Food for Thought: There’s More To It Than Food
I got so inspired the other day while moderating a conversation during Food for Thought, a program that we offer weekly at The Oaks from the perspective of Elizabeth, Nancy, myself or a guest speaker.
There were about eight guests present during my session, and I introduced Nancy’s idea about creating your own philosophy around food and eating and exercise and health. (Yes, good ideas can be stolen by others!)
What’s most important to you? What can you not “give up”? How do you want to be in your life? What are your ultimate health goals, and how can you get there? Can you think of five things (or more) that you can do a week, or every day, that embody your own vision of a healthy, happy person? What stops you? How do you imagine that you can overcome your obstacle(s)?
What really touches me, always, is how willing our guests are to open up about their own challenges; when they share from the heart, everyone is engaged. I posed the question:
“What eating habit do you think most interferes with your goals?”
Immediately, someone offered: “I’m starving when I get home from work, and I start eating everything in sight.”
“I had that problem, too, but it’s the one thing I have gotten “under control.”
Every afternoon when she gets home from work, she takes a healthful frozen muffin from the freezer (pumpkin cranberry is her favorite), and puts it in her toaster oven. While her muffin is heating, she puts on her tea kettle, sets a place at the table where she can look into her back garden and sets up her favorite tea cup, a memento from her trip to England a few years back.
She starts to smell the cinnamon and spices wafting from her oven, she warms her hands by the teakettle getting ready to whistle and gets her honey and warms her milk for her tea.
Look what she did for herself! She created a ritual that engages all of her senses—taste, touch, smell, vision—and the memories of her trip, the quaint shop where she bought her teacup, her favorite place for tea and biscuits across the pond. She’s calm, happy, sated as she takes the time to nurture herself. What can you do for you? Everyone left with that as their challenge. “What can I do for me?”
The next day, I engaged with a guest in the Health Center who could not believe the improvement in her blood pressure in just five days with no soda, little sugar, no added salt, exercising every day. She brought a blood pressure cuff from home to moderate it on her own because at 189/79, she was concerned. She asked me to take her blood pressure that afternoon because she was sure her cuff was not working properly. The verdict: 122/69. She had gotten the same results on her own.
She was ecstatic. I talked with her about ritual, about going home and setting herself up for success. She Is a recent “empty nester” and volunteered that her sons, now both off to college were rowers and that she spent large parts of everyday making sure that their meals were plentiful and healthful. Aloud, she quiered:
“Why don’t I do that for myself?”
I suggested to her that she write down all of the things that get in her way and to cross them off of the list one by one. I congratulated her on weaning herself off of soda. ( Recent studies show that one soda a day can lead to a 29 percent increase of developing Type 2 diabetes.)
We talked about a ritual she can create for herself. It is going to involve an uninterrupted visit with her favorite book and her coziest chair and her favorite tea, a place with comfort, not food, in the foreground after she takes a walk or hula hoops or goes to the gym. She really is going to take on nurturing herself.
I invite you to do the same.