How to Bring More Meaning to Your Meals
By Tonya Peele
All of us have to eat to live. James Beard, known by many as the father of American-style gourmet cooking, poignantly captured the essence of food when he said “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” So the question before you is, “How do you want to experience food”? The relationship you create with food will ultimately shape every aspect of your life.
The adage “You are what you eat” is ringing true today in the lives of youth and adults in this country. Our fast-paced, modern lifestyles have changed our experience with food. We are too busy to shop for groceries and too tired to cook. That combination sends many people in search of processed “fake” foods that are not only convenient, but high in salt, sugar and empty calories. As eating habits have evolved over the last 30 years, so has an epidemic of obesity and lifestyle-related diseases.
A STARTING POINT
A large body of research strongly supports that eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight, in addition to not smoking and exercising regularly, can reduce risk of the most common and deadly chronic diseases by as much as 80 percent. In other words, the quality of your life is largely determined by your fork and your feet. Dr. David Katz, director and co-founder of the Yale Prevention Research Center, describes eating and exercise habits as the “levers of medical destiny.” This simply means that the diet and exercise choices you make can sway your medical outcome in the direction of health, despite the disease precursors that may lurk in your genes. So don’t be afraid of your medical history. Your current and future lifestyle habits are powerful!!
If you’re ready to be more intentional about your eating habits, the first step is to pause and examine your beliefs and attitudes about food. This exercise will help you evaluate where your eating habits currently are and where you want to go with regard to a new way of eating. You know the saying: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” If you want to be healthier, you have to be intentional about what you want. As you work through the thought process, you’ll define the foods you want to eat more of, those you wish to eat less of, and those you want to avoid altogether. The result of this exercise will be your food philosophy. A food philosophy may sound grandiose, but it’s basically a set of self-created intentions about how you’ll eat and why.
You’ll find that defining your intentions and developing them into a personal food philosophy will be your biggest success tool of all, as it will serve as the foundation for all other actions you take. Once you’ve created your own food philosophy, have a conversation with your family and together create a family food philosophy.
IT’S YOUR TURN
Now that you’ve created your food philosophy, it’s time to commit to actual diet changes. Once you commit to a certain way of eating, like limiting meat, cooking at home or shopping for local foods – be prepared to defend it. You can be sure there will be many times when you’ll have to defend your lifestyle choice, such as when friends and coworkers ask why you’re not eating meat, or why you’re brown-bagging lunch every day. During those times, you must be crystal clear about your beliefs and convictions in order to remain empowered. Stick to the plan. Small meaningful changes in your diet can lead to huge improvements in your health and happiness over time.
4 Tips for Intentional Eating
° Get quiet and listen to your body. It will tell you the type of food it needs.
° If you know someone who has a particular eating style, ask them in a polite, non-threatening way why they chose to eat that way. People love sharing their stories.
° Reconnect with food and cooking and enjoy the amazing ways food nourishes your body.
° Seek inspiration for the changes you desire to make.
Tonya Peele is a Healthy Lifestyle Consultant, Author and Speaker. She was inspired to help other women stay as healthy as possible after losing over 30lbs – and keeping it off. She specializes in plant-based eating and customized lifestyle strategies to help women speakers, teachers and entrepreneurs look fit and feel confident in front of their audience. Her book, Quick Wins for Healthy Eating, breaks it down for you, making it easier than ever to maintain a busy and healthy lifestyle. Tonya holds a BS in Biology and a MS in Molecular Biology from East Carolina University. Sign up for Tonya’s free ebook at www.tonyapeele.com.