Mindful Nutrition

(photo by robotgirli3girl)

Friday night Hansel and I decided to treat ourselves with dinner and a movie. We went to a nice Italian restaurant and I had a few slices of focaccia bread with olive oil, a small garden salad, and a delicious bowl of whole wheat penne with garlic cream sauce, broccoli, mushrooms, and spinach. Accompanying this feast was a robust, burgundy colored, glass of Chianti.

Ohhhhhh Chianti!!

When I was younger, living on my own, I ate a lot of pasta. It was fast, easy, and for the most part filling and cheap. Going to college full time and working full time I could throw a huge bowl of pasta something into the fridge on Monday and have meals till Saturday. Also, being a budding Vegetarian, it seemed like a smart, nutritious alternative to the cups of ramen most of the other art students hawked down.

I think it was pasta overload—or going to Italy and eating the real deal, but since my late twenties I really cut back on pasta and bread products in general. Now-a-days I save these babies for special occasions or when my black cloud reappears and I need a little comfort food lovin’. Friday night pasta was definitely fit for the occasion: a salute to a summer gone bye and being thrown back into the work-force again! Pasta and a movie is the least we could do.

But I think it was about ten minutes into the movie where I started to feel extremely uncomfortable. The seat, no matter which way I positioned or turned, felt like torture. Then, my stomach started to hurt. First an aching feeling–like you get if you eat past your limit, then it simply started to hurt like real pain. We debated if we should leave…but being the cheapie that I am, I was determined to get the full $9.95 experience that I paid for, including the seat from hell!

On the drive home it occurred to me that this usually happens after I eat pasta. Most of the time I don’t focus on it, because I’m busy being distracted by other things. But Friday night all I had was a dark theater, a nasty seat, and a mediocre movie. I couldn’t help but focus fully on what my body was telling me.

Here’s the kicker: Saturday I woke up feeling depressed and irritable. Everything bothered me. Plus, my stomach was incredibly bloated and hanging over my pants. It was embarrassing! Also, I’m going to get personal and tell you that I couldn’t go to the bathroom.

All of this from eating an over processed, extremely fat and creamy bowl of pasta. All of this!! Can you believe it?

All summer I ate beautifully. Gallons of fresh squeezed juice and tons of whole foods and grains. My only downfall is an occasional chocolate covered almonds or those fried tortilla chips you eat with salsa. Other then that…I was a poster child for Vegetarian Nutrition. Who knew what effects a bowl of pasta could make on your whole existence. Think of all those poor souls that eat processed, nasty junk day-to-day. Think of the billions of people McDonald’s serve. No wonder our society is so depleted. Honestly. I felt HORRIBLE from about fifteen minutes after I finished my meal till this morning when I finally went to the bathroom! That is over twenty four hours of ughh feeling that could have been prevented.

“Prevented”–the key word.

I don’t know why, but for the first time in my life, I became fully aware how food effects my system this past weekend. Truthfully, up until this summer I ate good. Not well, or great. I ate good. I ate vegetarian always, but many times eating processed vegetarian meals out of a box or picking up take-out even. Since I’m being honest, I will also admit that I ate a lot bread products just to give me that quick feeling of being full. All of that, vegetarian it may be, is not as good for you as fresh cookin’ from your kitchen. Cutting the veggies, adding your own natural additives like herbs and spices and fresh virgin olive oil–not corn oil that has been sitting in the pan for hours like in restaurants. This summer proved what a difference a good diet makes. I had energy all summer, I always woke up feeling refreshed and in good spirits, and I didn’t feel an inkling of being sick once.

So this new revelation got me thinking. I read Erica‘s blog on how she made a cup of “Fresh” prescribed by Dr. Oz from Oprah. There are so many diets and trends out there, how are we suppose to know what is good for us and what’s not? How should we eat, when should we eat, what should we eat? Who has the answers–and who is right? For me, when I am really curious, I always turn to Yoga for answers. I found a great little article titled Eat to Support Your Yoga.

The authors, Mary Taylor and Lynn Ginsburg state: “Eating can also be considered a practice in which you seek universal balance. Like Yoga, eating is a highly personal activity-you learn to adapt your needs to the many popular nutritional systems and diets. Developing a mindful eating practice can provide a ground that truly supports and nurtures your Yoga. “

I think, for me, this weekend has been a great lesson. In my vision board that I made at the beginning of the summer I posted photos of fresh veggies and fruits. My intention behind it was to sharpen up my diet. This summer I worked on that till it became second nature. It took a dinner date to realize what progress I’ve actually made in my lifestyle changes, and it has given me the opportunity to experience the alternative to my decision.

Tomorrow the school bells will begin ringing and kids will be trampling in and out of my Art room. I need to be in the best condition possible to deal with the stresses, lows, and highs that come along with teaching. Not to mention the constant attack by little kid germs! I think the key to creating a nutritional diet that keeps one healthy and energized is not necessarily found on any TV show, or in a book, or even passed down through the teachings of Yoga. It’s found in the make-up of our own cells. If we listen closely, and choose to be mindful, our bodies are our finest nutritionists.

Peace & Love.

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