Loving what is – Byron Katie

Posted December 16th, 2015 in Great reading, Soul Food by Rebecca Lane

I am reminded of the synchronicities of life that Michael Singer discusses in his books – for shortly after I finished reading The Surrender Experiment, one of my clients shared with me the audiobook Loving What Is by Byron Katie.

Byron Katie’s work is called Inquiry and offers a beautiful, framework for learning from the inner voice. Whenever a thought comes up that triggers an emotional reaction, immediately use the 4 questions to discover what is real, and where the opportunity for growth lies.

The process –

  1. Hear the thought, feel the emotional response.
  2. Write it down – Byron Katie even has a fabulous worksheet called Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet available here: http://thework.com/sites/thework/downloads/worksheets/JudgeYourNeighbor_Worksheet.pdf
  3. Ask the questions – Is it true? Can you absolutely know that it’s true? How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? Who would u be without the thought?
  4. Turn the thought around – this is where the opportunity for growth lies. Reread the statement, replacing the name of the person you are judging with your own name, and recognize that you do this very thing to yourself. That this other person is actually acting as a mirror for you to learn and grow. Further, you can turn it around to the other person and recognize that by your judging, you actually do this action to the other person in response to your perception that they are doing it to you – because of your story.

There are many resources on Byron Katie’s site available for free use at www.thework.com. And I strongly recommend purchasing the audiobook Loving What Is available for about $20 on iTunes. My husband, Mark, and I have been listening to it in the car on our weekend drive up to the cottage. It certainly makes for interesting Saturday morning conversations as we release layers of hurt during the night!

So, what does the title Loving What Is refer to?

The learning, the understanding that flows through this work is that there are two worlds – reality and our story. Our business, our journey is clearing the layers of our story so that we can recognise what is reality and stop struggling to change it. It is. Unchangeable. And the struggle against reality destroys us, makes us sad, exhausted, disempowered. Makes us sick.

The opportunity is to unconditionally love reality – whatever shows up, embrace it fully. As Michael Singer says, “life is going to put us through the changes we need to go through. The question is: Are we willing to use this force (reality) for our transformation?”

Loving What Is – a powerful tool to use over the holidays to transform. I intend to share it with my family, so here you go! Enjoy the journey.

The Surrender Experiment – Michael A. Singer

Posted December 16th, 2015 in Great reading, Soul Food by Rebecca Lane

Several weeks ago, I sent an email to Bob Proctor asking him to update us on what he is reading at the moment so that I could have some ideas for new books to look at. I was directed to his blog where he has some great ideas: http://www.proctorgallagherinstitute.com/6483/six-books-to-read-this-year, but I had already read most of them.

So then, I asked clients and friends to share what they are reading. This presented many great options, and I’m going to share two of them in this post and the next.

I have a special friend who lives in Atlanta who has been on an incredible journey of self-discovery over the past year and it has been a privilege to watch him! He told me that he had come across Michael A. Singer through Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday’s http://original.livestream.com/supersoulsunday/video?clipId=pla_013d598c-fe7c-4671-8eca-5a37074e5825. Oprah discusses one of his books, The Untethered Soul on the clip – but when I went to Chapters, the book that pulled me was the book that followed called The Surrender Experiment. Here are some of my favourite quotes from this book – the pieces that were “aha’s” for me.

His book is all about his experiment to fully surrender to the universal flow of life – “to always be present in the current moment and do my best to not allow my personal preferences to make decisions for me.” (129) “My formula for success was very simple: Do whatever is put in front of you with all your heart and soul without regard for personal results. Do the work as though it was given to you by the universe itself – because it was.” (133) Whenever he experienced any resistance to his experiment, “I simply stopped for a moment, took a breath, and recognized all the negativity as my mind’s initial resistance to change.” (140) Sound familiar? “I had already learned time and again that it didn’t matter if I understood what was happening; it was sufficient to devote myself to the present moment and trust that the flow of life knew what it was doing.” (172)

