To Weigh or Not to Weigh...that is the question...

Friday, May 31, 2013

There is a lot of preference and passion around the topic of how frequently people should weigh themselves. The range has extremes from "never" weighing yourself to weighing yourself twice a day- at the beginning and end of the day. What should it be?

I have learned over the years that managing my weight requires that I be mindful of it. When I start avoiding the scale it is a sure sign I am not paying attention to what I am eating either. Through self assessment and awareness I have come to understand that I need concrete feedback to know how I am doing in managing my food intake and exercise. I don't seem to have the built in mechanisms others have in innately knowing. Or, more truthfully, I may have it but don't listen to it without other tangible evidence.

Weighing keeps me honest. I have found it is better for me to weigh everyday in order to keep on track. It also keeps me mindful. It provides me the concrete feedback on how much I am eating, whether I am making the right choices and/or whether I need to rein in my consummation. And it makes me understand how important it is to exercise. When I slack off on going to the gym, the pounds start to creep back.

Standing on the scale daily is a way for me to be committed to keeping the pounds off. It keeps my awareness focused on what it takes to be healthy. It is a daily deal.

I found a great website that addresses this issue as well- Fit to the Finish. The author, Diane, sites some studies that show that those who weigh daily actually lose more weight. It makes sense to me. How about you?


Mediterranean Diet--Greek-Flavored Turkey Burgers

Thursday, May 30, 2013
Greek-Flavored Turkey Burger @livligahome
Burgers are such a summertime meal. They are easy to assemble and you can grill them outside, not making your kitchen hot. Still on my discovery of Mediterranean Diet recipes, I thought it would be fun to try out a Greek-flavored turkey burger (426 cal).

They were easy to make and very flavorful. The ingredients mixed with the turkey meat include fresh mint, lemon juice, red onion and feta. Once cooked the turkey burger is topped with bottled roasted red peppers. As you can see it looks visually appealing too.

To make it a meal I added baked wild fries (77 cal) and Greek Spaghetti Squash Salad (1 cup serving/80 cal) . The total calorie count for this meal was on the high side at 583.

For us it was a weekend meal with family over for dinner so it worked. We were not so wild about the spaghetti squash salad and will not repeat it. The burger, however, was a winner.

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Meditation Deactivates Your Genes!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Living in a "groovy" place like Boulder, Colorado, I am exposed to many alternative ways to be and stay healthy. Yoga and meditation are tried and true ways of improving our health. I was impressed with a piece I read in The Week recently that reports on the scientific reason meditation protects our health. 

Meditation’s genetic impact
Plenty of research has proved that meditation and yoga can lower blood pressure, improve mood, counter stress, and benefit your mental and physical health. Now a new study has shown for the first time that these ancient centering practices can actually affect your genes, turning beneficial ones on and harmful ones off. Researchers analyzed the genes of 26 volunteers who were unfamiliar with meditation, and then taught them a 10 to 20 minute meditation routine that involved rhythmic breathing, chanting, and focusing the mind. After the volunteers meditated twice a day for eight weeks, researchers found that the practice had activated genes that make cells more efficient at metabolizing energy and that protect telomeres, the caps at the end of chromosomes that help protect DNA from damage caused by aging. The practice also appeared to deactivate genes related to chronic inflammation, a risk factor for many diseases, including heart disease and cancer. Meditation is “not New Age nonsense,’’ study author Herbert Benson of Massachusetts General Hospital tells New Scientist. “These effects are quite powerful in how they change your gene activity.’’

The Week- May 24, 2013

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Mediterranean Diet— Spiced Carrot Salads

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Spiced Braised Carrots with Olives and Mint Served Up on Livliga
Spiced Braised Carrots with Olives and Mint 

Carrots are a great springtime...and summertime vegetable. The more I learn about the Mediterranean Diet I see that carrots are a staple.  I am enjoying exploring a variety of recipes with carrots.

Recently I tried a Spicy Carrot Salad (112/cal—see previous blog—Greek Black-eyed Peas, a for meal). It is visually very appealing. As a side dish it will brighten up any number of main dishes. The interesting aspect of this recipe is that the carrots are cooked in a spicy broth, infusing the entire carrot with the spices. This makes the flavor consistent. Because it has both paprika and red pepper (cayenne) it makes for a very "hot" taste. Ultimately it was too spicy for this family. I really like the concept, though. I want to try it out again but halve the amount of the spice and see if a milder version will work for us. Stay tuned.

