‘Tis the Season to Share Nutrition!

Borrowed from http://www.bu.edu

One of the main inspirations for my work is the belief that food brings people together, builds communities, and that sharing food with others is one of the most powerful ways to give of yourself.  I derive a great sense of satisfaction and self-worth from being able to provide a delicious and nourishing meal to my family and friends.  Sharing food with others goes beyond simply providing for someone’s basic needs, but provides the fuel that is required to continue the circle of life and to expand the human spirit.

I am addressing the subject of sharing nutrition because we are entering the holiday season when the most people choose to give of their time, talent, and treasure.  Hunger and malnutrition is prevalent all year-long, but with Thanksgiving just around the corner, food is at the forefront of most people’s minds.  I want to touch on the subject, not as a way to help individuals improve their own health and wellness, but as a way to encourage sharing good nutrition with those that have a difficult time feeding their bodies well.

Like many other people, I often donate my unwanted items to local thrift shops to help fund social services in my community.  In doing so, I have a guideline, that “if it is not good enough for me, it is not good enough for those less fortunate.”  Before donating something I first take a look at why I need to get rid of it: Is it broken?  Do I no longer have a use for it?  Is it too small or big?  I never donate things that I am unwilling to use because they are broken, stained, hideous, or otherwise.  I believe that the same rubric should be applied when donating food.

I worked in homeless youth shelters for seven years and I have seen the foods that people donate.  Some food is terrific and other food is pretty unbelievable.  Sometimes it would seem that people would dig through their pantries to find all the food their families wouldn’t eat that is about to expire, throw it in a musty box from the garage and drop it off for the homeless kids.  Sure these people did share of their treasure (they did pay for it at some point), but it would always seem that these types of donations were really meant to clear off the shelves rather than to help others.  I met a lot of really brave and creative young people who could make a meal with cob-webbed boxes of instant potatoes and rusty cans of Spam, but I certainly would never eat anything like that.

This year, I would like to encourage people to pledge to donate the highest quality food they can afford to share.  Make “if I won’t buy it for my family, I won’t donate it” be your guide.  The needs of the homeless and impoverished can be difficult to meet when the local food bank only requests non-perishable items, but it is possible to find items that are not ramen noodles and deviled ham.  It is important to remember that those who struggle to afford to pay for their most basic of needs likely have fairly compromised immune systems due to their malnutrition.  This makes it all the more important to donate only high-quality, healthful foods.  Your food bank probably also accepts fresh and frozen foods.  You just need to call and ask about how to donate those items as they cannot be left in a collection barrel.

Another point to keep in mind is that just as someone in your family may have a food

Borrowed from tasterie.com

allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity, so too do those receiving food assistance.  Make an effort to donate at least one item that will meet the needs of someone with special dietary considerations.

When deciding what foods to purchase and donate keep the following points in mind:

  • Homeless individuals and families may not have access to a kitchen to prepare a meal.  There are healthy and organic versions of things like “Cup ‘o Soup” and “Rice-a-Roni.”
  • Those experiencing homelessness may not have access to clean drinking water.  Donations of bottled water are excellent.
  • People receiving food services may have had little exposure to preparing/using items such as quinoa, flax, and even lentils.  Include your favorite recipe.
  • Read the labels.  If you haven’t started doing this for yourself, now is a great time to start.
  • Call your local food bank and find out what they have too little of.  There will always be a surplus of certain items.
  • Don’t forget the herbs and spices!  These can be expensive, but are key in making any meal truly delicious.

Will you pledge to donate high-quality, healthful food this year?

Need some help finding where to donate?  Visit FoodPantries.org

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Food Is For Enjoying

Hello again everyone.  I have been silent here in the blogging world for a little while because I decided to prioritize my canning over blogging.  While I was canning and not blogging, I was also doing some thinking about the direction of my life coaching endeavors.  My business, Vision In Action, has only been open for 5 months so we are still in a growing and learning period.  I began this business because I have an incredibly strong skill set for helping others improve their lives.  I have always had a natural talent for this, but I improved upon it in college and truly honed my skills working in the social service world.  As I set out with life coaching, I thought that I would just hang my shingle out to offer my services to anyone who had any goal of any sort.  That’s a little general, don’t ya think?  I shortly received some advice from a much more experienced life coach that I should target my audience (a marketing friend of mine put it: “By trying to please everyone, you please no one.”)  It was at this point that I thought to myself, “I have worked with families with at-risk youth for 7 years, that is my niche.”  Turns out, I don’t want to do that either.  I am still very passionate about helping young people, but youth work is very intense work and I am beginning to feel that my journey in that field has concluded.  I did some amazing work, but I have skills to lend to other areas of service…and in order to offer the top-level of service, I need to be truly energized by what I am doing.

