Helpful Holiday Eating and Thinking

Don’t forget what you already know!

1.  Stand far away from the food at a party

2.  Do not wear clothes that stretch as you eat

3.  The first 3 bites of anything tastes the best

4.  Go through the buffet line last (food does not look as appetizing)

5.  Use small plates

Practice Good Food Mechanics

1.  Chew your food to “applesauce” consistency

2.  Eat with your less dominant hand

3.  Leave some drop space between you and the table

4.  Put your utensils down often

5.  Swallow your food before taking another bite

“The way to live well and be well while we live” is a great book from the late 1890’s by Sara Josephea Buell Hale.  I have printed some of her comments and warnings below.

  • General Fact: Mankind is eating much more than is required for sustenance.
  • Eating beyond the point of satisfaction is dangerous and indigestion is a wise provision of nature.
  • The power of digestion is in the stomach juices and exercising in the open air, promotes the secretion of gastric juices.
  • When growth is attained and active exercises are in a great deal abandoned-as in the case of females particularly,- then be very careful to regulate the appetite and never take such a quantity of food at a time as to appress and disturb the stomach.
  • Remember that food that does not digest cannot nourish the system, but rather weakens it.
  • Never eat a hearty meal just before retiring.
  • It is injurious to eat when greatly heated or fatigued. Rest for 15-20 minutes before eating.
  • Too much variety of food is dangerous because it tempts to excess.
  • Most people drink too much because they drink too fast. Water, sipped slowly will quench thirst as effectually as a point swallowed at a draught.
  • When too much drink is taken at meals, especially at dinner, it hinders digestion. Better drink little during a meal, and then if thirsty an hour or two afterwards, more.
  • Dispeptic people should be careful to take but a small quantity of drink.
  • The morning meal requires to be lighter and of a more fluid nature than any other. Water sweetened with molasses is healthy.
  • Chocolate, if it agrees with the constitution is very nutritious and healthy, but should seldom be used steadily.
  • Hot beverages injures the teeth and impair digestion.
  • Many a women loses their health to eating too much cake. Cake is to be partaken of as a luxury, not eaten several times in a week at am evening party.

“Excesses Meet”

I often tell my clients:

You can’t work too much

You can’t sleep too much

You can’t vacation too much

You can’t exercise too much

Because if you do any of these in excess, you could get yourself into trouble.  Mary Margaret Funk reminds us that the Ancients used to say “Excesses Meet.”  I believe in teaching people to balance their  lives as well.  “Excess, whether too much or too little is indicative of a person out of control,” says Funk.  In regards to food, to eat in excess without thinking about how the body is being harmed is just as bad as starving yourself to lose weight.  It is out of control thinking.  We must be controlled thinkers.  This is why I named my business and blog, The Food Thinkery, because these days many people are not thinking for themselves.  They believe everything the “experts” say in print or on the news.  I encourage you, to think for yourselves.  Don’t believe everything I say either.  Think it over!

Uncontrolled thinking starts in your mind.  In the book of James, he says, “But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown, gives birth to death”.

We must stop our thoughts before we make a plan or start rationalizing and then act on them.

1.  Beware of your thoughts.

2.  Scriptures and sayings can be memorized in times of trial to stop thoughts.

3.  Plans and strategies have to be in place for those trying times.

3.  Practice, practice!  Be a good role model for your children and others.

Table Training Principles

Training and practice moves people toward goals.  Try practicing the following with your children.  Being a role model is very important.  Most of these you probably have heard over and over, but you may not be making them into a habit.

Top Ten Table Training Principles

1.  Practice chewing food well, until it is like an applesauce consistency.

2.  Practice putting down your eating utensils between bites.

3.  Sit straight and 1/2 arm’s length away from the table to allow for “drop space”.

4.  Eat with your less dominant hand.  This trains you to be thoughtful of eating.

5.  Cut food into small pieces so not to put too much in your mouth at one time.

6.  Do not talk with your mouth full.

7.  Try eating with chopsticks.

8.  Participate in pleasant conversation.

9.  Take 20 – 30 minutes to eat, and sit at the table.

10.  Remember to thank God for your food.

The Money Dish

The Secular and the Spiritual

The Secular

While on a walk with a friend, she spied a penny on the ground and immediately picked it up and said, “Find a penny, pick it up and all the day you’ll have good luck”.

The Spiritual

While on a walk, my friend Debbie found money on the ground, immediately picked it up and said, “In God We Trust”.  She proceeded to tell me a story about how finding money reminds her to trust God in all things.

The one saying was secular “luck”, and the other had a spiritual message.  I have never looked at money found on the ground the same again.  It is a truth that trusting God is everything.

The Money Dish

Place a “money bowl” on your dining table.  When you go on a walk with your children, have them look for money on the ground.  You will be amazed at how often you will find money when looking for it.   Teach them to place the coins in the “money bowl and show them the imprint on the coin, “In God We Trust.”  When it gets full, have your children bring it to a food bank or give to someone in need.  Tell them how God can do much with little.




