Greetings Food Athletes! Happy first day of  September! I got off to a really good start with my site but I feel  like I fell off the wagon so I hope you haven't missed me too much. It's a slight learning curve and a bit of a balancing act to supervise my own business and website. Thank you for visiting me again. I'm excited about this topic today and looking forward to your thoughts. 

I recently took a mini break to relax and recharge my soul.  As I was enjoying this vacation and most fortunate opportunity to clear my head and get inspired, I was also struck with this annoying feeling of anxiety.  I was overcome with guilty questions like, why am I not writing more? I should be putting up posts every week. People are expecting me to share recipes, talk about nutrition and track my every meal by taking photographs. Did I mess this up already? Have I failed The Food Athlete just as quickly as I launched three weeks ago?  Chill out Jessi! I said to myself. This is supposed to be quiet time. Shhhh. So how come I didn't feel that rush of inspiration and motivation? I don't know. I'm still not sure.  Maybe I was so focused on the perfect topic, and title and photo. Or could it be I was having writers block? I've heard of this but didn't think I would run out of ideas already. So I just said a little prayer, I let go of all expectations, I went on with my trip and just put aside the computer and the idea that I must write and that was that. Mission accomplished. I had a beautiful trip, and it filled my heart and soul with happiness and when I got home the ideas started flooding in. New month, new day, new goals. 

 So, what's today's post about? Well, funny you should ask, and I thank you for reading thus far and joining me in my private therapy session.  When I was away I had a chance to explore some of my roots. Turns out I have quite a bit of history in one of my favorite places in the world. And since I don't believe in coincidences but I do believe in the power of the universe it will come as no surprise to those of you who know me, that Ojai and I are connected by family history.  As I was touring the school that my great grandfather Louis Zalk helped create I discovered he was also an accomplished author. A book of poems sits in a display case across the courtyard from the famous Zalk Theater, ahh, so that's where I get my love of the pen.  As I went on with the site seeing through the cafeteria I am told about the healthy meals that are created for the students. Farm fresh, not just slopped on a plate, so-called tray-food you may remember as a kid in school. Meals are thoughtfully prepared for these young adults who are away from home and need the comfort and nutrients of home cooked meals.  This was music to my ears, my history, my family, all connected to a spiritual place whose core beliefs are in sync with my own.  The school of "arts" is so similar to the one I attended where you are motivated and taught to discover your POV and unleash your inner creative human.  What a gift to get to enjoy this magical place and learn of my lineage. It makes so much sense to me now, how obsessed I am with Ojai. 

Happy Valley School/ Ojai, Zalk Theater.

Happy Valley School/ Ojai, Zalk Theater.

 
Rhodes Island, Greece/ Jewish Quarters 1996

Rhodes Island, Greece/ Jewish Quarters 1996

What also makes sense is that our bloodline, where we came from and who we came from has a little something to do with our food makeup. Our genes and our eating lifestyle are indeed connected, "genetics" to give it a name. I have also been blessed with Mediterranean ancestors on my dad's side. The exotic foods I got to experience as a kid when I would go to visit my grandma are some of the same traditional Greek eats I indulged in while visiting where she grew up as a little girl, on the island of Rhodes.  I am convinced my liberal Epicurious sense of adventure comes from my family tree. Thanks, mom, and dad!!

Taking a peek into why you may crave certain foods and which ones may link you to being more susceptible to an allergy or adverse reaction may be beneficial to your overall nutrition well-being.  Since I'm not a doctor I do not do specific genetic testing, but I do work with clients exploring your family and food history as part of The Strategy, and along the way, there's bound to be some ah-ha moments.  Ohhhh, so that's why I love spicy food!!  Changing food behaviors means also looking deeper into reasons why and how these behaviors started. How were you taught to eat? Did you eat meals with the family? Did you cook mostly frozen food from microwaves?  Were you introduced to fruits and veggies early on and educated about the vital nutrients that come from these foods?  Many cultures have intense culinary rituals, so if you were raised with such food observances you could also struggle with adapting to or changing those behaviors too. But I think it's kinda amazing to have a food religion and to be so lucky to have grown up with organized meals, but that's just my opinion.  If you were forced or it was a non-optional suggestion to observe Friday night Shabbat than you may be resisting a certain lifestyle when it comes to food in general. My point is that it's all relative and we all have our own personal issues surrounding eating.   

 
Outdoor patio picnic 2015

Outdoor patio picnic 2015

Outdoor picnic when going "topless" was totally acceptable. Kenter Canyon Park/ 70's

Outdoor picnic when going "topless" was totally acceptable. Kenter Canyon Park/ 70's

Then there's genetics. Not just your genes or the food, but how they interact. It's like when I say to fitness clients, it doesn't matter if you workout all day long, if you are eating crappy than the exercise doesn't mean s--t. A little dash of this, a tiny dab of that, it's a mixture and balance and you can't try to cheat one or the other or it will all implode. So, back to the genes, not the one's we wear but the ones we are born with. The ones you can't return because they don't fit. But, good news, you can perhaps get into a different size. In fact, under the 5 Tenents of Nutritional Genomics "dietary intervention based on knowledge of nutritional requirement, nutritional status.....genotype (i.e.,personalized nutrition) can...... prevent... or cure chronic disease."  In other words, it's not just what you eat that could kill you and it's not just your DNA that can cure you, how they interact that will, in the end, be the final say. The simple and obvious facts to track are a family history of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and cancers. I don't think you will uncover any illness or situation that won't call for eating more fresh veggies and fruit over cheese, chips or baked processed stuff. 

As we start winding down the Summer and transition into Fall this is when some serious nutrition considerations might step up to the forefront. It's getting to be holiday time and that also means family time. This could be the perfect opportunity to ask those important questions about health history, maybe pick up some forgotten traditions or brush up on the existing ones, making sure they are still serving you. I think September 1st is a perfect beginning of the month and sorta new season, to get to some goal setting. I'll start if you will?  Let's buddy up and make a deal, I'll keep sharing with you if you share back with me.  I'd love to hear from all of you. Even if the comment is, you see a type-o on line three. What are some of your favorite family food traditions or health habits you have picked up over the years? Or even some unhealthy ones that you would like to give up. I'm here to support you, the good the bad and the inedible.

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