Our guest this week was registered dietician Virginia (Ginny) Flanders, RD, the Director of Nutrition and Food Services at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital in St. Johnsbury and a certified diabetes educator.
Ginny gave a great presentation on mindful eating, a new approach to healthy eating and weight management that eliminates the need to count calories or eliminate carbs. Mindful eating is all about being aware of the food you are eating. Not only do we need to choose nutritious and healthy foods to eat, but we also need to pay attention to our bodies, which tell us hour to hour how hungry we are.
All foods fall into one of three categories: proteins, fats or carbs. A fourth source of calories is alcohol. For the best nutrition and to give our bodies the energy they need to function optimally, we need a balanced diet – a variety of healthy foods, rather than eating only meats or eliminating all carbs.
Responses to this exercise ranged from “weird” to “it’s amazing how a raisin stinks” to “it makes you think about what you put in your mouth.” According to Ginny, if we slow down when we eat, we’ll become aware of each bite and eat less. “When you go to eat something where is the hunger coming from?” Ginny asked. “We need to eat for stomach hunger, rather than eye or nose or head or heart hunger. It’s a whole different way of approaching food and eating.”
Ginny also suggested that we should eat our meals without the distraction of television, computer or cell phone. Mindful eating is pleasurable eating, she said, and food can’t be enjoyed to its fullest when we are engaged in doing something else, like watching television.
Ginny recommended a couple of books we might find helpful if we choose to practice mindful eating:
- Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan
- Savor. Mindful Eating, Mindful Life, by Thich Nhat Hanh
- Don’t buy your food at the same place you buy your gas
- Don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
- Avoid foods containing more than five ingredients.
- Eat only animals that have eaten well.
- Eat colorful foods.
- Eat foods that have been pre-digested, like kimchee, a fermented cabbage.
- Eat oily fishes.
- The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead.
- Eat all the junk food you want, as long as you cook it yourself.
2 tsp. olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. cumin
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper
1-1/2 cups plain nonfat yogurt