Is this Healthy?
This may seem obvious, but I love food. I love talking about it, preparing it, and how multifaceted it can be – healing, nurturing, communal, celebratory, etc. Food is powerful and something that brings me great joy. Since becoming a nutritionist, people love to ask me questions about food. It makes sense – I’ve made an entire career around food. The main question people repeatedly ask is, “Is this healthy?”
My journey with my own relationship with food led me to ask myself questions like, how can I love food so much and also be healthy at the same time? For a long time, the two were juxtaposed in my mind, and I couldn’t reconcile them both. How could I eat healthfully, but at the same time love food so much?
We love to put food in buckets. It’s either healthy or it’s not. It’s either good or bad. It’s either healing or it’s not. It’s either keto or it’s not. Dieting creates an internal dialogue continually questioning whether or not a food fits in, or it should be out, or only enjoyed at certain times. When people ask me, is this healthy?, it can be frustrating because I believe healthy is so fluid and relative. It depends on so many factors –
What does health mean to you?
What role do you want that food to play in your life?
How are you using it? (and I don’t mean the way it’s prepared)
Food is just food. Sorry guys, but it’s not as black and white as we want it to be. It’s not as simple as healthy or not. If we put food into such limited buckets, then we ignore all of the incredible uses for food – the healing, the nurturing, the celebratory, the communal, the emotional. We can’t ignore the fact that food is also emotional. We are bombarded with messages that say that food cannot be emotional – and that is simply NOT true. And if it is emotional, then we need to reign it in.
Of course, it’s emotional. It’s not just fuel. It’s so much more than that – and thank goodness. Think about all of the incredible times in your life and how food played a role – the dinners with food, wine, and laughter with your family and friends. Think about all the times where we found comfort in food – when we’re sick, when we’re sad, when we’ve had a rough day. Now imagine if you didn’t have those experiences – how limiting that would feel. This is not a bad thing – this is the human experience.
We diminish the human experience when we place value on our food choices. When we place guilt around what we’re eating, we take from those incredible moments when food was the centerpiece.
Food is supposed to bring us joy. It’s supposed to be comforting.
We have to remove the emotional component of food as negative when we’re rebuilding our relationship with food. The buckets, the plans, the diets, the lists of good vs. bad, take us further and further away from our innate, primal relationship with food and the human experience.
I’m not sure about you guys, but I want all the pieces of the human experience – the good, the bad, the healing, the exciting, the sad, the celebrations, and I want and need food to be part of that journey in all the ways that it can be.
Reframing this can be so tough because we’re so drawn to the labels. We love to put our food and life into routines and buckets. We’re either on a diet and following the foods that “fit” into that diet, or we’re off the plan and failing miserably at being “healthy”.
I want you to ask yourself, like really dig deep, what does healthy mean to you? I encourage you to think beyond the physical body. We’re so much more than our shells. Our body is our vessel for how we show up in the world, yes does it need to be fueled, of course, but it’s so much more than just a fueling machine. It’s the instrument for our human experience.
Glennon Doyle’s quote comes to mind – “Your body is not your masterpiece — your life is.”
When we put foods into such categories, we minimize our human experience. I want you to have the largest, most exciting, most incredible, most loving, and most living human experience possible.
Food is just food. It’s not either/or.
Dieting and restriction goes against us at our core soul level – it takes away from our human experience. Labeling our food – pulls us away from others. We need connection, we need community, we need food to survive.
So, is this healthy? It depends. It depends on what you are consuming it for. It depends on what way we’re looking at the food. Food is just food – the uses are what make them different.
If you’re looking for food that gives you sustained energy, then you have to look for foods that are fiber-rich carbohydrates. If you’re looking for food that is celebratory, then you have to look for foods that are rich in nostalgia, celebration, and excitement. If you’re looking for food that is great for your bones, then you have to look for foods that promote optimal bone health. There is room for all of this in your life. It has to be. It’s not either/or. It’s all there – it’s all part of our human experience.
So instead of asking, is this healthy? As yourself, what does my body need right?