Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Foods

Falafel Sandwiches

½ cup frozen peas
1 16-oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 carrot, grated
2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil, separated
4 Laughing Cow Lite wedges
4 whole wheat pita breads
Romaine leaves and tomato slices

Cook peas until they are slightly undercooked, about two minutes. In a food processor, puree garbanzo beans, carrot, flour, 1 Tbsp of olive oil, pepper, and salt. Stir in peas. Form mixture into 8 patties.

Heat the remaining olive oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add patties. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side, until browned and heated through.

Meanwhile, toast pita breads until slightly crisp around the edges. Spread on cheese wedge on each pita. Place two cooked patties on each pita and fold. Cut in haves and serve with romaine and tomato.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Exercise can make me fat?

I recently read an article that suggested that exercise can actually keep you fat. Interesting. Here is what they claim: because our appetite increases when we work our bodies, we will consume more calories, and thus never lose weight. In some cases, people even gain weight when they exercise!

The article made me pause and consider what they were saying. I definitely feel a surge of righteous indignation when I work out diligently, eat nutritiously, and watch the scale do absolutely nothing. What am I doing wrong? Could it be that I am consuming more calories than I should? Still?

I also consider why I exercise. Do I work my body just to lose weight? No. Exercising for me is definitely my strategy for feeling good physically and staying balanced emotionally. Weightloss is an added benefit.

Perhaps I need to rethink my mindset when I do a good, grueling work-out. Maybe I tend to relax my eating standards a little. Perhaps I gobble down some snacks afterward because I’m so hungry and didn’t think ahead to keep from getting this hungry.

Exercise is effective for losing weight only I combine it with healthy eating. I guess it is time to start writing down every calorie again!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rainy Day

If April showers bring May flowers, then we’re in for an abundance of beauty next month the way it’s been raining. I thought California was supposed to be sunny and warm! Every now and then a pleasant day pops through, but for the most part, 2010 has been blistery.

Normally I would be working out in the garden almost every day. Yard work is such a great way to burn calories—and for me, it’s a great de-stressor. I prefer to be outdoors whenever possible. I am pretty certain I would never enjoy working in crowded office building or living in a city where there were no yards or trees. Nature is my solace.

Nevertheless, on cold, rainy days I definitely stay inside. I fling back the curtains, letting in as much daylight as possible, and try to figure out how to keep my mood up.

Finding projects to do indoors is always easy, if I can just step away from staring bleakly out the window. Finding a cleaning or organizing project that burns calories is just what I need to forget that the sun is not shining. Projects that demand energy are also fun for my little kids, who are watching me and mimicking my behavior and my mood.

So I grab the vacuum—the small, portable kind—and attack the dusty blinds. This requires taking off all the curtains for a good washing, which lets in more light. The kids are thrilled at the activity and changes going on around the room. They start giggling and playing, pausing only to follow me around the room as I go from window to window…. On second thought, it really isn’t a bad day at all.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Have You Had Enough Water Today?

Water. About 75% of the earth’s surface is covered with it. A massive amount of fresh water is stored underground in aquifers, much more than on the earth’s surface. Pure water dissolves more substances than any other liquid. Where it travels, water carries chemicals, minerals, and nutrients with it. The total amount on the earth, including fresh and sea water, is approximately 326 million cubic miles of water.

The average person in the United States uses 80 to 100 gallons of water per day. Flushing the toilet takes up the largest amount of this water. About 85% of U.S. residents receive their water from public water facilities, while the remaining 15% supply their own water from private wells or other sources.

Roughly 70% of an adult’s body is made from water. By the time a person feels thirsty, his or her body has lost over 1% of its total water amount. A healthy person can consume up to three gallons of water per day, but drinking too much too quickly can lead to water intoxication. Water intoxication occurs when water dilutes the sodium level in the bloodstream and causes an imbalance of water in the brain.

The daily recommended amount of water is eight cups. Water doesn’t have to be consumed in liquid form only. Many foods, such as fruits and vegetables, contain high amounts of water too. On the other hand, many liquids like soft drinks, coffee, and tea contain caffeine. Caffeine acts as a mild diuretic and can prevent water from traveling to necessary locations in the body.

