to deal with the source of the emotion, as well as the discomfort of overeating.

 

8. Respect Your Body Accept your genetic blueprint. Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size six, it is equally as futile (and uncomfortable) to have the same expectation with body size. But mostly, respect your body, so you can feel better about who you are. It’s hard to reject the diet mentality if you are unrealistic and overly critical about your body shape.

 

9. Exercise–Feel the Difference Forget militant exercise. Just get active and feel the difference. Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie burning effect of exercise. If you focus on how you feel from working out, such as energized, it can make the difference between rolling out of bed for a brisk morning walk or hitting the snooze alarm. If when you wake up, your only goal is to lose weight, it’s usually not a motivating factor in that moment of time.

 

10. Honor Your Health–Gentle Nutrition Make food choices that honor your health and tastebuds while making you feel well. Remember that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters, progress not perfection is what counts.

(from https://www.intuitiveeating.com/content/10-principles-intuitive-eating)

 

I love all of these. And if we can find our way to embrace food and eating like this, we are well on our way to have a healthy relationship with both.

However, one of the things that seems to be so challenging when it comes to start out on a path to eat intuitively is to give ourselves permission to trust our bodies. This is where I see mindfulness coming in, because if we are to place trust in our bodies we need to begin to listen to them. Not to the thoughts and the merry go around conversation in our heads, but instead tuning back into our internal wisdom, our intuition, which we all have.  And it is the space created by mindfulness that we find that inner voice.

Mindfulness starts with awareness. Like I heard someone say the other day “You can’t tell people to be here now, because they are not aware that they are not present.” Which is kind of true…!

So if perhaps way before we even get to a place of listening into what hunger and satiety feels like, or are aware of the negative conversation that plays on repeat in our head, or even the universal truth that we are not our thoughts, we may need to go back to simply noticing.

 

mindful eating

We are pretty use to consuming and take in information from the external world, so this can be a pretty good place to start, as a way leading on to cultivate the information that comes from within. Just take note that this way of taking “information in” is more as a sensory experience than an intellectual one.

 

With this in mind, I want to leave you with my three favourite ways to help you on your way to increase your awareness, cultivate mindfulness and nourish your intuition.

 

1. Start by simply noticing. Take mental notes of how things like how the sun (or the rain) feel against your skin, how the next bite of food tastes in your mouth, how your feet feel against the ground as you are walking, any sound you are and so on. When you pay attention in this way, you are present. You are here now.

 

2. Find some time, at least a few times a week, for silence and stillness. Imagine what it is like to hear someone else trying to tell you something in a busy pub or at a concert, where the noise level is really high. You have to shout at each other to be heard, and even at that some vital info may get lost in the process. The same goes for trying to tune in to that silent voice within. If you are to hear it, lessening the outside noise and distractions are a must.

 

3. Practice asking yourself the question “What do I really need?” When you stare into the pantry or the fridge for the umpteenth time, ask yourself this. Is it food you need, or is it rest, sleep, company or even play? And even when it comes to food choices, ask yourself the same question. What do I really want or need? I bet, as you get better and better at practicing and listening, you will find that there is no need to worry about always wanting chocolate cake, sometimes the body actually wants green salads and colourful fresh food.

 

Putting these steps into practice will over time, not just increase your awareness and your presence of being present, they will also offer you the space to make more compassionate and empowered choices, may it be with food and eating or in your life at large.

 

A way of, with courage, moving from fear of losing control, to a place of embracing uncertainty with compassion, curiosity and love.

 


 

Do you long to let go of obsession around food, eating and weight? Would you like to feel freedom and peace around meals and beyond, but need some help and support to get there?

It would be an honour to walk with you on this path. Please email me HERE to set up a free 30 min consultation to explore how this may be possible for you too.