He realized that “there were two very distinct aspects of what we call mind. There was the logical, thought-driven mind that links together what we already know into complex patterns of thought in order to come up with logical solutions. Then there was the intuitive, inspiration-driven mind that can look at a problem and instantly see a creative solution. As it turned out, the years of spiritual work I had done to quiet that voice in my head had opened the door for almost constant inspiration. It seemed that the quieter the mind, the more the solutions became self-evident.” (150)

On change – “Perhaps change only takes place when there is sufficient reason to overcome the inertia of everyday life. Challenging situations create the force needed to bring about change. The problem is that we generally use all that stirred-up energy intended to bring about change, to resist change. I was learning to sit quietly in the midst of the howling winds and wait to see what constructive action was being asked of me.” (160)

More on the inner voice – “the more I was willing to let go of the inner voice created by my personal likes and dislikes, the more I could see synchronicities in what was unfolding around me. These unexpected concurrences of events were like messages from life gently nudging me in the direction she was going. I listened to the subtle nudges instead of listening to the not-so-subtle mental and emotional reactions caused by my personal preferences. this is how I practiced surrender in everyday life.” (168)

“What I saw was that no matter who we are, life is going to put us through the changes we need to go through. The question is: Are we willing to use this force for our transformation?” (185) He found that “letting go … left me in a state of profound inner peace. I was not in charge, life was in charge, and there was an underlying sense of enthusiasm and excitement about getting to see what would happen next.” (189) In fact, “the constant act of letting go of one’s self-centered thoughts and emotions was all that was needed for profound personal, professional, and spiritual growth. All I did was my very best to serve what was put in front of me and let go of what it stirred up within me. It was not my responsibility to find what was binding me; that was life’s job. My responsibility was to willingly let go of whatever was brought up within me.” (252)

I hope that these insights stir you to delve deeper. I certainly found them powerful winds of change!

After reading Michael’s book, one of my clients brought into my office the audiobook of The Work of Byron Katie. What a perfect transition to a tool that supports letting go of our painful thoughts.

Healing Music of Dr. Hamer

Posted October 28th, 2015 in Depression, Emotions, Psychology of Disease, Soul Food by Rebecca Lane

Very simply (and please forgive the simplicity), Dr. Ryke Geerd Hamer was a German doctor who, after losing his son in a shooting accident, developed testicular cancer. He recognized that his cancer had occurred as a direct result of the shock of the catastrophic loss of his son. This understanding motivated him to research cancer further and as a result developed the controversial German New Medicine (www.newmedicine.ca).

Through the millennia, humanity has more or less consciously known that all diseases ultimately have a psychic origin and it became a “scientific” asset firmly anchored in the inheritance of universal knowledge; it is only modern medicine that has turned our animated beings into a bag full of chemical formulas.”

While I find the research and teachings of German New Medicine really important for the understanding of how cancer manifests in the body, I find a different creation of Dr. Hamer even more interesting.

One the most challenging aspects of my work with clients is supporting them in releasing their emotional issues, patterns and even emotional identities (where part of their body has actually taken on the identity of an emotion – it recognises itself as fear or betrayal). Dr. Hamer was aware of this challenge and created a piece of music that actually supports the body in releasing these emotional issues. It is available for free on YouTube and I will include the link.

However, I want to insert a caveat here. Releasing deeply held emotional issues can be painful. Sometimes listening to this music can almost hurt. Be respectful. Listen to your body. If you find that after 10 minutes you feel actually sore in a part of your body, turn off the music and send that part of your body love and acceptance. Listen. Is there something your body is ready to let you know? Is there an old negative belief system that you had totally forgotten about starting to replay in your mind? Hear it – even say the words, “I hear you”. Thank it for reminding you. Remember gratitude is one of the most powerful emotions, next to love. What we are able to love and be grateful for raises us up.