I can tell when I haven’t had enough water. It has become one of the first things to ask myself when I’m not feeling well—have I had enough water today? Drinking water is one of those things I might forget if I’m not careful, so I always appreciate a friendly reminder. Have you had enough water today?

Water facts taken from allaboutwater.org

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dealing with Emotions

Have you ever noticed that emotions and physical well-being are closely related? When I’m upset emotionally, I get sick to my stomach, tired, headaches, shakiness—you name it. Emotions can also affect weightloss, sleep, skin complexion, and many other physical concerns.

Everybody has negative emotions—it’s part of being human. Sometimes we can choose not to let circumstances get us down, but the truth is, we are still affected. Perhaps it’s better to address the emotions that come rather than deny them.

One of the best ways of dealing with negative emotions for me is through music. I am not the world’s greatest piano player, but I love to play in my living room just the same. Playing the piano calms me and helps me to escape from difficult emotions. Music has a way of creating good, healthy emotions.

Other forms of art are therapeutic too. I love to paint—wall murals, mostly. It’s relaxing and invigorating to pick up a brush and slather the walls with a bold and interesting picture. Sometimes the picture doesn’t work out and I have to start over, but the calm emotion works out every time.

There are many ways to counter bad emotions—kisses from my children, hugs, praying, smelling flowers, watching a chick-flick, shopping (for some), planning a vacation, rereading a good book…the list really could go on and on. We might not have the power to stop negative emotions from springing up unexpectedly, but we can fight them. And overcome them.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Foods

Lowfat Rosemary Skewered Chicken with Orange Glaze

INGREDIENTS
½ cup orange juice
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
6 large sprigs of rosemary about a foot long, with half the leaves removed

DIRECTIONS
• Preheat a grill or grill pan on medium high heat.
• Place the orange juice into a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the orange juice has the consistency of a very thin syrup.
• Add the mustard, honey, garlic, and ginger and continue cooking over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
• Evenly divide the cubed chicken among the rosemary sprigs and skewer the chicken onto the exposed part of the rosemary sprigs.
• Lightly brush the grill with oil and grill chicken for 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165F on an instant read thermometer.
• Remove skewers from the grill to a serving plate, drizzle with the orange sauce and serve immediately.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Beautiful

Today—“Earth Day”—marks the opening day of Cash for Appliances here in California. Do you have an old, shabby, energy-guzzling refrigerator? If you live in California you can get $200 by exchanging it for a brand-new, energy-saving refrigerator of your dreams. Such a trade will be easier on your electric bill too. What a deal!

Thinking about the old, energy-guzzling refrigerators makes me think of the way I used feel physically. Oh, I wasn’t old—on the contrary I was in high school. But the way I guzzled sugar and fats abused my supply of energy and I felt very old.

The way peers looked past me, as if I was different from them made me feel old too. I wore clothes an older person might wear, mostly because younger clothes made me feel more over-weight. I wanted to hide behind long skirts and bulky shirts.

My energy level was very low for my age. I remember the embarrassment of trying to run the required 3 miles in PE—and the irritation my teacher had with me when it took me past the class period to finish it.

In short—I felt like an energy-guzzling, old, shabby appliance that needed an overhaul. If there had been a special deal to trade-in my body for another, I would have taken it.

I thank God that since those days I have learned to appreciate myself—weaknesses and all. I don’t want to trade-in myself anymore. I’ll probably never be super-thin or willowy, but I truly believe that I have a gift—my body, soul, mind, and heart, the entire package.

I’m also grateful that I can work on improving myself without replacing the other beautiful parts of my life. When it comes to appliances, newer might be better, but as my body gets older, I believe I get more beautiful.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Too Much Energy Can Hurt Me?

We probably all wish we had more energy, right? If only we had the extra umph to push ourselves a little harder—to exercise longer, keep up with our kids, or exceed the demands of our job. Energy during the busy times seems like a positive thing, but energy itself isn’t a good thing all the time. There is a reason our bodies feel tired and need inactivity.

