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Eat Well For Life:
my philosophies on food, eating, nutrition, and health.

The currently prevailing wisdom on nutrition and health focuses on calories and nutrients, a deluge of diet plans billed as the ultimate solution; and too many ‘experts’ pushing a plan certain it will produce results for everyone. I am highly skeptical of much of this ado. Not that it’s all bad; I just don’t believe there is a magic one-size-fits-all formula for food, nutrition and health. Instead, I encourage you to shift your perspective to one of eating well for life.

Eating well for life means a long term eating strategy, both to sustain life and throughout life. Eating well is eating healthy, but I deliberately choose not to use the phrase eating healthy because of connotations of ‘health food.’ Like many behaviors associated with being healthy, there is skepticism about health food; it is bland, not filling, strange, difficult, or expensive.

Well I can assure you eating well is definitely not mutually exclusive from delicious or pleasurable food, nor is eating well necessarily complicated, time-consuming or difficult; we simply must discover what properly fits our lifestyle so that we will actually do it.

I also choose not to use eating healthy because it is a limited concept. The saying goes “you are what you eat.” Absolutely, but we are also how, why, where and with whom we eat. By reducing food to only calories and nutrients we ignore a myriad of other dimensions: personal, social, cultural, spiritual and beyond. As anyone who has ever found joy in preparing or sharing a meal knows intuitively, there is much more that truly makes food and eating integral to health and well-being. Eating well for life is a flexible, encompassing concept that goes well beyond eating healthy.

Eating well for life means something different to each of us. We each have a unique relationship with food and eating, and the effects of diet and lifestyle on health and well-being are equally unique. When we pause to think about this it’s obvious. We are all individuals, with diverse genetics, personalities and backgrounds. We all have our likes and our dislikes, our vice and our virtues, so it stands to reason that being healthy, and how we get there, is individually significant as well. 

This also means that the solutions to our nutrition and food struggles are inside each of us; it just requires thought and insight to develop awareness of the connections between what we put in our body, and how we respond. In this way we establish a definition for our own healthy lifestyle; clarifying what it really means: how we feel, how we look, and what we do. The problem is that we are rarely, if ever, encouraged to think about what being healthy really means to us: our own health is all too often defined in someone else’s terms.

Eating well for life means enjoying food and eating. Each day, each of us eats food, most of us at least three times, some of us nearly constantly. It is something we must do! And the bottom line is if we don’t enjoy what we eat, and how we eat it, is this something we really want to continue? For many of us consuming and preparing food is already a natural source of pleasure. This must be fostered, in healthy directions, because a pleasurable relationship with food and eating is as important as the nutrient content.

Eating well for life means an eye on quantity and quality.  Eating well is being well fed; it’s not starving yourself, or being hungry.  But it is the proper quantities of the proper foods. Fortunately, most Americans are well fed, many overfed. However, many who get plenty to eat are actually undernourished; eating too many, and too much, of the wrong foods and not enough of the right. Eating well means choosing high quality, fresh, whole foods, and practicing the art of cooking as much as you can.  

Eating well for life means trying new things. Change is the only certainty in life, and change means trying new things. You may be missing out on the most delicious foods because you never try them.  Experiment with new foods, eating styles and other healthy habits; see how they work toward achieving your goals and if you enjoy them before deciding if they will play a role in your healthy lifestyle.

Eating well for life does not mean drastic change. Small incremental adjustments build into transformations. Being healthy is something we work toward, not a place we get to; something we pursue, consistently, but not constantly. Nutrition and health are evolving concepts; certainly within society, hence the constantly shifting advice, but more importantly, within us as well. Our own definition and needs for health are constantly changing, as we grow and change.

Eating well for life does not have to be difficult, but it is not necessarily easy either. Adopting this strategy requires commitment, for some even tenacity. However, it does not require that you outright reject the foods and behaviors you love, or those which some deem ‘unhealthy.’ Life is a balancing act, and each of us must develop behaviors and habits we can live with, finding the right combination of work, leisure and fun. Your health is yours and depends on where you are, and where you want to be. Being healthy is not necessarily difficult, time consuming or complicated, we simply must find the solutions and strategies that properly fit our lifestyle, so that we will actually do them, and enjoy it.

 

 

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