Soul food. We all know what it is. Those dishes that a loved one created—usually a mother or grandmother—that made you feel warm inside, not because of the temperature but because of the ritual surrounding it. Soul food usually takes copious preparation and a long time to cook, leaving you with time to chat with whoever is cooking while you anticipate how the food will taste as smells filled the kitchen and your nose. Then of course, the best part, heaping a serving on your plate and breaking bread with loved ones. The experience feeds our souls as much as our bellies.
The first thing that comes to mind for me when I think soul food, believe it or not, is a dessert. My Aunt Ada was an amazing baker, and she made one of my favorites: 7-Up Cake. I have fond memories of stopping by her house for dinner and she would make it frequently. She even kept the ingredients on hand so she could make a cake at the drop of a hat! We would have it with either a big glass of cold milk or tea—and eat it hot out of the oven!
A lot of the foods that uplifted my spirit were sweets and desserts. My whole life, I had a sweet tooth. In fact, I was a chubby kid who went on my first “diet” in sixth grade. Years later once I’d learned healthy eating habits, I was able to maintain a healthier weight, but the sweet tooth didn’t go away. Cake for dinner was not unheard of. What can I say? Rituals around eating certain favorite sweets are unforgettable, and old habits die hard.
I had such a sweet tooth that even when dating my husband, a non-sweet eater, I ended up converting him. Unfortunately, when my daughter came along she inherited my sugar addiction.
The problem was, even though I was at a pretty healthy weight, genetically I was pre-disposed to diabetes, which I feared. Then, around 20 years ago I had some routine blood work done, and my readings were at borderline diabetic. Given my family history and the road I was headed down with my habits, I decided my sweet-tooth time had to come to an end. My days of rewarding myself with dessert or eating sweets out of boredom, elation, anger, or whatever emotion I was feeling, were over.
I had to find sugar-free, low-calorie ways to feed my emotions. I had to find joy in other things besides cookies, cakes, donuts, and various other treats. I had to “eat to live.” I’d quit smoking in my 20s, so I knew that quitting a habit would take a lot of work—mental work to assess my day-to-day lifestyle and habits.
How could I healthily and inexpensively find equally gratifying and fulfilling habits?
It started with my mornings. I created a soul-stirring morning routine. Gradually I woke up earlier and earlier, until years later I now have a couple hours of pre-sunrise bliss. I started to drink my coffee in bed out of a lovely China cup while doing my morning prayers and gratitude journaling. I covered my bathroom wall with motivational things—pictures and phrases that I use to feed my soul and to motivate me, and there’s my vision board.
More joy in the morning: a new shower head or hanging eucalyptus leaves in the shower to create a spa like experience. I also love a good bubble bath (el cheapo Mr. Bubble will do)! Even my daughter is getting in on it. She sets her alarm at least half an hour earlier, so she can take a longer but more scenic route to work, which starts her day in a better place than the hectic commute on the freeway.
I started drinking more water—from gorgeous glasses or jumbo cups. Water is boring, but dwelling on all that’s positive about nature’s drink I’ve become an avid water lover and keep a cup next to me 24/7. Just tap water purified through a filter, or occasionally carbonated water with a lime wedge. Recently we’ve added a Soda Stream, so we can have carbonated water at home.
Since I’m retired, I’ve also cultivated the habit of going to the library. There are free classes, book discussion groups, computers, magazines and newspapers for free! And librarians are the consummate know-it-alls if you’re looking for information. I have always been an avid reader, but unfortunately and admittedly social media has dramatically reduced my attention span. Sadly, the print books I do read are now taking almost a month to complete. But I do “read” audiobooks for free from the library.
Thanks to these changes, I have been sweet-free since June 6, 2001.
Let’s think multi-sensory and EAT to LIVE! Let’s seek those uplifting, soul-stirring moments and find joy in things that benefit us momentarily and in the long term.
What are some affordable, healthy, multi-sensory ways you uplift your spirit?Leave a Comment