The big­gest thing your diet is miss­ing

Shepparton News - - LIFESTYLE - By The Daily Guru body image and food free­dom coach Mandy Sci­ac­chi­tano

In the West­ern world, we have of­ten come to view food and the en­tire process of eat­ing as trans­ac­tional.

Calo­ries in, calo­ries out: care­fully cal­cu­lat­ing our macros, and count­ing ev­ery nu­tri­ent to achieve op­ti­mal per­for­mance.

Or, on the op­po­site end of the spec­trum: “I’ll eat what­ever I want, when I want, be­cause I can, thank you!”

And while I re­spect sci­ence and en­joy ex­plor­ing the tech­ni­cal side of nu­tri­tion and con­sider my­self to be body-pos­i­tive and in favour of the idea that there are no bad foods (just poor re­la­tion­ships with food), there is an ele­ment to food and meal­time that we seem to have for­got­ten: sa­cred­ness.

I travel of­ten to Latin Amer­ica, and specif­i­cally to com­mu­ni­ties that aren’t as de­vel­oped with the tech­nol­ogy and re­sources that we have in many parts of the West­ern world, and I am hard-pressed to ex­plain what I do as a body image and emo­tional eat­ing coach.

In those places, dis­or­dered eat­ing and poor body image are not a prob­lem, be­cause ev­ery bite of food is sa­cred.

In our world where fast food is jux­ta­posed with care­ful nu­tri­tional cal­cu­la­tion, we have for­got­ten what a gift each bite of food is.

And sim­i­larly, we have for­got­ten about the mir­a­cles that are wrapped up in the en­tire process of eat­ing — from the way that food is grown to how it is di­gested and con­verted into fuel for our bod­ies.

Our con­trol-based eat­ing pat­terns, and even the “screw it” at­ti­tude, rep­re­sent a dis­con­nec­tion from the sa­cred­ness of food — from the mir­a­cle of the process, and from the recog­ni­tion that our bod­ies are just as sa­cred.

What’s more, we have for­got­ten that the en­ergy with which we con­sume food also con­trib­utes to the way that it is re­ceived and di­gested by our bod­ies.

When we are re­laxed and joy­ful and say a bless­ing or set an in­ten­tion for how we want food to work in our bod­ies, our bod­ies can per­form their nat­u­ral pro­cesses more eas­ily.

But if we are eat­ing while mul­ti­task­ing or feel­ing wracked with guilt over eat­ing some­thing “bad”, our bod­ies tense up and we send them into a stress re­sponse, which keeps them from di­gest­ing and ab­sorb­ing our food op­ti­mally.

There is no nu­tri­tional value in guilt, only heav­i­ness.

With all the stud­ies that have been done to show what harsh words ver­sus kind words do to liv­ing or­gan­isms, why do we fail to ap­ply this to our own bod­ies, and to the liv­ing or­gan­isms with which we fuel them?

Eat­ing is meant to be a cer­e­mo­ni­ous union of body and spirit. In an­cient cul­tures, bless­ings were given and food was eaten with rev­er­ence.

This re­spect for the body and for the food calms the ner­vous sys­tem and gives it en­er­getic in­struc­tion to re­ceive the food and not re­ject it. Not to men­tion plea­sure!

Greek paint­ings and an­cient Pla­to­nian philoso­phies link the heal­ing power of food with plea­sure.

Food is meant to be savoured, en­joyed and used as a plea­sur­able ex­pe­ri­ence. It was even thought that plea­sure in­creased the medic­i­nal po­tency of foods.

For all of our nu­tri­tion sci­ence and care­ful cal­cu­la­tions, we are over-com­pli­cat­ing our re­la­tion­ship with food and for­get­ting the point.

Food and the act of eat­ing is a sa­cred priv­i­lege and a gift. It is plea­sur­able and life-giv­ing.

What re­ally mat­ters is not what you eat, it’s how you eat it.

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