My Food Philosophy

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When I was a little girl I would get searing pains in my stomach and would be confined to either curling up in a ball or spending hours on the toilet until the pain would go away (TMI?). I remember multiple experiences of being on family vacations in which I would have to stay in the hotel room or get to a gas station bathroom ASAP to relieve the pain. Finally I figured out that I was lactose intolerant. Around this same time was when my body started to change and I became more aware of how my body looked in comparison to other girls around me. A conversation about how much I weighed with one of my peers in 3rd grade sparked an obsession with my weight and wishing I was as skinny as the other girls. Looking in the mirror, I hated my fat thighs and belly rolls. A culture of obsession with aesthetics and living in a time when low-fat diets were all the rage didn’t help (thank you 90’s). And while I love my mom (hi mom, love you!) she bought in to the fad diets and would yo-yo diet and worry about her weight which didn’t help the cause either.

Fast forward to college, and the obsession with weight and looks continued. I had a suite mate who would binge and purge her food. I began studying kinesiology, or exercise science and becoming more interested in nutrition. After a bad break-up, I decided to become a vegetarian which continued for 3 years in which I was eating a lot of processed meat substitutes, sugary foods and grains. I did a week long juice cleanse while continuing to exercise vigorously and almost passed out from hunger and blood sugar crashes. I signed up for a program where you would literally pay to lose weight. I used an app where I would track every single calorie consumed. The weight on the scale would determine my mood for the day, and yet it rarely changed. When I traveled on my own to Europe for 3 weeks I decided I would eat meat again while I was there since I was basically on a farm and the animals were raised humanely. I felt a lot better eating meat again and started looking into the paleo diet.

It wasn’t until I heard about the Whole30 that things began to change. I think I initially, at least subconsciously, wanted to do a Whole30 as yet another way to look better and have abs. The culture was now all about “fitspo” and “strong is the new skinny” and Crossfit or fitness and bikini model bods were the new ideal. I decided my grad school roommates and I would do a Whole30 together. This was the first time that I really focused on how foods made me FEEL. It wasn’t another diet, but a reset of eating simple, real, whole foods. You were not allowed to weigh yourself, but focus on non-scale victories. At the end of the 30 days, my energy was up, my brain fog was gone, and I felt amazing! Chocolate tasted extra sweet so 90% cacao was awesome! I discovered that grains and bread made me bloated. I no longer craved certain foods or the need to binge on sugar because I knew I would feel awful and it simply wasn’t worth it. I finally felt freedom in knowing that I always have a choice of what foods to eat, and I can choose to eat whatever I want at any moment if I feel that it’s worth it to my body. Not to mention I gave up the scale for good, I’ve only weighed myself a handful of times since then (usually because I was forced to at the doctor, but that’s another rant).

If there's one rule that I live by and that I believe in with all my heart, it is that real, whole, unprocessed, mostly plant-based foods straight from the earth are what we should all strive for most of the time. Emphasis on most of the time. There is not one "right" way to eat as we are unique individuals, and the foods that make us feel best may also change as we are ever changing beings. There is so much competition when it comes to food and diets and nutrition between the paleo world and the vegan world and everything in between. But I think we can all agree that vegetables are good for us! I go through phases and what once worked for me may not work next year or next week, who knows. I'm curious to explore more of what fuels my body while still being mindful of our beautiful Earth with sustainable, environmentally friendly options.

But we also shouldn’t deprive ourselves of experiencing life simply because we can’t eat the food. Food should be a positive experience in which we fuel our bodies to FEEL amazing, not to restrict us in any way. And sometimes eating the chocolate cake for a friend’s wedding is going to be healthier than the stress of worrying whether you should or not. In the end, it's not about the food we eat anyway, but the experiences we have and what we leave behind in this world. How can we feel our best so that we can share our true gifts with the world? How can we optimize our lives and be our highest selves? I don't want to go back in time where I focused so much of my time and energy into what I ate, how I looked, how much I weighed, counting every calorie or macro or whatever it was and still hating my body. Our bodies are beautiful vessels that carry us through this life for a purpose. If only I could take back that time and energy and focus it on my passions and curiosities!

Tell me, what is it you plane to do with your one wild and precious life? -Mary Oliver

I ask you to start thinking of food as nourishment. Every time you sit down to eat, take 3 deep belly breaths and thank the Universe or Mother Earth or God or whatever your beliefs for providing you this energy source. Is this food going to serve your higher good? Is it going to make you feel great? Eat your meals slowly, with intention, and with full attention. Use meals as self care, a breather from your busy day instead of shoving food down your throat while looking at your phone or computer or anticipating what you have to do next. Be present and mindful about what you’re eating. And thank your lucky stars that we have been provided with enjoyment and health through these healing foods.

Amelia BallComment