Everything in your body happens for a reason. Your body is pre-programmed to protect your ability to stay alive. Negative patterns and beliefs were at one time created to protect you – whether by your parents, by society or by your body. An example: when your mother hugged you every time you hurt yourself, it could have started a protective pattern in your body that whenever you felt pain you would receive love. Now as a teen or adult you are frequently breaking bones and falling and hurting yourself when you feel the need for love and acceptance.

Growing up means finding love and acceptance within yourself. Easier said than done!

So, back to the music. Listen to it every day if you can – for as long as you are enjoying it. Listen when you are feeling stressed, or worried about an exam, or a presentation at work. It will calm you down. Develop a practice of listening for at least a few minutes every day – you could use it as a starting point for your daily meditation.

Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3DtuKpP8OQ . Enjoy!

Expect Abundance on Every Level

Posted October 26th, 2015 in Depression, Soul Food by Rebecca Lane

Every day I have an “Insight of the Day” delivered to my email by Bob Proctor’s company. I really enjoy them because they always give me a thought for the day, and are often a new way of looking at something.

Last week one of the insights that really spoke to me was:

Expect your every need to be met. Expect the answer to every problem. Expect abundance on every level.

After receiving this one, I wrote it out and put it up on my wall. It has been the subject of several discussions. The last sentence especially has become almost a mantra for me.

Expect abundance on every level.

What blocks us from receiving abundance on every level? I certainly don’t have all of the answers but what I have learned so far is that there are emotional issues or patterns or identities that we have created that block us from reaching levels of abundance.

I think that when we were young, or experiencing a time of crisis, we created these patterns originally to protect us from something that upset or confused us, to give meaning to a world that frightened us. So far, I know of 13 of these emotions

  1. Judgment
  2. Fear
  3. Hatred
  4. Betrayal
  5. Guilt
  6. Grief
  7. Shame
  8. Value
  9. Anger
  10. Pride
  11. Worth
  12. Apathy
  13. Pain

They did a great job of protecting us, but now as adults it becomes difficult to leave these familiar ways of being behind.

Recognize them within you. Which of these is the most familiar to you. Notice them. Notice how they show up in your life. Understand how, when and why they might have been created in you in the first place.

Thank them. They have served you well.

Now, notice how they block you from experiencing abundance in your life. Has fear blocked abundant love? Have issues of worth blocked abundant wealth?

Do you manifest abundant creativity, friends, relationships, spiritual growth, health, work, exercise – how do these issues show up in all of the levels of your life?

By understanding how they were created in the first place, how they were protection – and now a barrier – you can choose to release them, let them go.

Can you feel where they lie in your body, causing unease, aches or pain? Deeply experience and feel them. Know them.

There are several tools to help to release deeply held emotional issues. First it is important to respect them, for they are an integral part of you. Loving your entire self requires understanding, respecting and loving even these dark spots!

To begin releasing, I suggest starting with some deep breaths. Slowly bring your attention from your head down to your heart centre. Let’s try a simple visualization technique (other options you could use might include Ho’Oponopono, EFT tapping, deep breathing and meditation).

From the heart centre, imagine a tiny light in the centre. Focus on it as it grows larger, brighter, warmer.

Allow this light to expand to fill your heart, your chest. Bring it to all of the areas where you feel unease, pain, soreness. Let it warm them, soften them, heal them. Imagine it as love – accepting and loving these parts of self – and experience these areas of your being that were previously yelling for attention, experience them relax, release and calm down.

When you stop expending so much energy hiding from these sore parts of your self, from these emotional issues – they no longer have the power over you that they once did. Visualize the bonds created by this way of being actually fall away. Let go.

Let go of believing that things have to be a certain way. Open to “what if”? To pure potential.

What might abundant happiness feel like? It could be a quiet, gentle KNOWING within yourself that life is good. Imagine it, make it real. Feel it, experience it.

Expect abundance on every level.

What could this mean for you?

