Good morning! I’m back with another Wellness Wednesday post: Intuitive Eating edition. Today I’m focusing on why food is more than just vitamins and fiber, and what it breaks down into. Many of you mentioned that you like these posts, and I love to write them, so I’m happy to comply.
In some instances, I 100% feel that food is our fuel and bridges the gap between when we’re eating. We don’t have to think too much of it, and it doesn’t have to be an OMG this is the most amazing meal ever. It’s just a vehicle to help us live our days. And that’s completely normal.
BUT, other times, you do want to enjoy it and enjoy the whole scene around food. The people you’re with, the place you’re eating, the social situation you’re eating within. You don’t want to rush it, and you want to draw it out. There’s a desire to enjoy each and every course, as well as the wine and cocktails between. The conversation and laughter enhances the meal because it makes the experience memorable and relatable. This is how food brings us together and connects us.
In these situations, food is more than vitamins and minerals. It’s more than nutrition, greater than the sum of its parts. Food is cultural, social, and bond-forming. It’s symbolic for relationships and memories. Food is happiness, nostalgia and reminiscent. It’s excitement, joy, celebration and sadness. It’s normal to relate food to feelings because it’s so much more than just food and nutrients sometimes.
You see, when you’re focused on enjoying your food, rather than on how many calories or grams of carbs it has, you’re fixating on the atmosphere and experience, not the food.
You can order what you want in the moment because it sounds filling and satisfying. Or, because it’s something you’ve always wanted to try. Maybe it reminds you of a course you had when you studied abroad in Italy, or a comfort meal that your grandmother used to always make growing up. You get excited about a new restaurant opening because the menu sounds amazing, and you can go with your best friend who loves food as much as you do.
Furthermore, when you enjoy your food and stay present, you’re not worried about picking out your meal ahead of time. You don’t know how you’ll feel when you’re at the restaurant, so there’s no stress about pre-calculating your order or the nutrition information. You can act spontaneously and intuitively. And it’s so freeing. Because while food provides nutrients, it’s much more than the vitamins, minerals and fiber it provides.
Does this situation sound realistic? If you’re not there yet, I can tell you it is possible if you want to get there. Food doesn’t have to have power over you, and you don’t have to label it as “healthy” or “unhealthy,” or “good” or “bad.” Remember, food is so much more than carbs, fat and protein. It’s more than just Vitamin C, fiber and Vitamin K.
If you only look at food in these terms, it’s easy to fixate on nutrition content and nutrition content only. This can lead down the rabbit hole of only wanting to eat “clean foods” (you guys know I cringe as I write that term), or missing out on experiences due to the anxiety and stress around food. Focusing only on nutrition content can be a disordered tendency. Whereas, if you’re focused on the experience around food, the process of making it and enjoying it, you get a much more enriching and satisfying experience.
The food is there to enjoy, but it’s just one part of the experience. When you realize it’s just food, you’re not worried about eating an appetizer, an entree AND dessert if that’s what you want. Or, about drinking an extra glass of wine. Have you felt this before? You’re in the zone, and just want this dining experience to last and last. This was actually my experience last night. I was enjoying Restaurant Week with a girlfriend, chatting about giving birth and mom life. I’ll probably always remember this meal due to the conversation and memories around it. The food enhanced the experience, because I ordered satisfying, good tasting food. But, it wasn’t the only part. I left with a full belly and a full heart.
Food has vitamins, nutrients and fiber. And food is made up of carbohydrates, fats and protein. But, it’s not that black and white. A cookie may equate to a happy memory with your great aunt, and a donut might remind you of happy times with your children (or significant other). The act of preparing pizza may be a family activity. Let yourself form and enjoy the memories that food can bring, because that is what has a lasting impact.
Would love to hear your thoughts in the discussion!