“The way we eat represents our most profound engagement with the natural world. Daily, our eating turns nature into culture, transforming the body of the world into our bodies and minds”. – Michael Pollan
It seems as if slowly but surely most of us are becoming more aware and conscientious about the way we nourish our bodies. With countless documentaries, new ‘superfoods’, nutritional plans, the latest diet, the newest cleanse. Information overload and tons of options for becoming “the best you” that you can be. My head is already spinning just thinking about it all.
The ironic thing? I recently finished a 3-day juice cleanse, and I found myself thinking “why am I really doing this?” I seem to have multiple answers, ‘it’s spring so I figured spring cleaning the body just as I would do my home might be a good idea’, ‘I found the challenge to my willpower an interesting experiment’, and ‘it could be a nice boost to spruce up my current habits’. I guess I’m not all too sure what the exact motivation behind the decision was.
What I do know for sure is, as the overload of nutritional information keeps making its way through our newsfeeds (or is it just mine?) I start to wonder, what exactly makes some of us so nuts about nutrition? is it really as simple as we just want to be healthy and feel good? or is it just another attachment we’re using to escape unwanted parts of ourselves? Supplementing the one addiction for the other? What does it say about our relationship to food? And, cue the head spinning.
clarity during the cleanse
Going through my first ever detox, though brief, was a big step. I’m that person who needs to eat every three hours, or else I’m starving, hangry or on the verge of tears. Considering food, with all its flavors and textures one of the great pleasures of life, I wasn’t sure if this 3-days-on-just-liquids thing would be a good idea. It was definitely daunting. But having done some research, and constantly having this ‘trend’ thrown in my face at every turn, I got curious. I figured, maybe briefly ‘resetting’ my system and ‘cleaning it up’ isn’t such a bad idea. The challenge to my focus and discipline seemed interesting. So, I went for it.
I prepared myself for 3 days of feeling weak, light headed, almost fainting, starving and maybe some tears. I was, however, pleasantly surprised. I managed to keep up with my workouts, not lose my sanity, my cravings were little to none and found myself reflecting on my relationship with food (obviously). One thing, in particular, stood out during those days, I was so incredibly bored. Nothing in my relatively full schedule had changed, except for having meals. With some slight social isolation thrown in the mix (of course during the 3 days that you’re detoxing everyone wants to have dinner and drinks) I found myself bored, and with some extra time to reflect.
With a somewhat foggy mind from the lack of fuel, I noticed how I missed being able to look forward to a good breakfast (most important meal of the day after all!), or even planning groceries for dinner. And I realized that it was not only the absence of great flavors that was missed but the ritual that comes with it. Making dinner, dining out, and sharing life’s events with my favorite people at the dinner table. The fact that this is what I missed most, didn’t come as much of a surprise.
“Food is not just fuel. Food is about family, food is about community, food is about identity. And we nourish all those things when we eat well.” – Michael Pollan
What did come as somewhat of a surprise, was my heightened awareness for everything ‘food’, not just the smell of food as I drove through the city (ahh), but noticing the almost obsessive talk about nutrition and whatever latest ‘health craze’ we are regularly overloaded with. I wonder, am I too becoming nuts about nutrition? The line does seem thin.
I’ll always opt for organic if I can, and ‘fresh’ always makes me happy. More energy, strength, endurance and vitality? Yes, please! Look better, feel better, be better? Well, duh! Somehow, it never seems enough. And with seemingly everyone cleansing their way into spring, it does make me wonder. What part of ourselves are we really trying to ‘clean’, ‘eliminate’ or ‘discard’? Where do we draw the line between fueling our bodies appropriately and obsessing about food while supplementing unhealthy addictions with so-called “healthy” ones?
Getting lost in the ‘trends’ and losing the true essence of nutrition and health seems to be a very real threat. While we’re being told to eat ‘this’, and not ‘that’, how to stay thin, be fit and look good, we don’t seem to be given much advice about our actual relationship to food and nutrition. What’s the point of obsessing about organic, fixating on veganism and stressing about sugar, if we’re yet again attaching to these lifestyles based on fear, aesthetics or avoiding underlying issues within ourselves?
Being healthy, and nourishing ourselves goes way beyond whether or not we choose a carb-free lifestyle or whether or not we’re on board with the latest cleanse. That’s not to say that these, or any other methods, are not great lifestyle choices. There are tons of healthy choices out there today, making it easy to eat well and live well (should we be so fortunate). But that’s exactly my point, so many options, so many choices, but what are you truly basing your decisions on?
Find your balance
As I occasionally find myself boarding the nutty nutrition train, getting swept away by the latest superfood or the newest vitamin boost, I stop to think about why I make the choices that I make. I remind myself that just as everything else in life, balance is key. And whatever balance means for me, might not bring balance to you.
Being overloaded with tons of information on what’s good, what’s bad and what you should or should not do, does not help in the quest of figuring out what each of our unique relationships with food entails. And even though research, advice, and tips are always great and maybe even essential at times, we need not forget to listen to ourselves and trust our own bodies.
While adding an overwhelming amount of artificial foods, chemical ingredients and careless mass production to the list of endless ‘health’ options, doesn’t quite make listening to ourselves as easy. My advice? Take the time to stop and question the true core of your choices, bring it back to basics & embrace balance!
Love & Light,
Edit: If you find yourself more confused than ever, and want another perspective, check out Michael Pollan (if you haven’t heard of him already)! As you can tell by the quotes, I’m a huge fan of his approach to nutrition and treating food as the great pleasure of life that it is! (his short series on Netflix, ‘Cooked’ is refreshing!)