Mental Hygiene

Posted February 23rd, 2015 in Soul Food by Rebecca Lane

Your own words are the bricks and mortar of the dreams you want to realize. Your words are the greatest power you have. The words you choose and their use establish the life you experience. Sonia Choquette

Just the other day, I was speaking with a good friend of mine. We were talking about the weather and I was saying that I just can’t seem to get warm this winter. She told me of an experience she had while waiting for the bus earlier that week.

It was a really cold morning, an icy wind was blowing and she started to mutter – words like “I hate winter”, you know them well! In the moment of hearing her words, she stopped.

She had a realization.

She could either get caught up in the negativity, feel colder and more miserable. Or, instead, she could choose to truly embrace the cold. So, rather than continue to feel miserable, she decided to tap into a more positive self  – and realized that the stinging cold actually made her feel vibrant and alive, in fact clear and refreshed. To remember the wonder of this turning point, she wrote a poem:

Dazzle winter sun

Crisp wind on cheeks glowing pink

Feel your life Divine

With every thought we think, or word we speak, we have a choice. Do we fully embrace life and its wonder, to be completely one with the moment, and celebrate the power of Now? Or do we live in the past or future, replay old stories and half-truths that no longer need to define us, or worry about a future that seems so uncertain and fraught with the fear served daily by the media.

Its our choice.

Listen to the words we speak, the thoughts we think. Clear those that no longer serve – by hearing them, thanking them for the lessons they have taught and letting them go.

Those that empower us, and fill us with joy, laughter, and peace – cherish them, embrace them, share them and then let them go too.

When you feel the power of your words, it becomes easier to make mentally healthy choices.

 

 

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Posted December 19th, 2013 in Gluten-Free Flours, Recipes by Rebecca Lane
Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

One of my vegetarian clients, Andrea, just sent me this delicious recipe for cookies that my family loves. I’m enjoying them right now with a cup of my favourite Bengal Spice tea! I wanted to share them with you so that you might be able to enjoy making them over the holidays. I have no idea where she found the recipe, so my apologies to the original creator.

1 14oz can organic chick peas (I used Eden Brand- drained)

¾ cup almond butter (if you use a 19oz can of chick peas, use 1 cup of nut butter)

3 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch sea salt

1 tsp baking powder

¼ cup maple syrup (I used a little less and it was sweet enough for us)

In a food processor, blend all of these together until smooth. Then pulse in 1 cup of chocolate chips. On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, drop a tablespoon of batter and flatten slightly with a fork.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes or until the cookies start to show little cracks. Enjoy immediately!

Merry Christmas to everyone – relax and enjoy your time off.
Love and laugh out loud.

Pork and Beef Meatloaf, with Carrots and Brussels Sprouts

Posted December 4th, 2013 in Paleo, Recipes, Vegetable Dishes by Rebecca Lane
Meatloaf with Carrots and Brussels Sprouts, and leftovers!

Meatloaf with Carrots and Brussels Sprouts, and leftovers!

As far as I’m concerned, Meatloaf is the perfect comfort food. Not only is it delicious on the first night, but the next day its fabulous crumbled into an omelette with some spinach.  For this meatloaf, I mixed ground beef with two of Copari Meat’s delicious mild pork sausages.

1 medium onion, chopped small

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 lb ground beef (I used 0.686 kg)

2 pork sausages (remove the casing)

2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 eggs

2 Tbsp butter (or coconut oil)

1 zucchini, grated

1 carrot, grated

1 stalk celery, chopped small

1 tsp each oregano, basil, parsley, salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook onion, garlic, zucchini, carrot, celery in butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, herbs.

In a separate bowl, combine the beef, sausages, eggs with hands. Add in the cooked vegetables and mix together well (use a spoon as it’s hot and I burned my hands!).

Pack mixture into a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees F until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of meatloaf registers 155 degrees F. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. (I found that there was a lot of fat in my meatloaf, so rather than adding any oil to my Carrots and Brussels Sprouts, I used this tasty fat – and it was good).