We need to feel tired at night. That fog that enters the brain as the night hours creep on is exactly what our bodies need for deep rest. Exercise during the day helps the body feel a healthy amount of weariness at night. Finding an artistic hobby can be a therapeutic way to calm ourselves. Too much stress, too much caffeine and sugar, or a keyed-up project late at night will work against the healthy lethargy, however.

Another time our bodies need to feel relaxed is during a meal. If we’re rushed, anxious, or angry, we usually wolf down our food at an alarming speed. Eating when we’re not relaxed can cause us to overeat, suffer from indigestion, and choose the wrong types of food to consume. A few good habits before a meal can help. Take some deep breathes, focus mentally on the food, or talk to an understanding friend.

Eating or trying to sleep when we’re super-charged counteracts our progress for long-term energy. We need a daily down-time for the sake of our minds, bodies, and souls.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Healthy Eating—Can You Afford Not To?

As mentioned yesterday, many people feel they can’t buy healthy foods because they think they can’t afford it. Eating healthy truly can be affordable, but even if it did cost a bit more, can we really afford not to eat healthy?

Let’s take a look at the number one cause of death in our country—heart disease. Here are a few facts you should know:

• Every 34 seconds a person in the United States dies from heart disease.
• More than 2,500 Americans die from heart disease each day.
• Every 20 seconds, a person in the United States has a heart attack.
• At least 250,000 people die of heart attacks each year before they reach a hospital.
• Studies show that under-educated people are more likely to suffer heart attacks.
• The countries with the highest death rates from heart disease are Russia, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. The countries with the lowest are Japan, France, Spain, Switzerland, and Canada.
• Almost 6 million hospitalizations each year (in the United States) are due to cardiovascular disease.
• Since 1900, cardiovascular disease has been the number 1 killer in the United States for every year but 1918.
(Stats taken from mamashealth.com)

Forget about the cost of healthcare for a moment. Forget that spending a little more time cooking and little more money on nutritious foods will drastically cut the potential disease-related costs. Forget those things, and only think—how much is it worth to have a long, healthy life? If you ask me, I’d say it’s priceless.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Eating Healthy on a Budget

One of the most common things I hear about eating healthy is that it’s difficult because it’s too expensive. I’m not rich—wouldn’t that be nice!—and I can relate with every day people who have to watch what they spend. My family has to do it too! But still I have found a way to be healthy when I shop. There are a few things to consider when it comes to finding healthy food that is in line with a tight budget.

First, the number one way to avoid spending too much on food also happens to coincide with the number one way to stay healthy—that is, don’t eat out. Restaurants will drain your bank account and pack on the calories, fat, and unhealthy additives in food. Often one trip to a restaurant is enough to pay for a monthly gym membership.

Second, when shopping healthy it’s important to buy fresh food. Produce is often the least expensive part of the grocery store, and it’s the best way to remain healthy. Prepackaged foods and pre-marinated meats can be quite spendy. Cooking with natural ingredients will be easier on the body and the budget.

Finally, bulk might be the answer. Whole grain rice might indeed have an inflated price tag in the middle of the food isle, but in many stores (usually in the natural foods department) you will find bins of food in bulk. These prices are much more reasonable, especially for the organic and whole foods. It’s also easier to find healthy alternatives in the grains, such as millet, quinoa, and wild rice.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Foods

Thai Chicken Curry

Ingredients
1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon Thai curry paste (or more to taste)
1 cup red, green, yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves
2 chicken breasts, cooked and cut into small cubes
1 tablespoon (packed) brown sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)
1/3 cup sliced fresh cilantro or basil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Directions
1. Bring ¼ cup coconut milk and curry paste to boil in large skillet over medium-high heat, whisking constantly.
2. Add bell pepper, onion, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes.
3. Stir in chicken, remaining coconut milk, sugar and fish sauce. Cook until heated.
4. Stir in remaining 2 ingredients and simmer 1 minute. Serve with rice.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Dream Come True

Each week my husband and I make Tuesday evening our couple’s night. After the kids are in bed, we don’t turn on the TV, we put aside our computers and personal reading material, and we spend time together. Sometimes we talk; other times we read a book together and discuss it.

