How to win at the grocery store, part 2:
1. Have you heard the one about only shopping on the outside edges of the store, because that's where all the healthy food is?
That's nonsense. That's where the produce is, but that's also where the meat, cheese, alcohol, baked goods, and all the most manipulative temptations are.
Inside the aisles you'll find beans, rice, oats, organic soup, cereal, dried, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables, coconut oil, nuts, etc. etc. etc. There are lots of healthy foods in the aisles. So, throw that one away.
2. Arm yourself with knowledge so you can narrow it down. This is why I like superfoods, the top 3 things that I like in each category, and 21 meals in a week to figure out.
This is a great time to practice new strategies. Going to the grocery store only once every 10 days has been a really good reboot of my habits around shopping. It's easy to let your guard down when you are running in 5 times a week to pick up a couple of things.
3. They follow the money. Reward your grocery store for every good choice, and you will get more choice, and better prices. They are manipulating you, so you get to manipulate them right back. In every way that you can stretch your budget to buy for the world you want, DO.
6. Buy local. The big chains get the cheapest foods from the biggest providers. Force them to buy American by doing that yourselves. Support small farmers in your region and spend your summer dollars at farmer's markets as often as you can.
8. Check the baby food aisle. Sounds a little weird, but if you like those high end squished food packets, or yoghurt covered dried fruit or healthy cookies and cereal - the prices on baby food are often way better.
This one is for those of us who were raised on FOOD = LOVE, it may be a good idea to evaluate your thinking on the concept of comfort foods.
I wrote this post the first time I was exploring the Pradipika eating philosophy, because blueberries with a little milk and sugar is like the ultimate pradipika food:
Chew on this:
It seems we've collectively decided that "comfort food" automatically means warm, hearty, home cooked, and not very healthy. But it's supposed to mean food that reminds us of our childhood, and being cared for by our loving mom. We use the words "comfort food" to excuse us from eating something unhealthy when we feel bad about life, but I bet your mom would rather you eat things that kept you well.
Rethink your comfort foods. Think about the thick slabs of watermelon you enjoyed on a hot summer day, spitting the seeds across the lawn with your friends while the sticky sweet juice ran all over your face and hands and arms. Yes, there were roasted marshmallows around the campfire too, but you can choose the watermelon for your comfort moment. It's a choice.
Remember the time you all went to the strawberry farm and picked them fresh from the fields, and how great they tasted in your mouth, still warm from the sun, and bursting. Sure, they tasted equally good in the warm pies they went into, but you can choose the strawberry, not the pie.
OK, maybe in your memory, your mom did let you eat ice cream all day when you were sick. But she probably forced some nice warming chicken noodle soup into you as well. Is it actually the food you loved, or is it the fact that you were being loved, with food involved?
Today, think about your favorite "comfort foods," and if your regular go-tos are not healthy, see if you can change your thinking into something better. What is it about the food that comforts you? Can it be made with better ingredients? Can it be adapted to fit the life you want now, instead of the one you used to have when you were too small to understand about health?
When I was a child, one of my favorite summer treats was blueberries with a splash of milk and a dash of sugar. Three wonderful tastes somehow made instantly more wonderful when combined, and I thought it was more special and perfect than any cake or pie could ever hope to be. My mom baked cookies and brownies and pies all the time, but fresh fruit was costly, a rare and special treat. That's my comfort food. What’s yours?
Then you can add in something more substantial.
The reason is: fruit ferments fastest. It moves through your digestive system quickly, and gets everything from yesterday going too. If we eat fruit AFTER carbs and proteins, it gets stuck behind that food, fermenting away, and getting you gassy.
Fruit First for the best energy throughout the day.
This is still my basic practice. If I have to teach early, I'll eat a handful of nuts as well, but otherwise, I eat fruit all morning.
One small thing, might change the game.
How do you set yourself up for a great day?
Before that, the color green in packaging tested poorly; customers felt "green" was the color of bad, moldy, rotten food. They wouldn't buy green colored packages. Frozen vegetables (the green giant) were about the only exception.
Now, "mold" colored packages are in every aisle, because we've been trained to think that will mean "all natural" or some other healthy buzzword.
Rule 2: The only person in the grocery store truly interested in your wellbeing is you.
Orange energy, and the Niyamas, are your ideal partners for this part of your life's work. Our relationship with food is, for most people, a big part of the overall ability to be happy and whole. We are allowed to explore our desires, but we are responsible for managing them. When we work the 2nd limb, personal responsibility is the bottom line, which is why we slow down, study ourselves, perform the practices with discipline and contentment and commitment.
