3 easy ways to make peace with food right now

food fuel feast family.jpg

Post-surgery, Ian, and I relax at home on the couch and surf for a movie. With his left forearm in a cast and the compression machine pumping ice water to his arm and calves, I assume that a fantasy film is fitting. Escaping from his pain and lost summer adventures, into another realm, sounds very good to me. And escape we do, but not into a galaxy far, far away. Ian has other plans. We escape into the world of food.

Watching Chef – 2014, the story of Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) who quits his job, launches a food truck, takes to the road, and reignites his passion for the kitchen, life and love, Ian and I lose ourselves in each close-up of food sliced, simmered, and plated. Why? Because we agree that eating well is worth our valuable time, energy, and creative efforts, as do the good folks who gave us this sweet flick and Chef Carl.

We all eat, and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly. ~ Anna Thomas

I believe that eating well is for everyone. Eating well isn’t for the select few who are gifted with culinary talent, or have a lot of money in their food budget, or who write cookbooks and food blogs, but rather, eating well is for anyone who wants to be happier. Yes, happier, more energized, and thriving.

The key is to find a path to food and a relationship with it that is doable and brings out an individual and collective best.

Half the battle is silencing all the food noise outside of ourselves that burdens, cajoles, and sets humans up for failure. With an ever changing litany of what to do and what not to do, minds spin while bodies continue to be under-nourished. Counting this and measuring that are tools that limit and are limited in what they can accomplish. Well-intentioned motivational shouts from coaches and trainers can miss the mark and social comparison can warp reality.

Comparison is the thief of joy. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Humans are simple and complex at the same time. We need simple ways to address our complex concerns. Eating well does both.

Value Food as Fuel

At a human’s most basic level, food is fuel. We need calories, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, greens, oranges, reds, and a variety of macro and micro nutrients to nourish the body. When I think of food as fuel I think of a microwaved bowl of rolled oats topped with nuts and fruit for a fast breakfast, a protein shake after exercise, or a  big ole glass of water to hydrate on a swealtering day . Fitting.

Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live. ~ Jim Rohn

Value Food as Feast

All fuel and no play makes life dull.  Not merely machines, humans need to feed the mysterious part of themselves that knows deeply the nourishment of the off-schedule breakfast at night, the tried and true combination of beer and pizza, and the elegance of dark chocolate. To deprive ourselves is to risk willpower depletion, interestingly brought to public awareness by The Chocolate-and-Radish experiment, not to mention the deprivation of simple daily joy.

“Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.” -Ernestine Ulmer

Value Food as Family

In a digital age beyond the imaginations of most Baby Boomers and Generation X, home, work, and church spheres blur and not all needs met traditionally in those spheres can be met online. Take eating meals together, for example.

…dinner may be the one time of the day when a parent and child can share a positive experience – a well-cooked meal, a joke, or a story – and these small moments can gain momentum to create stronger connections away from the table. ~ Anne Fishel

Fishel is a co-founder of The Family Dinner Project, a professor at Harvard Medical School and the author of “Home for Dinner.”  And according to the Mayo Clinic, the benefits of eating with others extends to friends.

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.” -Cesar Chavez

Make Peace with Food

I’ve failed, failed, and failed again with food. I’ve over eaten, under eaten, eaten the wrong foods, not eaten the right foods, eaten at the wrong times, not eaten at the right times, on and on and on. The thing about food, as compared with something optional like alcohol, is that we all need to eat every day. Every. Day. Year in and year out. This is a marathon, folks. And no one wants to feel like a failure every day. If I’m failing with food, then food becomes something it was never meant to be, the cause of my failure. There is simply no way to be happy and healthy within an adversarial relationship.

For years my gut screamed and complained. I suffered with body weight fluctuations, swelling, low energy, aches, pains, and moodiness, which led to self-loathing, relationship tensions, and social withdrawel at times. How I perceived food floated, depending on my mood, environment, or current condition. This subjective perception was part of the problem. I needed something objective on which to build a solid foundation and a plan. Clarity about my internal values was the start.

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” -J.R.R. Tolkien

When we value food for no more and no less than what it is, it becomes properly proportioned to our lives. When we value it for it’s fuel, feast, and family aspects, we can better quiet the noise outside and get on with the pleasure of eating well. We begin to build a positive relationship with food and as with all healthy relationships, this takes time, creativity, tools, skills, and a good sense of humor. The result? A more happy, engaged, and vibrant life. Like Chef Carl, now is a perfect time to begin, an opportune time to eat well one meal at a time and reignite a passion for life and love.