Monday, May 24, 2010

Masaru Emoto and bringing back grace....

Growing up, we always said grace before dinner as a family. I remember getting yelled at if we dug in before it was said. Sometimes my sisters and I would get a bout of the giggles watching our parents bow their heads down in prayer, or we would make up our own “silly” versions to lighten the mood.

On days when I was feeling more “mature”, I thought of grace as a way to remind ourselves that there were starving people in the world. We were the lucky ones who had our “daily bread” and it was only right to show our gratitude.

As we got older and busier, family dinners became less frequent and grace somehow grew into a tradition reserved solely for the Holidays.

When dining with other families who still say grace at every meal, I feel nostalgic for what was once my own family tradition, and find comfort in reflecting on the meal I am about to receive. But as a Manhattan-ite who doesn’t have a family of my own to feed, (let alone a kitchen table) It never occurred to me to incorporate this ritual into my own meals.

However, after learning about the philosophy and study of Masaru Emoto, I feel motivated to bring grace back into my life, and in doing so may bring about more good than simply giving thanks.

Masuru Emoto is known for his claim that directing words or thoughts at water droplets before they are frozen will cause images of the resulting water crystals to be either "beautiful" or "ugly" depending upon whether the words or thoughts were positive or negative. Emoto claims this can be achieved through prayer, music or by attaching written words to a container of water.

So if we are made up of 70% of water, then couldn't it also be argued that positive or negative thinking alone could effect what's going on inside of our own bodies? And if the molecular structure of water can be changed, then couldn’t it also be said that the energy of food can be altered by positive or negative thoughts and words as well?

A man that I met in class this weekend who happens to be a spiritual coach, believes in Emoto’s claims whole heartedly. Even when out to dinner, he always takes a moment to put kind words into his food, and in doing so believes his meal will nourish him more.

These ideas all stem back to the law of attraction and the power of thought--Positivity breeds positivity, while negativity begets negativity.

Whether Emoto's experiments hold truth or are just a series of coincidence, and whether or not you believe in the law of attraction, I think saying grace or putting kind words into your food and drink before consuming allows a person to be present at meal time. Think of all the times we scarf down a meal. How much of those nutrients are we really absorbing? And think of all the meals we've taken for granted.

Now I'm not saying I'm about to start praying over my Bloody Mary and Eggs Benedict at Sunday brunch. I mean, let's be honest...that would make everyone uncomfortable. I think a simple toast would do in this situation, and come to think of it is a form of grace. Toasting is the acknowledgment that you are in the company of great people and are about to nourish yourself through food, drink, and the company of one another. So for those of us not ready to bow our heads in silence, perhaps making ourselves more present when it comes time for "clinking" is a good place to start...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Gotta Love Oprah

Ok, so I admit I’d be pretty embarrassed for anyone to see what my roommates and I DVR. We’ve been pretty quick to let a chosen few go, but 90210, Sex and The City, The View, and Oprah are amongst the contenders.

So last night after making myself a delicious shrimp and quinoa stir fry, I sat down to watch an episode of Oprah.

The guest was Geneen Roth, author of “Women Food and God.” The key message of the book is that women often over eat as a gateway to spiritual enlightenment. In other words, women who struggle with their weight and relationship to food often use eating as a way to mask their problems or as a way to create happiness even if just temporarily.

Whether you’ve struggled with your weight or not, I think we can all relate to a time we’re we’ve used food to avoid boredom, as a reward after a bad day, or in order to forget what’s going on around us all together.

Additionally, The Book says that diets set women up for failure. This is also the primary philosophy of my school and holistic health in general.

Diets fail because the emphasis is placed solely on the food, when in fact the food is only half the battle.

Diets in some way become a form of punishment. “Eat this and you will be thin.” “Eat this and you will be fat.” Inevitably this kind of mentality will cause frustration and with frustration comes a loss of will power.

Instead the focus should be placed on “What makes me feel good?” “What will nourish me and is good for my body?” “What will give me energy and stamina?” “What will help me live a long, healthy life?”

This book, similar to the work of a holistic health counselor is therefore calling women (and men for that matter) to take a deeper look inside of themselves to not only get at the root of their problems with food, but to be kinder to themselves. Eat healthy because you love yourself and want to feel great, not because you are disgusted with yourself. When one learns to adopt this mentality is when the weight will come off.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Drain Your Lymph System the Ayurvedic Way

Doctor of Ayurvedic Medicine, John Douillard was a guest speaker a few weeks back at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Aside from charming most of the female students, his lecture was extremely insightful and couldn’t have come at a more perfect time of year!

