If you have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, and this is your first time here, that's okay, welcome. If you've got time, I would encourage you to go back and read those Instagram posts, or maybe just start with this blog post I wrote on radical grace for eating and make your way forward from there. OR, you could just forge on ahead and read this post blind, because hey, who am I to tell you what to do?
In truth, only you can make that decision, just like ultimately only you get to decide what you eat, what you enjoy eating, what makes you feel like an all-star, and what foods satisfy you. See what I did there? That's called a transition ladies and gents.
But in all seriousness, I am PASSIONATE about nutrition. But you know what sets me on fire even more than this? People being set free from fear and shame, especially when it comes to food. And you know how this happens, it happens when they decide that they are no longer going to focus on their own inadequacies or failures, but instead they set their eyes on what is lovely. That is, what is lovely today, right now, not just what will be lovely. It happens when people let go of food fears and doubts and face forward, ready to nourish their bodies and souls, one noble and true thought at a time.
There is a reason that honoring your health with gentle nutrition is the last principle of intuitive eating and often one of the last topics I talk about with chronic dieters. Even gentle nutrition education fed to the wrong mindset can be perceived as another set of hard and fast rules to live or die by. This is not my intention. I want people to have the freedom to choose foods that taste good and make them feel their best. Guilt and weight loss don't deserve a say in what you eat. On the flip side, health AND enjoyment (together) definitely do. The key is whether decisions made with health in mind are based on fear (of weight gain, or toxins, or loneliness, or you name it) or whether those decisions are based on a true desire to feel and perform excellently. This is like walking a tight rope, I know.
Once you're able to look at food neutrally -- Believing and knowing that eating X food one day does not make you a bad person and will not make you nutritionally deficient or chronically ill, and instead able to recognize that it is the over arching patterns of our lives that determine our course -- then things get fun. It's exciting to start experimenting with new foods. Likewise, it's fun to explore recipes that actually taste good and pack a nutritional punch, adding nutrient rich foods to your meals as opposed to taking away foods out of fear.
I do not believe that there is one way of eating that works for every single person. Nutrition is so individual and the food we eat and enjoy is far more cultural than we realize. People from all different parts of the world eat completely different diets: high carb, high fat, vegetarian, lots of meat and cheese, you name it. And there are examples of healthy people among them all!
I do believe that we should focus on the lovely tenets of food and there are many. Here are a few of those basic truths...
1. Food gives us energy and strength to accomplish our purposes here on earth. It allows us to take care of our kids, enjoy a run in the park or a walk with our friend. Food supplies us with the energy to fuel deep creative thoughts, thoughts that invent, thoughts that solve problems and thoughts that help people. Food supplies energy and energy is good.
2. All three macronutrients, carbohydrate, fat and protein, are excellent for providing energy and essential for optimal function. Each plays its own special roles in helping our body run efficiently. Further, eating a balance of all three, which seems to be our natural inclination, leaves us satisfied after a meal for several hours, allowing us to focus on other things besides food and hunger.
3. Fruits and veggies are powerhouses for fighting chronic disease and improving health. Seriously, need I get on my soap box here? I am no vegetarian, but we could ALL benefit from adding more fruits and veggies to our lives, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants, fiber --- nature's medicine. If you're still stuck in a diet mentality, this truth can feel like a broken record that you DON'T want to hear. But once you realize it's your choice to add nutrient rich produce where you see fit, you may change your tune. There are a lot of options out there to choose from. As a side note, you will find that cooking veggies in fat for a change does your tastebuds good, just sayin ;)
4. While we're at it, minimally processed whole foods in general are gonna up your nutrition ante. The closer the food is to how God created it -- the more nutrition it likely contains (obviously, I do not consider cooking as "processed" here - in fact cooking some foods actually makes the nutrients more available to our body than eating them raw). Also, to clarify I mean ALL foods God made, the ones that grow from the ground (whole grains, veggies & starches, legumes), those that grow in trees (fruits, nuts & seeds) and those whole foods provided by animals (meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs). All of these foods have lovely nutrition to offer (notice I'm not saying that you personally enjoy / feel good eating these foods or that you HAVE to eat them to be healthy, just that all of them have good qualities).
5. Food is a connector. There is nothing like the sacred art of sharing a meal with someone to build and deepen relationships. Families and friendships are often strengthened over 1000 different family meals or coffee shop dates. Beyond that, food is a way in which we can show love, by nourishing someone else. We can provide a person with energy, health, satisfaction and connection all with one simple meal.
Please hear my heart, do not take any of what I've said and make it a measuring stick with which to see how well you are doing. Instead, I hope this encourages you to remember the lovely things about food and to nourish your body with these admirable truths in mind.
"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such truths" [Phillipians 4:8].