Author: Chloe Davenport
“For so many people today, food is a source of conflict and confusion rather than a sense of nourishment. Most of us are no longer sure what, when, or how much is appropriate to eat. Nourishing Wisdom addresses this dilemma by encouraging us to observe what happens when we think about food and when we eat it, and how both our thoughts and the food affect our bodies and emotions.”
The relationship you have with food is a huge, huge factor in your health and wellness journey.
In school we had a weekend class/retreat that was meant for us to examine and help us try to understand our own relationship with food. In preparation for the weekend we had to read the book, Nourishing Wisdom by Marc David, psychologist and the founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. The book has many good points, which I’ll touch on shortly, but the one that stuck out the most for me was about how the way you view food, whether it’s “good”, or “bad” and how that view, your relationship with food, is almost as important as what you actually eat.
Good foods are those that are believed to be healthy and somehow make you a better person and bad foods are believed to damage the body and make you a bad person. Sounds kind of extreme, unless you’re one of those people who label food as good or bad and then you understand the struggle of over-thinking every bite of food, feeling bad thoughts about yourself or your lack of willpower, stressing over what to eat and if it will make you gain weight, the guilt after you eat too much or eat a “bad” food, and the deprivation feeling when you avoid those “bad” foods.
If you’re not one of these people, then consider yourself lucky! The most crucial part of this book is there is no such thing as good or bad food. This doesn’t mean that certain foods don’t have positive or negative effects on health though, because they certainly do. But your belief about food IS important, so much so, that it affects how food interacts chemically in your body.
For example, stress is a major driver of fat storage, commonly around your waistline, but also can be stored throughout the body. Negative thoughts about food or yourself while eating is stressful, therefore, increasing the likelihood of those foods to be stored as fat. Crazy, huh?
Bad foods are feared foods. And we all know that when you tell yourself you can’t have something, that’s all you want. That’s all you think about and crave, and it’s stressful trying to fight the urge. But according to Marc David, half the craving is due to fear. If we dropped the fear and dropped the belief that a certain food was bad, the desire would be significantly reduced or even eliminated. Great news!
Another point that resonated with me from the book is the part about conscious eating- taking responsibility for what we eat. Finding joy in eating by consciously making the choice to eat the food you love, even though you know it may not be the best nutritional choice for your health or your fitness goals. Choosing to eat your grandmother’s pecan pie at Thanksgiving because it’s your favorite dessert ever, eating it slowly and savoring it, and then moving on from it. OR grabbing a cookie/donut/bagel off the break-room table at work and scarfing it down and then feeling guilty later- is the difference in conscious eating.
“ Negative willpower is the use of fear and tension to fight a habit. Positive willpower is the use of force plus intelligence and enthusiasm.” Marc David
Other main points in the book:
-Transforming your relationship with food- the importance of removing tension and self-judgment associated with eating.
-Regulating and balancing different foods in the diet to manage cravings. There are three types of cravings: supportive, dispersive and associative.
Supportive cravings are cravings for orange juice or citrus fruit when you have a cold. It’s your body cravings what it needs for support. Dispersive cravings are for foods like sugar, caffeine, or alcohol. Foods that aren’t supportive but the body feels it needs for an energy boost or to relax.
Associative cravings are for foods that remind you of something, or a memory of your childhood like homemade chocolate chip cookies.
For example, the craving for sweet foods is inborn and natural. The craving for sweet foods can also be a powerful source of substitute love.
The good news is; all of these cravings can be managed if you’re supporting your body nutritionally.
-The principles of ordered eating- the first principle being intention. Then consciousness, reflective, exploratory, transformational, nourishing, body-based, strategic, personalized, seasonal, localized, synergistic, communal, intimate, connected, mindful, liberating and joyous.
An example of one of the principles is giving thanks or being grateful for the food (where it came from, how it was grown, how it was prepared, etc) and taking a moment before eating to do so. These little things make big impacts that are often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives.
-Eating for nourishment- our relationship with food teaches us a great deal about who we are and how we live our lives. Our mood and attitude play a large role in our digestion and assimilation of nutrients in food. Eating for nourishment is different than eating to stay alive or to have energy to carry on with our daily tasks. Eating foods that you have grown yourself or prepared for your family with love are more nourishing to your body than store bought foods. Eating slowly, chewing thoroughly, eating mindfully (seated, no distractions or multi-tasking like emailing, or facebooking) listening for feedback from your body while eating, these things also affect nourishment.
-There’s no perfect way to eat- There isn’t one diet or spectrum of nutrition for all humans and your dietary needs will change, a lot. Your genetics, geography, cultural beliefs, personal preferences and the needs of the body also play a part. They will change as you age, they will change due to environmental factors, lifestyle factors, so it’s important to learn to listen to your body and make changes to your diet accordingly.
If you’re interested in learning more on how to examine your relationship with food, or if you feel like you’re eating all the rights foods, working out and the scale won’t budge, I’d recommend picking up this book.
I can help you with what to eat, and how to eat, but this book discusses the psychology around your thoughts and how your attitude affects the impact of nutrition.
Let me know if you read it. I’d love to hear your thoughts. In the near future, FemTribe aims to hold weekend retreats, similar to the one I attended for school, where you completely disconnect and practice these teachings of conscious, mindful eating and shifting our thoughts around food. Any feedback around the retreat idea would be greatly appreciated!
Lastly, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on my services, FemTribe classes or personal training, or just to discuss this article. We'd love to hear from you!