By Stephanie Elkind, CHC
I had the pleasure of traveling last week and noticed something I thought would be helpful to share. We were in the beautiful city of Prague which is known for many things but is definitely NOT known for being a healthy food mecca! We dined in restaurants 3 times a day and I did indulge in their native cuisine- yes, pork, duck, potato dumplings and beer. Other than a green salad, cabbage was one of the few vegetables we saw!
Our only exercise was walking many miles a day while sightseeing. And yet I came back feeling lighter, a bit thinner- like I had dropped a few pounds. I had an “ah-ha” moment when I came home and found myself snacking and munching mindlessly through the day.
What I realized was that when I was away-
-I never ate alone
-I never ate mindlessly or out of boredom
-I ate bigger, more satisfying meals
Every meal was a shared experience, a celebration, an occasion to be enjoyed. We didn’t carry snacks around and ate only at meals when we were actually hungry! Breakfast was substantial and sustained us easily until lunch. Lunch was usually something relatively healthy like soups and salads and dinner was a multi-course affair, wine and dessert included. So why was I able to eat like this and come home feeling great?
The revelation for me is that eating a real meal, with company, can really help us to be more mindful, to make better choices and to ENJOY eating more. If we can do that we can be satisfied on so many levels! Of course it is unrealistic to eat with others at every meal. Geneen Roth, an expert on Emotional Eating has a list of “Eating Guidelines” one of which is:
*Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others even when you are eating alone.
Many of us munch our way through the day. Our meals are often not nutritious enough to sustain us on a deep cellular level so we are constantly trying to fill the nutritional void in our bodies. When we eat alone we often eat too much of the wrong foods and don’t always take the time to prepare the healthier ones. So many clients tell me they rarely eat a meal when they are alone yet graze all day and never feel satisfied. They know there was a plate of brownies on the counter for their kids in the morning and by the end of the day they are gone- and no one else was home! I know many of you can relate to that! We eat and don’t even acknowledge it.
- Before you eat something THINK about if you would eat it if you were in the company of others. Many of us eat differently alone. Are you eating more than you would if you were with others? Are you eating because you are hungry or is it out of boredom, stress or habit?
- Keep a Food Journal for a week. It would surprise you to see what you really are eating (good and not so good) and help you to be more accountable. What is your diet lacking? Where can you make changes?
What I find so fascinating is that we would NEVER let our children or loved ones eat the way we often do. So why not take care of yourself as you would any loved one?
Remember that by adding JOOS to your diet you can help ensure that you ARE getting more of the nutrients you need in your busy life. You can feel downright virtuous when you write that down in journal or drink it by yourself!
Jeweled Cabbage Salad
So all the cooked cabbage in Prague inspired me to make a deliciously light, flavorful and colorful raw cabbage salad. Cabbage might not seem like the most exciting vegetable in the world but if you knew how good it is for you that could change your mind! It is part of the brassica family which includes broccoli, caulifower, bok choy, Brussel sprouts, and chard. It is chock-full of nutritional benefits and cancer-fighting phytochemicals. Both red and green cabbage are worth eating for all their vitamins, minerals and fiber as well.
For the salad:
6 T fresh lime juice
1 lemongrass stalk, chopped up
3 T maple syrup
1 t soy sauce
1 T sesame oil
1/4 t chile flakes
4 T light olive oil
salt and pepper
Place all ingredients except the oil in a small saucepan and reduce until thick and syrupy, about 5-7 minutes. Strain and add the oil. Season. Cool.
1/2 Savoy cabbage, finely shredded
1/4 red cabbage, finely shredded
1 carrot, peeled and finely shredded
1 red pepper, finely slivered
1 fresh chile, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup mint leaves,chopped
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
mango and/or pineapple cut in thin strips
Optional: chopped nuts such as pine nuts, cashews or peanuts
Toss all vegetables, fruits and herbs together. Add dressing and toss. Add nuts if using. Taste and season.
can be eaten right away or refrigerated for a few hours or overnight.
Adjust quantities of red and green cabbage. Add other vegetables or salad greens.