Cherish life. Nourish it.

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Words and Nourishment, the unexpected link

Young Woman Biting Her Finger NailIn a fascinating study published today, Gary Lupyan of University of Wisconsin revealed the deep and profound link between language, specifically word choice, and the influence on our sight, and likely smell and taste.

It’s got me thinking about how distracted we usually are when we eat. Most of us have a pretty incessant inner dialogue going. And often the words that we use are not positive ones. We frequently bolt down our food as if we were late for a train, without any pleasure or enjoyment. Taste, aroma, and texture don’t even register because we’re so busy being distracted by our own thoughts.
If the only thought in our mind about food is the term “fuel”, we are disconnecting ourselves from the exquisite pleasures of, for example, stuffed squash blossoms, polenta, and cassoulet.
Further, if we consider food to be the enemy, something that exists just to torment us and make us fat, those word-based thoughts are going to influence all aspects of metabolism, and we will not be nourished. The influence of stress around food on metabolism is well documented in the book “The Slow Down Diet” by author Mark David.
But today’s study puts an even finer point on the importance of words on our ability to see, smell and taste the things that are right in front of us. It appears that the words we use condition the brain to either accept sensory input or reject it. Think of how powerful that is.

Language literally shapes our reality and informs our senses.

This study also made me think about the type of language that we use about ourselves and others that radically influences the way we see people. The words that we use to describe ourselves, our body, and others would also affect our sensory input.
Rather than focusing on the beauty, dignity, and functionality of the human body that shows up for us every single day so that we can carry out our life, instead, we think jiggle, wiggle, wobble, dimple, gravity, dissatisfaction, and loathing. The airbrushed society in which we live has convinced us that only perfection is acceptable, and since we’re not perfect, we therefore have reasons to be disgusted with ourselves, even abandon ourselves. Our inner dialogue is worded accordingly. 

Lupyan’s work revealed that hearing a word that did not match the image the participants were actually shown hurt the subjects chances of seeing the object. It literally interrupted sight so thoroughly that there were no signals to the brain suggesting the objects that they were being shown.
The take away here is to become more aware of the language that we are using, our inner dialogue, and how it affects quality-of-life and our ability to be nourished in every way. Slowing down when we eat, blessing our food, asking that we be nourished by its goodness, and thinking of specific descriptive words that apply to its subtleties will all help us be more nourished. Thinking of our miraculous body with compassion and gratitude will help us back away from an adversarial relationship with self. Watchfulness for language that fosters judgemental or prejudicial attitudes toward self or others will allow us to pause on the spot and remember that that is not who we are, as our best self, and re-word the message into something that reflects respect and compassion.

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Do you hate your appetite? Does it feel like an enemy always seeking to subvert you, sabotaging your wellness  and fitness goals?

The belief that appetite is the enemy, and that food is its partner in crime, could not be more widespread.
But is that belief serving us? I would posit that the answer to that question is no.

If we could put an electric meter on our forehead on any given day and measure how much mental, emotional, and physical energy we are spending worrying about and hating on our appetite, food, and our own body, we would probably register enough power to light up China. For a year.


  • Appetite, defined: The natural psychophysiologic desire for food as it occurs.

Hmmm.. Nothing evil or subversive is implied there.

In fact, what could be more friendly than a signal representing a natural desire for food to preserve life?

What would change in your life if you chose to view your appetite as your friend rather than the enemy?

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Two Hits, No Misses

photo (1)This Lacinato kale salad has carrots, red cabbage, broccoli, beets, ginger, and is dressed with miso, toasted sesame oil, and lemon juice.

photo (2)Chickpeas with black olives, dried apricots, red onions, & parsley all dressed with an olive oil vinaigrette with a tad of dijon mustard, marjoram, oregano, and some roasted garlic.

And I am nourished.

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Tired of all the conflicting noise about diets and food?



Ask your Inner Three-year-old. 

The next time you are around little ones at a meal or snack, watch their food behaviors. They pick. Nibble. They eat slowly, perforce, since their hand/eye coordination is still a work in progress. If they find a taste, texture, or aroma that doesn’t speak to them, no amount of parental cajoling will cause them to take another bite of the offending food.

Because eating is a real experience for that toddler, the process takes time. And that slow, unhurried approach to food is what leads to the natural attunement to the body’s wisdom and signals she was born with.

She is not:

  • fretting about calories, macronutrient ratios, or fat grams 
  • logging her estimated fiber grams in her smartphone to ascertain how many points she can trim off the effective calories of the meal 
  • looking at a cookie with an eye to determine how much time she’ll have to do on the stairstepper to burn it off
  • feeling guilt or worse, shame, for having an appetite
  • actively hating on her body for being less than perfect (despite those dimples on her thighs and all)
  • rehashing stressful events of her day.
  • calling foods “good” or “bad”, and therefore herself for eating them

No, she is solely focused on chewing, tasting, and enjoying her meal. Nothing more. She eats when she is hungry, and desists when she’s had just enough. No drama, struggle, angst, or browbeating is involved. When she’s done, life calls with all its interesting things to explore. She doesn’t think about food again until her body asks for it. 

All of us once had this effortless food life, but for most, it becomes an elusive peace once we hit puberty. Indeed, our life around food is anything but peaceful. No matter what food, exercise, macronutrient, diet, vitamin, or mineral being discussed, one source will be bashing it while another sings its praises. So what is an eater to do? 

Perhaps we should do something different. Listen to our own body, because that’s where the wisdom is. That’s where the action is. Slow down, unplug, tune in, and listen for the voice of our true self, the one with the appetite for life. 

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Things that Nourish


Nourishment is so much more than just food or nutrients. It’s the sound of an unexpected rain shower on a hot summer’s day. A glance between loved ones that speaks wordlessly. The deep peace of the breath as we cool down from a workout. The scent of fresh lavender. Planting things and watching them grow. Feeling the sun on our face and savoring our life. Touch. Aroma. Music. All beautifully, compellingly nourishing.

The act of planning meals and preparing food we love is nourishing on several levels: Intention, thoughtfulness, creativity, and curiosity converge. Each is deeply fulfilling. Cooking creatively says, “I’m worth taking care of.”  It allows us to slow down and experience true pleasure several times a day. Memories are made. 

Please join me as we discuss, explore, and experience all things nourishing.