MHHS NUTRITION CLASS REFLECTIONS

                    

      Personal Nutritional Impact/Reflection Paper

Leslie A. Stangler

St Catherine University

My Views on Nutrition Class

This is a reflection of nutrition class. First, I discuss the relationship between love and food. I share how love is something we need more than food, also my love for food as it nourishes me and brings me to life. Secondly, I will discuss food as energy. After discussing energy I reflect on mindful eating and shopping.  I go on to discuss my farmer’s market experience and our class visit to the farm. I reflect on the importance of getting to know the farmer, and I will discuss the ethics behind that reasoning. I then discuss some things we learned in class about the science of food, and give my views on nutrition.  I then reflect on a few of the food rules that resonate with me from Michael Pollens book. Finally, I discuss Ayurveda and how I live with Ayurveda in my everyday life, and to finish with a reflection on the food presentation.

Love. To begin, I will discuss how love relates to my relationship with food.  I love food. I love eating in community. I love the farmers who delivered the food. I love all the hands who touched my food until it got to my plate. I love the soil, the microbes that made the soil possible. I love the seed that blossomed into this beautiful plant. I love the sun that nourished the seed.  I love the clouds for delivering water. I love the pests for not destroying the produce. My heart is so full of love for food, for people, for Earth, for our mother, and for creation.

Food, we all need to eat, but not all eat the same. I find consuming love to be of greatest importance in life, second to consuming food in a loving and grateful way, for greatest nutritional potential. My views of healthy eating have changed somewhat after taking this nutrition class; I realized after reading Integrative Nutrition that primary foods like love may take precedence over nutritional foods (Rosenthal, 2014). I guess I never looked at it that way; I always realized the value of family, friendships, and love connections but not in comparison to food. I suppose if I had to choose between the two I’d choose love over food. I feel the need to increase my love input and output; love being as beneficial for our health as food, or more than food. I do feel that there is a metaphysical energy exchange between me and my food. Food is energy.

Energy. The nutritional value of food is highly influenced by the energy of the producers, cooks, and consumers. I vibrate at a higher frequency when I eat foods that are local, organic, made with love, fresh, and full of nutrition. It is important how we eat, where our food comes from, and how we cook. I’m learning to cook and eat more mindfully. Also, food that may be otherwise unhealthy, if eaten in a loving context, with family or friends in grateful way, will provide nourishment in a way much more valuable than eating the healthiest food in the world. I do believe food tastes better when consumed in a slower, mindful, and more loving way.  Now I will reflect on the mindfulness eating we practiced in class.

Mindfulness. I feel the vibration of the food increases the frequency of love in the body when eating mindful, slower, and peaceful. It is a great rule to practice mindful cooking and eating. By taking breaths and closing my eyes before eating, and taking small breaks to meditate while eating. I found it hard at first, during our mindful eating exercises to put the food in my mouth and just hold it there, the chickpeas just disintegrated! After a while, I have grown accustomed to eating slower and being more appreciative of the foods I am eating. I take bites, and then place the food down, and observe my body’s reactions to the food. Mindfulness can also be practiced while doing the grocery shopping. The farmers market is a place to come for fresh, local, and hand-picked produce. It is an opportunity to meet the farmer and exchange energy, money for food, exchange words or smiles, and mindful of where the food has come from as an important part of healthy eating. Next, I will briefly discuss my farmer’s market experience as a means to practice mindful shopping.

Farmers market. The farmers market is a nice place to go after church on Sunday, to smell the flowers, taste the fresh salads, smell the coffee, see the sights, and savor the flavors of delicious veggies; fresh from the farm. I have met two local farmers so far, other vendors there are distributors. I had a great experience asking the farmers for advice on my own gardening practice. I brought home some beautiful plants to grow at home; edibles and flowers. The farm experience showed me that purchasing a Crop Share Association (CSA) is another great option to practice mindful shopping.

