RSS Feed

Tag Archives: healthy eating

eat your mozarella!

Posted on

Kastorini, C-M., et al. (2011). The effect of Mediterranean diet on metabolic syndrome and its components: a meta-analysis of 50 studies and 534,906 individuals. J Am Coll Cardiol, 57, 1299-1313.


Background: The Mediterranean diet has long been associated with low cardiovascular disease risk in adult population.


Results: The combined effect of prospective studies and clinical trials showed that adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with reduced risk of metabolic syndrome. Additionally, results from clinical studies revealed the protective role of the Mediterranean diet on components of metabolic syndrome, like waist circumference, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and glucose, whereas results from epidemiological studies also confirmed those of clinical trials.


Conclusions: These results are of considerable public health importance, because this dietary pattern can be easily adopted by all population groups and various cultures and cost-effectively serve for primary and secondary prevention of the metabolic and its individual components.


see: What is the Mediterranean diet? What is metabolic syndrome? see alsoMayo Clinic


i eat therefore i am, or is it the other way ’round?

Posted on

After meditation last night, B. described how she’s begun paying attention to food and eating in her busy life. My husband gives me strange looks, she told us, and my kids ask, What are you doing, mom? when she goes quiet at the start of a meal.

Eating, like so many things we do in the course of a day, happens automatically. It requires no special effort, no thinking. Maybe that’s why eating has become problematic for some. For me it’s anxiety, however trivial or complex, that makes me eat. Can’t find my car keys on the way out the door — and a piece of chocolate appears in my mouth and is gone before I know it was even there. Anticipating a difficult conversation — and a tub of hedgehog ice cream appears out of nowhere to cause brainfreeze. Gradually, over time and with effort, I’m becoming aware of how worry, fear, sadness, and joy trigger eating. Once I notice, I can make choices.

In her book Mindful Eating, Zen teacher Chozen Bays suggests ways to explore our relationship to eating and drinking by creating pauses of awareness. For instance:

1. Pause before beginning a meal. Look at each item of food, taking it in with the eyes. Notice colors, textures, shapes, arrangements on the plate or bowl. 2. Take a moment to say grace. Thank the animals, plants, and people who brought this food to you.Be aware of their gifts as you eat. 3. Begin the meal by pausing to inhale the fragrance of the food. Imagine that you are being nourished by just the smell. 4. If you notice that you are eating without tasting, stop and pause to look at the food again.

source: Bays, J.C. (2009). Mindful eating: a guide to redicovering a healthy and joyful relationship with food. Boston: Shambhala, p. 100. image:

diet & cancer

Posted on
Please note this Webinar on your calendar: Diet and cancer: a five-step action plan for prevention and survival
Tuesday, November 30, 2010; 7:30 to 8:30 pm EST; 4:30 to 5:30 PST

Dr. Aileen Burford-Mason, immunologist, cell biologist and orthomolecular nutritionist, Holistic Health Research Foundation of Canada.

After the initial shock of diagnosis, cancer patients as well as family and friends want to know what changes they can make to their diet to support their recovery and prevent recurrence. Drawing on fascinating recent research on the role of diet in the prevention and treatment of cancer, Dr Aileen Burford-Mason describes five steps anyone can take to improve health and survival, whether they are currently a cancer patient, or cancer-free and want to improve the odds of staying that way. Topics include:

• Why weight control is important
• Which diet helps prevent cancer and reduce the risk of recurrence
• Certain key supplements to add to a healthy diet.

Dr. Aileen Burford-Mason is an independent research analyst, healthcare writer, lecturer and educator, with a special interest in the biological basis of complementary medical practices, and the scientific evidence for their use. Her many research papers published in leading medical and scientific journals cover such diverse medical and scientific areas as immunology, pathology, gastroenterology, cancer, AIDS, microbiology, and nutrition.

This on-line lecture is designed for both the public and health professionals. It’s easy to sign up, listen, and post questions. There is no cost to register. Registration link:  


heart hunger

In preparation for leading a day-long retreat on “baking and eating our daily bread,” I’ve been paying attention to my eating habits. Food and I have long been in a problematic relationship, marked by occasional overeating. I’ve noticed, for instance, that whenever I become anxious, I turn to eating. Even as simple a dilemma as not finding my car keys or anticipating a difficult phone call — and Swush! I’m in the kitchen, stuffing my face. Feeling lonely or distraught: I eat! Uncertain or pressured: I eat! And no, not healthy carrots and celery sticks, but anything that comes my way. And more than just a light snack; give me a loaf of bread, a bar of chocolate, or a tub of yoghurt: I’m your man!

This doesn’t happen every day, but certainly once or twice a week. And has been going on for years and years. The instance I become aware, I usually stop. On occasion, when I’m really  feeling numb, I take one more gulp as if to cause deliberate discomfort. Because discomfort inevitably follows: heavy stomach, tiredness, lethargy, guilt, and self-loathing. 

What’s with that ???

Zen teacher Chozen Bays MD has written Mindful eating: as guide to rediscovering a healthy and joyful relationship with food — where better to look for answers. But as I type the book’s subtitle, it occurs to me that the last time I had a “healthy and joyful” meal was at my mother’s breast. During the seven years that followed, in post-war Germany, all food was rationed. We lived near the poverty line. There was neither a fridge nor a food pantry in the apartment. Meals were plain and modest, never enough to go around. Kids were always hungry: snacking and second helpings were unheard of. Not even during a three-year cook’s apprenticeship did eating become any easier: six intimidated teenagers were forbidden to eat (except during end-of-shift meals) and developed devious ways to grab-and-swallow.

Dr. Bays identifies seven kinds of hunger involving ways “to sooth, to distract, to procrastinate, to numb, to entertain, to seduce, to reward, and even to punish.”

Many people are aware that they eat in an attempt to fill a hole, not in the stomach but in the heart. We eat when we are lonely. We eat when relationships end.  … These are [some of] the ways we try to take care of ourselves …, but we must understand that food put into the stomach will never ease the emptiness, the ache of the heart.

There’s no quick solution to my dilemma. It’s been with me for ages and won’t be cured by a pep talk or factual information. I do know what good food looks like, know how to prepare it creatively, set a fine table, and cook for others. Yet for myself, even on stress-free days, the relationship with food remains mysteriously problematic. 

To launch an investigation into ways I may be filling the empty place in my heart, I commit to tracking the next incident and, as Dr. Bays suggest, observe what precedes it, and how I feel before, during, and after stuffing myself. Let’s see where that takes me.

If any of this sounds familiar, I’d be grateful to read your Comments. In turn I’ll report on my investigation, whatever the results.

source: Bays, J.C. (2009). Mindful eating. Boston: Shambhala, p. 43. image: