The Thankful Thirteen

November is the month of “Thankfulness”. It is a time to reflect; to become more aware of things that bring joy and happiness. This month we want to learn more about being grateful on a daily basis. We have so much around us to appreciate.

How about expressing gratitude and becoming aware of our eating? The food you eat, how it affects the senses, how it tastes and makes you feel. This practice of consuming food with attention is known as “Mindful Eating”. This practiced experience gives us an understanding of the relationship between the food we eat and how it nourishes our body. It has been proven to have a large impact on our health. This is where “The Thankful Thirteen” comes in handy. Thirteen ideas and principles of how we can be more mindful and create positive habits that nourish our body.

The Thankful Thirteen

  1. Eat breakfast or nutrient dense food in the morning when your body can assimilate the most from food.
  2. Don’t wait until you are starving to eat. If you wait till you are hungry to eat, your blood sugar has already dropped and you will be more likely to crave sugar and/or refined carbohydrates.
  3. Avoid eating while angry, under stress, or with people you don’t like. Your food will not digest properly if you are angry or upset. Enjoying your food and being content when you eat allows our bodies to literally accept the food more effectively into our systems.
  4. Eat slowly and thoroughly and breathe! Chew your food well! Carbohydrate digestion depends on the enzyme salivary amylase, which is found in the mouth. Challenge yourself to make a habit of chewing your food until it is all of one consistency. Breathing relaxes your nervous system ensures better metabolism and digestion.
  5. Practice eating mindfully. Sit down, turn off the T.V., put down your book and avoid unpleasant conversation with yourself and others.
  6. Toss the microwave! Studies indicate the damage or negative effect that microwaving can have on our bodies. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective microwaving renders the food energetically dead.
  7. Include a good amount of cooked foods in your diet. Between 40 – 100% depending on the season, constitution, and health. Humans have evolved to required cooked food in order to obtain the energy needed to nourish our brains and thrive.
  8. Refrain from drinking with your meals. Drinking with meals will dilute the enzymes and acids necessary for proper food digestion. Drink 20 minutes before or after your meal. A cup of warm tea or glass of wine may enhance digestion.
  9. Eat a variety, Eat Simply. This is not a contradiction. Eat lots of varieties of food over a day or week, but make your meals simple and avoid complex combinations of foods within the meal itself.
  10. Eat until you are satiated, not until you’re full.
  11. When possible eat an early dinner, by 7 pm. Your body is less capable of digesting heavy or complex meals at night.
  12. Don’t chill the Spleen. The digestive process needs warmth, too much raw, cold, frozen foods or iced drinks will dampen the digestive fire.
  13. Give thanks for your food and thank yourself for eating consciously. Prepare food with love and consciousness.

From an original handout by The Wellspring School for Healing Arts.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ~ Hippocrates