It's more than a slogan - it's a way of life.
We all like to think of ourselves as progressive people,
but it is obvious that a lot of things that we've progressed to
are not good for our health,
and this is something we must correct.
~Dr. Bernard Jensen
Eating Simply is a key component to restoring and maintaining a healthy body, healthy mind, healthy heart, healthy spirit, healthy family, healthy community and a healthy planet.
What does it means to Eat Simply?
Nature gives us everything we need to care for our bodies. We are a part of nature - not a separate being that mysteriously appeared in a foreign land. The foods from the earth are meant to pass through us, designed with great wisdom to nurture us, to provide our sustenance and to give our bodies what we need to live healthfully and joyfully.
Every attempt man has made to improve upon what Nature gives has taken us a step farther away from living in harmony with the earth. Our bodies and the sustenance from the earth and designed to live and work together. Both contain Divine Intelligence that cannot be replicated in any laboratory.
Eating locally has many benefits.
- Know your farmer - You can talk to your farmer, visit the farm and get to know the principles he or she believes in and the practices he or she employs. (And while you're there, share a little love and gratitude! We need local farmers!)
- Support a local business
- Save the food miles and save on the consumption of fuels needed to transport produce - not just across the country but around the world! Yes - transporting food around the world - does that not blow your mind?
- Eat foods that are picked closer to ripeness. When you buy foods that have traveled a long distance to get to you, they have been picked before their time and allowed to ripen on a truck while traveling down the highway.
I realize it's sometimes difficult to get the variety of foods you want when you eat locally, or you might not have the time to visit the Farmer's Markets or join a CSA. If you do opt for foods from the grocery store, most chains carry a variety of organic produce, and some even feature local farms. In this case, do your best to
- Buy from local farms
- Eat organic
- Avoid Genetically-Modified Foods
Eat like foods together - eating foods that digest similarly makes it easier on your digestive system to manage the foods you put into your body.
Stick to only 3 foods at any meal. Your body is not designed to process a whole smorgasbord at one time. Give it only a few simple options at each meal.
Drink water 20 minutes before your meal or 30 minutes to an hour after, depending on how long it takes to digest your foods. Foods that are closer to the way they come from the earth take less time in the stomach and contain more of their own enzymes to help with digestion. Fruits and vegetables digest quickly, starches take up to about 4 hours, proteins can take up to 6 or more hours in the stomach.
The average stomach has a volume of 2.1 pints. However, it is not meant to be filled to capacity with foods. It needs space for the gastric juices to enter the stomach and space for the mixing of the gastric juices with the foods.
Simply put, the stomach is meant to be filled only to about 1/3 of its capacity - that's about 1.4 cups of food at any meal.
That leaves 1/3 for the digestive juices and 1/3 for air - to leave space for the stomach to churn the foods with its natural juices to break down the contents into components that can be absorbed into your system.
Eating is meant to bring pleasure. Allow all of your senses to delight in the experience of eating. This is your body's wisdom at work.
The sight of desirable foods stimulates digestion. You were given an incredible sense of smell which can get your mouth watering and stomach churning. You have almost 10,000 taste buds to bring you enjoyment and fulfillment through Nature's delectable gifts.
Your senses wake up your digestive system. They give your body information about what is coming so it can prepare to receive the nourishment and mobilize to digest and assimilate the nutrients.
You have the opportunity to consciously enjoy the benefits of your sensory perceptions up until the time your swallow - often this time comes too quickly!
Taking time with your foods gives more time for relaxation, appreciation, stimulation of digestive organs, more time for chewing and mixing with digestive juices. If you eat more slowly, you will likely stop eating before your stomach is overfilled, because it takes time for your stomach to tell your brain when it has had enough.
It is said that the Divine delivers us a gift of love through the sensory pleasures of eating. So allow your sight to take in the beauty, allow your smell to stimulate your hunger and enjoy the tastes of Nature. Spend time with your foods. Savor the flavors. Receive the Gifts. Receive the Love.
Gratitude itself is a gift to the body, heart and spirit.
Your body cannot digest foods when you are stressed. Stress puts your body in a state of "Fight or Flight." When your body is feeling threatened by the perception of stressful situations, it sends its energy away from your digestive organs and gets you ready to fight or to run. Digestion is put on hold until you are returned to safety.
Unfortunately, stress has become a common state for many people in our culture. But have you ever tried to be stressed out, anxious or emotional and grateful at the same time? You can't do it.
Gratitude brings the body to a state of rest. It opens your heart, your nervous system and your energy to receive. Physiologically, it stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system, which manages the processes of digestion in your body and allows your body to secrete the necessary digestive juices, perform the necessary movements that break down and absorb the nutrients from the foods, and it allows the body to move the foods along your digestive tract, filter and release the wastes.
There is great wisdom in the tradition of saying a prayer of gratitude before meals. The simple act of taking a moment to feel thankful for what you have can make a huge difference for your body, heart and spirit.
Life is for all of us on this planet. As a long-time vegan, I have held to the motto of “live and let live.” I wanted to be free to make my choices and I want you to be free to make yours.
Recently, my feelings on this have changed. While I am still committed to support anyone who comes to me for help with their relationship to food, body and spirit, I do feel an obligation to increase awareness of the far-reaching implications of the animal agriculture industry.
The animal agriculture industry is responsible for an incredible amount of suffering on this planet. What has come to light more recently is its impact on climate change. Animal agriculture is responsible for more than half, and as much as 3/4 of all greenhouse gasses, if you consider the opportunity costs of farming, deforestation for animals and crops to feed them, and all the subsequent resources that are used to bring animal products to the plate.
This is no longer a “live and let live” scenario. it is a “live and let die.” If we do not take drastic action to turn this around within the next 7-8 years, we are facing a mass extinction – and we humans are not exempt from it.
Holiday season is a time of increased consumption of animal products and food in general. This year, even if it seems unrealistic to have a completely vegan meal, take the steps you can take. Do you really need to add butter and milk to your side dishes, or can you enjoy the natural flavors of the foods? Try substituting almond milk for cow’s milk. Instead of cream and cheese based sauces, try vinaigrette dressings or balsamic vinegars and herbs. Sweet potatoes taste really good with coconut oil instead of butter. I make mine with a little coconut oil, fresh grated ginger and cinnamon.
If you’d like to substitute your meat dish with an alternative, there are several vegan recipe sites online with great dishes. Personally, I like to mix onion, celery, parsley, rosemary, sea salt, diced portabello mushrooms, chopped walnuts, vegetable broth and ground flax to make a meatless loaf dish. Everyone loves it, even the non-vegans.
There are many alternatives to animal products that can be a big hit during the holidays. I invite you to be courageous and experiment.