For the past few weeks, I have been engaged in a personal gastronomic mindful meditation. My intention is to restore trust in myself as an intuitive eater. How I came to doubt my ability to make healthy food choices is interesting. You see, I’ve had a lifelong healthy relationship with food. I love the taste, smell, and feel of fresh whole food. Moreover, I deeply appreciate the magical effect a spoonful of herbs or spices can have on food, transforming something plain into a mouth-watering gem. Perhaps most importantly, I did not inherit the family “sweet gene” or learn as a child to view food as a primary go-to source for emotional comfort. So, how is it then that I lost my flow and began to question my relationship with food?
A contributing factor is the ever-changing landscape of nutritional science and dietary guidelines. One of the greatest gifts of working at the BHWP is that I get paid to do what I love—taking a deep dive into the latest cultural trends and scientific evidence related to health and wellness. The flipside of such exploration is the cognitive dissonance that comes from the realization that some of my long-held beliefs about healthy eating are, in fact, based on misinformation and myths. Learning that “facts” like eating fat makes you fat, weight management is as simple as energy balance, and counting calories is the best path to weight loss are not supported by research has greatly lowered my confidence that I can make good food choices. Consequently, I have been spending an inordinate amount of time considering whether I should eat that piece of bread with dinner or purchase whole milk instead of low-fat. All the while, I have increasingly lost touch with my inner wisdom.
So, here’s what I’ve learned by slowing down and turning inward. It is essential for me to stay up-to-date on the latest information about what constitutes healthy eating AND it is equally important to trust 61 years of lived experience. I know that the foods healthiest for me are fresh whole foods purchased from local sources. I know that my body typically requires less food than I desire. I know that salty, fried foods are my addiction and it is best to avoid them. I also know that I’m not likely to follow any prescriptive diet because I don’t like rules. As Glenda said to Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz (liberally adapted), “You’ve always had the power (to make the right food choices), my dear. You just had to learn it for yourself (again)!”