My new favorite carrot side dish is from Cooking Light and is Spiced Braised Carrots with Olives and Mint. It smells heavenly when the carrots are simmering and transports you to a Moroccan Spice Market. Served up every bite-full is filled with flavor. There were a lot of moans of pleasure as we ate dinner. The complete meal included Moroccan-Style Chicken Thighs, Lemon-Rosemary Melting Potatoes and the Spiced Braised Carrots. The whole family asked when we were going to have this dinner again. A big hit and fun to make.

Moroccan-Style Chicken Thighs and Lemon-Rosemary Melting Potatoes with Spiced Braised Carrots Served Up on Celebrate
Moroccan-Style Chicken Thighs and Lemon-Rosemary Melting Potatoes with Mediterranean Spiced Braised Carrots Served Up on Celebrate
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Great Healthy Living Quote #45

Monday, May 27, 2013


Why Livliga works- promotes satisfaction

Friday, May 24, 2013
Food served on Livliga dinnerware looks satisfying
Proportion of food to the size of a plate is key. Proportion is also critical in the size of each piece in the suite of dishware offered by Livliga. It has been found that the relationship of the size of the dishware to the amount of food put on or in it is important so that the food looks plentiful and therefore once eaten will cause a person to feel satisfied. Providing too big of a plate, for instance, and the food looks small and therefore won’t seem satisfying to the person eating it.

Mediterranean Diet-- Kale Chips

Thursday, May 23, 2013
Kale Chips @ Livligahome

Sometimes you just need something crunch and a little salty for a snack. I have found a great solution. It is VERY healthy, yummy to eat and totally satisfying. The best part is the whole family loves them. I have even served them when guests have come over for dinner. The only thing you have to be aware of is that pieces of the kale can stick to your teeth so you need to promise to do a "teeth check" after you have finished your chips!

Kale chips are very easy to make. The hearty leafed green is well suited to baking in the oven. To make the chips this is all you need:

Bunch of Kale
Olive Oil cooking spray
Pinch of Sea Salt

Here are the directions for preparation:
  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into chip-sized pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Spray kale with olive oil cooking spray and sprinkle with sea salt.
  3. Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Serve in a basket. One cup of kale chips is about 36 calories.
This is a great snack or appetizer. It is a make-a-head recipe which is good to have on hand for holiday weekends. Enjoy & Live Vibrant!



Guest Blog- by Cole Millen-- Staying on Track While on Vacation

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Staying on Track While on Vacation

Vacation is usually the perfect time to kick-back, relax and ignore the regular day-to-day responsibilities. This often means sleeping in, skipping the gym, having an extra drink with dinner, and eating out for every meal. While this feels great on vacation, most people lament the few extra pounds they bring home from their trip. Fortunately, you can keep your diet on track while still enjoying your vacation by doing a little planning ahead and remembering a few simple tricks.

Depending where you are vacationing will impact how you would need to plan ahead. For trips that involve flying, it is very important to pack some healthy snacks because there are few things available past the security check that are not filled with calories, fat and sodium. Things like homemade trail mix, dried fruit or nuts are very light and easy to store in carry-on bags. Pack several options and remember to bring a second serving in your luggage for the trip home. Since current regulations do not allow any liquids past security, it is difficult to bring a drink, but getting a large bottle of water is usually worth it. It gives you something to drink on the flight other than soda or sugar-heavy juices.

Planning your trip extensively ahead of time is also very important when maintaining a healthy lifestyle on vacation. Often times we stay in an area that is very unknown to us and have no clue where the healthy alternatives are. For this reason, I have found that doing a little research prior to departure is pivotal in a nutritious week. I recently went to Vegas for a trip with a few friends of mine and realized before hand that it was not going to be easy to eat the way I wanted. What proved to be most valuable in my decision were the reviews that other travelers had given which truly allowed me to see what type of restaurants and alternatives were within the area. With a little research I was able to find a hotel in Las Vegas that had a full gluten-free menu. If I can manage to eat right in the buffet capital of the world, than anything is possible.

Once you arrive, find a local grocery or convenience store and stock up on some essentials like granola bars, instant oatmeal or even soup packets. These low-fat, low-calorie options can serve as snacks or eaten before a meal out. By eating something healthy before you leave, you may be able to avoid the tempting breadbasket or not finish the double serving of pasta. Try to always order a side salad to come out before the main course. This will increase your vegetable intake, while filling your stomach to eat less of the entree.

