With my master’s degree freshly but thankfully behind me I am now able to concentrate on sharing my passion and new found knowledge with others. Do you ever really realize how much of a time suck school and work can be when pursuing or attempting to maintain a balanced life-Sheesh! I certainly didn’t. With so many things large and small filling my brain so that my cup runneth over, there is one topic that seems to stand out as a great place to start or restart my blog and it is the idea or concept of an individual’s food story.
Several months ago I went with a friend to a seminar about the benefits of a plant based diet which I believe definitely has merit depending on a number of factors. This particular event was opened by the host who started by sharing her “food story”. Then the next speaker came to the front and she also spoke about her “food story”. Interesting really. I have been a self professed foodie for years, followed by a nutrition nut and clean eating obsessed but never once had I thought about my food story. In each of the two instances the speakers shared very personal and sad tales of whoa as it related to their relationship with food, body image and a sense of self loathing.The expectation, at least that night, was that each of us in the room had our own unhealthy food story that had since pushed us toward enlightenment. This concept of a food story really resonated with me. What was my food story? Was it sad? Was it unhealthy? As a nutritionist, health strategist and personal trainer i really wondered what is it about someone’s food story that can either doom them to failure or guarantee their success in their journey to health?
Recently I began volunteering at a free clinic in Washington, DC. I am working with a wonderful group of ladies who are already really knowledgeable about food and dieting as every woman is by the time they are 13 but most are obese. When they asked me for the secret to weight loss I responded by asking them about their food story? Initially the blank stares were deafening-basically screaming “this over privileged white lady is just plain crazy!” But as we talked and I shared my story they began to share theirs.
The honest to goodness truth is that food plays a profound role in our lives and our individual food story is what weaves the foundational fabric of our life, our health and our family. Food is significant in every culture and religion, it solidifies friendships, builds community, it celebrates, it is an expression of love, of sameness, of respect for past present and future generations, it is comfort and it is life. Understanding your food story unlocks your beliefs around food and affords you the opportunity to make necessary and appropriate changes to support your health and lifestyle in a way that is respectful to the values you hold dear.
For me, food is always about celebrating-celebrating family, friends, life and love. It is how I give, how I show affection and I think for me tends to be particularly intimate and important because whatever I prepare and is consumed by others becomes part of who they are in the very truest sense-We really are what we eat. After many years of struggling with my relationship with food, I can honestly say that I don’t any longer and haven’t for some time largely because I have chosen to honor my food story and the role food plays in my life rather than limit and deny myself in order to follow someone else’s idea and the results have been liberating. I eat what I want, when I want and have no sense of guilt or self loathing. Some days I have chocolate cake for breakfast but most days I don’t and that’s mostly because I live a really active lifestyle and need the energy that a well balanced meal rich in lean protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates affords. I come from a place where I honor the role food plays in my life and make choices that support the life I want to lead.
What does all this mean? If your reading this post it’s because you are most likely as interested in eating well and being healthy as I am. So I would ask you, what is your food story? Do you honor that story by the choices you make, do those choices support the life you lead or want to lead? If not why not? Almost anything in moderation is ok (except maybe fried twinkles-these are not good!) but finding ways to modify those recipes and dishes you hold dear in way that supports your life and your goals is key. Stay tuned for tasty and healthy versions of common comfort food dishes or email me for tips on how to modify one you love.