The ancients didn't have 300,000 food choices. They were choosing the most alive and nutritious foods from a small number of foods. A modern yogi is required to be much more rigorous, but the same tools apply. Slow down, study your desires, create your eating life with discipline and contentment and commitment.
The time I took to understand and mindfully choose my food ethics is freedom.
Have a great weekend everyone!
We MUST count our internal behaviors into the mix when thinking about creating our happiest, healthiest life with food. If you eat lentils every day because you are a pure and perfect yogi, but you hate every bite and feel depressed all the time, that's not very good yoga. And most people think that's what healthy eating requires: bland food you don't love.
Food is meant to be pleasing. If we love tacos, we want a life that can include tacos.
For me, that comes from the power of 3.
I am never going to be a purist, or a radical. I am a scientist. I explored veganism for almost a year, and I am highly motivated toward healthy food choices, but, I also want fun and joy and simplicity in my life, and veganism offered none of those things to me. Like Allison said in a comment below, I have also removed a huge amount of meat from my diet, but, I'm not going 100% plant based anytime soon. It's a full time project to get enough energy for my anemic-tending blood vs instant energy when I eat meat. But I don't need it every day, or even every week. I can eat a steak from a fantastically expensive free-range, grass-fed, well loved cow about 10-15 times a year and I'm good. And guilt free to eat a burger at my nephew's brew pub once or twice a year when I go visit. I buy 3 - 4 local farm raised turkeys per year as well, and not a scrap of meat on the bird is wasted. That's my staple; the freezer always homemade bone broth and chopped meat for soups or stir fries. And once in a while I'll have a tuna melt with my husband, because he loves them.
I didn't just decide on all of that in a snap, it was an experiment that took time and practice, but the power of 3 was very helpful.
My top 3 meats, based on desire, health value, and ethics, are turkey, steak, and tuna. I'd prefer wild salmon, but a world with orcas in it is more important, and that's all they eat, so I don't generally choose it. But because I am 100% clear on my values here, and what's the right combination for my health and happiness, I am also free to choose an occasional other option. A couple of times a year, a salmon or shrimp taco is going to go into my body.
My relationship with food is almost completely free of guilt because I've taken the time to really understand what works for me. There is no one size fits all; your ideal eating plan is as unique as your fingerprint.
So, the power of 3 can apply to everything, and really, the goal is to find your number 1 in each category, and the smallest number of alternates as possible, so in the grocery store, you've got power.
If you decide that snickers is your number one of all sweet treats, and number 2 is ice cream and number 3 is pie, then the big sale on butterfingers does not trip you up. The price of things is the LEAST important to your empowered eater.
3 favorite breakfasts?
3 favorite sandwiches?
3 favorite things to do with a potato?
You can play this one as deep as you want, and then build your food life from there. Start with what you love to eat. Say goodbye to everything you don't really care about. Then, can you make what you love healthier and still love it?
From there, you can build the perfect food life.
Let's start with this sutra from the Pradipika. I'll share my favorite Pradipika friendly food solutions, great books, and simple but effective tips for choosing your ideal food-life. There is no one-size fits all in food, just like in yoga poses, and in life. Our work is to figure out what works for us. What is the exact right blend of healthy and happy?
And I invite everyone else to share insights, tricks, tips, tactics, tools, and ways of thinking that can help. Remember your students will come to you with issues you may or may not have. Empowerment for yourself here, is empowerment for the people you will serve later. We all have something new to learn about the wonderful world of eating.
Shopping the Pradipika.
When I am "eating the pradipika way," I like jasmine rice. Because bread exists, and potatoes, and noodles, rice is usually not in my top 3. But the smell of jasmine rice in the rice cooker is sweet heaven to me, especially when we are in the 2nd chakra. Also, I lived in Japan for a couple of years when I was younger, and loved the ritual and refinement of a Japanese style meal. It fits perfectly with the slowed down, mindful eating I want when I am practicing the Pradipika diet. Over the next few weeks, as we head into summer, and fresh food is more available - this is a great time to give yourself a little detox, a self-study opportunity, or a whole reboot on your way of eating. Mastery of how we eat is one of the greatest teachers of compassion for your future selves as teachers.
A typical meal for me during this time will be a bowl of jasmine rice with steamed vegetables and turkey or chopped hard boiled egg. I'll eat from a beautiful bowl, with chopsticks and mindfulness.
Other things I picked up at the grocery store this week, or rely on for pradipika eating:
Sweet pea sprouts
Sweet peppers, all colors
Sugar Snap peas
Rice vermicelli noodles
Mushroom soup stock
Jicima (have you tried this crunchy mild sweet delight? YUM.)
I generally back off on coffee and drink iced tea all day.
What are your favorite sweet, juicy foods?