It is important to allow yourself to indulge while vacationing, but set limits before you go. Because alcohol has so many extra, empty calories, simply sipping a glass of water between drinks can reduce your intake for the entire night - even if you opt to get the chocolate cake for dessert. Also, instead of eating an entire dessert, get one to share. You get to enjoy the taste without wanting to eat the entire serving.

Following these simple tips will have you coming home in as great of shape as you left in!


Mediterranean Diet—Greek Black-Eyed Peas and Greens

Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Mediterranean Diet—Black-Eyed Peas with Greens Served Up on Livliga
Greek Black-eyed Peas @livligahome

This recipe- Greek Black-eyed Peas and Greens (262/cal)- makes you feel very healthy. It made us feel proud to be eating vegetarian! It makes a hearty vegetarian meal because of the mix of greens included- Swiss chard, arugula and spinach. I used frozen black-eyed peas which made for firmer peas and less cook time than dried. The flavors for this dish come from the foods, not spices. It comes off as simple and straight-forward. Refreshing.

To make it a meal I added a Spicy Carrot Salad (112/cal--see blog review). It added the spice and heat the black-eye peas did not have. It was ultimately too spicy for this family. But the idea was a good one. I want to lighten the amount of spice next time and then see what we think.

The black-eyed peas got a thumbs up. The opinion on the spicy carrot salad is being suspended until it is prepared again without so much spice. We all liked the idea of the complementary dishes. Now to refine the tastes. We will keep you posted. The total calories for the meal was 374. 

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Great Healthy Living Quote #44

Monday, May 20, 2013


Avoiding Super-sized Food Commercials in the Morning

Friday, May 17, 2013

It is really hard to start the morning off on the right foot if you turn on your TV when you get up or when you start your work out. There is a real irony in working out to fast food commercials. Before you even take your first bite, the TV is telling you you are hungry, what you want to eat and how much. Ugh.

I am someone who likes to watch the news in the morning. I also roam the channels as the commercials come on to see what is happening on different channels. In doing my channel surfing I discovered that the cable channel news shows have commercials but they are different kinds of commercials. They don't seem to have food commercials. I started paying attention to the commercials and it is really different on the cable channels like CNN, HLN, MSNBC and FNC.

It is amazing the difference it makes for me to start the day out without fast food commercials. I don't start out triggered and ready to scarf  down what ever is within reach. I now work out to CNN, MSNBC, HLN and FNC. So much better for me.

Mediterranean Diet- Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

Thursday, May 16, 2013
Mediterranean Diet- Roasted Vegetable Lasagna@livligahome

You can't beat a hearty lasagna as a welcome meal. Finding a vegetarian version that is hearty, tasty and satisfying is a great discovery. This newly found Mediterranean Roasted Vegetable version fits the bill. It does take a bit to prepare but it is worth it. It is also "company worthy" for a weekend meal.  I used whole wheat "no boil" noodles which worked well with this recipe. I couldn't find the recipe on line so I have provided the ingredients and directions below. Here are the ingredients:
Now here are the instructions:
This is a recipe I got from 400 Calorie Fix by Liz Vaccariello. It is a great resource.

In order to make it a meal we added a Greek salad (61/cal) for a total calorie count of 391. If you are having company over you could add a slice of Italian bread and still meet your 500 calorie or less goal for the meal. It was a hit and a definite repeat.

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna with Salad@livligahome
Enjoy! And Live Vibrant!

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Mediterranean Diet Lowers Cholesterol Levels Even When No Weight Loss

Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Mediterranean Diet Lowers Cholesterol Even with no Weight Loss@livligahome

As I continue my journey exploring and discovering the wonders of the Mediterranean Diet I am amazed at how much scientific information is out there reinforcing the benefits to adhering to this style of eating for a healthier lifestyle. Here is one such example:

HuffPost Healthy Living
Posted: 05/04/2013 10:32 am EDT

Even if it doesn't lead to weight loss, eating a Mediterranean diet can help men with their cholesterol levels, according to a small new study.

The research, presented at the Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology 2013 Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association, shows that consuming a Mediterranean diet -- which includes lots of produce, whole grains and olive oil and moderate amounts of wine -- is linked with lower levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol, even if there is no weight loss achieved.

The study included 19 men, between ages 24 and 62, all of whom had metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a known heart disease and diabetes risk factor, and includes having a cluster of conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high body mass index and high cholesterol.

Researchers had the men eat a standard American diet -- which has lots of red meat, sugar, carbohydrates and fat -- for five weeks, and then had them eat a Mediterranean diet for the following five weeks. After that, all the men went on a 20-week weight loss regimen, and then they all went again on a five-week Mediterranean diet plan.

