When you eat, are you eating with joy? Why we need to start letting go of rules and look at how they are eating in other countries.
Have you noticed lately just how many “rules” there are here in the US when it comes to food? Don’t eat fat….it’s bad. Grains will make you sick, so avoid them! Carbs? Get them out of your diet and you’ll be healthy. Don’t eat this, don’t eat that. You should eat this. You must eat that!
Rules like this are not exactly a new concept. Dieting and watching what foods should be eaten or not has been going on for centuries. The diet world is a multi-billion (with a b) dollar industry and there are bookstores and websites filled with books and programs that tout the latest and greatest way of eating for health….all telling you what you should be eating and what you should avoid.
Since the 1970’s dieting has increased at a feverish pace. It was during that decade that an influx of “diet” foods and beverages hit the market, all geared at helping people to be healthier and lose weight. The only problem is that as a nation, we haven’t gotten thinner and we certainly haven’t gotten healthier! We have far more obesity and more chronic illness than ever before.
The result of all of this marketing and experts telling us what we should and shouldn’t eat is that we have developed an unhealthy attitude about and relationship with food. We are constantly being told that we’re bad for eating certain things and made to feel guilty if we do. And food shaming has become an acceptable practice.
But all of this negative food is not at the root of our problem with disease and obesity.I believe that food only plays a small part in our health and our weight. I fully believe that our mindset is contributing more to these issues than food or exercise ever could.
Yes, this is a radical idea and flies in the face of all of the “experts”, but it is one that is not being discussed nearly enough!
I think that most people would agree that stress strongly contributes to disease. In fact, some form of stress contributes to 100% of disease. When we hold beliefs, attitudes and experience emotions that are negative, this creates stress in our body. Unfortunately, these days, there is a great deal of negativity that is being fed to us through television, movies, radio, video games, the internet and social media. It is really a pervasive problem. It is one of the reasons why I don’t watch very much television anymore. Since I personally made the move to consciously change my mindset, I am much more sensitive to the negativity on television (and there is a lot). Many people are chronic complainers, bullying has become a big problem both out in the world and online. People are incredibly unhappy and are lashing out and being mean to complete strangers.
All of these beliefs, feelings, attitudes and actions contribute to loads of stress. And this stress is what is causing all of the health issues that we are facing. But we can begin to change these things, one step at a time.
Let’s start by reducing our mindset about food. We can reduce the stress about food by taking a cue from the people of European countries like Italy and France. These countries have much lower rates of diseases like heart disease and cancer. This is true even though they eat lots of pastries, butter, heavy cream and drink lots of wine.
I spent a summer in Europe back in 1998 and the way that the French and Italians view life….and food is different than it is here in the US.
Here are the differences…
- They don’t snack. They eat three really good meals, with more than enough food to last them to the next meal. Because they get plenty to eat at each meal, they don’t feel the need to snack.
- They take time for meals. It was a bit of an awakening for me to discover that stores, banks and other businesses closed mid-day for 2 hours for lunch! They absolutely take lunch seriously and it can take people 60-90 minutes to slowly eat their meal. Dinner is a similar event, and is often served in multiple courses….with lots of wine.
- Meals are a social event. Whether it is lunch with a friend or colleagues or dinner with the whole family, meals are very social events. They take time eating and talking with one another. This type of connection daily is actually a great source of stress relief! It is very rare to see someone eating a meal by themselves (although they are not afraid to sit in a sidewalk cafe, drinking coffee and watching the world go by, by themselves!)
- They eat what they want! There is never any talk like “I can’t have that….it’s not on my diet!” They eat what they want and thoroughly enjoy it too!
- They often eat dessert at least twice a day! Yep, they do. All of those rich, delicious pastries and yet there is far less disease and far less obesity there than in the US!
- They slowly chew their food and really savor every bite. This is one thing that I think is often missing in US meals. We tend to be distracted eaters. Whether we have the television on, are looking at our phone or are lost in thought, we have forgotten how to truly taste our food. When that happens we miss out on the complex and beautiful flavors of the different ingredients. When we truly taste our meals, we also discover that we may have been eating food for years that really doesn’t taste that great. This is especially true of fast and processed foods.
We no longer eat with joy! But we can do that again. We can shed the stressful mindset that we have about food and learn to savor the foods that we create in the kitchen.
I want to help you to change your mindset about food, because that is what will truly give you health freedom. We start doing that by paying attention to what our thoughts are about food and consciously changing them. Once you catch yourself saying something like “that’s bad for me”, let it go! You absolutely have the choice to change that thought. It does not serve you or your health!
Take more time with your food. You may not have an hour, but you certainly can take more time to truly enjoy and appreciate what you are eating. And having gratitude for each bite of food and the amazing ways that your food will nourish your body is a much healthier mindset. You can do this no matter what you eat! When you do this, you will find yourself feeling so much better that you’ll want to keep doing it again and again!
Are you ready to begin celebrating food again?