Hi friends! As promised, this month I’ll be chatting about my personal journey towards achieving one of the “10 Ways to Live Your Life, Elevated.” This month’s topic is: embracing food freedom. I do want to preface this post by saying that my personal journey is not meant to serve as a means of comparison. I also want to emphasize the word, ‘journey’, which implies that I am continually exploring the ways in which food can elevate my life.
a shift in mentality
I distinctly remember the year that my attitude towards food shifted from one of seeing food simply as fuel to one in which I embraced food as something that can be enjoyed. During my senior year of college, I studied abroad in the quaint town of Southampton, England. All of my roommates were from Europe, and it became clear during the first week that our relationship to food was very different.
Throughout the semester, we alternated cooking dinner for each other, sitting together every night around our tiny table to eat wonderful, homemade food and to talk through our days. It wasn’t unusual to spend a few hours preparing dinner, and a few more enjoying it. At first, the ‘doer’ in me felt like the time spent preparing and eating food was a waste of time, but as my relationship with food started to change, so did my attitude and appreciation for our nightly dinners.
When I moved back to the U.S., I became increasingly frustrated with our food culture. I knew my time in Europe changed me, but I didn’t anticipate that it would be the catalyst to an entirely new…life. The snippet below is from an email that I sent a friend on July 24, 2011, and is the perfect reflection of my chaining attitudes toward food:
“Last update for now…how and what we cook/eat is developing into a huge passion of mine–one that I’m actually considering pursuing. I’ve read books, watched numerous documentaries, and become very attuned to the eating habits of Americans. Obesity (and the crap we eat) is a problem in epic proportions…and I would love to become more active in helping people make healthier life choices. (Okay, I’ll stop with the preaching!)”
talk about foreshadowing, huh?!
Transitioning to real food
While I was exploring the world of healthy eating, I would often times opt for the “low-calorie”, “fat-free”, and “100 calorie” packages of food because my perception was that these types of foods would help me feel healthier. I personally didn’t experience food freedom until I embraced real, whole foods. I ditched the pre-packaged foods and learned to distinguish the difference in taste and satisfaction between real foods and those stripped of nutrients/pumped with additives.
The biggest difference is that I learned how GOOD I felt eating REAL food
The more whole, unprocessed foods I incorporated into my meals and snacks, the more attune I was to tasting artificial sweeteners and other additives. I learned to honor the process of picking up groceries, and the personal satisfaction gleaned from preparing homemade foods. I loved knowing exactly what is in the foods I eat, and embraced recognizing that protein, carbohydrates, and fats are essential components to fueling my incredible and strong body.
What eating is like today
Today, food is my life, in all the best and magical ways possible. As humans, we easily connect over food, and one of my fundamental motivators to changing careers stemmed from a passion for helping patients and clients develop and sustain positive relationships with food.
Food to me is joy, love, and connection. It took years to train myself to listen to my body. To understand that eating a few too many sweets is not something I should feel guilty about; instead, I learned how to recognize that I feel pretty awful when I overdo sweets. Sugar crashes make me tired, which subsequently prevents me from doing the activities that I adore in this life: taking walks around Green Lake, writing/blogging, meeting friends for coffee, reading about nutrition and eating behaviors, exploring new neighborhoods, going to spin classes, and so much more.
I’ve learned that maintaining consistent meal patterns are important; that meal prep takes dedication and intention, but makes me feel SO good; I’ve learned to honor my hunger cues and snack when appropriate, to embrace full-fat options, and that preparing and eating a homemade meal with friends brings me an incredible amount of joy.
Embrace where you’re at
We are all on ongoing journeys to find personal food freedom. If you’re still continuing down the path of your own journey, I applaud you for recognizing and embracing that it is a process. Learning to let go of misconceptions surrounding food is freeing and life-changing. I’m always here to support you if you’d like. XO
Want to learn more?
Check out my resources page for my curated list of recommended books and websites.