Even if the men didn't lose weight over the course of the study, researchers found that eating the Mediterranean diet was linked with 9 percent lower "bad" cholesterol levels.

Because the findings have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, they should be considered preliminary. However, the Mediterranean diet has been extolled for its heart-healthy benefits multiple times in the past, including in a New England Journal of Medicine study showing that it could lower stroke and other heart risks among high-risk people.


Mediterranean Diet- Crisp Lamb Lettuce Wraps

Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Mediterranean Diet-Crisp Lamb Lettuce Wraps @livligahome
It is always nice to find recipes that provide an alternative to our carbohydrate-centric meals. I thought this Crisp Lamb Lettuce Wrap (158/cal) would be a fun recipe to try. It has all sorts of wonderful ingredients from fresh tomato and cucumber to mint and cinnamon. To me it is an appealing springtime dinner. It may not look as hardy as it actually is. We were remarkably full after eating our two wraps.

The sauce also taught me something new. You combine equal amounts of store-bought hummus and fat-free Greek yogurt. It was delicious, a little lighter than hummus on its own and I am sure less calories per bite. I think I am going to do this for when I offer a hummus dip with veggies for an appetizer from now on. I am counting on it being a big hit.

We completed the meal with a side dish of Morrocan Spiced Oranges (167/cal; see last weeks blog review) for a total calorie count of 325. It was a big hit and a definite repeat.


Great Healthy Living Quote #43

Monday, May 13, 2013


Why Livliga works- sets the stage for eating less

Friday, May 10, 2013
Food on bigger plate to the right doesn't look as plentiful

Our everyday dishware has grown over 51% in the past 50 plus years- expanding from about 9.5 inches to 12 or more inches in diameter. This has caused us to unwittingly consume way more food than our bodies need. By downsizing our dishware, Livliga has made it easy for people to right-size their portions of food while still filling their plate. And because it is a right-sized dish, you can still eat everything on your plate!

Studies have shown that the portion of food on a plate in relationship to the actual size of the plate is critical in influencing people to feel like the food on their plate is plentiful, causing them to feel satisfied after eating. Providing too big of a plate, on the other hand, with the same right-sized portions on it will appear relatively empty and therefore is not that satisfying.

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Mediterranean Diet- Moroccan-Spiced Oranges

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Moroccan Spiced Salad

It is always nice to have a variety of tried and true side dishes that you can add to a menu to complete a meal. I look for flavor, color and ease of preparation when I add favorites to my list of side dishes. They also need to be under 200 calories per serving so I can meet my overall goal of 500 calories or less for a meal.

I came across this Moroccan-Spiced Oranges recipe that I thought would be a great new side dish. It is easy to prepare and has wonderful texture and taste. With the cinnamon and orange together, it also is pleasantly aromatic. It has dates along with slivered almonds to make you feel you are indeed eating foods from an exotic land. It did not call for toasting the almonds, but as you can see, I did. I think that step added to the attractiveness of the dish. Next time I plan to put the oranges on a bed of bibb lettuce to make it even that much more attractive and substantial in completing a meal. The calories for this side dish are 167 calories. It received a two thumbs up from everyone in the family. A definite repeat and qualifies as a new family favorite.

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Mother's Day is almost here--check out this perfect gift!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Livliga- the perfect, stylish and original Mother's Day Gift!

We have the perfect gift to give a mom you love and there is still time to get it delivered!

Why not a beautiful and healthy lifestyle gift-- Livliga! Serve them a special meal on the dinnerware or toast them with our etched glasses. A gift that lasts and reminds them every day and at every meal how much you love them. Use this code MOMS2013  for a 10% discount today and through May 12 at Gift Wrap available.

Enjoy! And Live Vibrant!

Mediterranean Diet- Slow Cooker Stuffed Peppers

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers
These Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers are Stuffed with Turkey Meat and Quinoa

There is something so fun about delving into a way of life through food. I am so enjoying exploring all the ways to eat "Mediterranean". There is no end to the possibilities. My daughter took on this slow cooker Stuffed Peppers recipe. We chose to use red bell peppers instead of green. What is interesting about this recipe is that it has changed out a lot of the traditional ingredients to healthier, more contemporary ones. Instead of ground beef you use ground turkey and instead of rice you use quinoa.