I love these times of “bonding” with Jay. I appreciate that I have a husband who is interested in keeping our relationship alive and meaningful. Recently we found a list of questions to ask and discuss as a married couple. The questions ranged from “On your drive to and from work, what consumes your mind a majority of the time?” to “When you reach the end of your life, what might you wish you would have done that you haven’t done so far in your life?”

The neat thing about taking time each week to maintain a good marriage is that it not only strengthens us as a couple, it also strengthens us as individuals. The points we discussed caused me to analyze my life and my future.

Jay and I decided to focus on one dream that we each have, and make steps toward that dream. In both of our cases, it was something that we’ve always wanted to do and had almost resigned ourselves to the idea that those dreams will probably never happen. But they are not impossible dreams. By working as a team, I truly believe we will be able to discover what it is to have a dream come true.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

To Keep Going

There are times when giving up is a stronger temptation than others. For me, those times happen the most when life is quiet or there’s a lull, and little concerns from deep down have a chance to surface. Quiet times can be dangerous because it’s during those times when it’s easier to feel apathy. It’s easier to stop caring about our goals.

I just started my twentieth week of blog-writing, and if there was a time I was ever tempted to quit, this might be that time. Fresh ideas don’t jump out and I’m a little tired. I look at my outline for the year and realize I’m not even half-way done! How can I finish this thing? Also, not much is going on in life right now except the same old routine, and as I’ve stated above, it’s easy to lose my sense of purpose during a mundane patch.

Times like these are when I need to reach down, really deep, and figure out what I want long term and what will be best for me. Why did I make this goal? How will if affect me if I quit? What do I have to gain if I plug away and finish what I started?

Regardless of my insipid feelings of the moment, I know the answers to these questions. The answers in fact contradict my current feelings. If what I want at the moment and what I want in my life as a whole contradict each other, I know which desires I want to win—my lifelong desires.

A season of discouragement or whatever obstacle you or I may face will pass. If we stick to our purpose, regardless of how we feel, we will be so glad in the end. Giving up is easy. Sticking with it can be hard. But I’m going to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

With whole grains, just give me the facts, ma’am

Okay, I admit it, I was duped. I work with food and nutrition every day, chewing through the latest health research like it’s a bowl of granola. But even knowing better, I made the mistake of assuming that something labeled as having “13g Whole Grains” meant it was high in fiber.

It wasn’t.

But that’s the way it’s supposed to work, right? A whole grain means that they haven’t processed out all the good stuff, like fiber. And fiber is measured in grams, right? So when I saw “13g”, my mind thought “high in fiber”, and I was feeling a pleasant, righteous glow as I munched on the tasty snack bar. Then I did what I should have done before taking the package home. I turned it over and looked at the Nutrition Facts panel.

Turned out it was indeed too good to be true. 13 grams of whole grain per serving, translated to a measly 2 grams of fiber.

Looking through my pantry, I found that this wasn’t the only time I’d been duped into seeing a high fiber halo. I pulled out bars and snack crackers I had purchased for my kids, thinking that I was tricking them into getting more fiber, when in reality the trick was on me.

Now, whole grains are a good thing. In their natural state, they do provide fiber and nutrients that are typically lost when they are processed and refined. And fiber is definitely a weak link in my kids’ diets. The USDA guideline recommends that children get 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories a day. The benefits of increasing fiber in your diet are many, including improved blood sugar control, various cardiovascular benefits, and help in maintaining a healthy weight. And the USDA recommends eating more whole grains because they are, in part, a good source of fiber in your diet.

But that government agency also admits that you need to carefully read the label to figure out what you’re really getting. The color of the bread, the chewiness of the bar, the hardness of the cracker, or even the grams of whole grains printed on the front of the package do not necessarily indicate a high fiber food.

So, I’m going back to the basic rule that I thought I had learned a long time ago. It doesn’t matter how pretty the package or how good the claims on the front sound, flip it over and just read the facts, ma’am.

