Author, "Mariel's Kitchen"
Let's be honest with ourselves: America has a weight problem.
Before I go any further, let me say: Weight problems and ensuing poor health are, in part, due to circumstances early on in our lives, a lack of exercise and the fast-paced society in which we live.
I am not saying weight problems are simple and can be explained in a few sentences. But I can say for sure that our society attaches value to speed and convenience – a combination detrimental to our connection with food, nature, ritual and health.
So, whether or not your weight issues come from childhood problems, unspoken fears, or because of a slowed metabolism (due to a toxic load inside the body caused by food choices), it's important to take a good, close look at yourself, your health and how you eat.
Do you eat at the fridge, or on the run? Coffee shops or drive-thrus? Are you convinced that the ritual of food is merely for homemakers and people without your busy schedule?
I believe we all can take extra time to eat well and make meals for ourselves and our families. It's a habit that can give us an invaluable sense of health and well-being. My passion is to help people connect to food from a different place; to get them to a space where people understand that eating is a ritual of self-care and self-nurturing.one of the keys to finding peace with food.
I know how food can rule a person's life. Much of that feeling, however, of being controlled, often stems from the fact that people make poor choices about what they consume. Too much caffeine, processed food, alcohol and sugar (or fake sugar) cause brain noise. It is an actual chemical noise that occurs in the brain when you consume "bad" food. Think of it as an imbalance. It creates a fog that makes it impossible to differentiate what food is good for you and what is not. When a person can get to a level playing ground - by cutting back on noisy foods and eating healthy items - that "noise" is eliminated. Then you begin to be able to listen to what your body needs. And the beautiful thing is that we're all individuals and all of our needs are different.
Eating locally grown seasonal food can improve your health. When that happens the body will find its natural weight and balance. Let me be clear: It is not an overnight process. It took me years to discover the right food path for me. But during the journey I discovered I love the ritual of eating. I love sitting in silence (if I am alone), tasting, chewing and connecting with my food and knowing that where it comes from is close to me . that the journey from field to my plate is a short one. And the most important thing is that my food is clean, pure and simple, and I give myself permission to enjoy it.
Not only that – even when I'm alone – I set a place mat out on my kitchen table and I light a candle. When I was married and my two girls were at home we had a family dinner every night. I made a point of creating a beautiful dining table with flowers, candles and good china. We enjoyed one another, the food was filled with love and it made us closer as a family.
Obviously, ritual and simple food are not necessarily the answer to weight issues or family problems. (And, of course, these tough economic times have made even a family dinner more of a challenge for many folks.) But those components can help us begin to understand how we feel about ourselves in regard to food and eating. A few small changes could allow you to be more "in" your body and more "present" in your life.
I believe that taking in nourishment mindfully is as important as anything we do in our life. It can shift how you perceive the world. It can give you a feeling of ease. It can help you be your true self – all day, everyday. And, when it comes down to it, we have to eat. That's non-negotiable, friends. So why not use it as an opportunity to become more healthy, balanced and present.
Editor's note: Academy Award-nominated actress Mariel Hemingway is the author of "Mariel's Kitchen. Simple Ingredients to a Delicious and Satisfying Life." It is the sister book to her lifestyle book "Healthy Living from the Inside Out."
Follow @marielhemingway on Twitter
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