Out with the natural flow of life! It’s time for discipline. Let’s eat very specific varieties and quantities of food whilst mercilessly depriving ourselves of our favourites, for a set period of time. This copyrighted guide to a better you, written by another human being supposedly more knowledgeable of your body’s wants and needs is what’s called a diet plan. Not unlike stealing milk from other mammals, applying heat to our food (cooking) or using cutlery, dieting is one of those quirky food habits strictly unique to Homo Sapiens. You see, once upon a time humans ruled the world. We lounged around crystal clear lakes all day and nature was our loyal servant. Sweet, juicy (and organic) grapes dropped into our mouths just by clicking our fingers. Squirrels appreciated our presence so they would bring us hazelnuts and fresh maple syrup served in chestnut shells, just as an excuse to hang out with us. Occasionally a mermaid popped out of the water to rub our feet and bring us lobsters. One rainy day in the history of humanity, a snake convinced a dude he wasn’t worthy of apples. It didn’t take long before he dragged the whole of humanity from grace with his false sense of lack and scarcity. We soon forgot how easy eating food ought to be and began a battle with Mother Nature. We started seeing trees as wood and soil as dirt. We got so busy arguing with Mother and each other that we lost all interest in those organic grapes. Tasks more important than feeding ourselves took up all our time so we invented robots which could produce ready to eat food served in plastic trays. Somehow our bodies turned into odd shapes on this new diet and that is in short why we invented diet plans. This brief tale of history, (read: ‘His Story’) is of course just here to illustrate a deeper seated issue that diet plans don’t quite tackle, a distorted relationship with food. You might find some short term results but in the long run people fall back into old eating habits. A diet may state to avoid any form of sugar, or fat, at all costs. This is like someone telling you NOT to think of a pink elephant; good luck. Once on a diet plan one could waste the majority of their energy on sustaining a level of will power and managing their new found obsession with food they are not allowed to eat, losing all interest in other areas of life as a result. This head strong, rigid way of dealing with something subtle and complicated as eating habits is bound to be problematic. It opens up a new door to welcome Mr. Guilt and Mrs. Anxiety to pop their head in and drag you on their raft down Temptation River to ‘Giving Up Island’. Maybe this is why diet plans are a billion dollar industry. Humans are really good at trying. So what does work? Here are 6 habits of people who have a healthy relationship with food.
- An attitude of gratitude. This seems obvious but most of us practice this one not nearly enough. Whenever you’re about to tuck in, and whatever you’re about to tuck into, be grateful. This means taking a minute or so to thank nature, the farmer, the shop keeper, the burger flipper, the check out lady or any other beings involved in bringing this food to you. Always realize how blessed you are to have access to healthy, delicious food.
- If you decide to eat it, enjoy it!. In one of my previous articles I once questioned which one is worse for your health, the sweet cookie or the guilt around the sugar. The answer to this one is debatable but most will agree that guilt isn’t healthy. It certainly doesn’t feel good. No need for guilty thoughts, forget what your personal trainer told you, this is your food moment. Whatever you’ve decided to bite into, surrender to it. Savour it, enjoy every bite!
- Slow and steady. It can take up to 20 minutes for your brains to register that your stomach is full. Eating slowly can stop you from over eating. Besides that, it will give you a lot more time to enjoy the previously mentioned sense of gratitude, abundance and joy that you are now experiencing with every bite.
- Keep it local and be creative. Black berries and beetroot appear in autumn, they cleanse our blood and get us ready for the sobriety of winter. Let the wisdom of the seasons dictate what to eat. When food gets transported around the globe, it loses its vibrancy whilst the process pollutes the planet. Never decide on a recipe before knowing what’s fresh and local. Best option, go foraging and be creative with what’s available in your area. Steer clear of anything processed and yes, that means you can now skip most aisles in the supermarket. It will leave you with more time to cook!
- Let plants rule your plate. Albert Kooy, one of Holland’s foremost chefs and leaders of a new way of eating shared that traditionally a main course in a restaurant consists of 80% meat or fish and 20% vegetable garnish. Recently there has been a shift and fine dining restaurants around the world are starting to focus on 80% vegetables ruling their squeaky white porcelain. Ditch the meat and 3 veg attitude and open your mind to new ways of cooking. Look here for guidance.
- Share your food. Even if it means sharing your sandwich with the ducks. Cook for multiple people, bring leftovers to share at work or organize pot luck dinners. Human beings are social eaters and if you play it smart you’ll see someone else doing the dishes!