“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference”
This quote by Winston Churchill is also true about our attitude towards food.
Yes, it’s important to consciously making better food choices, avoid the CRAP (chemicals, refined, artificial, preservatives) and drink more water.
However, it is also important to remember that how we FEEL about our food greatly influences how that food impacts our digestion and absorption, our physical and mental health.
When we eat in a stressed or rushed state, our body is focused on dealing with that perceived stress, so will not prioritize digestion. Our food won’t be broken down properly, our nutrients won’t be absorbed efficiently, and so begins a domino effect.
Let’s pretend that particular stress is our attitude about food. Feelings of guilt, fear, shame, regret, cheating, a whole load of shoulds or should nots, falling off a wagon – you name it – are a huge part of our eating culture. When we see a food as something to feel badly about and something we must battle or avoid or make up for, it’s going to cause emotional stress (conscious or unconscious) and in the long run make us SICK!
That almond croissant from the Waterfront Cafe (have you had it?!) fully enjoyed during and after eating, with zero negative emotion, will be much healthier in the big picture than regretting my decision, “working it off” in the gym, or grumbling through the boring kale salad the next day, feeling deprived. Nothing against the exercise or the kale salad; everything against the reason for it!
We want to eat from a place of connection and pleasure, not from a place of regret or fear. Connection to our food, connection to our bodies and it’s needs, and connection to our community.
Speaking of connection, let’s talk about love for a second. It makes the world go round.
Oxytocin is called the “love hormone”. Along with dopamine and serotonin, it is also referred to as a “happy hormone”. It is related to empathy, trust, relationship building, and stress reduction. It is produced and released during labour (um yeah, because we need all the love and happy hormones we can get our hands on), breastfeeding, and in hugging and touching loved ones. It triggers a bond between mother and baby, and between people who have affection for each other – both sexual and non-sexual.
C’mon, who doesn’t want a little extra love hormone floating around?
Interesting that it’s released in our very first natural act of being nourished – breastfeeding. But did you know that oxytocin is also released as we eat in the pleasure of good company and when we eat from a place of love and care of the sacred temple that our body is? In contrast to the stress induced by eating “perfectly healthy” with regret and guilt, especially if that healthy choice is made in fear of the consequence of ill health or a restrictive food dogma.
Living in fear and a love/hate relationship with food for over 20 years, I thought I had to choose between loving food and good nutrition. It can and should be both!
Food is defined as “any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink…in order to maintain life and growth”, and I wholeheartedly believe in moderation in everything, including moderation. Do the best you can in your choices, but don’t let perfection be the enemy of the greater good. Obviously Kraft dinner, fast food burgers and bags of candy don’t support “in order to maintain life and growth” so stock your kitchen with whole foods and then allow yourself the freedom to enjoy restaurant food and the festivities of parties and family gatherings without making food a central issue or something to fear or resent.
When we operate from a place of absolute acceptance and love for who we are, we will naturally want to fuel our bodies with whole nutritious food that makes us feel great.
If you are healthy, eat like a healthy person…. for nourishment, energy, pleasure, and connection with their community.
When we are sick, healthy food choices are definitely a greater priority in order to heal. I fully believe in therapeutic, healing diets and eliminating some foods for a period of time is sometimes necessary, but the food we eat is only part of the path of healing.
What is most important is that we don’t eat out of fear. If you are faced with a decision to eat a food that is outside of your “healing protocol” ideals – whatever that maybe – simply make the best choice considering what is available to you and eat it consciously and with gratitude. Most of all don’t worry about it and believe that the food will nourish you on some level anyway!
So the next time you eat, I hope you consider your food-itude; are you looking forward to this meal or are you overthinking it and feeling anxious?
Take your time, take a breath of acceptance, bless the food with gratitude, chew with consciousness, relax, savour, and enjoy yourself fully!