As a nutritionist, it’s impossible not to notice the abundance of books, experts, opinions and controversies around food. Most of us sense that food has a profound impact on our health and have tried numerous dietary approaches. And yet, most people I meet are ‘not happy’ about the way they eat and feel, and many are confused about what they should be eating.
One of the key steps towards making peace with food is to realize that as a human being living in the modern world, your current food choices are a response to physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual factors, and therefore in order to make peace with food you must address all of these factors.
Give your body what it needs
Every body needs the nutrients and calories from food in order for the cells and systems to function well. Many of us are nutrient starved even though we take in plenty of calories. The most nutrient dense foods are whole, fresh, organic and properly prepared. When we rely on poor quality, processed, nutrient stripped foods it’s no wonder that we feel profoundly unsatisfied.
Let go of looking for the perfect diet
All healing diets have certain commonalities: they’re made up of whole, high quality, preferably organic foods, they’re low in calories and rich in nutrients, they tend to be plant-based, and are lower in animal protein than is typical in the developed world. The food is fresh, or naturally preserved, and much or all of it comes from local sources. Traditional cultures, in addition to eating intuitively, have an attitude of gratitude and reverence for what the earth provides for them and there is a lack of guilt and fear in connection with food selection. The actual foods vary from one culture and one healing approach to another so we need not get overly concerned about that part of it aside from paying attention to how our bodies respond to our choices. This will enable us to refine our food choices on an ongoing basis, as well as shift them depending on the weather, physical demands, health conditions, where we’re at emotionally, energetically and spiritually.
Learning to listen to the body
Our bodies are constantly giving us information as to the suitability of our food selection. Slow down and pay attention! Eat without distractions in a beautiful, relaxed environment.
Bring as much awareness as possible to your body before you eat:
• Do I feel like something dense, light, warm, cold, salty or sweet?
• Am I hungry?
• What do I need?
• What food would feel satisfying for my body right now?
While you’re eating:
• How does the food look?
• Can I appreciate the unique beauty of each food, the colors, shapes and intricate details?
• What do I smell?
• How does the food taste?
• Does the taste change as I chew?
• Am I rushing or enjoying?
After you eat
• Do I feel satisfied?
• Does my body feel content?
• Do I need more food or something else?
• Do I feel tired or uncomfortable?
Notice all of these things with openness and curiosity. If judgment and uncomfortable emotions come up then bring those into your kind awareness too. Where do you feel the emotions in your body? Can you allow them to be as they are? Allow pleasure, enjoyment and appreciation into your experience as well.
Notice those things that are harder to accept with gentleness. Sometimes we just make peace with the fact that we can’t yet accept something.
Question food beliefs
Much of the confusion that we experience around food comes from the unending stream of conflicting nutritional information in the form of newspaper and magazine articles, internet blogs, books, advertisements, ‘expert opinions’ and more. When the mind is confused, it’s simply pointing to its’ limitations with respect to caring for the body. If you rely too heavily on your conditioned and educated mind and it’s need for proof and scientifically proven facts, you’ll forever be pulled in various dietary directions, often with this year’s findings being disproven next year (in retrospect you just knew it didn’t feel quite right!), and superstar supplements (based on supposedly sound scientific studies) often being shown to be harmful a handful of years later. Many alluring dietary approaches are being shared by charismatic people who may mean well but often have not been following their particular dietary approach for long enough to really understand its long-term implications.
The best way out of confusion is to drop into the body where we can access and involve intuition in our lifestyle decisions. Intuition is a deep inner knowing that arises from the place where body and soul met, and is the most valuable tool that we have. Deep Healing is impossible without honoring and nurturing it.
Let go of everything you think you know
To access intuition, let go of everything you think you know about food. Without outside opinions and all the rules that you’ve created for yourself, and a willingness to listen to your body, you would arrive at your personal Deep Healing diet much faster than any other route. After all, there is no other being on the planet that needs a book to tell them what to eat! Of course, some of the choices that you make will feel good while others will give you uncomfortable symptoms. Be kind and patient with yourself and your body. Let go of perfectionism, bring mindfulness, awareness and sincerity to the process and stay open. With this attitude you will find your food choices shifting on their own.
At first glance this may sound like a contradiction to the last point but on the contrary, when we connect to the aspiration to heal deeply with peace as the underlying current, and begin to connect to our intuition, we will be led to sincere practitioners, authors and teachers that give us their input at just the right time. They come to confirm what we have already intuited but needed confirmation for, or as an answer to a question that we’ve put out to the universe, or to offer us a gentle nudge us into a whole new world of possibilities. Their teachings may also shorten our learning curve and give us practical skills that make embracing a holistic lifestyle less daunting, particularly in cultures that have been exposed to incessant indoctrination by big business, and the processed food, dairy, egg and meat industries.