 

Carrots and Brussels Sprouts

Carrots and Brussels Sprouts

Carrots and Brussels Sprouts

The combination of flavours and textures of these two vegetables work really well together.

3 Tbsps unsalted butter (or use the fat from the Meatloaf – I drained half-way through cooking time)

3 lg carrots, cut into ½ inch thick slices on the diagonal

1 lb Brussels Sprouts, washed and halved lengthwise

Pinch salt and pepper

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup water (not necessary if you use the fat from the Meatloaf as it has enough water in it)

In 2 Tbsp of butter, in a heavy skillet over medium heat cook the carrots and Brussels Sprouts with salt and pepper, stirring occasionally until vegetables begin to brown (3 to 4 minutes). Add water and cover skillet and steam vegetables until vegetables are tender (5 minutes). Stir in vinegar and remaining tbsp of butter.

Leftover mashed cauliflower, mashed with roasted squash.

Leftover mashed cauliflower, mashed with roasted squash.

Leftover Medley

I’ll be honest, I find the most delicious combinations when combining my leftovers! The night before we had the Meatloaf we had mashed cauliflower, and for lunch today I roasted some carrots and squash to have with my sprout and green salad. Neither was enough on its own, but mashed together the two were delicious! If I didn’t have leftovers, I probably would have added either some squash or turnip to round out the flavours of this meal – or if you wanted to have a rice-like texture, chop up steamed cauliflower and broccoli into small rice-sized pieces, and they would be perfect!

Sausage Meatballs with Onions and Peppers

Posted November 30th, 2013 in Meat in, Paleo, Recipes by Rebecca Lane

Dinner last night was so tasty that I have to share it with you!

Yesterday, I visited a new butcher (Copari Meats) in Newmarket with whom I had a great discussion about the difference in taste between grass-fed animals and those produced on large scale Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO).  For more information, I encourage you to watch the video American Meat available free online at http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/11/23/american-meat.aspx.

After our discussion, I picked up four of his mild pork sausages (as well as some venison dog food), and this is how I put dinner together.

Simmer gently to combine flavours for about 10 minutes.

Simmer gently to combine flavours for about 10 minutes.

Sausage Meatballs with Onions and Peppers

4 Mild Sausages, cut up into 1 inch slices

1 Onion, diced

1 Bell Pepper, chopped in chunks (I actually used 2 half peppers for colour – orange and red)

1 can (398ml) Eden Organic Diced Tomatoes with Roasted Onion

Pinch salt, basil, oregano, parsley, chevril – I’m not exact, but about ½ tsp of each

Over medium heat, gently brown the sausages. Add in the onions and cook in the oil from the sausages. Once the onions are softened and fragrant, add in the peppers and stir into the onions and sausage. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the tomatoes and spices and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Steam the cauliflower until fork tender

Steam the cauliflower until fork tender

Mashed Cauliflower

½ cauliflower, cut into florets

2 Tbsp butter

Pinch salt, parsley

Steam the cauliflower until fork tender – about 10 minutes. Transfer the cauliflower into a food processor with butter and spices and puree until the consistency of mashed potatoes.

Wash, then cut off stems and chop into 1.5" chunks.

Wash, then cut off stems and chop into 1.5″ chunks.

Cover and steam for 5 minutes - should be bright green colour.

Cover and steam for 5 minutes – should be bright green colour.

Rapini

1 bunch of rapini, stems cut off and chopped into 1.5 inch sections

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp butter or coconut oil

¼ cup water or vegetable stock

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) to drizzle over the top

Over medium heat, warm a cast-iron pan until the butter melts. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant but not brown – 2 – 3 minutes. Toss in the rapini, and the stock or water and allow to come to boil. Cover and remove from heat. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp of EVOO and serve while still bright green in colour.