—Erin Gudeux

Monday, April 12, 2010

Allergies

Rain came this last weekend and made it feel like winter in Sacramento. While I am a lover of sunshine, the precipitation did give a nice break from the pollen allergies. They have hit us extremely hard this spring, partly due to the fact the it’s been so wet. Last week when the sun finally appeared, all the flowers burst into bloom at once. Someone told me that the pollen count was about 30 times greater than normal. I encountered many people complaining of sniffles, sneezing, and wheezing.

Spring is always when allergies hit me the worst, so I try to proactively take care the symptoms before they get out of hand. If I catch it before it gets too bad, I don’t even have to take the really strong medications. Last week, however, I did need to take some strong stuff. It helped, but I was still sneezing. I also get a few side-effects from the medication. I have a rough time sleeping when I take it, and it lessens my appetite.

There are those few people I meet who are blessed with never having seasonal allergic reactions. But for those of us who are walking around with a heavy cloud sitting just below our foreheads, know I’m feeling your pain. Pray for a good rain and hang in there!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Foods

Vegetable Couscous

Ingredients
Whole grain couscous
Cherry tomatoes
Yellow bell pepper
Peas, cooked
Dried cranberries
Parsley
Lemons
Olive oil
Pepper

Directions
Cook couscous as directed. After cooking, add other ingredients as desired.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Make Exercise Fun

Yesterday I talked about the importance of making exercise convenient, and if I could add anything to that, I’d say it also needs to be fun! It doesn’t have to be a mundane, chore-like, and boring.

Exercise can change. If you are the type of person who gets sick of a rut and demoralized with the mundane, there’s good news. Exercise can be different every single day! In fact, I’ve heard that it’s good for the body to do different forms of exercise rather than the same routine all the time. We can walk one day, bicycle the next, go swimming, work in the yard—the options are endless.

Exercise can be social. If you feel stuck at home, needing an outlet, needing adult conversation, exercise is the perfect solution. I have a walking partner. When I’m with her, our kids play, we walk, and the time flies. Sometimes when we stop we find that we’ve been walking for two hours! It’s therapeutic for us and healthy for our kids too.

Exercise can be an adventure. I love doing something more extreme every now and then. Whether it’s climbing a mountain or simply driving an hour for a good hike, I get a thrill out of an adventurous form of physical recreation. The neat part of adventure is that when it’s over, usually it feels like I’ve been on a nice vacation, even if I’ve only been gone for a few hours.

Life does get hectic and mundane. Work, laundry, kids, dishes, cooking, errands, driving here and there and everywhere—I feel like I need break! Exercise is a perfect solution, and it can include the entire family. Even more than that, exercise makes us feel better about our hectic circumstances. In fact, it makes us feel great!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Make Exercise Convenient

Morning comes way too soon, at least in my book. Am I the only one who has to drag herself out of bed each day? I’d much rather stay asleep. But duty calls, so I get up. I can definitely say that early mornings are not the best time for me to exercise.

There might be some physical reasons why kicking each day off with aerobics is a good idea, but I’m afraid my psychological reasons trump everything. I don’t want to do anything for the first hour I’m awake! If I set that kind of demand on myself, I’d give up too soon.

Exercise is very important. Our bodies crave movement. Still exercise doesn’t easily happen in our modern world like it did for thousands of years before us. As a general rule we don’t walk, we drive; we don’t grow our food, we buy it; we don’t scrub our clothes clean, we drop them into the washer. Our age is geared toward convenience and how to get out of physical work as much as possible. Then in a contrived way, we invent ways to work our bodies, like go on walks around and around a track or drive to a gym.

In order to guarantee that exercise is a consistent pattern in our lives we really need to make it convenient. Everything else in our lives is! It still takes plain old hard work, don’t get me wrong. But we need to let exercise be enjoyable and stress-free if we want to keep it a life-long commitment.

This is exactly why I don’t exercise in the early morning. That time a day is not convenient for me. I’m going to pick a time that I know I’ll be able to stay committed to.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What I Can Change

I was recently talking with a friend about the importance in a name and was reminded how long we agonized over the name for our son. We weighed all the factors, like my creative tastes against my husband’s traditional tastes, finding a name that sounds like a strong first name since our last name is also a first name, and picking a name that he won’t get teased about! We went through hundreds—thousands!—of names. I even found a website that shared the possible pitfalls in a name, especially in elementary school. Still on the eve of my c-section, we still hadn’t decided.

