This weekend I ran into Vincent Pastore, aka Salvatore, "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero and Tony Lip (Carmine Lupertazzi) from the HBO show The Sopranos. Vincent Pastore was one of the characters in Tony Soprano's inner circle. Throughout the show, these characters seemed to be constantly eating spaghetti and other mouthwatering Italian foods.
We both just happened to be signing our books in NYC. We crossed paths at Arthur Ave in the Bronx. One would think Shut Up and Eat (an Italian cookbook by the Italian American actors from The Sopranos) and 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food might be rivals, enemies even. But, having flipped through the cookbook, there are actually more similarities than differences. And, there is quite a bit of overlap in our reading audience. Those who love Italian food often need to find ways to enjoy comfort foods in mindful portions rather than using good foods to be comforting, which puts you at risk for overeating.
Perhaps 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food could be a useful book as Vincent Pastore whisks off to his next TV project. Maybe another reality TV show? Pastore lost approximately 29 lbs in the fourth season of Celebrity Fit Club. Hanging out at Arthur Ave., as he did for the majority of the day, isn't easy for anyone who enjoys to eat. Arthur Ave. in the Bronx is lined with bakeries filled with cannolis and crusty bread, homemade pastas and gallons of olive oil. Try out the Arthur Ave Cafe for homemade food and, if you are lucky, an a cappella song from the owner's mother. You will feel that you are being virtually transported into the cookbook.
Here are observations of the mindful eating overlaps between Shut Up and Eat and 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food.
1) In Italian cooking, "fast food" does not include McDonalds or Taco Bell. According to Italian cooks, it's common to make a pot of sauce with several pounds of lean meat, cook it slowly and freeze it. When you want dinner, pull out a portion, and microwave. Voila. Food in only a few moments. This jives with mindful eating. Planning ahead can help you make good, healthy food fit conveniently into your life.
2) Food and feelings are intertwined. Each of the recipes in this cookbook are accompanied by a personal story. The actors vividly describe the scents and emotions connected with their home and caregivers. It's no surprise that we turn to food in our most vulnerable moments. Who wouldn't be tempted to transport yourself for a millisecond back to the feelings associated with your childhood? Reading this cookbook reemphasizes why we so easily get caught in using food to manage feelings.
3). Mindful shopping. The actors' families often bought fresh ingredients from the market daily instead of a weekly grocery trip. The ingredients were fresh and they only bought exactly what they needed, no impulse buying. Eating mindfully begins with mindful shopping. Keeping healthy foods handy makes healthy eating one step easier. Thankfully, vegetable markets are popping up all over the country reviving this tradition to some degree.
If you love food, Italian food, or any other kind, rest assured that I am not suggesting cutting these traditional foods out of your life. Instead, learning to eat good food mindfully and finding healthy ways to calm yourself without food can help prevent you from overeating. It's worth the effort to preserve the memories and emotions associated with traditional foods. When you overeat foods you love, the good vibes get transformed into guilt and regret.
Who would have thought Dr. Albers and The Sopranos would have anything in common? Apparently, we both know quite a lot about comfort food and comforting yourself with food.
Eat, Drink & Be Mindful. www.eatingmindfully.com