As someone who can’t order food in a restaurant without announcing my allergies, I pay attention to food. I’ve done my share of juice cleanses and still enjoy an almost daily carrot, apple, ginger juice alongside a meal. While I strive to be more mindful about eating with efforts to find a balance that includes healthy but satisfying–I have fallen into extremes when I didn’t know what was going on with my body.
Years ago I went on a month-long cleanse of sorts where I eliminated all sugar(even fruit), alcohol, wheat, dairy, caffeine, and happiness. I ate a ton of beans, brown rice, and kale dishes. I lost so much weight that I received the, “oh, wow, are you doing okay?” questionable looks from family members. I carried tupperware with steamed vegetables whenever I went out to make sure I could eat regardless of location. But I still wasn’t getting enough calories since I created this little cleanse on my own in hopes of getting my system back in order without the supervision of a professional. When I did go to see a doctor, she looked at me like I was crazy but I was desperate to figure out what was wrong and why my body was taking revenge on me.
After that month-long expedition, I sought out nutritional guidance from folks who know a thing or two about food and health, and I returned to a more balanced way of eating. I had a lot of work to do. Needless to say, I am not perfect, but I continue to observe my behaviors when it comes to food to figure out what works best for me.
Healthy eating requires a healthy mind as Mary Elizabeth Williams points out in the Salon article, “We’re clean eating our way to new eating disorders.” She describes how obsessive behaviors related to how folks perceive the virtue of food itself could lead to a disorder called orthorexia.
How do we cultivate a better relationship to food? How do we sort through the flood of information related to what it means to be healthy to make sense of it all?
I think it starts with compassion and gentle-loving kindness with ourselves. When you value your being, you value the experience of nourishment. I also think a better relationship with food also involves being more open and honest about what works for you. And what works for you may not be what works for others. And that’s okay.
Openness. Acceptance. Allowing.