Then, one day recently, it hit me: FOOD!  I love food.  I spend the majority of my time dealing with food: growing it, tending it, preserving it, and cooking meals from scratch.  When I have conversations with friends and family, it so often turns to food and the ways that it can help us be healthier.  I am over-the-top passionate about food.  Food is what brings family and friends together to celebrate and discuss and share.  And often there is no greater kindness than giving food to someone who has none.  Food can bring people together, and tear people apart.  It can nourish your body and soul or it can irreparably damage your most vital organs.  Food is powerful.

I have also been on an incredible journey with food.  I am now at a place in my life where food is something that I use to show others that I care for them and a way I keep myself healthy.  I do have some food demons that I have struggled with and will likely struggle with my whole life.  I have suffered from anorexia and bulimia, and I have had many times where I could find nothing positive about my physical body.  This issue is so complex and my journey has been a wild one.  I do not have plans to share my entire journey with everyone, but do feel that sharing this small amount with you all can help to illustrate where my passion for food comes from.

Some might say that sharing my indecisiveness over my niche shows lack of vision or stability, but I believe it shows that I understand how goals may look black and white at the beginning, but end up neon green.  My goal has always been to use my unique skill set to help people do great things with their lives, it has just taken a bit to figure out in what way.  I want to help people stop seeing food as the enemy and to see themselves as beautiful people.  I am not setting out to help people stick to a specific diet.  I am not a weight loss guru, and will never pretend to be.  I want to inspire people to love food and be inspired by food, not to count every calorie and forget about the nutritional value that all foods have.  This is about long-term, lifestyle change, not about losing 10 pounds for your high school reunion.

I have been around a lot of food-related issues over my life and have seen people use food to improve their lives and to cope with negativity.  I know the healing power of food and have watched loved ones with cancer and multiple sclerosis use food for all of its positive benefits.  I hope that my passion about food, educational and professional background, as well as my personal journey can help you find your way to loving food and yourself.

I am interested to hear some feedback as I start re-branding my business.  I have no way of knowing if anyone is interested in this sort of service, but I have to follow my passion!  Stay-tuned for more food-related changes 🙂

Smile So Hard Your Face Hurts

I’m feeling particularly joyful today and want to talk about successes.  There have been some small and large successes in my life lately and it has gotten me to thinking about how people celebrate successes.  Celebration of success is so very important, even when we are talking about little wins like saving a few bucks at the grocery store.  I believe that is it imperative that we find something to celebrate every day.

Now, I’m not talking an open-a-bottle-of-champagne celebration, but rather small celebrations like calling your best friend to share the news, having a sweet treat, or putting a post-it up on the fridge.  We have to feel comfortable congratulating ourselves on good things that happen in our lives if we are truly going to be successful.   Really big wins like landing a big promotion, graduating, getting married, opening a new business, and etcetera don’t happen every day.  Those things take years of planning, preparation, and hard work.  It will sometimes feel like the ultimate goal is so far off that you can’t even visualize what it will be like when you reach your destination.  By celebrating the small wins on the way to the big one, we can get a taste of what we will be feeling at the end.  It is part of our motivation and inspiration to keep plugging away so we can finally throw a big party and spend all day smiling so hard our faces hurt.

If you are having a hard time finding ways to celebrate your small wins, try celebrating another person’s win.  If your partner comes home and has had a great day at work, say , “congratulations!”  Or if your child scores well on a test at school, tack it up on the fridge.  This will start to help you see how to celebrate yourself and can start building a culture of celebration in your family.

Don’t be shy, share a win with us!  What are you celebrating today?

In the realm of interesting…

I’ve been posting now for a little while and hoping that I’m writing things that are interesting to you all.  I plan to keep doing this 😉 but I would like to know what you would like to read about.  I have particular expertise in the areas of parenting, teens, and health/wellness.  Are there other topics in the realm of life coaching you are interested in hearing about?  Leave a comment with a suggestion, and I will do my best to write something inspiring for you!