When we are coming from a place of inner peace first and foremost, there is an elegance to the healing steps that are presented to us, rather than a frantic jumping from one expert and one diet to the next.
Recognize that many of your emotions are involved in most of your food choices.
When emotions that we’re not comfortable with rise to the surface, we eat to suppress them. When we eat food that doesn’t fit into our beliefs about what’s healthy or allowed on our current diet we feel guilt and frustration. When we have tried various diets with seemingly no lasting benefits we feel confused and discouraged. We’re enmeshed in so many emotions around food that it’s no wonder that we can’t hear what our body and intuition are telling us.
Set your emotions free
It’s pretty obvious that suppressing emotions is a temporary state at best. In fact blocked emotional energy is the primary root cause of physical dis-ease, non health-promoting choices, spiritual disconnection and human suffering. As mentioned previously, in order for Deep Healing to occur, we need to create an environment in our lives where all emotions are welcomed and integrated, so that they are no longer interfering with our ability to access clarity and intuition, in this case, with respect to food choices.
The best Deep Healing food choices come from a place of inspiration and peace.
When we connect to a desire to make peace with food, what we’re really saying is that we are tired of all of the emotions surrounding our food choices. We sense that it’s possible to create a joyful and easy relationship with food that best supports both our body and soul.
So many of us have tied up our precious life force battling with food. The truth is there is no battle and never has been one. We fight food or habits that we’ve been led to believe are bad. Food, any type of food, is neither good nor bad in and of itself. That being said, certain foods make us feel more or less alive physically and spiritually. If this is what you truly want, it’s up to you to commit to this with your whole being, and then to pay attention to your body’s feedback: contentment, satisfaction, lightness, energy, clarity and vitality are some of qualities that you can enjoy on an ongoing basis with the right food choices for you.
Emotions are energy
Fundamentally, we are energy beings and all that we attract corresponds directly with our current vibrational level. We choose foods (and other habits) that match and keep us vibrating at a frequency that we’re comfortable with. As long as we choose not to face challenging emotions we will continue to choose lower vibration foods.
Thankfully we are also spiritual beings. When we anchor ourselves in the spiritual truth of our being regularly, we are graced with a sense of peace that helps us to ride out the various storms of emotional release that are part of the process of awakening to our true nature.
Connect to peace as your primary aspiration in all things
It’s helpful to remember that peace is possible right now regardless of the state of your body, in fact peace in the future is not possible if we’re not able to access it this moment. Oftentimes we tell ourselves that we’ll feel peaceful after we lose the weight or get rid of this symptom or disease. Can you make peace with your health condition as it is? Can you accept your weight as it is? Can you love your body as it is? Can you open to all the emotions that you feel around food? Can you be content not knowing how your healing journey is going to unfold? We are infinitely more open to receiving intuitive guidance when we make acceptance of this moment as it is our primary orientation.
In summary: don’t make food less important than it is, AND don’t make food more important than it is.
To recap, there are typically four stages to making peace with food:
1. In the first stage, people are unconscious about what they eat. They are simply eating and seemingly enjoying what they’ve been raised on, what media encourages them to put in their bodies, and what feels good in the moment. These people are making food less important than it is, ignoring basic care of a human body.
2. Next, people start feeling bad physically and begin to question their food choices. Unfortunately some people never get to this stage. If they do, they start educating themselves and making new choices. This is the stage where people tend to get rigid about their food choices and foods are separated into ‘bad’ or ‘good’. They may begin to feel better physically but some of the joy of eating often gets lost. The tendency is also to swing back and forth between a particular dietary approach (often extreme), fall off the wagon, feel bad, gather up our will-power to do better, and on and on. This is where most relatively conscious people get stuck. They are making food more important than it is, overriding emotional and spiritual factors.
3. This next stage is the biggest leap. In order to find joy and ease in eating we realize that we must begin to trust our bodies and souls to guide us to the best choices. Learning to listen to the body, and connect to the soul requires clearing of the emotional energies that have been laid down over the course of a lifetime, and that block our intuition. This is the most challenging stage and it requires spiritual depth in order to be still in the face of the emotional detoxification that will undoubtedly occur. When we make spiritual evolution our greatest priority, and we all will at some point, we will access the strength and stamina to do this work. Until then, we continue to avoid facing difficult emotions and live on the surface of life lost in our distractions and addictions.
4. After having done some emotional work, we begin to really trust the process of coming home to ourselves through spiritual awareness, and our food choices reflect this ease and joy. We naturally crave high-quality foods, and love the feeling of lightness, energy and inspiration that comes from eating in a way that nurtures both the body and the soul.
We have realized for ourselves that the laws of health are written in our very cells and the ink is the color of peace.