Recap of Pillar #6 – “Food is Medicine”

“Mindful eating means simply eating or drinking while being aware of each bite or sip.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh, Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life

On June 4th, we introduced Pillar #6 of “The Year of the Best You” – Food is Medicine. Today, we will recap how the month went in the area of nutrition & food. Our June worksheet encompassed 1 task per week – getting creative in the kitchen; being grateful for our food; and adding a healthy food choice every day.

I hope you enjoyed celebrating and appreciating food this month. My main stumbling block was practicing gratitude around a meal each day during the second week. I realized I am much better at expressing gratitude when I was not the chef, but I am often the cook in our house. Now that I am aware of this, I am going to continue to practice the habit of a moment of ‘grace & thanks’ with at least the evening meal.

Mindful eating

It is much easier to be grateful for our food if we are paying attention to what we are eating – this is known as mindful eating. We have discussed mindfulness many times and it is always worth re-discussing. If you have ever taken the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, you will know that mindful eating of something like a raisin is one of the core exercises.

According to The Center for Mindful Eatingmindful eating is:

• “Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting your own inner wisdom.

• Using all your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body.

• Acknowledging responses to food (likes, dislikes or neutral) without judgment.

• Becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating.”

When we slow down while eating, we allow our “body to catch up to our brain”. Alternatively, when we eat fast, we are more likely to overeat as we haven’t received the signal from our body that it is satiated. It also allows us to enjoy our food more through further appreciation of the culinary experience.

If you are interested in more on mindful eating, sign up for The Center for Mindful Eating free webinar tomorrow titled “Bring Mindfulness to Emotional Eating”.

I must admit, after medical training and having children, it is a definitely a work in progress to slow down while eating even after many years have passed.

Culinary medicine

Along with the theme of “Food is Medicine”, the field of culinary medicine is an evidence-based approach to looking at nutrition as it intersects with health and well-being. According to Dr. John La Puma (a.k.a ChefMD) in the article What is Culinary Medicine and What Does it Do?, it “blends the art of food and cooking with the science of medicine. Culinary medicine is aimed at helping people reach good personal medical decisions about accessing and eating high-quality meals that help prevent and treat disease and restore well-being.” In fact, when it comes to our physical and mental health, is there anything more modifiable than the food we eat?

Medical education is also starting to see the importance of incorporating nutritional science and food preparation into training. The Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine is at Tulane University in New Orleans, and is the first dedicated teaching kitchen to be integrated into a medical school. In terms of continuing medical education, Harvard medical School has been hosting an annual conference since 2007 called “Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives” which is considered a “leadership conference bridging nutrition science, healthcare and the culinary arts”. How cool is that?!

Food is more than fuel for our bodies – it can build community, express creativity, prevent diseases and manage health conditions. Sprinkle a dose of gratitude and a dash of nutritional knowledge and we are well on our way to a healthy lifelong relationship with food.

Stay tuned next Sunday as we discuss Pillar #7 of the “Year of the Best You” – Creativity.



Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life – Thich Nhat Hanh & Dr. Lilian Cheung

Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food – Dr. Jan Chozen Bays

Cooking with Your Doctor: The New Culinary Medicine – NPR