Conscious Eating Starts With Conscious Reading

I am always assessing myself, striving to be the best that I can be in everything that is important to me. I'm humble, yet self-centered (at times) and I think the world revolves around me.

This is the Nikki Miller-Ka show, people. You all are just cast members on this Emmy award-winning show. You didn't know?

Sometimes (well, a lot of times) I fall short of my own expectations and I say, "F#@* it" and go on to the next goal or task. Sometimes I revisit the subject at hand, but mostly I tend to leave it a pregnant chad: punched-in-but-not-quite-but-you-can-kind-of-tell-so-it-should-count-but-we'll-wait-and-see kind of way.

All that being said, I am in a diet/eating/save the world by sustainability self-assess mode as of right now. I got this new CD/book from my mother's sister Conscious Eating from body + soul magazine. It has a 3-disk combo pack with a box of 40 meditation cards and a hardback eating guide. (no, not hardtack. Hardback. I saw you give me that look)

I popped in the 1st CD on the way to work today and by the time I pulled into the parking lot, I felt as if my life had transformed on Interstate I-40. Gael Chiarella is the guide and author of this pack and she has one of those calm, low soothing voices you want to hear while taking yoga or being read a bedtime story. I know I don't have to extol the joys and greatness of yoga, but I felt as if I were participating in a yoga class while gripping the wheel of my Malibu.

This audiobook goes through a series of mental, physical, and emotional exercises that help us embrace new ways of thinking about eating to naturally eat less, choose healthier foods, and feel better.

Being a foodie, I think about food, dream about food, talk about food, cook food, smell food, eat food every waking moment of my life. If I'm not talking about food, I must not be awake. I think about other professional chefs, writers, bloggers, commentators and wonder what their relationships to food are. What exactly is a healthy relationship with food? Because I struggle with my waistline is my attitude unhealthy? Can I be so consumed by this one subject that my approach can never be deemed safe? Am I a glutton in the sense that I seek out not only morsels of food, but morsels of knowledge about food to fill my proverbial cup?

Over the past few years I've realized why Americans are seeing an epidemic of unhealthy attitudes and waistlines: because we don't savor our food. Sure, yeah, you may smell the aroma of your meal or someone else's meal wafting through your nostrils or you may snap a pic or two to Photoshop later. That is not what I'm talking about.

We take a "working lunch" and
eat at our desks,
eat while standing,
eat in the car,
at the ballpark,
in the ballet studio,
anywhere except a kitchen table.

Thirty-minute meals are our friends. Sodium-laden, pre-packaged meals evaporate the worry beads of sweat on our foreheads. Fast, quick, easy, now. Don't talk, eat! While eating out with friends and family is a pleasure, but in less than 20 minutes we're done.

For example, in elementary school (I went to a parochial K-8) we had 20 minutes for lunch. A teacher would stand in front of the cafeteria and ring a gold-tone bell. We'd say grace in unison and then plow through the trough called a lunch box. We consumed, drank, wiped our mouths (well, some did anyway) and then the lunch proctor would ring the bell to signify the end of the feeding period. When we all graduated to the big Catholic high school, we had a whole 47 minutes for our lunch period. What the hell? What are we going to do with the other 27 minutes? We learned young to speed up the eating process.

I hope to learn and embrace some new ways of thinking about food. If this audiobook helps or not, I think I'm due for a change.

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About the author

Nikki Miller-Ka

Nikki Miller-Ka

Ms. Miller-Ka is a classically trained chef with a BA in English from East Carolina University and a Culinary Arts Associate Degree from Le Cordon Bleu-Miami.

Formerly, she’s worked as a researcher, an editorial assistant, reporter and guest blogger for various publications and outlets in the Southeast. She has also worked as a catering chef, a pastry chef, a butcher, a baker, and a biscuit-maker. Presently, she is a food editor, freelance food writer, and a tour guide for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

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  1. You are so right, I struggle with my waistline too and Dr Phill says you can be an alcoholic and work in a bar so you can't loose wait if you work with food all day. I am trying daily to be happy with myself and the choices that I make.

  2. After reading this post, I definitely understand your perspective. I hope that you post your findings from the book.

    Personally, (or more southern, me, myself, personally) I think that taking your time and savoring a meal, keeps one in check. No, the caloric count may be as high as the stratosphere, but the taste of a good meal sometimes comes at a price; and I don't mean the price of the food.

    I think that appreciation of food is proper. But then again, I'm a foodie; I go against the grain of the eat-it-its-only-food crowd. Hell, my drill sergeants used to force us to eat saying, "Just put it in your mouth and swallow. You can spit it up and chew it later!"

