If there is one core tidbit of “nutrition” advice that I can pass on to you, it is this. This is my foundational philosophy when teaching any and all nutrition concepts.
We cannot make choices about food in a vacuum that sucks out all other factors and puts nutrition as the one and only factor that influences our decisions.
Our food supply and culinary creations are dependent on and continuously evolving from what we can grow in the soil.
Policies determine international trade, local zoning, subsidies & pricing, food stamps, nutrition policies, licensure for dietitians, and so much more. All of this impacts your access to food, ability to pay for food, and access to/ability to pay for nutrition services.
If you don’t use pricing to help you decide what foods to buy, you are living very privileged, my friend.
We love to eat together. We share a meal (or coffee, or tea, or snacks) over conversation. We gather for celebrations (holidays, birthdays, weddings), which are often centered around food.
We were brought up with certain food traditions and flavors in our childhoods. We learn about delicious foods through new travel experiences. We develop our relationship with food through observing our family and surrounding culture.
Yes, food is emotional. We often think of emotional eating as “bad.” But it’s not. I believe that we can embrace it as one part of our relationship to food.
What we eat affects our emotions. This response is physiological, based on nutrients, hormones, our gut microbiome, and more. The response is also psychological, based on our past experiences, upbringing, culture, and other associations with foods.
And our emotions affect what we eat. We might crave comfort foods to soothe ourselves. Or if we’re in a negative state of mind, we might not see the point in nourishing our bodies, and skip meals in an act of a self-sabotage or “punishment.” Remember, eating food occasionally for emotional reasons is not a bad thing! It can become disordered when we become reliant on food (or restricting food) as a consistent and overpowering coping mechanism to deal with our emotions.
Cooking is a creative expression through food. If you have ever cooked or baked something that you are proud of, or created a new food combination that you’ve never seen paired together, you have been creative with food.
We can and should enjoy the taste and textures and aromas and presentation of our food.
Of course, we need food to survive and to thrive. We need certain quantities of macro and micronutrients to maintain optimal functioning of our bodies.
When people ask me “which is better, almonds or peanuts?” *I think* they are making an assumption that nourishment should be a priority above all these other factors.
What about the environmental impact? How much do peanuts cost compared to almonds? Who am I sharing this meal with? What flavors will be used to prepare this dish? How creative can I get with this recipe? Which one tastes better to me? What does my body need right now? All these things matter.
We cannot let ourselves (or our culture) become myopic about food and see it only for its nutritional value. Food is so many awesome things!
What did I miss or what would you add? What is food to you? ❤️