Sausage Meatballs with Mashed Cauliflower and Rapini

Sausage Meatballs with Mashed Cauliflower and Rapini

Serving this on a plate, I put the mashed cauliflower down first, topped with the sausage meatballs. Then the other 1/2 of the plate I filled with the rapini. If you are not a fan of rapini, you could replace it with collard greens, kale, spinach, swiss chard – all cooked the same way. Or if you prefer, a salad would be a great accompaniment too!

Comments from my teenage son – best dinner ever Mom! He ate 4 helpings.

Healthy Fats

Posted November 28th, 2013 in Brain Health, Concussion Nutrition, Fats, Nutrition Articles by Rebecca Lane

Fat is essential for the proper function of the body, it is an integral part of every cell membrane, regulates the immune system, reduces inflammation, and vitamins A, C, E, and K require fat to be properly absorbed in the body. Deficiencies in these vitamins are linked to malabsorption, bone density issues, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome. Here’s a brief overview of the different fats, and healthy food sources.

Essential fats – omega-3 and omega-6 – These fats are not produced by the human body and must be acquired from the diet. They promote cardiovascular health, keep cell membranes fluid, lubricate joints and skin, boost metabolism, nourish the nervous and immune systems and help keep hormones in balance.

Food sources: mechanically cold-pressed chia seed, flax seed, hemp seed oils, algae, fish, krill and walnut oils; almond, black currant seed, borage seed, evening primrose seed, pumpkin seed, safflower seed, sesame seed and sunflower seed oils. Once you open the bottle, they need to be consumed rapidly – store in refrigerator.

Monounsaturated fats – important for the healthy function of the brain and all cell-membranes, and reducing reduce inflammation. Research also shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.

Food sources: avocados, cold-pressed avocado oil, extra-virgin olive oil, grape seed oils, nut oils.

Saturated fats – make up 50% of your body’s cell membranes, bones require saturated fat to properly assimilate calcium, your lungs and heart use saturated fat for nourishment and proper function.  Additionally, saturated fats found in butter and coconut oil (myristeric acid and lauric acid), play a large role in immune health.

The brain is made up of fats and cholesterol, mainly saturated fat. A diet low in saturated fats deprives the brain of the building blocks it needs for proper repair and function. Saturated fats are also needed for nerve communication; they function directly as signaling messengers and influence the metabolism.

Food sources: Organic butter and ghee (clarified butter), cheese, grass-fed meat, free-range eggs and poultry, coconut oil and palm oil.

Cholesterol – 1/5th of the brain’s weight is cholesterol, it makes up much of the myelin sheath, facilitates brain communication and function, is a powerful brain antioxidant and is a precursor to steroid hormones and Vitamin D.

Food sources: Grass-fed meats, free-range poultry and eggs.

Fats to avoid – Refined, processed, chemically extracted, bleached, damaged, and hydrogenated oils are toxic to every cell of the body. Margarine and processed or genetically modified products such as vegetable oil, cottonseed oil soybean oil, canola oil, safflower oil, and any hydrogenated oils should always be avoided. These fats are anti-nutritive, denatured, highly processed, pesticide and solvent laden, rancid, and refined. Of course, we all now know about the dangers of trans fats so avoid all fats that have hydrogenation listed on the label. NO AMOUNT OF TRANS FATS is safe to consume.

Guide to Cooking with Fat

As a rule of thumb, if the predominant classification of an oil or fat is polyunsaturated, then we should never cook with it – regardless of its smoke point. Lipid oxidation and free-radical production quickly takes place when these types of fatty acids are exposed to any degree of heat – even very low heat. This is a big red flag for producing inflammation and irritation within our bodies.

Heat (above 350°F): saturated fats and cholesterol – lard from animal fat, butter, ghee, coconut oil

Low to medium heat (moderately stable oils): extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, rice bran oil. When cooking with these oils, use broth or water to keep the temperature down and stop them from overheating.