Womens environmental initiative. Going to the farm was great; we pulled weeds, planted veggies and met the chickens. The farmer was nice; she answered most of my questions. I had a chance to talk about environmental injustices. I’m passionate about these topics and hope that mother Earth will heal herself with our help. I ordered a half share CSA from Womens Environmental Institute (WEI) and really look forward to the next eighteen weeks of weekly fresh produce! When I am on my way up north to visit grandma or Lake Superior hiking and camping I will stop by the farm with the dogs to pull some more weeds. I like that they practice sustainability, composting dirt, and providing fresh and local food to the community, which leads me to the next topic, ethics of shopping for food. Mindful eating.   I like to purchase foods from local farmers who I have met personally. This way, I have a relationship with the farmer, I know their practices, and I feel good about making smart decisions that are not harming the environment. I support the WEI CSA, and now I can have fresh produce delivered to my neighborhood, and it hasn’t had to travel very far. This makes food much more nutritious when it is freshly picked and eaten. Food can be more affordable when purchased from local farms since it uses up fewer resources for food to travel a short distance than from across the country. When I do shop locally at Co-ops I don’t use plastic bags, I use reusable bags or used boxes, therefore co-op shopping can be sustainable too!

When I travel or Im out shopping I take reusable bags with me everywhere I go, and bring along the book, Healthy Highways (Goldbeck, 2004) it is the travelers guide to healthy eating. I do bike ride to the store when I can. When I am out driving in my car and out shopping, I steer away from chain stores like Walmart, Cub, and Costco for I do not support the industrial production of food. I have in the past shopped for organic produce at Costco, who at least pays their employees a decent wage. I vote with my dollar and do not support a corrupt industry such as Monsanto, Cargill, etc.

I have seen documentaries that show how these companies exploit ignorant people and put people’s lives and environment at risk. We march against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) across the St Paul capital to bring more awareness to the people in our community about GMO, and to fight for our right to know if GMO is in our foods, and since the fight has begun I think that companies are now required to put GMO on the label for each ingredient that is used. This is just one step in the right direction, now if GMO’s would go out of business I’d be pleased with the efforts made by organic farmers and consumers. I am doing my part to help the planet by buying things that are not going to be harmful.

I help the environment by donating things, reusing things, fixing things, reducing my carbon footprint, and recycling.  I like to purchase from the thrift store, local farms, and co-ops.  I have become vegan, organic, and I am spreading the word that our individual choices do matter and make a difference for our health and our environment’s homeostasis.  I have always been passionate about health, wellness, and nutrition by eating a whole foods diet, eating clean, and avoiding processed foods heavily contaminated with chemicals, pesticides, and preservatives. I always felt a close connection between food and energy. I always eat in a way that is mindful, looking at my food before taking a bite, and giving thanks. Having a spiritual upbringing has allowed me the wisdom to practice mindful eating with greater ease.

Throughout my lifetime, I’ve practiced Buddhist and Christian philosophy. Life is much easier when practicing right effort, right understanding, nonattachment, contentment, and non-judgmental. May all beings everywhere be happy, be free of suffering. May we all be free from ignorance and obsessive or compulsive behaviors, cravings, aversions, etc. I practice right effort by sharing what I know about the food industry. The harm that is done to eat industrialized meat products. I have enough compassion for animals not to eat them.  I’m working on having compassion for people who are still eating meat that comes from factory farming or meat in general.

Jesus said, “Forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). I try not to be judgmental of meat eaters, but I feel they may continue eating meat because they don’t know or don’t care the harm it’s causing the planet. But I definitely care and want this planet to thrive, because we all are affected by each other’s energy. I believe Earth responds to our energy. Food reacts to the state of our being and that which comes from a negative source will provide negative energy to the consumer; same goes for a positive energetic environment. I participate in the compassionate action for animals because I believe animals are not meant to be eaten, they are meant to be our friends and companions. It’s wrong to cause suffering to any sentient being, is the Buddhist way of living.

The more I meditate and send loving kindness thoughts to those who are causing harm to the planet, I pray that they find truth, peace, and turn away from doing further harm. I don’t wish that they crash and burn because this is not compassionate thinking. I can transform the world with love and kindness, Mother Teresa did, so can I. Now that I have reflected on mindfulness, let’s be mindful that there is a science to food, and body needs many nutritive elements to work properly. I will reflect on the nutritional aspect of the nutrition class from the books I’ve read and classroom discussions.

