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Sporadic photos and notes from a Psyche-midwife, cheerleader, anthropologist--aka clinical social worker in therapy practice. Photos are usually mine except for those of historical events/famous people. Music relevant to the daily topic is often included in a web video embedded below the blog. Click on highlighted links in the copy to get to source or supplemental material. For contact information, see my website @ janasvoboda.com or click on the button to the right below. Join in the conversation.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January 29 Challenge: Soul(ful) Food Day

Maybe you think I spend days thinking of these challenges.  OK, not if you know me-- then you know I write these pretty much right before the calendar flips each night.  I write whatever's on my mind that day.  Today's post was prompted by two incidents unrelated except by the food topic.
now we're talking.  REAL local-- backyard!

 1)  Last night on the radio I heard a three minute except from a show on NPR that I cannot seem to track down tonight.  The host was talking about Michelangelo's diet, said to consist of pears, olive oil, cheese, bread and wine.  He lived to 89.  OK, I'm in.

2)  I made cookies on a whim tonight.  I've never liked following recipes and cooked in the past by taste and smell.  I still have a busted nose, so this is no longer a great idea.  Evidenced tonight:  I threw in what was meant to be a hearty dash of cinnamon and turned out to be a BOATLOAD of turmeric.  I couldn't taste the difference, but I don't think you'll want the recipe.

Even without the nose, I have relearned to like eating. Word has it we have three real drives:  hunger, thirst, and sex.  I'll let you mess with the second two.  Today's challenge is around attending to the first, or at least that which we associate it with:  FOOD.

really.  just don't. 
We live in interesting times.  Our bodies are wired to give a little dopamine reward on encountering concentrated forms of energy (think sugars and fats).  In times past, that meant being in the right place at the right time, say around a fruit tree during harvest time, or doing a lot of work (hunting and killing animals).  Sure, we could get some calories by grazing the local grains, but the real deal was hard to find.

Now, we can get that reward anywhere, anytime.  We can drive through at 3 am and consume a bacon burger and shake and get more calories than the average Indonesian does in a day.  We eat EVERYWHERE-- on buses, in our cars, walking-- and all times of day.  Our bodies haven't adjusted to this overabundance.  Americans now take on an average 1000 extra calories a day beyond actual energy needs.  And calories are cheaper now than they were a couple of generations ago, especially in America, where there are subsidies for genetically engineered wheat and corn and other sources of relatively nutrient-poor foodstuffs.
extra delicious because made and eaten with friends

We eat and eat and eat.  We don't think so much about it.  But doesn't it seem like this Big Drive deserves at least a little thought?

Here's how to meet today's challenge.  Choose one or many, or invent your own.

1)  Let yourself get hungry.  We tend to eat by external cues (the clock, exposure to food).  If you are pretty healthy, try waiting til your belly growls.   You'd be surprised how unfamiliar this is.

2)  Eat mindfully.  Take your time.  Put your spoon or fork down between bites.  Notice the taste, texture, aroma (lucky devil)  of the food.  Notice how these change on different parts of your tongue, or if you hold it in your mouth a bit longer than usual before swallowing.  Watch this 5 minute interview with Mindless Eating author Brian Winsink for some information that may surprise you about why we eat more than we mean and enjoy it less than we might. 

fancy-ass delicious
3)  Cook mindfully.  Try a new recipe, maybe from another culture.  Take your time.  Think about the farmers, packers, truckers and others who brought you this food.  Send them a good vibe.

home cooked love potions
4)  Pay attention to how, why and where you eat.   Are you hungry?  Are you feeling another void, satisfying a craving?  Just for today, try eating only at the table.  Not in the car, not standing up while cooking.

5)  Eat foods that have meaning for you.  Make something from your childhood, or a meal from all local ingredients.

6)  Skip a meal and donate the money to a food kitchen or other charity.

Some resources for today's challenge:
PBS 10 Steps to Becoming a Locavore
Practices from the Center for Mindful Eating
NPR Article: Around the World in 80 Diets 
Enjoy!  ~Jana
Today's theme song is by "Weird Al" Yankovich.

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