There are 3 ways I have heard “enough” used in my life that has changed my thoughts and actions.

  1. When I was a child, my 3 sisters and I would often push my dad to the limit, and he would say in a sharp and firm tone, “Enough is enough”. We would immediately stop what we were doing or whining about. We knew he meant business.
  2. My friend Barbara and I were on a retreat, and the title of the speaker’s lecture was called “Practicing Enoughness.” She asked us, “Do you have enough clothes? Enough shoes, enough food, enough stuff? Do you really need it? She encouraged us to practice enoughness in all areas of life.
  3. In Isaiah 1, God says “I have had more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fatted animals…” In other words, stop being hypocrites.


“Practice Enoughness”

“Enough is Enough”

 Remember these words and teach them to your children

* Teach them to be grateful and thankful for all food at all times.

* Teach them to take and eat just enough food to nourish their bodies.

* Teach them that when someone says “enough is enough”, to stop.

* Teach them to remember what God says in the Bible about “enough”.

* Teach them to eat what they are given. Mary M Funk says, “Perhaps as a Christian I must surrender my willfullness in order to enter into a willingness to eat what is given”.


The Hand Grab

Good Morning and Happy Tuesday!

Today we continue with guidelines for proper portions.  This one is my favorite and I believe it makes good sense.  I call it the Hand Grab.  When I teach this method, I encourage people to picture various food dishes lined up or being passed at a table that do not have any utensils for serving. This is when I have them picture or imagine their hands being used as utensils.  We are all different shapes and sizes and I believe a grasp of your personal handful size of food is a good “portion” of food for that person.  A little child has a little hand, therefore, their “handful” is probably adequate for them.  I am not as big as my husband and neither is my hand as large as his hand, so he obviously would require a bigger portion than I.  Make sense?  I think so in most cases.  Always remember that we only need 4 handfuls of food for each of the food groups.  One handful of protein, one handful of starch or a whole grain, one handful of fruit, and one handful of vegetables.  Some people would rather have 2 handfuls of vegetables, 1 of protein and 1 of whole grain and that is fine too.  We do not all like the same kinds of foods.

A bit of caution when you are at a wedding buffet table, Thanksgiving extravaganza , church supper, or a such a feast.  Because there are so many delicious and tantalizing dishes, you may want to use The Dollop Method.  You would place a dollop of this or that on your plate.  Only enough for a taste, remembering that the First 3 bites taste the best!  Do not go back for seconds either.  Enough is Enough.  We will talk about that tomorrow!

Children’s Portions Matter

Portions Matter

We all have heard the term “portion distortion” as a description of how portions have been changed and distorted since the 1970’s. What is a proper portion for your child, grandchild, for you or your husband? There is no one size fits all. Remember we are each as different as our fingerprint and will need various amounts based on our body type, activity, and gender. Listed below are a few guiding principles.

One guideline or “Rule of Thumb” for children 1-4 years of age is to serve them 1 Tablespoon of each food group per age.

A 3 year old’s breakfast might look like this:

3 Tablespoons of scrambled eggs

3 Tablespoons of colorful diced fruit

½ piece of toast cut into triangles

½ cup milk

 A 4 year old’s dinner might look like this: (4 T = ¼ cup)

¼ cup chopped chicken (with dipping sauce limited to 1 tablespoon)

¼ cup mashed potatoes

¼ cup green beans

¼ cup fruit salad with plain yogurt

 * Young children these ages really do need snacks too, so don’t get nervous!

 Did you know?

  • Daily calorie intake for a weight challenged 8 year old girl = 1200 calories.
  • Calories in a cheeseburger children’s meal with milk = approximately 600 calories, which is 50 % of her calorie needs for the day!
  • Calories in a home cooked dinner for an 8 yo sedentary girl should be = 450 calories.

 Approximately 445 Calorie Dinner Example for 8 yo sedentary girl:

  • 2 oz. of baked chicken (chicken leg) = 100 calories
  • ½ cup corn = 80 calories
  • ½ cup green beans = 25 calories
  • 1 ¼ cup fresh fruit = 75 calories
  • 1 cup low fat milk = 120 calories
  • 1 tsp. butter = 45 calories
  • Age, Gender and Physical Activity Level3
  • (An individual’s calorie needs may be higher or lower than these average estimates)


Age (years)


Moderately Active



(Male and Female)




1000-1400 c



































































  • Sedentary = Day to day life activity
  • Moderately active = Physical activity equivalent to 1.5 to 3 miles per day at 3-4 miles                                                             per hour in addition to light physical activity associated with day                                                     to day life.
  • Active =    Physical activity equivalent to 3-4 miles per day at 3-4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with  day to day life.                                                                                     

 *These calories are not appropriate for women pregnant or breastfeeding.

 3Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2012. Chapter 2

 Monday we will discuss another practical method for estimating proper portion sizes.


Yummy Fat

We’ve discussed added sugars, sugar alcohols and non-nutritive sweeteners and now it is time to switch to fats.