Nutrition. I looked up the individual foods that I commonly eat to know what nutritional values they hold, from Encyclopedia of Healing Foods (Murray, 2005) and The Natural Health Book (Hall, 1976). These books are highly effective for relaying in depth facts about individual food groups and discusses important topics such as digestion, nutritional values, composting, food preparation such as sprouting seeds and nuts, and food cures for health problems. I have started consuming more complex carbs like rice and beans, as a vegan it is important to supplement with B12 vitamin-rich foods like brewer’s yeast. I am getting my daily dose of veggies and fruits. I am trained to eat only wholesome organic foods and this has worked wonders for me to maintain a healthy weight and positive attitude. Intuition is very important when it comes to food consumption, and to know my blood type, dosha type, and what foods are best for my body, since the body knows best, therefore, I listen to my body and make changes accordingly.

Helen Healy was a great resource for learning about nutrition at greater depth. I asked her many questions and she was able to answer them all. I have been practicing eating rice and beans in the morning since I have heard numerous times that eating protein in the morning will help me feel satiated and grounded, less anxious or agitated too. The food rules book is a valuable tool and a reminder that nutrition can be fun to learn and eating healthy can be enjoyable to practice.

Food rules.   I used Michael Pollen’s (2009) book throughout the course to think of new ways of living a healthier life. A few of my favorite food rules were to eat well-grown food from healthy soil. This rule inspires me to garden.  I’ve started composting and gardening. So far, I have greens growing and they are babies right now but I am nurturing them with plenty of good nutritious soil, water, sun, and love. I have yet to purchase worms for the compost.  I am inspired by the movie we watched. I’m keeping the bunny rabbits away by growing them higher up off the ground in planters on top of a retaining wall in front of the picture window where I sit now. So I have a constant connection with my food. I have a special garden hose that I mist the plants with morning noon and night. Another food rule, number 26, drink the spinach water. It is important for not wasting any nutrition that may be lost in the water food is cooked in.  I’ve been using the water I cooked the food in to pour over the dog’s food, and also use it in my cooking if I’m making soups. Rule 25 is eat your colors is a great food rule, I have  been eating kale blended with lots of purples; cabbage and beets it makes for such a beautiful dish. I usually steam the veggies and mix in with Thai rice noodles, and add condiments such as hot sauce, peanut sauce, or teriyaki to add flavor. I also cook with shredded turmeric and ginger which gives it nice color and savory taste. Another rule, number 24, is eating what stands on one leg and not two. Mushrooms stand on one leg, and I add these to a lot of cooked dishes. I’m afraid to eat mushrooms not cooked, but I’m more afraid to eat the energy from an animal that experienced pain or suffering.

I love being a vegan and will never go back to eating anything that stands on two or four legs.  I think one of the more important rules is number 60, treat treats as treats. For me, this means to consume less maple syrup and dark chocolate. Sugar can be toxic and cause inflammation in the body (Rosenthal, 2014). Rather than make them a daily occurrence I can treat myself to these sugary treats sparingly. Next, I will discuss my appreciation for Ayurveda, the sister science of Yoga, with a reflection on the presentation LouAnn and I did together.

  Ayurveda.  First, I reflected on the chapters on Ayurveda from the textbook, Fundamentals of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (Micozzi, 2011). I did Google searches to refresh my memory on doshas, gunas, and other teachings I learned from my time in Yoga teacher training and beyond. I dug out my Yoga teacher training books and read through the sloppy notes I took and I appreciate having had that experience and knowledge to refer to. I noticed over the years of eating clean and wholesome my handwriting has improved. I have become a much more mindful person, less impulsive, less judgmental, and kinder to myself and others. With a compassionate diet for animals and the planet, I’ve become a compassionate person all around.

