Finding Zen in the City

Honest--and sometimes comical--daily stories of reflection and inspiration.

Finding Thinner Peace II

My lunch date with a holistic health coach at the Whole Foods salad bar.

I’m standing at the Whole Foods salad bar and I’ve no idea what to eat. Besides, that is, bread pudding, oily pasta and those tempting chicken wings.

All the options leave me confused and hungry, which is a recipe for disaster. I just want to make healthy choices for lunch…and possibly slip in a spoonful of bread pudding for dessert! What’s a girl to do?

My friend Donna Sonkin, a Certified Holistic Health Coach, was once a chubby girl, but now helps people eat right by setting them in harmony with nature. Isn’t it funny how some people turn their struggles into careers? I met Donna at Whole Foods to talk about food, life and spirituality, but I really only wanted her to show me what to eat.

Her advice was opposite to what I’ve always thought. Like, go for guacamole; it has the good fat. Turn away from tofu because it messes with your hormones. Beans should always be paired with rice for full nutritional effects. And if I have cereal for breakfast, I should eat protein for lunch.

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Still dizzy from hunger, my many lunch options and her smart advice, I finally ordered a turkey burger with sides of quinoa with chick peas and heart of palm salad. Here are some great tips Donna shared as we noshed:

Get More Sleep

Electricity has messed us up. We used to go to bed when the sun did. Now, we have way too much stimulus and can’t say goodnight to our computers! When we fight nature and fall out of harmony, our bodies release adrenalin and cordosol, which creates stress. Digestion shuts down when we’re stressed, so channel your Sleeping Beauty as often as possible.

Eat Like Your Ancestors

Eat food that is what it is; a nut is a nut and an egg is an egg. Long before Cheetos were crunchy orange curls, they were corn. Wonder Bread was once a grain. But that was then and this is now. As for my favorite – frozen yogurt – Donna says it’s filled with chemicals and ingredients our bodies can’t process. Say it ain’t so! She recommends eating one scoop of a simple Ben & Jerry’s like vanilla or chocolate because they don’t use bovine growth hormones. Hmmm. I think I like that option even better.

Drink Smart

Magazines tell you to drink 8-10 glasses per day, but every body is different. Divide your weight in half, and that’s how many ounces of water you should drink per day. Pay attention to the quality of water, Donna advises, and choose glass bottles instead of plastic toxic cocktails. She recommends an Aqua Sana filtration system, which she says has been a godsend in her own apartment.

Go for Carnival Foods

Don’t get your hopes up; no corndogs or cotton candy! But there are some foods that have all the vitamins you need and, as Donna likes to say, will ring your bell like the strongman game at a carnival. Find the best power foods at whfood.com, from kale to collard greens and red cabbage. And did you know that overweight people are actually malnourished? Their bodies aren’t processing the foods they are eating, and they need vitamins. Combining strongman foods with fats help access the vitamins. For example, pair carrots with butter to get vitamin A and collagen into your system. Sure beats Botox!

Be Conscious

The American Indians got it. They adopted a spiritual way of eating and understood that they took on the energy of what they ate. Are you overly anxious? Maybe you’re eating too much chicken, which are nervous animals. Are you sluggish? Add some lighter energy foods like wild caught fish and greens to your diet. Are you feeling cold? Eat more heating foods like grass-fed beef and buffalo. Look at your condition to gauge what you need to eat to find your balance.

Preparing and eating good food is like a form of meditation, Donna tells me. She also compared it to sex, and I’m not arguing.

So slow your pace with the rhythm of your chopping, smell the fresh-cut herbs and savor the experience. You may even want to say a blessing. Eating well may be the ultimate act of self-love. Amen!

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Ilana Donna Arazie is a video columnist and blogger looking for meaning and zen in New York City.

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