Not to be heated (very unstable oils): nut and seed oils (including grape seed oil) , camelina oil – delicious drizzled over salads, fruit, and steamed vegetables topped with some lightly toasted nuts and seeds. They are delicate and easily damaged by heat, light, oxygen, and moisture, so refrigerate in a tightly sealed, opaque bottle. Look for cold-pressed, unrefined versions only.

Additionally, therapeutic oils such as cod liver, fish liver, borage, black currant oil, and evening primrose should NEVER be used for cooking.

Food Conscious

Posted November 21st, 2013 in Nutrition Articles, Psychology of Disease by Rebecca Lane

It has been a long time since I have written a blog post – almost a year! This has been an incredible year; the most important part is that I have been working with many different clients with many different issues. Working with all of you has been a great source of joy and inspiration for me.

I sometimes get asked, if I could give people one piece of advice to improve their health and wellness, what would it be.

All other things being equal, the answer is: Be conscious of the food you eat – understand the ingredients; know how it is prepared; and “consciously” ask yourself, do I really want to eat this food?

This advice is hardly revolutionary. But, in today’s world, one could say it is largely counter-evolutionary.

In the last several decades, our society has evolved into a world where we are less concerned with what we eat, and more concerned with how long it takes to eat it. Grabbing a “quick bite” has become more important than eating good food. Starting in about the 1950’s, mass produced burgers, wrapped in Styrofoam or wax paper became acceptable, even desirable, sustenance if it meant getting somewhere on time, getting more work done or pleasing your kids, who wanted the toy of their favourite cartoon character that came with their burger.

Even home cooked meals joined the rat race and were put into overdrive. Ingredients like sugar, bleached white flour, white rice and the beloved sodium became the fuel that drove the engine and, for many meals, the microwave became the race track.

So, how did this become the road most traveled? There are probably a number of factors that deserve honorable mention. But, none is more significant than communications technology. To illustrate the impact this technology has played in both how and what we eat, I’ll tell you story about my husband’s first encounter with a Blackberry.

In 2001, his brother was in Toronto on business and invited him to drive into the city and meet him for dinner. They were eating at a trendy restaurant in the Queen West area. It was about 9:30 pm and they had just been served their main course.  His brother’s Blackberry rang, either with an incoming call or email. He quickly looked at it and put it away. He then proceeded to wolf down his food before standing up and saying, “I’m going outside and deal with this.”

My husband said, “Hey, it’s quarter to 10 at night, they can’t expect you to just jump and get back to them. It is after hours, man, it is your time. You’re having dinner with your brother!”

His brother looked at him and with total seriousness, said, “When we were given these things we were told, if the office contacts you we expect you to reply 24/7.”

If the infiltration of communications technology into every waking moment of our day was not bad enough, it has been matched, gig for gig, by the equal proliferation of information technology, including news, entertainment and, most significantly, advertising.

We are all just so “busy.” Fast, mass produced and highly processed food helps us to get on with our “busyness.” And, all that advertising helps us know where to find it.

After many years of neglecting “what” we eat in favour of “how” we eat, something happened on the way through the drive thru. Somewhere along the line, we got fat. Between 1979 and 2004, obesity rates in Canada skyrocketed. In children between 12 and 17, the obesity rate tripled to just under 10%. For adults between 24 and 35, the rate more than doubled to over 20% and in seniors over 75, the rate also doubled to just about a quarter of all people. (Source: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/050706/dq050706a-eng.htm)

In the United States, where obesity is worse than in Canada, U.S. Surgeon General, Richard H. Carmonal, testified before Congress in 2003, saying:

“I welcome this chance to talk with you about a health crisis affecting every state, every city, every community, and every school across our great nation. The crisis is obesity. It’s the fastest-growing cause of disease and death in America. And it’s completely preventable. Nearly two out of every three Americans are overweight or obese. One out of every eight deaths in America is caused by an illness directly related to overweight and obesity.”

