It’s a beautiful day here in New York, after a dreary and anxious election day. I’m so glad it’s over. I know people on both sides of the aisle are relieved and frustrated.
What does this have to do with eating, you ask. Good question.
There is a lot of noise out there, political and otherwise. The Food Wars are always in full tilt. Go Vegan! Paleo! Keto! Keto-Vegan!
Just like political parties, it can become a huge distraction from the actual issues (food quality & safety). The powers that be want you to claim sides, they want to split you into camps. And inside you probably have a “good food/bad food” side, too. If you eat well one day, you are GOOD. If you eat poorly one day, you are BAD. Notice the language.
It’s not “Boy, I made some really good choices today. I feel good.” No, no, it’s much more punishing than that, isn’t it? How do we get off the teeter-totter of eating and step into nourishing ourselves?
We have to recognize that we are all different. What works for one person, even within the same diet framework, may not work for another. That’s a good thing. It means each person can decide for him or herself which foods make you thrive or not. Just as a rancher in Colorado may have an entirely different relationship to guns than a teenager in urban Baltimore. We need to understand both sides and be able to come together on ways to reduce gun violence. But sticking to your camp and demonizing the other side won’t work. Nothing gets done and people become more divided.
The Food Wars are just noise. Just as the political parties want us to pick factions. Thus, we ignore real issues (racism, social justice, corporate greed, inequality) that are driving the health of our nation.
Whether you are vegan, Paleo, Ketogenic or some combination, there are real issues we need to care about when it comes to food and eating. Whether you eat meat or dairy, for example, the emphasis needs to be on food access and quality.
- Eat real whole foods as much as possible. This means strictly limiting packaged foods. (Yes, including “healthy” cereals.) Vegans can eat junk; Paleo eaters can overdo the sugar consumption. Look BEYOND the label! In fact, if it comes with a label, don’t buy it.
- BUY LOCAL & SUPPORT FARMERS. If you eat meat and dairy, find local farms that are practicing ethical and sustainable farming. It’s better for YOU, it’s better for the ENVIRONMENT and it’s better for the farmers.
- Reduce your sugar intake. Sugar is hidden in everything and disguised by a few dozen names. Be savvy and be aware of how much you are ingesting, as sugar is linked to many major diseases and health issues.
- What you put on your plate reflects your values. Want to see healthier kids? Don’t buy soda. Don’t bring things into your house you don’t want to eat. Want to eat less meat? Only eat out at places that have sustainably raised meats. You always have a choice.
- Think beyond the good/bad. No one but you is punishing yourself for digging into a bag of Cheetos. But don’t let that derail you from what’s true for you. Can you do better? Sure. Do we all have days when we are just getting by and doing the best we can? Yes. We are human beings, not objects. But you also need to know what’s in your food which the food companies are loath to share.
- Don’t try to change minds BUT be open-minded. If you’re a Keto eater and it’s changed your life, great. Show by example how you have regained your health instead of lecturing people on what they should do. This is harder than it seems. Everyone nowadays thinks they are “woke”. Great. If you are asked about your food choices, by all means, share what you have learned about yourself. Otherwise, eat and let eat. And listen. You never know, you may learn something.
I hope that as a nation we can get to some of the real root causes of our problems. But we can only do so when we have access to real information and stop listening to the screaming sides. Each of us has the power to change ourselves and, by extension, our communities.
For more information on how health coaching can help you, contact me.
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