Nourishing not Dieting: Stereotypical “Diets”

The word Diet (capital D) holds many of us hostage.  Just uttering it and I imagine a world of restriction and sweat.  It can inflate and deflate, triumph and destroy, give us a sense of peace and control or havoc and chaos.  With a word that holds so much power over many of us, I seek to break it down and find the source of what it CAN bring for us.

As any millennial would do I first seek out Merriam Webster’s definition and lineage of this all too powerful word.  Merriam states that the word Diet is the way one lives their life.  The Greeks believed this too as “Diata” literally translates “to live one’s life”. That’s a pretty delicious way to describe something that has turned rather ugly in our modern lives.

So why do most of us, notably in westernized culture, allow what could be a beautiful translation into living your life with joy, compassion, and love; enable this word to create a sense of self-destruction, isolation, and hurt?  We as a human species crave connection.  We crave our tribe.  Ultimately we all desire the sense of community that comes with gathering around a meal and sharing our knowledge, not only in the food we prepare but also in our lives.

Food does more than just provide nutrition for our physical bodies; it also nourishes us on a deeper level. The social rituals we place around food, during the holidays especially are evidence that we are seeking more than calories when we sit down to eat.  We are seeking comfort in our ritual, our history, and our connection to family and friends. So I’m attempting to flip the script on what Diet means to me.  I found that working on the following points has helped me become a better, happier version of myself each and every day:

1.)   Be Grateful. Not only for your food and how it can nourish your body and mind, but also in other aspects of your life.  Be grateful each and everyday for what you are able to do now and how you are growing.  Bring loving kindness and acceptance inward so that the foods you choose are absorbed and digested to aide in your healing.  Write your gratitude down for the goals you have yet to accomplish, whether they be nutritionally based or otherwise as if they are already so.  This may seem like some “woo woo” yogi strategies but the insight you gain through this practice alone is exponential and powerful in nourishment of all types.

2.)   Eat Intuitively.  Healing occurs here!  Honor your body and what it offers others.   Understand what YOU need.  Become aware of what foods you desire and crave.  What is right for one person is not right for all.  That is why some thrive on a plant-based vegan diet while others thrive on meat and dairy.  Acknowledge the nourishment and strength in the plants and animals you consume and eat those foods that serve you best.

3.)   Stay Connected.  Your shrinking away does not serve the world. Enjoy your connection to your food by understanding where it comes from who grew, harvested, raised or caught it.  Be conscientious in your power to purchase and support farming practices.  Connect to your heritage or family through recipes.

4.)   Return to Love.  Much like staying connected to your food, it is important to bring love into your body so that it can properly digest and absorb the nutrients it needs.  Surround yourself with positive people and enjoyable conversation.

5.)   Enjoy, Savor, and Relax.  When your body is relaxed it can digest and utilize the foods you eat properly, however, eat hurriedly or in a stressed or anxious state and your body’s stress response (cortisol) will run rampant and place you into fight or flight mode.  In this state your body’s priority is survival, so relax and enjoy the pleasure of eating.

Through these changes in my relationship around food and my body I realize there are no shortcuts when it comes to food and body freedom.  No sweeping it under the rug, or tucking it into a napkin.  The soul is imperative to grow, evolve, and ultimately heal.  If you have a challenge around food and your body, you are here to heal it.  This isn’t always a quick fix and if it were none of us would be dealing with these types of conversations.  I’ve resolved to view my struggle with food and body as a roadmap.  I can relax into the journey and ask myself more meaningful questions along the way.  Gain insight into things bigger than just the vessel in which I navigate the world and heal.

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