Ayurveda nutrition is special, as it meets individual’s needs. I fluctuate between pitta, Vata, Kapha and know enough about each one, and how to complement that dosha for the best health possible. Perfect Health is a book I read that introduced me to Ayurveda long ago, where I  learned more in depth about practicing Ayurveda (Chopra, 2000).  To eat healthily, I plan healthy meals and bring food with me wherever I go. I purchase only fresh organic produce.  I cook Ayurvedically most the time, and in a sattvic way to provide the purest form of energy (Mukherjee, 2008). The author of the article The Ayurveda diet (2008) is completely right that raw foods can be nonsattvic, causing digestive problems, which I have recently noticed in my own body from eating foods raw. However, I did purchase cookbooks that utilize many raw ingredients, which I barely use these cookbooks and it’d be best to give them away as gifts since I don’t see myself ever going raw. These books are Crazy Sexy Kitchen (Karr, 2012) and Live Raw (Kirk, 2011). On the plus side, these books are plant based, or as Kris Carr says in her title, plant empowered recipes to ignite a mouthwatering revolution (Carr, 2012). Some things are best eaten raw, for instance, foods that lose nutrients when cooked. Other foods release beneficial materials when cooked, and cook off any harmful materials.  Overall, cooking food lightly is great to make the food easily digestible.

Ayurvedic cooking is light cooking, meaning the food is not overcooked. That makes food that much more nutrient dense and easily digestible. I use light spices such as Bragg’s amino acid, hot sauce, and brewer’s yeast. I love how hot sauce increases the Agni or digestive fires too.  During my stay at the Yoga shala in Rishikesh, we consumed a light breakfast at 9 am, a lunch at 1 pm, and I don’t believe I was hungry for dinner after that. We took a break after lunch to rest and digest. I was eating chocolate and drinking Chai tea some of the time there, which stimulants are not advised for a calm mind, body, and soul. The time I spent at the meditation center for ten days of retreat, I did not consume any caffeinated teas. I drank relaxing chamomile, which enhanced my experience tremendously.

The food presentation I completed with Lou Ann was on Ayurvedic cooking. This came easily to me since I practice Ayurveda regularly.  I prepared savory and spicy dishes. I talked a lot about doshas, energy, and nutrition.  Foods provide the healing properties we need to counter effects of imbalances in our lives, foods can be grounding or over stimulating. Everything we consume affects our energy, it’s important to know where the food came from, who grew it, what energy went into preparing the food, which is why I love to shop local and know the farmer.  It was very satisfying to share a meal with others, to receive feedback and nothing but good comments. It’s encouraging to share healthy foods more throughout the community. I am not shy that I am vegan; more people can learn from me and try a diet that is much healthier too!

Final reflection. This class offered so much nourishment for my body, my brain, my heart, and I feel satisfied in all areas. The food was delicious, the presentations were interesting, and the books were awesome. Throughout this reflection, I discussed ideas such as love for food. I love to nourish my body with whole, organic, and vegan foods. I love to share foods with others, and will continue spreading my food wisdom to raise the vibrations of love on Earth. I really enjoyed reflecting on the energy of food and eating mindfully, as well as mindful shopping. It is important to understand nutritional values of foods. This class was very beneficial for creating an in depth understanding of what all goes in to eating.

References

Carr, K. (2012). Crazy sexy kitchen. Hay House USA

Chopra, D. (2000). Perfect health. Three Rivers Press

Goldbeck, N. & D. (2004). Healthy highways. Woodstock, NY: Ceres Press

Hall, D. (1976). The natural health book. New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Kirk, M. (2011). Live raw. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing

Micozzi, M. (2011). Fundamentals of complementary and alternative medicine. St. Louis, MI:       Saunders Elsevier

Mukherjee, A. (2008) The ayurvedic diet. Hindustan Times. Retrieved from                 

https://stkate.illiad.oclc.org/illiad/illiad.dll?Action=10&Form=75&Value=77892

Murray, M. (2005) The encyclopedia of healing foods. New York, NY: Atria

Pollan, M. (2009). Food rules. New York, NY: Penguin Books.

Rosenthal, J. (2014). Integrative nutrition. New York, NY: Greenleaf Book Group LLC

The Reader’s Digest Association. (1997). Foods that harm foods that heal. Pleasantville, NY:

U.S.General Books

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