Enlightening Our Relationship with Food
By Alexandra Bwye, CN, HLC
We have all been there. We ‘shouldn’t’ eat certain foods and ‘should’ eat others. Some foods make us feel guilty and some make us feel victorious. Many of us have a love-hate relationship with food due to an infinite amount of messages we receive about it from TV, books, family, friends, different cultures, and the latest health news headline.
One day we know Atkins will make it happen for us, the next we’re on a juice fast doing colonics, infrared sauna and yoga, and so the pendulum swings, back and forth, sideways, up and down…. any which way the latest and greatest food craze pulls us. If that is not the case, we stay steadfast in our own food bubble, giving up on health all together in the name of eating whatever we like, whenever we like, and enjoying it, no matter how unhealthy we get.
In fact Surgeon General David Satcher stated 190 million people in the U.S. are overweight or obese, most likely contributing to type 2 diabetes (called adult-onset diabetes before it became common in children), type 1 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, osteoarthritis, gout, breathing problems such as sleep apnea, and other chronic illnesses.
Where is the balance these days? What happened to eating when hungry, stopping when full, and eating whatever the earth provided with each season in our own region? With today’s food distribution, it has become a thing of the past to eat this way in most parts of the world, especially the American south, coincidingly where lie the top nine states in obesity.
We can get summer fruit from the opposite side of the world in winter, meat at any time we want where it used to be a rare and treasured treat in almost every society that ever existed, and a lot of what we eat is made up of dozens of ingredients that, if we are able to pronounce and identify them, barely resemble the original food (i.e. Where can I find a Cheerio plant?).
How has this become the norm? How is it when one goes exclusively to farmer’s markets and co-ops to buy in-season and somewhat local fare, this is considered ‘alternative’? What about flying kiwis in from New Zealand or cheese from France? Should not this be considered ‘alternative,’ rather than the everyday practice of most Americans?
In order for us to truly feel enlightened and re-establish a healthy, balanced relationship with food and in return our own bodies and the earth, it is extremely important for us to understand the region we live in, what grows in it and when, and then perhaps add in a few things that don’t grow here, such as coconuts, or perhaps a starfruit if we’re feeling adventurous. Other staples may be herbs and spices or whole grains that may not have grown in your region, but are important in our diets.
Once you start to realize that most of the whole foods you buy have been grown close by, are organic (not sprayed with toxic chemicals that slowly poison your cells as well as the earth it grows in), and are also giving back to the earth, you will begin to feel more connected to and appreciative of food and proud of your choices, and will already be doing your body a favor by providing it with whole nutrition. Your body can assimilate nutrients much more readily in whole, raw form, and your energy levels and appearance will prove it.
When one eats whole, un-processed, raw food, there seems to grow a respect for the item you are eating. Take for example a fresh, in season, just plucked-off-the-vine tomato. It’s soft, bright red, and just abounding with flavor. Compare this to an off-season, shipped-in tomato during winter. With an exterior lacking vibrancy and interior that lacks color and which one may compare in texture to Styrofoam, this tomato may be the reason many people don’t like them.
Cooking food on the other hand seems to push us to eat more, possibly due to the fact that processing food in any way can affect its effect on our blood sugar, driving us to eat more. Perhaps by denaturing the active enzymes that are beneficial for digestion as well as denaturing certain heat-sensitive vitamins that our bodies need to survive, our body is telling us to eat more as it is seeking more nourishment.
Perhaps we eat more as a result of both of these issues. Either way, just as mother said, eating raw fruits and vegetables is one of the best things you can do for your body. The more of these you eat, the more you will crave them over cooked versions.
Here are simple steps you can take to re-establish a love relationship with your food:
1. Visit and buy from farmer’s markets
2. Eat your food whole, and raw preferably
3. Instead of counting grams, count whole servings of fruits and vegetables
4. If consuming dairy, find a reputable raw dairy source near you
5. Establish a calm, serene environment before eating
6. Savor the tastes and textures of your meal
Alexandra Bwye is a certified clinical nutritionist, holistic life coach and yoga instructor living in El Segundo, CA. She is founder of The Enlighten Principle, a nutrition practice helping moms-to-be, new and existing moms achieve and maintain balance in their lives. Visit www.enlightenprinciple.com for more information.