Mediterranean Diet Stuffed Peppers
Pick the Colorful Bell Pepper of your Choice or Make it Even More Colorful with a Variety of Peppers

These stuffed peppers (350/cal) made for a hearty meal. Somehow the dish screamed for a dollop of Greek yogurt or a sprinkling of fets. We chose feta. It was a very pleasant dish, not too spicy.

To make it a meal we added a salad with romaine lettuce topped with 1/2 a sliced pear, 1 tablespoon of blueberries with 2 tablespoons of my lemon vinaigrette (148/cal) for a total calorie count of 498 calories. This made for a nice Sunday supper. Not a new family favorite but definitely a repeat down the line.

Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers with a Simple Tossed Salad
To Make it a Meal add a Simple Salad with Homemade Vinaigrette

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Great Healthy Living Quote #42

Monday, May 6, 2013


In Search of a Naturally Sweet Coffee that is Rich and Strong in Flavor

Friday, May 3, 2013
Lavazza Italian Coffee Beans
 It is clear I love a challenge. I also love the journey. Since I have given up putting sweeteners in my coffee I have been in search of a naturally flavorful coffee bean. It is amazing how a coffee bean that is great with sweetener can end up being way to powerful and acidic without it. It made me realize I could go on the hunt for a better coffee that tastes delicious all on its own. I am at that stage of life where I am embracing the fact I don't have to eat or drink anything I don't enjoy.

Now that my palette is not overwhelmed by the taste of sweetener I am discovering how very different the taste of coffee beans can be. This hunt is very fun but harder to quickly find the "new" me. I am taking suggestions.

The first new coffee bean I tried was a suggestion from my oldest son. It is Lavazza from Italy. You can buy it on Amazon and it is really reasonable. The verdict: it was rich and smooth but pretty light in flavor for our tastes. Very pleasant. I just wish it had a sweet "finish". I know it exists because I have had it in specialty coffee shops. Of course, I also want to be able to afford it! On to the next brand...

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Perfect Mother's Day Gift--stylish, healthy and practical!

Thursday, May 2, 2013
Livliga-- the Perfect Mother's Day Gift

It is that time of year when we think about the special mothers that are in our lives. We want to shower them with love and memorable gifts. Why not a beautiful and healthy lifestyle gift-- Livliga! Serve them a special meal on the dinnerware or toast them with our etched wine glasses. A gift that lasts and reminds them every day and at every meal how much you love them. Go to to pick your perfect gift.

Can't decide? A gift certificate is a great option, which is also available on our website.

Let us make your present ready to give with our Gift Wrapping services. Just choose this preference at check out and we will take care of the rest!

Enjoy! And Live Vibrant!

The Psychobiology of chewing

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I recently read this interesting article by Marc David about the significance of chewing and how important it is to our psyche and metabolism. I thought is was worth sharing. Read on:

There’s more to chewing than you might think. It’s arguably the first digestive activity that we bring to a meal, and unlike the chemical processes that occur in our gut, chewing falls under our conscious control. Except of course, when we go a bit unconscious and inhale our food. But chewing is more than a digestive aid. It also has a potent psychological function that helps keep body, mind and emotions in balance. Consider the following:

Have you ever wondered why crunchy foods are so popular, why advertisers promote products on the basis of crunchiness – “super crunchy,” “extra crunchy,” “stays crunchy even in milk”? Have you noticed that whenever you eat your favorite brand of potato chips, pretzels, or crackers, they each have a similar degree of crunchiness? What advertisers understand and capitalize on is that crunching and chewing are primal activities, inborn urges dating back to the first life-forms that ever “crunched” on each other.

So important is the level of crunch that many years ago, potato-chip manufacturers developed a sophisticated apparatus to measure the perceived level of crunch that consumers hear in their heads. The most pleasurable decibel levels were deciphered, and potato chips were subsequently manufactured to these standard orgasmic crunch levels.

From a psychophysiologic perspective, chewing and crunching are natural outlets for inborn aggression.
Throw a piece of meat into a lion’s cage and the lion will likely roar at it, attack it and tear it apart as if it were still alive. The lion must do this because its nature is to be aggressive. But aggression here isn’t meant as some mean, vengeful act. A lion doesn’t attack a jackrabbit because of hate. Quite the contrary, the lion attacks because it loves the jackrabbit.

Like the lion, human beings have a distinct measure of innate aggression, and developmental psychologists often see this energy as first experienced through the infant’s desire to bite. Psychologists call the original oral-aggressive act the “hanging-on bite” to the breast. This is a biting that establishes confluence with the mother. The baby must actively hold on for nourishment and will often keep holding on even when mama has had enough. The tension it experiences when separated from the mother before it’s fully satisfied is typically expressed through crying, screaming and facial contortions.

