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Archive for January, 2010

6 Great food Rules by Michael Pollan

Posted by Merle Levin on January 19, 2010

Here are six rules from Michael Pollan’s upcoming book, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual“:  You can read the full article at:

#11 Avoid foods you see advertised on television.

Food marketers are ingenious at turning criticisms of their products — and rules like these — into new ways to sell slightly different versions of the same processed foods: They simply reformulate (to be low-fat, have no HFCS or transfats, or to contain fewer ingredients) and then boast about their implied healthfulness, whether the boast is meaningful or not. The best way to escape these marketing ploys is to tune out the marketing itself, by refusing to buy heavily promoted foods. Only the biggest food manufacturers can afford to advertise their products on television: More than two thirds of food advertising is spent promoting processed foods (and alcohol), so if you avoid products with big ad budgets, you’ll automatically be avoiding edible foodlike substances. As for the 5 percent of food ads that promote whole foods (the prune or walnut growers or the beef ranchers), common sense will, one hopes, keep you from tarring them with the same brush — these are the exceptions that prove the rule.

#19 If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.

#36 Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.
This should go without saying. Such cereals are highly processed and full of refined carbohydrates as well as chemical additives.

#39 Eat all the junk food you want — as long as you cook it yourself.
There is nothing wrong with eating sweets, fried foods, pastries, even drinking soda every now and then, but food manufacturers have made eating these formerly expensive and hard-to-make treats so cheap and easy that we’re eating them every day. The french fry did not become America’s most popular vegetable until industry took over the jobs of washing, peeling, cutting, and frying the potatoes — and cleaning up the mess. If you made all the french fries you ate, you would eat them much less often, if only because they’re so much work. The same holds true for fried chicken, chips, cakes, pies, and ice cream. Enjoy these treats as often as you’re willing to prepare them — chances are good it won’t be every day.

#47 Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored.
For many of us, eating has surprisingly little to do with hunger. We eat out of boredom, for entertainment, to comfort or reward ourselves. Try to be aware of why you’re eating, and ask yourself if you’re really hungry-before you eat and then again along the way. (One old wive’s test: If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you’re not hungry.) Food is a costly antidepressant.

#58 Do all your eating at a table.
No, a desk is not a table. If we eat while we’re working, or while watching TV or driving, we eat mindlessly-and as a result eat a lot more than we would if we were eating at a table, paying attention to what we’re doing. This phenomenon can be tested (and put to good use): Place a child in front of a television set and place a bowl of fresh vegetables in front of him or her. The child will eat everything in the bowl, often even vegetables that he or she doesn’t ordinarily touch, without noticing what’s going on. Which suggests an exception to the rule: When eating somewhere other than at a table, stick to fruits and vegetables.

Reprinted by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from Food Rules Copyright © Michael Pollan, 2009

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Disconnect and Reconnect

Posted by Merle Levin on January 12, 2010

I love walking on the Sea Point promenade at sunset.  There are throngs of people who jog, walk their doggies, push their babies, stride beside their elderlies.  You see a range of toned derrieres flying past you at a rate or flopping beside you at a snail’s pace.  “how old is your girl?” I asked a larger rath woman, bordering on obese, pushing an equally rather large child in a pram”  “Five” she replied.  “The best gift you could give her is to let her walk” I said, I could not help myself.  I know it was not my place to interfere, but you see, I have been thinking a lot about this issue of weight – in general, and dare I say, in particular.

Dr. Clotaire Rapaille, who I have quoted before, is concerned with the codes in our reptilian brains that drive us to do what we do, to buy what we buy and say what we do not mean.  He says the code for being fat (his honesty is rather refreshingly brutal) is disconnect. Dare I admit this is giving me a thing or two to think about.? I notice that there are many ways in which this plays out in my life.  It feels so good to name this beast.  Leonardo da Vinci said:  Most people eat without tasting, look without seeing, listen without hearing. What is it that causes this disconnect? Read the rest of this entry »

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Beginning my day the Leonardo way

Posted by Merle Levin on January 3, 2010

It is said that Leonardo da Vinci began his day with a list of 100 questions. This theory comes out of the 13,000 pages of manuscript notes he left.  Did he know something about questioning?  Is there a way to question that we can learn from him?  This is what is sitting on the top of my mind as I begin this new year.  2010 – a fresh new morning of time.  I look out on the ships sailing just beyond the deck of my boat ( see previous post on life lessons on living on a boat), and I ask: How to enter this new cycle in a way that will fuel my creativity, my hunger to know more about the mystery of  the journey.

How to question (question mark)  Is there a key to how Leonardo did it, that  fueled the curiosity of his great Renaissance mind (question mark)  Is there a way I can harness some of his genius if I crack this code (nog a question mark)  I try an experiment –  in truth, I have been trying this experiment for the past few years: What if I just sit up and grab my notebook beside my bed and write off the top of my head, 10 questions with no concern for answers.  See what falls out of my dreamspace. See how it effects my day.  See if the answers come rolling out of sky as they are wont to do.  See if it helps me become the next of the great Renaissance thinkers of this century ( ha).

I learned something about questions from the Kalahari San Bushmen years ago as I sat on the hot Kalahari sand with them.  It is I think, one of the things that drove the missionaries and white authorities mad about these last remaining, small, stone-age remnants of our genetic ancestors.  Perhaps they hold a key for our demanding Western way of thinking; our footstamping insistence on answers to questions.  The San Bushmen do not answer a question just because it is asked.  This took me by great surprise and I thought it quite rude that Dawid got up and walked away from me just after I had asked him if I had a Bushman name.  No yes or no, no I’ll think about it, no acknowledgement of my existence.  Just a look into the horizon and a lift of his body from the sand, accompanied by a grand walk-off.  I remember sitting dumbfounded and nursing a sense of not-being-heard nor seen. Hmmm – today I think I might have spent a bit more time thinking about what it stimulated and why.  A familiar pattern probably imprinted in my reptilian brain that most of the time drives me to do what I do, say what I do not mean.  (check out more about this on Dr. Clotaire Rapaille’s website – madly interesting).

The answer came in it’s own time, about a month later, while I was walking to the ablution block of the campsite of the Kalahari Gemsbok Park.  It did not come with any preamble – these people live lean.  !Khali Gous  he said, walking off again.  Wazzat? Eks Kyuuz me…Come again?  It only registered when people began to address me as !Khali Gous rather than Mama, that this might be the answer to a question I had sent out many sunsets before.  Of course I had to wait in patience, to learn more.  Like what this unpronounceable mouthful of clicks and pops meant – minor detail to an inquisitive mind tainted with self-importance.  “Very small child” he said bending his body to imitate, at another right moment I had to be alert to catch.  I think they have a trickster way to tantalize the mind that perhaps the universe knows a thing or two about.  The “Why very small child?” question still lingers for me, and has provided its own answers in wonderful ways.

So Leonardo, my friend and mentor…back to my Rennaisance questions for today.

How do I get honest with myself?  How do I override these programs in my reptile brain that drive me? How do I ask what I mean to ask?  And how do I let go in trust that answers come in the conjunction of right time/right place?

Watch this space…

Beautiful CD recommendation to write to: (thanks Jen Van Pappendorp) Rene Aubry “ Apres la Pluie”

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