Healing Our Relationship With Food
These days, it is typical to have a negative relationship with food. Society doesn’t make it easy for us. We’re constantly being bombarded with advertisements shamelessly persuading us to eat their products, foods that take advantage of our innate pleasure system, and contradicting messages about what is and isn’t healthy. To make this worse, the media portrays certain body types as optimal, presenting skinny as synonymous with desirable or beautiful. And much too often, merely being thin is also equated with being healthy. Furthermore, companies are continuously trying to persuade us to buy their new diet pill or magic weight-loss quick fix. No wonder we’re so stressed out! When you consider all of this, it’s easy to see why many of us have had issues regarding eating, weight, and health.
The United States has an obesity epidemic, yet also has high rates of eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and orthorexia. We, more than any other nation in the world, are obsessed with health. Yet our feelings surrounding food and body image are so unhealthy. The Standard American Diet comes with this awful tug of war between eating foods you like and feeling guilty or self-conscious about what you’re putting into your body, and if either one wins out, the result can be disastrous. We’re left with all these negative thoughts circling in our minds. This can, and often does, lead to feelings of anxiety. Worrying about what you ate that day, or what you will eat later, or whether you ate too much of this or that. And this becomes especially troublesome if you are trying to be a perfectionist. Being fixated on perfection is not healthy for your mind or wellbeing. Perfection as we mean it here, however, is different than being “plant-perfect.” What we mean is, there is no one right way to eat a whole food, plant-based diet. There’s not one ratio of food groups or nutrients or caloric intake amount that everyone should compulsively strive to achieve. Even if you’re eating plant-perfect, you don’t need to worry about eating any exact way. You can eat whatever whole, plant-based, Dr. Esselstyn-approved foods that you want, and eat to your heart’s content!
The sad thing is, what often spurs these feelings of anxiety is a desire to be healthy. We truly want to do what is best for our bodies and our health. But with all the convoluted messages we receive, our good intentions can easily turn astray. As a result, America is plagued with all of these negative experiences with food, such as yo-yo dieting, feeling victim to your tastebuds’ pleasure trap desires, binging and then regretting it later, finally losing weight only to gain it all (and more) back a month later, hating carbs, hating fats, (loving carbs, loving fats)… like we said, society doesn’t make it easy for us. But with a plant-based diet, our bodies and our brains like the exact same foods and it’s just one big, all-inclusive, holistic, happy-go-lucky love fest between our complete selves, our dinner plates, our beautiful animal friends, and Mother Nature herself.
A plant-strong diet helps us to redefine our relationship with food in a positive and productive way. We’re taking the guilt out of the pleasure of eating. Food is no longer a source of stress or anxiety, but rather, a source of pride and joy. By educating ourselves about how a plant strong diet is right for our bodies and our brains, we can reshape our attitudes about food, regain control, and start our relationship with food anew.
While some may see taking on the plant-strong lifestyle as restrictive eating, we see otherwise. Think about what other people do to lose weight or “get healthy”. Replacing meals with protein bars or meticulously counting and limiting calorie intake—those are restrictive. When living a plant-strong lifestyle, on the other hand, we eat as much as we want. And we truly and deeply enjoy what we eat! In addition to their deliciousness, these foods keep us energized and help us achieve/maintain a healthy body weight. Plus, we’re now eating a greater variety of foods than we ever have before. There is a myriad of diverse and delectable whole, plant-based foods. Our palates have expanded and we now enjoy a multitude of new tastes and textures. Eating is more exciting than ever!
Eating plant-strong helps people to heal their relationship with food. When you eat a whole food, plant-based diet, the focus isn’t on what you don’t eat, but rather, what you do! It’s about choosing to eat the foods that fuel your body with the very best that nature has to offer. Plants provide optimal nutrition for personal health, spare the lives of animals, and save the planet! It gives you so much to feel good about. Food is not just a source of calories, something that equals another pound on your body. Food is a source of enjoyment, happiness, and compassion. We hold such appreciation for our food; where it came from and what it can do. Eating plant-strong nourishes both the body and soul.
This lifestyle is so liberating! Society, family, peers, and our own minds can put so much pressure on us to eat, think, act, and live a certain way. But being plant-strong helps to release all of these pressures, freeing us from the tension, anxiety, and stress. All of these negative feelings have the potential to take the reins on your brain and steer you in the wrong direction, but plants serve as a beacon toward a better path. Eating plant-strong helps to mend broken thoughts, feelings, emotions, images, and habits. Once you are educated about plant-based nutrition, you feel confident in what you are doing and in who you are. A plant-strong diet truly brings strength—strength of body, mind, and spirit.
Sadly, most Americans have a love-hate relationship with food. But plant-based foods love you back! What is popular is not always better. Even though the Standard American Diet may be the “in-crowd” of the food world, it is the plant-strong diet that brings true, loyal friends. Plant-strong foods empower us. They offer an abundance of colorful, delectable foods that brighten our mood, lift our energy, optimize our health, and make us happy! The food we eat makes us feel good about ourselves. These foods are our friends!! They support us unconditionally, and our life is better because they are in it.
When your diet is plant-strong, food is not the enemy; food is the hero.
Let love in. Eat plants.
-The College Greens
P.S. – The most common forms of negative relationships with food are often tied to food addictions, overeating, and obesity. However, eating disorders are prevalent issues as well, and they are not so far off in comparison. This week (February 24 – March 2) is National Eating Disorders Awareness week. Unfortunately, many still view eating disorders as people making bad decisions just because they want to look skinny. In reality, it is a serious mental illness that people do not choose to develop. To learn more, please visit the National Eating Disorders Association website: