Sunday, 2 January 2011

Positive Vision No. 1: Spread of the mmm Factor

Everyone is developing the ‘mmm’ factor and keeping a smile on their faces by eating wholesome foods.

My affirmation to use while meditating on this positive vision is: Everything's good.

Good food is good for the soul and will keep you safe from the grips of the Borg.

While I was meditating in a hot bath, one of my favourite places to meditate in a cold, drafty apartment, although a warm bed in the morning is good too, the thought occurred to me that mmm (with as many or as few m’s as you like) is a good ‘word’ for meditation, even the silent kind. Saying or thinking mmm makes it so easy to put that desired hint of a smile on the lips and even leads to a smile between the eyebrows. Mmm is one small step away from a laugh even, which is good as a breathing technique.  But even if it doesn’t make you smile, it will at least produce a contemplative moment which is also good. And as there are varying degrees of happiness, so there will be varying results from saying mmm.

Now, for those of you who believe that "...the body is a source of endless trouble to us by reason of the mere requirement of food... and... a disturbing element, hindering the soul from the acquisition of knowledge ..." as stated in Phaedo by Plato, I do not agree.  The body is as much a part of our existence as the soul, the source of new life and the means by which we create.  It is the temple of our soul and as such should be given tender loving care.  Moreover, without a positive attitude towards the body and its needs, people tend towards harming themselves and others (discussed in my Positive Vision No. 4) and we cannot be at peace and in tune with our souls in that condition.  In Phaedo, the body is blamed for wars, fighting, lust and the love of money, but as I explain in my Positive Visions 3 and 6, these negative aspects of humanity have to do with the ego which is of the mind, not the body.

So returning to the all important mmm, this is something that is easily incorporated into everyday life that is full of good food because when we eat something tasty, we often say mmm.  To develop deeper into this meditative exercise, it helps to use all the senses and this is what we do when we eat properly. But it is also important to use our minds. When we eat, we will be able to say mmm more often and to a greater degree if we know that our food is wholesome.

Now, before I forget, the mmm factor works best if all angles are considered at once. So for instance, if a food product makes you say mmm while you taste it, but later makes you groan because you’ve developed excess fat, a headache or other ailment from eating it, then that is not a true mmm, it is only a partial mmm and may even be a delusion. This is because the B’org is well aware of the mmm factor and use science to formulate chemicals and innovative products that give the illusion of it. This is the challenge: to develop from a superficial mmm to a deeper more meaningful one. Artificial flavours, colours, advertising, fancy wrapping, cheap prices and convenience are some of the distractions used by the B’org that block the development of the real mmm factor and in the long-term ruin our health and hamper our lives.  However, I doubt very much if the Borg ever said mmm or that people in the B’org say it much at all because of the competitive stressful atmosphere that they live and work in.

For those of you who are struggling to improve your diet, the mmm factor may help to reinforce positive changes. When you eat, use your imagination and visualise the goodness being transferred from your food to you. Visualization requires really looking and thinking about your food though. Once you get into this habit, if it does not appear to be good, you will then know that it is B’org food and avoid it. The more you know about your food, where it comes from and how it has been handled, the more you will be able to determine how good it is and the more you will be able to develop the mmm factor. Just one reminder, be careful with sugar which ideally should be avoided by most people most of the time.  I believe that you will find your health on all levels improves or is easily maintained by using the mmm factor.

After writing the above, I remembered a commercial I saw many times on television while growing up in the United States for Campbell's soup which used the slogan 'mmm mmm good'. I have to admit that unfortunately, I used to eat Campbell's soup.  I say unfortunately because this food is not any better than most other processed food products on the market.  I thought this slogan might be confusing, so I did some research in order to make a comparison between a Campbell's soup and a homemade version to clear up the matter.  As Campbell's ingredients lists are not on the official website, I had some difficulty with this, but finally came up with the ingredients for Campbell's Tomato soup which are as follows:

Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Wheat Flour, Salt, Vegetable Oil (Corn, Cottonseed, Canola and/or Soybean), Flavoring, Ascorbic Acid, and Citric Acid.

Now, here are the ingredients for making Tomato soup yourself:

600g fresh ripe tomatoes quartered, 1 medium onion peeled and finely chopped, 1 clove of garlic finely chopped, 1 small potato chopped, grated rind and juice of one orange, one bay leaf, 450 ml chicken or vegetable stock, 2 tbs tomato purée, 450 ml of milk, sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, 1 tbs of olive oil, a knob of butter, fresh parsley to garnish.

These ingredients are a slight variation from a recipe called Orange Tomato Soup in my Working Woman Pack cookbook.  A similar plain tomato soup recipe is available online here.

First of all, as you can see, Campbell's Tomato soup has no whole food ingredients in it, whereas the homemade version has lots.  Not only that, the ingredients are very different.  One of the main ingredients in Campbell's version is high fructose corn syrup, a type of sugar.  There is also 'flavoring' and that is a mystery.  Besides a little nutrition from the wheat flour, the rest does not add anything to the nutritional value at all.  The full nutrition details are available here, but I would like to point out two facts only.

The first one is that Campbell's Tomato soup has 11 grams of sugars per serving. I would guess that the homemade version has little to no sugar unless you add it (which some recipes suggest) because the main ingredient, tomatoes, do not have sugar.  Secondly, one of the main nutritional benefits of tomatoes is their high Vitamin C content.  For a 120 gram serving of Campbell's Tomato soup, you would be getting 8% of your recommended dietary allowance of Vitamin C (based on US guides), so that's 8% of 90 mg which is 7.2 mg.  Meanwhile, one tomato weighing 120 grams has 23 mg of Vitamin C and there would be at least one tomato per serving in homemade soup.  Granted, some Vitamin C is lost during cooking, but further loss occurs in industrial processing.

Finally, when you make your own soup, you know better what's in it.  I use organic ingredients where possible, but local produce is important as well.  By reading the ingredients list on a tin can of soup, you would not know the quality or origin of them.  In this case, it seems that a third of them come out of a laboratory (most certainly the flavoring does).  It is quite obvious that canned soup is not particularly nutritious.  Campbell's may have had a good slogan, but as this analysis shows, their food products are not that good.  What with the consumer being robbed of so much information about such foods, it is probable that corners are being cut and I would strongly advise against consuming these products.

It is likely that many people will claim that they do not have the time to make their own soup.  It takes some effort to make a shopping list, skill to prepare the ingredients, patience to wait for the soup to cook, and then wash the utensils afterwards.  One shortcut is to make a big batch and freeze some. Cooking is not hard though and the results are worth it.  But it is a lifestyle choice.  As for price, I think it would work out to about the same if you include the cost of gas or electric to cook it.  This is quite amazing when you think of all the work that goes into a can of soup.  Machines and people are needed for processing and then there's the packaging, advertising costs and all sorts of transportation costs.  Again, it's evidence that corners are being cut along the line.

Another American TV image came to me after my first thoughts for this vision, and that is, Homer J. Simpson from the cartoon the Simpsons!  Homer actually uses this meditative technique quite frequently, but he mostly imagines the wrong foods!  'Mmm ...... donuts' I think is his favourite. Homer shows how this can work against you just as much for you.  The power of suggestion can be strong, as all advertisers know.  Instead of saying mmm..........donuts and then looking like d'oh when you think of a snack , try mmm..........apples and looking happy (or at least content). By using this technique, you will in essence be advertising good food to yourself.  You'll be your own best customer then!

Just remember that this visualization requires good whole foods and then the affirmation, everything's good, will make sense and work to keep you healthy and happy.

mmm .......... everything's good

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