Naming a child is probably the first big decision we make for him. Nevertheless, I am a firm believer that it’s the person who makes the name, not the other way around. There are many more important decisions we make for Lance every day that will determine who he is.

One of the most basic philosophical arguments regarding human behavior is the question—is nature or nurture what impacts us the most? In other words, do we blame our faults on genetics or do we blame our parents for raising us that way? Regarding a weight problem, do my genetics make me struggle with it or is it the way I have learned to eat? I’ve heard people blame everything, from their genes to the name their parents gave them.

I don’t know if there is an exact answer if a person is looking for percentages. “39% of what I do is from my genes, while 25% is from my parents’ teaching and 36% is from the habits I’ve formed as an adult.” It just doesn’t seem that simple. Most of that debate is untouchable—I have no control over my genes or how I was raised. But life is made up of choices, and those choices I do have control over. Choices are what give me the chance to change what life has dealt to me, and I prefer thinking about something I have power to change.

Monday, April 5, 2010

After the Holiday

There is nothing like a good holiday to interrupt a routine of healthy eating. I love Easter. In fact, it’s my favorite holiday. It’s full of new life, hope, and promise. Family, sunshine (usually!), and flowers. Rich food, candy, and chocolate. It’s great for the memories, bad for the diet!

My daughter Eden joined two Easter egg hunts this past weekend, one with her cousin on Saturday, and one with her Sunday school class the next day. She ended up eating more candy this weekend than she’s ever had. In fact, we may start calling these events Eater egg hunts! Consequently, we had a quite an emotional day with her. Candy brings ups and many fussy downs.

For myself, I had two wonderful Easter celebrations, both with family and at church. In both cases, food was involved, and yum it was good! I especially enjoyed the piece of chocolate cake I ate.

Monday is when reality of life shows up especially harsh. Eden persistently asks for more candy and Easter eggs—the kind filled with sweets, mind you! I am hungry for the saltier and sweeter food I indulged in during the holiday. The fiber breakfast cereal just doesn’t taste as good as it usually does.

My plan of rescue for my daughter and myself is in a carton of strawberries. We both love them. Every time Eden begs for sweets, she gets a strawberry. Every time I want to reach for the leftover Easter candy, guess what I get to eat instead—a strawberry! Sometimes those treats that are healthy are perfectly suited to get our bodies and minds back on track because it will hardly feel like we’re denying ourselves after all.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday Foods

Lowfat Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1/8 c. cooking oil
1 1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
3-4 egg whites
2 tbsp. skim milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 c. flour
1 c. raisins
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 1/4 c. quick cooking oats
1/4 c. dry oat bran high fiber hot cereal

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Oil baking sheets lightly. Combine oil and brown sugar in a large bowl. Add egg whites, milk and vanilla. Blend well. Combine flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Add to above mixture; mix well. Stir in oats, oat bran and raisins.

Drop by slightly rounded measuring tablespoons onto baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-10 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. (Tops will not brown.) Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes. Remove to cooling rack. www.cooks.com

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Stop and Smell the Roast

I like to attack a task with gusto. Set me down in front of a project and I zone in, block out distractions, and get the job done. Nothing in the world seems to exist except until my little project is completed. Do I even hear the kids yelling and squabbling? Hardly! I’m on a mission!

Unfortunately, this single-minded way of plowing through a task sometimes keeps me from meeting my goals. For instance, if I attack my dinner with such intensity, I just might wolf down the meal before considering what I’ve eaten or how much.

When I plow into a task, I usually do so with speed. How many times have I finished a meal in five minutes? The only way to make fast eating last longer is to simply eat more.

There are many reasons to slow down and enjoy a meal. The food might be doing the task of fueling the body, but eating is hardly a task! Eating slowly is better for digestion, heartburn, and portion control. Beyond that, meals are a great time for de-stressing after a long day.

If I want to attack something, I should go hit the gym or the weeds in the back yard. But if I want to get the best health benefits from eating, I should never plow through a meal.