Ayurveda, “the science of life” emphasizes the importance of taking care of our lymphatic system. Its function is to remove waste from every cell in the body and to regulate the immune system. When one’s lymph system becomes congested from toxins caused by stress, lack of sleep, and/or a poor diet, it loses its ability to remove waste properly. When this happens, our body will begin to warn us through inflammation and circulatory congestion. These warning signs appear in the form of worsened allergies, acne, fatigue, depression, joint pain, menstrual cramps, and cellulite, just to name a few. If not addressed, these symptoms can worsen and/or lead to even more detrimental illnesses.

So for those of us plagued by these undesirable side effects due to stressful routines, random nights of insomnia, or better yet, those of us who haven't quite figured out ways to combat our junk food cravings or drinking habits, how do we un-do this damage and drain our lymph systems?

According to Ayurvedic Medicine, the key is to create an alkaline environment in the body, and we can do this most easily by eating with the seasons. Dr. Douillard says, the harvest is the human's link to nature, and also the best form of preventive medicine.

So it turns out spring has much more to offer than "Spring Break" "spring cleaning" roof top happy hours, and preparation for bathing suit season.
Sprouts, artichokes, asparagus, pears, berries, papayas, and kale are just some of the delicious treats available to us at this time of year. So during this season of renewal, why not clean both your apartment and your lymphatic system by incorporating these fruits and veggies into your diet?

Take a trip to your local farmers market or become a member of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) group and start living harmoniously with the seasons!

Exercising, drinking plenty of water, and reducing stress are also key components to this cleansing process. Additionally, Turmeric is an extremely powerful Ayurvedic herb that aids in draining our lymph systems and can be taken in the form of a supplement.

I know that I personally have been burning the candle at both ends lately, and my lymph system can totally use some help. I just ordered Turmeric off of John Douillard's website, and hope to start the drainage process asap!

Monday, May 3, 2010

The road to recovery

A ridiculously crazy and demanding couple of weeks at work have thrown me off balance and I've been feeling more anxious than usual.
Working(and hard) until 8,9,or 10:00 every night left me feeling restless, iritable, exhausted, and stressed. What I want in life and what we all want in life is to feel relaxed, well rested, happy, and light. The work week ahead appears to be much lighter than the last, so I can hopefully take the necessary steps to get on the road to recovery.

For starters, I was able to come home at a normal hour tonight and make myself dinner. Similar to my green smoothie morning mantra, I look forward to the nights when I'm alone in the apartment and can whip up a tasty concoction while also preparing my lunch for the following day at work. So therapeutic!

Tonight I made a Salmon Burger (cooked in coconut oil) with avocado on an ezekial english muffin. Delish! Simultaneously I had the back burner going with tomorrow's lunch which consists of a quinoa and broccoli concoction. All I had to do was simmer 1 cup quinoa with two cups water in a pot, throw in pinch of sea salt, black pepper, garlic, and a dash of rosemary. A few minutes before the quinoa was done, I threw in organic frozen broccoli floretts with a little bit of olive oil. I let the broccoli steam in the pot for a minute or two while the quinoa was still cooking and wallah...Lunch for tomorrow is done! A delicious dinner and lunch took just 15 minutes to prep and I only used two pots.

For those of you who may not be familiar with quinoa, it is a water soluble whole grain that is a great protein source, containing all essential amino acids. It is also a great source for manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorous, making it beneficial for those who may suffer from migraines, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Furthermore it is rich in fiber, which can help prevent many cancers, gallstones and diabetes.

For dessert, I find that drinking decaffeinated green tea with honey satiates my sweet tooth. It is also very calming. There's nothing like curling up on the couch with a steaming cup of sweet herbal tea and the remote control or a good book!
When coming off a week long bender of late nights at work, or whatever else might be throwing us off balance, it's important to take time to get back to doing the things that "feed" us both physically and mentally. Often times when the bustle of our routines leaves us feeling heavy and stressed, we tend to engage in extreme activities that lead to an even greater imbalance such as binge eating and drinking, unproductive vent sessions, or frivolous shopping sprees. Instead, we need to take a deep breath, congratulate ourselves for surviving the chaos and get back to where we feel best.