When it comes to eating, everyone has a different opinion. The science seems conflicting and different ways of nourishing the body have been heralded as the ideal way we all should eat. Yet we often forget that everyone is different. Not two people are the same. Therefore, how we respond to food, what we thrive off, will also be different. I think we forget this far too often. Intuitive eating, that is, listening to your body's signals as to what it REALLY wants and not what you THINK it wants based on external influences like the latest diet trend or an article you read in the newspaper, is what is going to serve you optimally.
This is the reason why some people do so well on a vegan or vegetarian based diet, whilst others champion the realms of paleo, primal or gluten-free. The easiest way to work out what's your best option, is to experiment. Trial and error tells us what's working and what's not. Keep it simple. Eat it and see how you feel. It's not rocket science, so why should we try to make it complicated? Most of all, enjoy the experience. Food is there to nourish, but we have tastebuds for a reason!
How often do we concentrate on the health benefits of food when it comes to deciding what to eat? Low carb, high protein, sugar-free...the list goes on and on. Although I am definitely for eating a balanced diet packed with vitamins and minerals, I believe that it's important that we chill out from time to time and eat for the pure sake of pleasure. Yes, you heard me, food can be all about the taste and not about the calories. Having this approach towards food, is, in my opinion, an integral part of healthy eating. When people overly stress over food and don't allow themselves to be present with their food, to simply sit and enjoy the sensations in their mouth, they are depriving themselves of pleasure. If food was entirely meant to be about the nutrition, flavour just simply wouldn't exist. It's there for a reason, so savour it. Why do we have cravings for certain delicacies? Why do we have favourite foods and food preferences? The simple answer is this - because we're human beings and we're designed with the innate intelligence to nourish our bodes.
Nourish means enjoying.
Sure, a chicken breast and mixed green salad can be delicious and I'd lie if I said I don't enjoy eating this. Yet to say that this is all I should eat, day in and day out, without making room for some indulging and enjoying other foods, would be a disservice to all the amazing food the world has to offer.
Food brings people together. Certain tastes capture certain memories, they trigger nostalgia and enhance our experiences. Food is an integral part of life and I'd go as far as saying a component to happiness. Have you been around someone on an extreme diet? They're not the best people to be around, am I right? Actually, they're best avoided until they come off the damn thing.
For those of you who know my story, you'll be aware that my long-time battle with anorexia and orthorexia stripped me of these simple pleasures and left me a shell of a person. I know first hand how important it is not to obsess over what you eat, as this has detrimental consequences on both your physical and psychological health.
So in summary, some times it's best to just shut up, drop the nutritional talk and sink your teeth into something for the pure sake of enjoying every mouthful. Whether this may be a bowl of veggies or fresh Italian gelato, is entirely up to your tastebuds and what, at that moment in time, fills the spot.
Photography by Bruce Tuten
Presented by Thomas Grainger