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A blog about all things allergen-free and delicious

Entries in health (3)


Choices. Putting A Study of Gratitude into Practice.  

Surprised by Choices

I've been thinking about Thanksgiving.  (You are all like, "duh, who isn't?")  I confess, my thoughts have not been the golden lights of happiness that I always expect when this time of year rolls around.  I'm an eternal optimist and Thanksgiving is a holiday about my favorite things - food, people, conversation, love ...   Even though this year shines as a better example than past offenders (in terms of life events, tragedies big and small, health and good friends) I find myself NOT being grateful. 

I wonder.  What's up with that?  Though there are tangible reasons to be sad and anxious and really, really disappointed, there are also gads of reasons to be thankful.  I know what is bothering me, but why is my dark side taking over my every thought?

And doing it right now?  When things are pretty darn good?

A Shaman once told me that when your world is at its very worst, being grateful for what you do have can change your life.  Even when life kicks you and then kicks you again, there is always something for which to be grateful.  To prove her theory, she gave me an exercise to do every day.  I was instructed to say "thank you" for at least one thing, one person or one event in my life.  Actually say, "Thank you" out loud.  She said that this simple act of expressing one's gratitude helps re-arrange your bodily functions, your cells, maybe even your DNA.  And yes, it strengthens that aura all of the new agey folks talk about.  And yes, I did say, "Shaman". 

After this magical encounter, I sat in meditation every morning after I rolled out of bed, and every evening before I went to bed.  During each meditation I was grateful for something.  It started to ground me.  It quieted the chatter in my head.  It created a bit of space around me where healing could take place.  I found cool ideas surprising my mind.  I made better, more immediate decisions.  I was less rattled by the whriling dervishes that circled my cage at that time.  I could see that there were good things and great people in my corner.  I could see that I had choices.  

Choices are so important.  Seeing your choices can get you out of all kinds of crap.


Studies in Gratitude

I kept that practice up, until I didn't.   

So when I read the article published today in the New York Times about gratitude, I thought I would  try their suggestion and pass it along for you to try with me.  Should you choose.

The experts in the article confirm what the Shaman told me:

Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others, including romantic partners.

A bunch of psychologists have been studying gratitude in a big way, and they found that:

Further benefits were observed in a study of polio survivors and other people with neuromuscular problems. The ones who kept a gratitude journal reported feeling happier and more optimistic than those in a control group, and these reports were corroborated by observations from their spouses. These grateful people also fell asleep more quickly at night, slept longer and woke up feeling more refreshed.

Robert A. Emmons, of the University of California, Davis, used a gratitude journal in the experiements mention above.  Experiments he conducted along with Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami.


Gratitude Journal How-To's

A gratitude journal is simple.  If you follow the good doctor/researchers' advice, you need only list five things for which you feel grateful. Use only one sentence for each of the 5 things in your list to describe it.  Do it only once a week. 

As busy-ness sets in and I try to keep up, I've strayed a bit from my practice of gratitude and I feel the effects.  This latest awareness calls for immediate action, so I'm starting with a gratitude journal toute suite to super charge my cells, and my appetite. 

This post isn't about food, but your food does taste better when you approach it with a grateful heart.  The scientists may not have tested this (at least it wasn't in the article), but this is a fact that I know without a doubt.

I'm also very grateful for out Tender Foodie Community.  Your depth of knowledge and generosity in sharing it is a beautiful, beautiful thing.  I look forward to, and am thankful for, the beauty yet to come.

So go forth Tender Foodies, find gratefulness, wet your appetite, and spread the love!!




The Tender Foodie in Women's Lifestyle Magazine

"Me" in The Leonard at Logan House chef's kitchen - an historic Bed and Breakfast in Grand Rapids, MII was very honored to be interviewed and profiled in Women's LifeStyle Magazine for their October Issue.  The issue is all about "home", a timely topic as we draw in, bundle up and find sanctuary from the business of life. 

Click to read the full article, "Making Tasteful Choices" and to visit Women's LifeStyle Magazine's e-edition.


“Food is the center of social gatherings. At first, I would try to hide my food allergies,” explains Veltman, who would call ahead to order meals when meeting clients or attending parties at restaurants. “In doing so, I realized I was not alone.”
Food allergies are not just a health issue – it becomes a social issue.



Is Buying Local Better? When it comes to Food, Yes.

A 10% Shift Brings Local Communities Millions

There are a few chains that I adore, like Target.  I also like the convenience of Walmart.  It is wonderful to have the products and cost savings that come with mass, global production.  Do I rage against the long-distance commerce machine?  No.  Buying local is not a panacea for every problem and it is not always possible.  But we are consumers who live in communities that need our business and support.  And there are many reasons why (and occasions when) mass, global production is not a wise or cost-effective use of our hard-earned dollars.  Try this statistic on for size:

If the people of an average American city were to shift 10% of their spending from chains to local businesses, it would bring an additional $235 MILLION to the community's economy. has an incredible map that illustrates the costs and benefits of investing in our local economies -- from reducing pollution, to improving food quality, to increasing employment.

There is a simple, often missed wisdom in buying from local sources.  Especially when buying food.  If you have food allergies, buying local can also help us become a healthier Tender Foodie community.


Food Allergies:  The Benefits of Knowing Where Your Food Comes From

When I first started reading labels to ferret out wheat and dairy ingredients, I was pretty shocked to see how many "whole" foods from national food producers were laden with words I could not pronounce.  Many of those preservatives secretly house milk products like whey, and wheat derivatives disguised as anti-caking agents -- even in spices. Food labeling is slowly improving, but it is still tough to discern what potential allergens might lurk on grocery shelves.  On the flip side there may be foods that are perfectly safe, but manufacturers prefer to add "may contain X allergen" on the label, rather than put proper testing in place.  And in their defense, the FDA has yet to let manufacturers know what is "safe".  That's another story.

Buying local can help the food allergy community as well as the local community.  If you know your farmers and local food sources you can:

  1. Avoid many of the preservatives needed to add shelf-life to foods that are warehoused for long periods of time and shipped long distances.
  2. Know how your food is grown, made, processed, and delivered so you can reduce the possibility of cross-contamination from farm to factory to table.  You can ask questions of the people who actually handle your food. Questions like, "do you use GMO seeds or products?", "does your production facility also produce nuts or wheat?", etc.   
  3. Influence you local producers and help them become aware of how many food allergy sufferers there are in their customer community.  Each voice adds to the next.  Smaller, local producers can make some (not all) changes more easily.   If food producers can serve a market that needs and wants organically grown products without cross contamination, they are more likely to work with their vendors to make that happen.  And do it more quickly.
  4. Give your local producers power.  Many local farmers and producers of food have a huge amount of pressure from large distributors to produce food more cheaply.  Often this means adding antibiotics, hormones, cheaper feed, and more.  Buying from our local food producers who have the knowledge to raise our food with healthy, not harmful practices, actually encourages those practices, helps those food producers thrive, and influences the overall market.
  5. Keep more nutrients in our food.  According to, a typical carrot is picked up from the farm a week in advance and travels 1838 miles before reaching a store.  Then it sits on the shelf of the store.  Nutrients are most potent when fruits and vegetables are eaten as close to their harvest as possible.  Buying from your local farmers' markets is just better for your bod.

The "Buy Local" movement is often seen as elitist.  But the consumer community forgets how much power we have to influence products, pricing and the healthfulness of our foods.  If just 10% shift to local vendors equals $235 million dollars, think what else we can do to make our community better.