This image came to me from Shine* today.
Sometimes we “nourish” our bodies with high quality foods with great nutritional properties. And sometimes we “nourish” our souls with a good meal with friends or baking cookies with a child. It’s all about a balance.
Michael Pollan famously said, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” It’s pretty smart advice, but even the last addendum feels like it can contribute to confusion. Every day the media reports that food X is good and food Y is evil, but then we learn that it was food Y that is good and food X is bad. Sometimes those reports show up on the same day.
Our nation is struggling with an unspecified eating disorder where we just don’t know how to eat anymore. We eat too much, we eat too little. We judge food too harshly; some if it’s not healthy enough and some if it’s too healthy.
My eating disorder led me to not eat most of the time and to decide that many foods were not virtuous enough so I’d be better off with nothing. I still look at a menu and try to find what I think will be the “healthiest” option available to me. Yet I know other people who glance at a menu and have said, “That sounds good. Oh, it’s under the healthy column so it will suck.” They immediately judge that something is going to taste awful if it has nutritional value.
I have always tried to talk to my daughter about foods as “growing foods” or “fun foods” and we should eat more growing foods, but fun foods are okay sometimes too. We know that fun foods can cause you to have tummy aches or cavities, and growing foods can boost your immunity against sickness. I never talk about them altering your body shape. I was stunned when she asked me the other day if some food was healthy, due to a lesson she had heard at school. I don’t want my (not-quite) 5-year-old to worry if things are healthy or not all the time. I wanted to try retaining this balance of eating more intuitively in her from the beginning. But… the world tries to train it out of everyone, often with good intentions but frequently with bad outcomes.
I still have days that I struggle and I have years of education teaching me that being okay with food is the ultimate goal, but it can still be hard. Recently I saw a friend’s 10-year-old daughter posting on Instagram a joke about being fat. (Heat expands, blah blah, I’m not fat, I’m hot.) And I just want to remind everyone that the language you choose to use has an impact. On others and on yourself. So please try to watch what you say. The world is screwed up enough in so many ways, we can try to make it easier for everyone to do one of the most basic fundamental parts of life… eat.
*Shine is a service that will text or Facebook Messenger you a positive affirmation message each day.