Mark Twain once said, “Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.”
If you know anything about Twain, you know he was a great American writer. If you know any more about him, you know he wasn’t very good at lifestyle balance and that this quote was either a joke or made out of ignorance.
But food does fight for us. It does the work we can’t do in yielding energy and doing maintenance on the body. Food is also good. REALLY good. Research tells us that everything about dining, from the color of the walls of the room to the specific method it was prepared intimately influences our psychology. We are emotionally connected to food and the act of eating. Consider this meta-analysis of the link between binge eating and emotion.
What’s your relationship with food? What do you think of when you see a cheeseburger? Hungry? Repulsed? What about a salad? Unsatisfied? Healthy?
Hippocrates is supposed as stating “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Does this seem true to you? Or do you feel like you need medications, supplements, or other non-food supports?
Whatever your relationship, it’s healthy to take a step back and evaluate how you treat food and how you let it treat you. Here are five ways to begin approaching food with a better mindset.
Everything is on the table
Do you feel you should follow a strict diet? Why? Will it cause you to sacrifice your family or other aspects of your health like your exercise or sleep? Don’t rule anything out until you have a legitimate reason and you’ve considered your options. Set your fitness goals, get educated, and then make your decision. Don’t be influenced by every changing trend!
Know your shopping options and have a plan
Grocery stores, farmer’s markets, private-run produce groceries, farmer’s co-ops… Understand the pros and cons of the places you get your food and consider weighing the convenience against the price and against the most healthful for YOU. Know what you need and want before you go and know the difference. Maintain a grocery list throughout the week and make grocery shopping a tradition. Most importantly, go after a meal, not before!
Learn the culinary arts and cook with others
Try a cooking class, hire an in-house chef, buy a cookbook, use an app… there are so many opportunities to learn how to correctly prepare food. Find a resource and start practicing! Then make meal PREPARING a social event. Don’t just invite people over to eat; invite them other to cook! Don’t forget to include your kids. This is the opportunity of their lifetime, helping determine their health for the rest of their life!
Be mindful and control your surroundings
Mindfulness is described as “The attentive awareness of the reality of things.” Put mealtimes in your schedule and when that time comes around, find a setting with fewer distractions and put your technology away for that short time so you can be completely present when you eat. See, touch, taste, enjoy!
Food is good; humans sometimes aren’t
According to the CDC, Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, with about one-fifth of the total deaths each year. It’s nearly common knowledge now that there is a fundamental problem with the way we grow, processed, prepare, and consume food. See, the progressive mindset that has propelled America to be the world’s greatest country isn’t real compatible with the mindset we want to have in regards to the very stuff that we need to live. Fast food, dense-calorie meals, rapid eating times, and a general lifestyle void of mindfulness is what has our health so broken.
This is how we’ve been raised, what we’ve been told to do, and what our desire for immediate gratification drives us to.
Food isn’t inherently bad; it’s what we do with it that is. Toss the extreme diet you’re on and start getting back to the basics. It’s not rocket science; you just have to think about it instead of letting someone else think about it for you.