General Eating Guidelines
- Appreciate the nourishment process.
- Recognize how essential food is and make room for it everyday.
- Take a moment to relax before eating; let the tension of the day go; open to receive nourishment; prepare for eating.
- Light a candle.
- Turn off the television or talk radio – create a peaceful space for mealtime.
- Eat slowly, take small bites, chew well, and put utensils down after each bite.
- Whenever possible choose the freshest, least processed, locally grown, seasonal foods. These choices can support the community.
- Choose whole foods, including whole grains and whole grain products and unprocessed vegetables and fruits on a daily basis.
- Recognize the relationship between food and the world. Organically grown foods can help promote sustainability. Non-packaged products reduce waste and products with recyclable packaging can be recycled and/or reused.
- Balance food choices by eating a variety of food types, colors, and categories.
- Explore ethnic cuisines that offer a great variety of spices, seasonings, traditions, and nourishment.
Eating to Nourish: Food is what fuels the body; it is nourishment. To nourish means to feed or sustain with substances necessary for life and growth. The process of eating is an experience of the senses; it should be enjoyable as well as nourishing, needing to be balanced with what is healthy to allow for growth and healing of the body. Food should be thought of as nourishing not just as part of the daily routine. Listed below are some considerations concerning different aspects of food and eating:
Attitude: How we feel and think about food and eating play a major role in how the food we take affects our body. Sitting down for a meal or a snack can be a time for regrouping of our thoughts, or for enjoying someone’s company. It can be a time to explore the senses of taste, smell, touch, and sight; learn to experience those sensations. This is a time to reassess attitudes and habits about food and eating.
Diet: Food should be balanced and contain variety: include fish, meat, poultry, and fresh vegetables and fruit, nuts, grains, and legumes. Drink plenty of water daily.
Shopping: This can also be an experience for the senses. It should not be done in too much haste, especially when beginning to make a change in eating habits. Food should be bought and eaten as fresh as possible; choose fruit and vegetables that are crisp and rich in color. Choose raw or dry roasted nuts that haven’t been exposed to open air too long. Look for fresh meats, poultry, and fish – ask the butcher for the best products. Quality is key.
Time: Taking the time to prepare food stimulates the palate and helps increase appreciation for eating. We all have different internal clocks to eat by. It is best not to go too long a time without eating. Our bodies give us signs when we need to take in food: feelings of hunger, headache, dizziness, decreased concentration, tiredness, clumsiness, irritability, and/or “spaciness”. It’s best to plan regularly spaced meals and snacks throughout the day to avoid these symptoms.
Digestion: The breakdown of food takes place in a relaxed phase; therefore it is most beneficial to eat in a sitting position rather than eating on the run. Mealtime should be a time of calm, not a time for family arguments, driving, business transactions or schoolwork. These types of actions have the tendency to cause tenseness, which is not very conducive to digestion.
Cooking & Preparation: Choose desirable flavorings and cooking methods that allow for maximum enjoyment of the food. Take a moment to arrange the food on the plate in a manner that is visually pleasing. One’s attitude when cooking and eating can affect how the food tastes. People don’t have to be gourmet cooks to take the care needed to prepare and cook food for the body and spirit.
Eating: To maximize the efficiency of the digestive process, take small bites and chew food thoroughly. The chewing process causes the release of saliva and enzymes in the mouth, which mixes with the food and stimulates enzymes and acid in the stomach. Chewing well decreases the amount of work the body has to do, making nutrient absorption more efficient.
After eating: It is best not to do heavy exercise or sleep after eating. A walk or light activity after meals can help the digestive system do its job.