Do you ever question what you should or shouldn’t eat? Stop giving into the fear, and start embracing food in all its glory.
BY: VINCCI TSUI, RD
Food has a lot of potential – more than just a source of energy and nutrients, it can bring us joy, pleasure, connection and much more.
However, when we talk about food’s “potential” and give it so much power, are we unintentionally stoking the fears we have around food?
Perhaps you read that last sentence and you’re thinking, “Are you serious? Who is actually afraid of food?”
While it probably takes significant physical and/or mental distress for someone to be categorically afraid of food and eating, arguably, fear around food is so normalized in our culture that you probably don’t even recognize it. Think about how people talk about sugar, salt, fat, calories, processed food, chemicals, and GMOs. Scroll through Netflix and you’ll find documentaries like ‘The Magic Pill’ or ‘What the Health’.
We’re constantly worried about what’s in our food, what’s not in it, and what it can “do to us”.
But food is more than fuel. It can bring up specific emotions and memories. It can be a symbol of status or identity. And while certain eating patterns are linked with better or worse health outcomes, that is about as far as the evidence goes. Correlation doesn’t equal causation.
On top of that, food and eating are just a part of the puzzle when it comes to our health, and many studies don’t account for the multitude of other factors (such as stress, sleep, exercise, living environment) that may be skewing the results. Still, that hasn’t stopped people from pushing keto, Paleo, or whatever diet du jour as the be-all and end-all, and painting sugar, gluten and any other “bad guy” du jour as the devil’s incarnate.
There is no single food that has been shown to cure or prevent disease, nor is there a single food that has been shown to cause it.
Nutrition researcher Dylan MacKay said it best in his article, Hey, Hippocrates: Food isn’t Medicine:
“Seeing food as a medicine can contribute to obsessing about macronutrient intake, to unfairly canonizing or demonizing certain foods, and to turning eating into a joyless and stressful process. […] I could eat the healthiest foods every day, but without medicine I would still die.”
Food is amazing, but we need to stop giving it more power than it deserves. Nutrition is just one of the many reasons behind why we eat what we eat, and one of the many factors that influence health. However, our culture of fear has left us with a lack of self trust around food and eating, so we turn to the “experts” and external rules instead of turning inward.
Rather, consider unlocking and embracing the potential of food by allowing yourself to be curious and experiment, and be a mindful observer of the results without judgment. There is no right or wrong way to eat. One food (unless you’re deathly allergic), one meal, or even days or weeks worth of eating is not going to make or break your health.
The more you let go of rules and “advice” and allow yourself to try something different, the more you’ll get to learn about yourself. Ultimately, you and your inner wisdom hold more of the answers, because you are the expert of you.
Look inward, and start unlocking the potential of you.
Adapted from the original article.
HEADER IMAGE: BROOKE LARK
Vincci Tsui, RD is a former bariatric dietitian turned certified Intuitive Eating counselor and Health At Every Size(r) advocate. Based in Calgary, Canada, Vincci specializes in helping people untangle their messy relationships with food and their body, and works with individuals in-person and virtually through her private practice. Read more from Vincci at www.vinccitsui.com.