Mindful awareness

Monday, November 29, 2010

Generosity through Eating Well

This is the season for expressing generosity – many of us host gatherings and prepare gift lists more in the next month than the rest of the year. I am inviting my students this week to consider ways they can express generosity to themselves as well. Their yoga practice is one gift they are giving themselves. Eating wholesome foods can be another expression of self generosity.

But choosing to eat well is not always easy. Much of the information we receive when we make food decisions is confusing. Making sense of so many food choices can become more overwhelming when we learn conflicting information from news sources. One moment we are told to limit fat, another moment we are told to limit carbohydrates. We learn we need to take in more omega-3 fatty acids in the form of fatty fish then we are told to limit fatty fish because of the mercury levels. Considering every micronutrient in each food becomes overwhelming for anyone. Spinach has calcium and iron but should I use kale to get a little more? How do I know family members have enough vitamin E in the diet?

Rather than becoming overwhelmed by so many details, consider a simple rule of thumb: eating a variety of whole food in their natural forms will provide the nutrition you need (exceptions may exist because of health conditions – follow directions from your health practitioner). Manufacturers of processed foods often replace nutrition with simple carbohydrates and sodium. Non-fat options of many processed foods replace taste reduced by removing fat by adding sugars and sodium. Eating processed foods, even products labeled healthy, will often replace a nutrient with simple carbohydrates and sodium. For instance, low-sodium products may have relatively lower salt compared to their companion products, but still more than wholesome food. Consider canned soups and processed meats as they compare – lower sodium or not – to homemade soups and lean meats.

Choosing to eat well as an expression of self generosity perpetuates itself as a gift of a healthier and happier you to the important people in your life. Selecting wholesome, unprocessed foods makes your food choices a little easier.

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