Dr. Carmonal went on to say that in the year 2000, obesity cost the U.S. economy $117 billion. By 2012, that number had grown to almost $200 billion, exceeding even smoking as the number one driver of rising health care costs. (Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/30/us-obesity-idUSBRE83T0C820120430?feedType=RSS&feedName=domesticNews)  

Dr. Carmonal fingered lack of physical activity and poor eating habits as the two key culprits “feeding” this growing crisis. He identified the key factors to overcoming the crisis as, more exercise, better nutrition and improved health literacy.

It is the third of these key factors, improved health literacy, which brings us back to the advice I gave earlier. Food literacy is a component of health literacy. Be conscious of what you eat. Read labels – understand the ingredients you are ingesting – know how your food is prepared and what that means for nutritional value. And, consciously ask yourself, do I really want to eat this food.

Now for the good news. The times they are a changing. With health costs soaring and the baby boom generation getting older and having to focus more on staying healthy, there is renewed interest in “what” we eat. The signs are all around us. For example, a growing percentage of customers going into drive thrus are ordering salads. Cafeterias in schools, hospitals and other institutions are improving the nutritional value of their menus, sometimes removing soda pop and high sugar foods. Terms like “whole foods,” “free range,” “Grain fed,” and “organic” are becoming more and more common in our food vocabulary (though they should not be accepted at face value).

There is some more good news. The human body is an incredible organism. Our bodies want us to succeed and to be healthy. They can, if properly treated, reverse a great deal of neglect and self-abuse. In other words, except in extreme cases, it is never too late to eat right and get healthy.

The purpose of this article is not to lay out a specific diet plan. There are many resources available that can do that. The purpose of this article is to drive home the point that you need to be conscious of what you eat. The food we choose to fuel our bodies is one of the most important and personal decisions that we make and affects our health and wellbeing more than just about anything else we do.

Knowledge is power and knowledge of the food we eat can power us to better health and to just plain feeling good.

Some of the most valuable knowledge available to us, not to mention by far the most accessible, is what we can learn by LISTENING TO OUR BODIES.

When people say things like, “I like hot and spicy wings but they don’t like me.” Guess what, your body is telling you something. It doesn’t like hot and spicy chicken wings.

By asking themselves a few very simple questions, most people can create a meal plan that will be as good as any you read in a book or magazine. What food nourishes me and makes me feel good? What food gives me energy and supports my feelings of health and wellness. Conversely, what foods make me feel sick or bloated after eating? What food gives me heartburn?

Looking at a very specific example, many people go through their lives constantly feeling tired, bloated, heavy and sick because of an intolerance to wheat and gluten. Let’s face it, we are a bread society. It goes with every meal. Toast and bagels for breakfast; sandwiches for lunch; and what dining out experience would be complete without the “welcome to our restaurant” basket of bread for dinner. For those suffering from an intolerance to wheat and gluten eating must feel like a virtual mine field at times. They could feel so much better if they understand their condition and adapted to it.

The questions we need to ask ourselves about good eating are simple, yet so many people choose to ignore the signs.

Another key question to ask about the food we eat is, what do I hunger for? Are you eating because you are feeling frustrated, lonely, bored, or just plain ticked off at the world and want to take it out on someone, even if it is you. Self-sabotaging eating habits are all too common. They are also almost always self-defeating. The sad truth is, whatever your problems, food will not provide your answer and, in fact, can make things a whole lot worse.

There is no doubt that one of the most critical factors contributing to our food choices is our mental state and mental health. If you have problems, talk to a friend, family member, colleague, counselor or therapist. Let food do one thing – nourish your body.

Earlier, I said that the key questions we need to ask about the food we eat are counter-evolutionary. Actually, we may be witnessing a revolution after all – a revolution where a growing number of people are saying, enough! It is time to slow down and closely look at the food we eat. It is time to place our focus on eating well, nourishing our bodies and feeling good. In the end, that is when we are at our best and are the most productive.