    Eating doesn't have to be like paying a bill. Those few minutes of having lunch don't have to be rushed, but alas, the culture has turned against eating with conviction, with purpose. People tend to eat because they have to not because it tastes good.

    Great post Nikki!!!

  3. Great post, good advice. BTW I've tagged you for MEME! Hope you join in.

  4. great post! I think we all need something to keep us away from dreaming about food so much!

  5. Hi Nik, thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment on Zebra Cake. I came to check your blog - it's funny, interesting and captivating:) Going to subscribe to you to receive more of your updates! Cheers!

    PS: Sorry, my comment is not related to your entry though:)

  6. Man, can I relate to that 20 min lunch. Back in the day, I used to work in a factory that gave us that much time to eat lunch and thus I learned how to shovel food into my mouth and taste it later. Trying to break that habit is so incredibly hard once you've become used to it.

    I had many a year of struggling with my waistline 'til I finally found a plan that worked for me. During the Christmas holiday, I tried donning a suit I hadn't worn in years, I thought the pants were going to explode or report me for abuse. I finally had enough and started a lifestyle change, by just changing HOW I ate, I lost 30 pounds! I can now fit in clothes I haven't worn in 15 years. A focused mind can handle any task, find your way and you go girl!

    Great post!

  7. Nina: I hear you, my friend. I am trying to be happy with my choices, too. For instance, last night I had cake for dinner. Yeah--cake. It was the nastiest piece of cake I've ever eaten (it came from a specialty bakery in town). I felt bad. Not because I ate cake, but because it didn't taste good and I finished it anyway. I wanted to ask for my money back, but I ate it all because I was hungry. I went home feeling very unsatisfied. I AM happy to report that I didn't eat anything else late into the night because I felt I had to live with my (poor) choice.

    People who work with food use the food to lose weight all of the time. I hope to be one of them!

    Don: I will definitely post my findings. Like I said, I feel like my whole outlook on eating food has changed. Grace or a pause before a meal is a time to reflect on what you're about to eat, but it's such a perfunctory action that no one really REALLY thinks about the food (it's origin, it's creator, etc.) during that time to really REALLY appreciate it. And choosing only foods that you like (trying something while being adventurous doesn't count) is a part of that.

    Rose: Thanks a bunch! I'll check it out...

    Dharm: Thank you! No such luck, man. Wild horses couldn't keep me away...LOL

    Farida: I appreciate your wonderful accolades. Thank you for stopping by. I look forward to seeing you comment here :)

    Managerial Person :): When I was 16, I worked in a factory for the summer and you reminded me that they gave us 20 minutes for lunch, too. Congratulations on your weight loss. You should be lauded and have ticker tape parades in your name because that is a wonderful accomplishment. I hope to find my way and boast of 30+ pound losses too!

  8. Life is so hard, and it's not even our faults! We feel so guilty.

    Your blog is beautiful.

  9. Hi Nikki, it's the second time I am visiting your blog and what I like more is that your nourish our brain as well as our stomach.
    I enjoy reading your posts and I agree with what you say. I have read that we have to chew each bite of food many times. As we eat, our brain eventually sends a signal to tell us that we're full. This signal is triggered once the stomach has told the brain that it's full. This relay system takes about 20 minutes to get to our brain. However, if we eat quickly, we may not realize we are full and eat more than we need.

  10. I actually never thought of it that way, but I totally agree. In public school, we had about 20 minutes to eat lunch before we had to go outside for recess. While 20-30 mins sounds long now, our mouths and stomachs were so much smaller then. I acutally remember struggling to finish my food and stuffing my face or eating so quickly. That book sounds really interesting and will probably help 'reprogram' the habits we grew up with. I also saw on tv, a bunch of people sitting down quietly and eating with their eyes closed. Since there were no distractions, they were able to feel fuller faster and enjoy the different textures and tastes of the food.

    About your comment about the bad tasting cake, I think it happens all the time especially at b-day parties w/ lots of people. I think it's because we are so wired to just eat whatever is in front of our faces without thought... mindless eating, i guess.

  11. Cookie: Thank you for your lovely comment about my blog!

    I know! Life IS hard, but we're making it easy by doing something we love: cooking, eating, and blogging about it.

    Ivy: Thanks again for stopping by. I felt I needed to share my findings about this new audiobook. I hope t include more "cerebral" posts about food related items. Thanks for the feedback.

    Steph: I really hope to not eat anything else that tastes as bad as that cake. I pln on taking my time while eating, savoring each bite. I have a job where I can be leisurely during my lunch hour. I'm definitely going to have to take it and eat. Not to run errands.


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