Happy Nutrition Month (March 2018 for reference)! It is Nutrition Month here in Canada and I do think other places in the world as well. Each National Dietetics Association makes a theme for the month to promote a particular nutrition topic. This year Dietitians of Canada has set the theme of "Unlock the Potential of Food". There are various handouts you can give out and there are events all over the country to promote this. (www.dietitians.ca) I would like to put my spin on it for you.
When I think of unlocking the potential of food the thing that comes to my mind is not how can particular foods improve or change me but how can food give me pleasure or even neutrality. What would it be like if we unlocked the potential pleasure in food? How does food enrich my life, my relationships with others and myself? I know that food does not bring pleasure to many. It is a source of guilt and shame, a source of fear, a source of pain, a source of confusion. I would like to spend a month (or a lifetime) on that. Putting food back in its place of nourishing the body, sustaining our lives so we can live our lives. A thing we need to interact with multiple times a day but doesn't cause us to overthink or over plan. I want to spend the month talking about those moments when you laugh over a plate of nachos with friends or learn about your kids day over dinner or simply being alone with your food and enjoying it.
Every morning I sit quietly and drink my first mouthful of coffee and savour it. I let the warmth fill my body as I let the aromas surround me. It may be the only mouthful of coffee I enjoy in quiet and alone for my whole day but I make sure it happens most days. I try to make it more about the enjoyment of the flavours than a device I need to get through my busy often sleep deprived days. This is where mindfulness comes in. The smells, the textures, the tastes. Every meal has an explosion of each- even the most simple meals.
Finding the pleasure in the foods can be hard for many as we live in a culture that does not necessarily allow us to find pleasure in things. We use terms such as "I am so bad", " this is devilish", "sinfully delicious" "I only eat clean"(this terms bugs me soooo much)....we put such morality on foods. Have you ever caught yourself saying " I am so bad for eating this...(insert food here) but I will just (insert whatever you say you will do to compensate for said food)". Nobody has ever gone to (your version) of Hell or jail or anything for eating a food you enjoy. If I was sent to jail for every time I enjoyed a "sinful" food unapologetically I would likely be living there by now. The jail we send ourselves to is in our brains. We don't let ourselves find pleasure instead we find shame. Some count calories or macros. Some workout however much exercise is needed to "burn off" this food. Some feel like they failed for eating a particular food or way and then this seeps into other aspects of life. I think that if we find a way to just eat the damn chocolate because you love the chocolate instead of all the negative self talk we do you might actually find the pleasure in the chocolate.
So maybe next time you find yourself eating try to unlock the potential pleasure of the food. Slow down and notice the tastes, the textures, the smells. If you are eating with others maybe you could be so brave as to talk about the wonderful flavours you are eating. Maybe encourage others to describe what tastes or feelings come of up with that food. Take deep breaths, relax and enjoy. Eating can become a pleasurable experience that does not need to be "fixed" later. Noticing what you are telling yourself while eating can be a first step towards Unlocking this Potential in food.
Until next time be Unapologetically you while I be Unapologetically Me.