People like to say that you are what you eat. If you put garbage in your body then you'll feel like garbage. The same can be said about eating good stuff. If you think about what you eat and put good stuff inside you, then you'll see that it can help more than just your body. So let's talk about holistic eating and what it can do for you and the world around you.
What Is Holistic Eating?
Much like the concept of holistic health and wellness, holistic eating is about eating ingredients as close to their natural state as possible. It focuses on consciously considering everything that's eaten and above all else, optimum health. It's intuitive eating.
What Is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive eating is when you reject the diet culture, promoting food as a pleasure rather than a guilt. Eating this way will help you recognize your body's signs of fullness and hunger while liberating you from the control of food and eat it as it was meant to be eaten.
Intuitive eating respects all sizes and shapes but, most importantly, your body. Your food habits will revise as you want them without policing your food. It's a liberating holistic practice that allows you to see exercise as a holistic movement rather than a calorie-burning activity. Your food is pleasurable fuel rather than a filler and something you have to balance.
But before we talk more about holistic eating, let's talk about why thinking and eating this way is great.
What Should Food Be?
Right now, as I write this article, there are many different diets going around like paleo and keto or high-carb and whatever else. There's so many with such restrictive rules to it. It's gotten so bad that people have cheat days. That's just not the way to do things. It never has been the way to eat your food.
We used to eat for survival only and even then the way we made our food continued to evolve. We didn't tamper the fresh ingredients with chemicals to preserve them and we didn't force-feed our livestock for "primo meat". We gathered what we needed and ate what we needed in the purest form.
Now, I'm not telling you to eat raw meat cause that's not good and even our ancestors knew not to do that. Food, even when eaten for survival, as enjoyable. People gathered around the fire and told stories as they ate soup or gnawed on jerky. Even if the food tasted awful, it was pleasurable. We are lucky enough today to have access to hundreds of spices and seasonings to boost that food pleasure of course and techniques to finesse your food.
Food tells stories and expresses emotions. Food is the soul of cultures and nations. Food is history. And while we continue to improve tastes, we need to keep in mind that vegetables and fruits can taste great with minimal tampering. This is the whole idea of holistic eating.
Let's talk about the root of our food and how holistic eating can help you become healthier and more sustainable.
What Are The Benefits of Holistic Eating?
By eating holistically, consuming less processed food, and enjoying what you eat while understanding where it comes from will make you healthier and more sustainable. How? Well, let me explain.
Think about it like this: you're walking in town and you get hungry but not quite starving. You find yourself in a store and you have a couple of options. You could go into the snack aisle and pick a bag of chips or something else in the aisle or you could go to the produce section and get yourself a piece of fruit. Whatever you get in the snack section is packaged in plastic and wrappers while the fruits and veggies aren't. Buying produce will decrease your waste and make Mother Earth smile. Not to mention that you ate something that'll make your body smile too.
Now think about your weekly or bi-weekly grocery shopping. If you buy things from your local farmer's market, you're buying the freshest ingredients while supporting local farmers and businesses. Farmer's Markets are more likely to have products that aren't tampered with or sprayed with chemicals. This is you helping your community and your body.
How Can You Start Changing Your Habits and Eating Holistically?
Changing habits can be difficult. Trust I know. But it takes about 1 to 2 months to change your habits. Here are a few tips to help you change those processed-food habits.
Start Journaling your food: This can help you if you do it correctly. Here is what you should jot down in your food journal:
What did you have?
How hungry were you before eating?
What mood were you in when you ate?
How satisfied were you with your first bite?
Did you eat all of the meal/snack?
What was your fullness level afterward?
Did you like it?
When did you feel hungry again?
Did you experience any emotions after eating?
Did you experience any physical feelings after eating (e.g., GI distress)?
Notes on flavors
This is only a temporary journal to help you learn about what you like and how much you eat. It'll allow you to get to know your food habits and identify which habits you want to break.
Keep a chart of your symptoms when you experience hunger or fullness: This will allow you to identify symptoms and cues that your body is giving you. Here's a chart example:
Practice some mindful eating: If you are aware while you eat then you are more likely to think about your food choices. Relieve yourself from distractions while you're eating so you don't get distracted and your focus is on the food and your body. Here are a few tips to mastering mindful mealtime eating:
Cook and prepare as much of your meal as possible
Do not scroll through social media while eating
Turn off the TV or whatever you're watching
Eat away from your desk, cubicle, etc.
Pay attention to every aspect of your food (taste, texture, smell, etc.)
Analyze your flavors and why they go well together
Pace yourself; baby steps first: You need to make sure you don't go too fast and shock your system. This takes time. Here's an example chart to help you out:
Remember to set goals for yourself and not others. The only thing in the world that you can control is yourself.
Why Practice Holistic Eating and Nutrition?
Personally, I practice holistic eating because it makes me healthy without restricting my diet so I can still eat what I want to. I like knowing my limits and cues. But, above all else, food is very important to me. When I eat food I can tell where it comes from and what story it tries to tell. I love cooking and making food as well. It's how I express my stories and affections. When I want to tell my fiancé that I love them, I make them food. But those are just my reasons.
Everyone has different reasons and that's okay. Everyone is different and it isn't on you to change how they eat or think about food. As I said a moment ago, the only thing you can control in this world is you. You can do your part to help the world and yourself. Remember that this will take time but if you choose to do it, then awesome. I love that. If not, that's okay too. Keep in mind that you deserve to be happy, healthy, and full of life. Until next time!
What is Holistic Eating? was written, researched, and edited by Emmalie Roberts. For more articles, check out our blog page, here, and don't forget to follow us on social media, here, for daily tips, tricks, and reminders for your path to holistic health.
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