By Carly Wertheim How can it be that so many amazing, powerful, gorgeous women struggle with food and body image? How can it be that something as simple as the act of eating can become so complicated? Mixed food messages, rampant diet culture, hyper-industrialized food production and weight-obsessed media create a conflict. We stop listening to the wisdom of our bodies and move away from the traditional ways of eating that have nourished generations. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering why all the kale, juices cleanses, and super foods in the world aren’t bringing you happiness, this article is for you. Rather than follow the fads, here are six bites of juicy food philosophy to help guide the way you think about and engage with eating. 1. EAT TO NOURISH Food is nourishment. In each bite there is information for both your body and your mind. We consume nutrients that converse with DNA, code for proteins, and impact biological processes like immunity and cell division. We swallow emotions and values that imbed into the psyche. Take in food that makes you feel your best, most vibrant self. Do it in a way that cultivates pleasure and gratitude rather than guilt and shame. Know that there are no good or bad foods, simply foods that promote your wellness and foods that do not. Make it a practice, meal after meal, day after day, to choose what replenishes you and gives you the power to go out into the world to live your purpose. Tip: If you’re confused with what to eat, try asking yourself this simple question, “What does my body need right now to feel nourished?” Then trust yourself enough to listen to that answer. 2. KEEP IT REAL There is no best diet. Each woman must learn which foods make her feel her best. However, we do know that an eating pattern based on real, whole, nutrient dense foods is key for optimal health. Choose a full color spectrum of fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains and legumes, sustainably-raised animal proteins, and nutritious fats like nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil. Limit added sweeteners, refined grains, and highly processed, packaged foods. Tip: Become a savvy shopper by filling up your grocery cart with foods from the outside edges of the grocery store. Look to have every color of the rainbow in your cart at check out. When you venture into the inner aisles, read nutrition labels and choose products with ingredients you can actually pronounce and picture. 3. STAY FLEXIBLE Some years you might try to stick to a vegetarian diet, but some days you may feel like you just really need some animal protein. Listen to your body’s cravings and work to bring balance through food. Do it without judgment, without an ego. Be open to try something new when the old stops working. Our bodies are constantly changing, so it makes sense that our diets will too. Tip: Check in with yourself from time to time and reflect on what has been working for you nutritionally. What hasn’t been working? What might you shift moving forward? 4. GET CREATIVE Yes, food is nourishment, medicine, and information, but feeding yourself can also be an opportunity for creativity. One way to make eating a joyful, pleasurable experience is embrace the idea that food can be nourishing and taste amazing. Make your food as vibrant, bold, and exciting as you are by playing with colors, textures, and flavors. Not only will you elevate your meals, you’ll be more likely to feel satisfied after eating. Tip: Take your taste buds on a tour around the globe and never leave your kitchen. By building unique flavor combinations with herbs and spices, you can capture the essence of your favorite cuisines. Want to go to Mexico? Play with cumin, cayenne, oregano, cilantro, and lime. Italy? Experiment with basil, fennel, red pepper flakes, garlic, and parsley.
5. HONOR THE EARTH Food is a direct link to the natural world. By eating locally and seasonally we can cultivate a stronger connection to the land where we live and support ways of producing food that replenish rather than deplete our planet. Luckily, we can vote with our forks three times a day for the sustainable practices we believe in. Tip: Choose local, seasonal, and sustainably grown food whenever possible. Cut back on food waste by saving your vegetable scraps for compost or stock. Support your regional farmers by trying celery root in winter and bitter greens in spring. Reject the food scarcity mindset and instead show gratitude for this planet’s abundance. 6. BUILD COMMUNITY Coming together at the dinner table is a ritual all cultures enjoy. Shared meals are an incredible way to foster community, connect with loved ones, and strengthen ties to cultural traditions. Slow down to savor whatever’s on the menu with good company in a calm, enjoyable, and relaxed environment. Tip: Make communal meals a regular practice in your life. Host a potluck and ask each guest to bring a traditional dish from their culture. If you work in an office, set out a time each day to eat with your colleagues rather than eating in front of the computer screen.
CARLY WERTHEIM is a health-supportive chef and nutritionist who works with people of all ages to develop their culinary confidence and create foods that nourish the body and spirit. She is a candidate for a master's degree in Nutrition and Education from Columbia University’s Teachers College and a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute’s Chef’s Training Program. She can often be found wandering the farmer’s market, is an avid hiker, and daydreams about vegetable gardens, redwood forests, and new recipes for her website, www.CarlysWellnessKitchen.com. Follow her on instagram for culinary inspiration and no-nonsense nutrition education.