My earliest childhood memories of food include pressure cooked chicken, overcooked pot roast with mushy gray veggies, pot pies, fish sticks, meatloaf and TV dinners in aluminum trays. TV dinners back in the 60’s were so cool, they were futuristic and compartmentalized. The entrée was front and center (usually fried chicken or Salisbury steak), to the upper right was the mixed veggies and contained in the upper left compartment was referred to as dessert but in reality was a molten blob of artificially colored sugary goo.
What was my relationship with food back then? Or was there a conscious one? I never thought about my relationship with food until I was much older. I believe most people are either too busy or just haven’t been educated on the benefits and importance of having a positive connection with what they eat.
As you read this article, consider your relationship with food. What I want to accomplish through this article is either a reinforcement of a healthy relationship that you already have with food, or an identification of changes that need to be made in order to begin to enjoy a healthy relationship with food. I have realized that our relationship with food is much like our relationship with other people, it can be a loving, nurturing relationship or a toxic one.
One of the first questions you should ask yourself is, “What am I hungry for?” Is it your body that needs nourishing or is it your spirit that needs attention? Are you eating for hunger or appetite?” Hunger is the body expressing a need for fuel. Appetite is a desire or need for spiritual fulfillment. Would a hug, recognition, reassurance that you’re loved, or time spent meditating satisfy the real appetite that is calling? If hunger is in fact what you are feeling, filling your need in a healthy, satisfying way may be easier than you think.
Initially, identifying a bad relationship with food is absolutely crucial. This includes consuming inorganic foods, fast foods and processed foods which are, in my opinion, all dead foods. Food cannot retain vital life energy and nutrients after being in an airtight can or vacuum packed, hermetically sealed and frozen. Furthermore, these dead foods are generally microwaved and/or eaten while driving, talking on a cell phone, and steering with your knee. Besides the danger of crashing after you dropped your cheeseburger, have you ever read the nutritional information on a cheeseburger and fries? These foods aren’t capable of fulfilling your hunger or your appetite.
Ultimately, a healthy relationship with food starts with an intention to nurture the body, mind and spirit. Selecting healthful foods and preparing them conscientiously are equally as vital. Choosing fresh, local, seasonal, and organic foods defines the benchmark of a great relationship with food. Buying fresh retains all the vital nutrients and life force energy. And remember that there’s a reason for the season. Spring and summer foods are lighter and cooling, while fall and winter foods are hearty and warming. Eating as much organic food as possible eliminates disease-causing pesticides, which will make you live longer and healthier. Eating slowly and with purpose helps the digestion process. A simple prayer of thanks or just a moment of silence before enjoying your meal is a way of gratifying the mind and spirit as well as calming the body so it can utilize its fuel more effectively.
Finally, food should also be the centerpiece of ritual. At nearly every ritualistic gathering, food is involved. That is because throughout time, rituals and food have dually served the purpose of feeding the trilogy of body, mind and spirit. Rituals give meaning to events and are a very important part of human existence.
Maintaining a healthy relationship with food takes planning and discipline, but is very achievable. Try to always have nutritious options on hand. You can prepare healthful foods in advance or have a private chef do this for you. And if you must eat out or on the run, make health-conscious choices.
Identifying a need and filling it in positive ways are the beginnings of any healthy relationship. When you are hungry, preparing foods that nourish your body and eating them in a way that nourishes your spirit will help you live a longer, more fulfilled life.