* Fat is essential for all bodies to run correctly.

* Fat is an important source of energy for children and for cell integrity.

* Fat makes hormones needed to regulate body functions.

* Fat is needed to dissolve and use fat- soluble vitamins in the body.

* Fat is also needed to make the myelin sheath which is an insulating layer that covers and   protects nerves, keeping them firing correctly.

Do NOT deprive your children of fat in fear of weight gain. Learn proper portions (which we will discuss next week) and how to balance fat intake throughout the day.  Learn the difference between visible and invisible fat.  Visible fat is fat you add to your foods while invisible fat are fat that is found naturally in the food.  An example would be nuts or avocado.  The fat is part of the food, you can’t take it out.  Examples of visible fat would be butter, ranch dressing, oils, dips.

3 Tips for feeding children fat

  1. Pay attention to the amount of visible fat that is put onto or into their food.
  2. Stay away from hydrogenated fats (read labels)
  3. Choose foods containing invisible fat found in the food by nature such as nuts, avocado, seeds, milk, hard cheeses, eggs, fatty fish, and yogurt.

 Fat tastes good and our palates like the creamy texture fat brings into our mouths. It is said to have a “good mouth feel.” This is why many fat free products contain extra additives such as gums, carrageenan, and starches like tapioca/corn starch to thicken the product for a yummy, creamy texture. The problem is that these additives are deceiving. Read labels for these thickeners and try to buy products without these additives.


Remember, a little bit of a delicious, wholesome fat goes a long way. The first 3 bites taste the best. Give small portions of good fats and all will be well in Whoville.

Non-nutritive Sweeteners

Non-Nutritive Sweeteners

 Non-nutritive sweeteners are virtually calorie free.

 Be careful when products use the term “natural” because “natural,” has no legal FDA definition. My doctor always says, “If you don’t pick it off a tree or a plant and eat it immediately…it’s not natural”.

 My problem with most of the non-nutritive sweeteners is they haven’t been ingested all that long, so I don’t think we really know exactly how some of them can affect us. I was a kid when most of the non-nutritive sweeteners were approved and I am not even 60 years old. We will know more when people born in the 1970’s are retired and have used these products their entire life.

 HIstorical Dates

1965 Aspartame – Equal, NutraSweet – USA approved: 1981

1967 Acesulfame potassium – Sweet One, Sunette – USA approved: 1988

1976 Sucralose – Splenda – USA approved: 1998

1879 Saccharin – Sweet N’ Low, Sweet 10 – USA approved

Stevia (Rebaudioside A, a highly purified compound of stevia plant) – Truvia,Pure Via – USA approved 2008

Neotame – USA approved 2002 – not available for consumer use

Thaumatin or Talin is approved GRAS in United States: (used mostly abroad) found in the Katemfe fruit from West Africa.

Tagalose – approved 2003 in United States 1.5 calories per gram (sold as Tagetesse)

1980 Alitame (used in Canada)

Stevioside (Rebaudiana) from leaves of the Stevia plant

      My concern is the length of time a person uses these sweeteners that are “generally regarded as safe” (GRAS), but are they? Do we know without a doubt? The only one that someone may have used for 70-80 years is Saccharin. The others are just too new. Most of these products have ADI (acceptable daily intakes) based on weight. Many of these may not be a problem for someone in adulthood or with an “adult weight” 100+ pounds, but for a child weighing 30-70 lbs., the “acceptable” level may be too much; One that I would not want to risk with my child.  

Think twice before offering your child too many products filled with these alternative sweeteners.

Kids do not constantly need to be “tasting” sweetness, thus developing a “need” or “want” for it.





Sugar Alcohols

Sugar Alcohols

• Sugar Alcohols are called nutritive sugars because they contain calories.
• Sugar alcohols are considered a low calorie food and are often found in “diet foods,” candy,   cookies, and gum.
• Sugar alcohols contain about ½ the calories as regular sugar.
• Sugar alcohols are found naturally in some foods, but most are manufactured.
• Sugar alcohols are not “alcohol” because they do not contain ethanol.
• Sugar alcohols are not converted to acids by oral bacteria so they may not cause dental cavities.
• Sugar alcohols are absorbed more slowly than sugar.

Examples of sugar alcohols

Mannitol, sorbitol, erythritol, isomalt
lacititol, maltitol, xylitol,
and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates.

You will find sugar alcohols listed on the food label under the Total Carbohydrate section if the product contains any sugar alcohols.

Total Carbohydrate
Sugar Alcohol

• Sugar alcohols can promote gas, bloating and/or diarrhea if eaten in large amounts.
• A safe limit to prevent these problems is to eat less than 10 g at a time.
• Children or adults with bowel problems such as IBS, Crohn’s, colitis, UC, short bowel, or other gastrointestinal issues should avoid all sugar alcohols.

I personally don’t like sugar alcohols because the products that contain them are usually not very nutritional and often are full of food colorings that I think are terrible for children and adults. The less food coloring the better!