In the many body-oriented disciplines and psychologies, the jaw is associated with anger and aggression. When these emotions are habitually withheld and left unexpressed, they may become “frozen” on the face as a perpetually clenched jaw or tightened musculature resembling a scowl. Just as a dog clenches its teeth when angered or challenged, so too do human beings channel aggression through the face. From an evolutionary perspective, the process of biting and chewing allows for the release of what psychologists call dental aggressive urges.

Many people habitually fail to chew, swallowing their food almost whole.
They tend to derive pleasure not so much from the taste and texture of the food as from the velocity at which it’s eaten. In such instances we deny an important, natural outlet for tension and fail to experience full satisfaction from a meal. In an effort to free the unreleased tension, we may continue to eat past the point of satiation, turn to other oral based habits like gum chewing, or simply internalize the tension, allowing it to build over time and eventually express itself in chronic emotional or biological symptoms. For many people, TMJ disorder is the result of unexpressed anger that’s looking for an outlet.

On another level, by swallowing food whole, we make a statement about the way we approach the world. We want our hungers in life satisfied but aren’t fully willing to take the necessary steps. This need for immediate gratification is reflected in our refusal to chew. Ironically, a side effect of the short-cut method of not chewing is more hunger. Chewing and tasting are basic to hunger satisfaction. When we limit these simple gustatory requirements, the brain screams for more food. Taste, texture, and satisfaction are literal nutritional requirements.

In one fascinating experiment, scientists deprived a group of test rats the sensation of taste. This group of “tasteless” rats, along with a control group, were placed on a normal rat diet. Both groups ate the same amount of food, and in a short time the taste-deprived rats all died. When the rats were autopsied, researchers could only find one cause of death – clinical rat malnutrition. The scientists could come up with only one explanation – that there are important yet unknown physiological connections between taste and health. Similarly, hospital patients fed intravenously or through feeding tubes that bypass the mouth often report a nagging hunger for taste, and can experience digestive, immune and other health issues. Though the mechanisms that govern these phenomena are little understood, this much is certain: to be fully nourished by food, we must experience it through tasting and chewing

In a comparable manner, to be fully nourished by any experience, we must “taste” and “chew” it thoroughly.
It’s no accident that many of the words we use to describe eating are the same ones used to describe the thinking process. When presented with an idea, the mind will first grasp it and “chew” on it. Our conscious mind breaks it down into its component parts, “tastes” it, then “swallows” it into the subconscious for final “assimilation”. When we accept something without “ruminating” over it or when we swallow something “hook, line and sinker,” or when “biting off more than we can chew,” what we say in our metaphoric language is that just as food works with digestion, so too do perceptions work with the mind. Improper chewing of food or ideas are equally disturbing to our system.

The mouth deserves our nutritional respect. It’s the first step in the digestive process. Here the chemical digestion of starches is initiated with amylase, an enzyme that breaks down the complex carbohydrate molecules in a well-salivated mouth. The mechanical digestion of food is also initiated in the mouth with the process of chewing. The surface area increases as the food is broken down into smaller and smaller pieces. When the food reaches the stomach, the number of molecules exposed to the stomach’s acid and enzymatic environment is maximized.

If we swallow something whole, such as a piece of meat, an abnormal series of events occurs. First the stomach must churn the meat with its own muscular movements to help break it down into smaller pieces, a function it’s not ideally designed to do. Next, we go through the lengthy chemical process of breaking down large pieces of food. Because we started with one large bite, only the surface of the meat remains exposed to the stomach’s digestive juices. To digest the meat further, the stomach may secrete more acid than normal. This irritates the stomach lining, which is the reason many eaters experience acid indigestion. The condition is exacerbated if the food is high in protein. The greater the protein content of the food, the higher the level of stomach acidity required to digest it.

Chewing is a “pacesetter”. Whatever speed and number of times we chew sets in motion a rhythm that our entire body adopts. By chewing rapidly and insufficiently, we initiate an unsettled frame of mind that is reflected in the body as uncomfortable sensations in the digestive system. Chewing at a moderate to slow rate promotes a relaxed, grounded demeanor and for many, a noticeable stronger metabolism

Full chewing need not be a discipline, but can occur spontaneously simply by eating with relaxed awareness, and settling in to an attitude of nourishment with our meals. Rather than concentrate on chewing food, eat your food, savor it, delight in it, and let chewing be a natural part of the eating process.

by Marc David