This is one area that I have been SO guilty of in the past and that is becoming a bore around food and health. It is one thing to have your own views and your own way of eating, but to push it onto others to the point where you become annoying, judgmental or no fun to be around is not a healthy way to live. Yes, I know guilty as charged – but I’m learning!
At Hippocrates Health Centre where I work, I meet many people who are very well versed on health, but have gotten themselves to a point where they are so confused about what to eat and what not to eat, that they are paralysed and become obsessed over every morsel that they put into their mouths. And even though they may be absolutely pedantic about their food, they are NOT healthy, vibrant, energetic, happy people.
After studying health and diet over many years, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are many paths to healing and that the body is very clever in taking as much as it can out of what we eat and doing the best it can with it. We have become so out of touch with our own body wisdom when it comes to food that we no longer can feel what we want or need when it comes to eating. Our taste has become distorted with excessively sugary, salty and fatty foods so that our senses are confused over what it is that we truly desire.
The stress we place on ourselves by trying to do the “right thing” all the time actually causes more damage in our body than if we ate something not quite perfect, but relaxed about it. There was a study I remember reading about once, where they tested the nutrient levels and health status of three groups of people. The first group ate a typical junk and processed food diet. The second group ate a variety of whole foods and rejected processed and preserved foods; but if they were invited to a friend’s house for dinner, they would go and enjoy whatever was served. And the third group were obsessive about their food and if invited to a friend’s house for dinner, would check the menu beforehand if not suitable would bring along their own supplies. What was found in this study was that the second group of people absorbed more nutrients out of their food and were the healthiest of the three groups. Stress, perfectionist tendencies and being black and white when it comes to food, can switch off the digestive processes as we move into a perceived fight and flight situation. In this case, no matter how well we eat, we can still be unhealthy as we compromise our digestion and sacrifice the available nutrition in our food.
This premise is part of the French Paradox, where the French were found to have a diet that should have resulted in a higher level of heart disease (according to the current medical model), but the paradox was that they had a lower incidence of cardiovascular problems in spite of their diet. Part of this apparent paradox is to do with having a positive attitude around food, making food a ritual and a pleasure, relaxing over a meal, taking the time to savour the flavours, to chew well and enhance your digestion through the enjoyment of eating.
If we take out of our diet the processed food, the chemicals, the junk, the sugar, the excess grains, the preservatives, the excess alcohol etc – we are left with only pure whole foods as nature intended. Now within this realm of natural foods – if we cook some of our food or we eat completely raw, or we eat some meat or we decide to be a vegetarian; or we go macrobiotic or we follow Ayurvedic principles – whichever path we choose to go, we are not going to be going too far wrong. Once we get back in touch with our bodies and with our inner wisdom, we can experiment with different styles of eating and healing regimes to find out what suits us best and which way of eating we get the most benefit from at the time. We are all biochemically individual, and even though a Naturopath or healer may be able to guide you with a specific food plan – if something doesn’t seem to agree with you, then don’t eat it. Nobody knows your body and how you feel as well as you do – so use your health knowledge to guide you towards a healthier way of eating, but also remember that food is meant to be a pleasure, and eating is nourishment for both our body and our soul.
Do your body a favour and relax and enjoy your food and take the stress away from what is one of life’s most awesome pleasures.