Creating a healthy relationship to food

Juice and Kale, Spinach Salad
How do we allow for a more mindful practice when it comes to food? How do we create a healthy relationship based on compassion and gentle-loving kindness?

As someone who can’t order food in a restaurant without announcing my allergies, I pay attention to food. I’ve done my share of juice cleanses and still enjoy an almost daily carrot, apple, ginger juice alongside a meal. While I strive to be more mindful about eating with efforts to find a balance that includes healthy but satisfying–I have fallen into extremes when I didn’t know what was going on with my body.

Years ago I went on a month-long cleanse of sorts where I eliminated all sugar(even fruit), alcohol, wheat, dairy, caffeine, and happiness. I ate a ton of beans, brown rice, and kale dishes. I lost so much weight that I received the, “oh, wow, are you doing okay?” questionable looks from family members. I carried tupperware with steamed vegetables whenever I went out to make sure I could eat regardless of location. But I still wasn’t getting enough calories since I created this little cleanse on my own in hopes of getting my system back in order without the supervision of a professional. When I did go to see a doctor, she looked at me like I was crazy but I was desperate to figure out what was wrong and why my body was taking revenge on me.

After that month-long expedition, I sought out nutritional guidance from folks who know a thing or two about food and health, and I returned to a more balanced way of eating. I had a lot of work to do. Needless to say, I am not perfect, but I continue to observe my behaviors when it comes to food to figure out what works best for me.

Healthy eating requires a healthy mind as Mary Elizabeth Williams points out in the Salon article, “We’re clean eating our way to new eating disorders.” She describes how obsessive behaviors related to how folks perceive the virtue of food itself could lead to a disorder called orthorexia.

How do we cultivate a better relationship to food? How do we sort through the flood of information related to what it means to be healthy to make sense of it all?

I think it starts with compassion and gentle-loving kindness with ourselves. When you value your being, you value the experience of nourishment. I also think a better relationship with food also involves being more open and honest about what works for you. And what works for you may not be what works for others. And that’s okay.

Openness. Acceptance. Allowing.


Raw beets serve as a morning boost

Carrots, ginger, apple, and beetroot for juice
Carrots, apple, ginger, and beetroot prepped and ready for juice.

Earlier this year, a nutritionist recommended that I add beets to my diet. And so I did, especially during my month-long yoga certification training up at Kripalu in June, when raw, shredded beets were available at nearly every meal. I loved adding the shredded beets on top of mixed leafy greens, shredded carrots, and chickpeas drizzled with olive oil. The crunchy texture of the raw shredded beet helped bring out its earthy sweetness while also complimenting the variety of flavors in the salad.

When I returned home having completed the yoga training, beets fell off the table. I spent an entire month traveling, which made it difficult to keep up the routine. When I returned in August I bought a jar of steamed beets at an organic market that I opened once when I had guests over. But that was the extent of my beet consumption until September. That’s when I spotted velvety, purplish-red beets at the local farmer’s market. I often purchased apples, carrots, and ginger for my morning juice regimen. Then one day I felt inspired to come home with a bunch of beets. I figured juicing beets would be an easy way to work that vegetable into my diet without a ton of effort.

My default morning juice requires two medium-to-large-sized carrots, one red apple, and about one inch or 2.5 cm of ginger root. I changed this up by adding 1 beetroot plus its stems and leaves. The more stems and leaves I used, the more the juice had a grittier and not so pleasant taste. I’ve read that lemon helps with the taste but I’m not a huge fan of lemon so I simply reduced the amount of leaves and stems and rediscovered that sweet earthy taste I so loved over the summer.

Include beetroot in your juice for a morning boost.
Include beetroot in your juice for a morning boost.

Drinking beetroot juice in the morning made me feel more energized. I noticed that I began to lose the desire to drink caffeinated coffee or tea. My nutritionist told me to add beetroot to my diet to increase my iron intake, however, it has a ton of nutritional benefits. According to various health sources, it helps detoxify the liver, reduces blood pressure, lowers bad cholesterol, and improves stamina.

Doctor Oz has a nice write-up, “The benefits of beetroot juice,” that includes information about any potential side effects and guidance on how much to consume. Another online source, “Amazing health benefits of beetroot,” lists a number of nutritional benefits.

Commercial is on the air again

Me on tv

Perhaps you were watching the Mad Men finale or you are like my husband and watch the Law and Order marathons and happened to see a Vonage ad flash across the screen. Well, folks, I’m back on for another run this summer it seems. I appear in a Vonage ad holding up my phone bill and chatting a bit about the service. We have three Vonage lines that include support for the home office. The funny thing about this ad is that it has run in the Dominican Republic where my family is from and friends actually saw it while on vacation in Puerto Plata. Pretty cool.

Excellence in journalism award

SPJ award
SPJ award ceremony

I recently won a New Jersey Excellence in Journalism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for first-year reporters. The award is named after Wilson Barto who was the first president of NJSPJ. I came in second place for three articles that were written in 2011. Check out the articles:

1. The life of a water bottle: What happens to your Secaucus recycling after it leaves the curb?

2. Strong words from Meadowlands Hospital owners

Mingling at the SPJ awards ceremony

3. ‘I had the Elvis curl. She had a car.’ How Bob and Marietta found long-lasting love
What I loved most about the awards ceremony was listening to the speeches of some of the other award winners and the details behind what it takes to uncover the truth and hold people accountable. It definitely requires patience, perseverance, and a bit of ingenuity.


Bike for Buddha

Biking on a windy morning along the Hudson River

It is official! I received my Five Boro Bike Tour number via email and the event is just weeks away on May 6. I have biked to work, on the weekends, and even on vacation in Miami for some scenic ocean riding.

I am dedicating the bike tour to a very special Buddhist nun and teacher, Venerable Lobsang Chunzom, who is now in a three-year Great Retreat for Peace in the Arizona desert. I hope it will raise awareness and funds for ongoing costs for basic necessities like food and medical supplies.

Check out my blog called Bike for Buddha where you read regular posts about my training and give to this special cause: