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 Learn Ten Basics about Food 
 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Simply Well by . View all columns in series

For those who want the "buzz" that caffeine offers, green tea is a great alternative to other caffeine beverages. Green tea has such a high antioxidant content that it is actually a therapeutic substance.

  • Drink plenty of pure water, ideally eight glasses a day. Most people are chronically dehydrated and don’t realize it. One of the primary reasons for chronic constipation is a result of failure to drink sufficient quantities of water. That one change is a miracle cure for many people. If you are not sure that your tap water is pure, have it tested. Most tap water contains contaminants; we recommend using a high-quality filter or bottled water.
  • Eat consciously. Food has aroma, texture, color, form, temperature, and weight, both on your plate and in your mouth. Don’t miss it. Somebody prepared the food you are eating. Somebody worked to purchase it. Somebody harvested it. And so on. Eating is a way to appreciate the interdependence of living systems. When done with awareness, eating can inspire gratitude for more than simply relieving of hunger.

    To eat consciously (which generally means more slowly) with others is an act of communion. Food and eating together are core symbols in many religious traditions, and feasting has always been connected with celebrations of significance. To eat or drink together can be a way to seal a commitment. To share food with others is an expression of common necessity, as well as common potential.

    The healthiest way to slow down speed eating is to start chewing, a long-forgotten activity in the repertoire of most modern people—adults as well as children. Walt Whitman once advised, "Drink your solids and chew your liquids." Chew your solids so well that they pass like liquids down your throat. Enjoy the sensation of liquids in your mouth. Chewing aids digestion because the saliva in the mouth initiates the breakdown of the complex carbohydrates in the food. Chewing can also be an outlet for stress, a training of your attention, and a means of strengthening your will. And that all adds up to increased patience and peace of mind.

    Practice conscious undereating.

    An Exercise in Good Nutrition
    Think about your food consumption over the past two or three days. Does it reflect, essentially, the recommendations listed above? To which guidelines do you currently adhere regularly?

    Which ones are more difficult for you to implement in your daily diet?

    Choose one or two of the ten nutrition basics listed above that you will implement over the next few weeks. Don’t burden yourself with trying to change everything at once. Write a contract with yourself stating what you will do, how long you will continue to do it, and what you will move on to next. For instance: "From now until the end of the month, I will eat at least one fresh fruit each day, and I will cut down on my use of table salt. Next month I will work on eating at least one serving of raw or lightly steamed vegetables every day."

    Never eat more than you can lift.

    - Miss Piggy

    You may find it helpful to tape this contract onto your refrigerator or to share this exercise with a friend— someone who will remind you of your contract and encourage you to uphold it. Invite your friend to do the same.


    Reprinted with permission from Simply Well by John W. Travis, MD,
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     About The Author
    John W. Travis, MD, MPH, is the creator of the Wellness Inventory and its parent, the Wellness Index. He is the founder and co-director of ...moreJohn Travis MD, MPH
     
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