Those who become interested in health often forget how to enjoy eating—after all, shouldn’t we enjoy food? How did we ever get to a place where we only ate food for health benefits? There are a few important reasons why, and one of them is that our culture, Western culture, teaches us to reduce things to its parts, and that the body is a machine. This can result in the type of terrible nutritional advice the government has given us for over half a century.
But it also has to do with social media, the obesity epidemic, and plenty of other factors. And in this post, we are going to talk about enjoying food again and why it’s so important.
Enjoyment of Food IS Healthy
Typically, we think of foods that we enjoy as the junk foods that give us pleasure. But I guarantee you that if you only ate those foods, you would stop enjoying them. The body (and nature in general) is dynamic, yet we talk about it statically. Brownies, cupcakes, greasy pizza, sugary drinks, candy, and the stuff America is addicted to isn’t enjoyable when eaten on a daily basis. Nothing is enjoyable after we become repeatedly exposed to it. For long-term enjoyment, we need variety and change, no matter what it is we’re talking about.
Thus, eating “junk” foods is not enjoyable. Eating foods that not only have the taste you crave, but also make you feel good is enjoyable. And unfortunately, this is the process millions of people are disconnected to. Health fanatics try to rewire their brains to like foods they didn’t like before. And certainly, it can work. We can adapt to a strict diet and learn to like the foods we eat, but what if we’re blocking off a side of us that’s very important?
The reward/reinforcement pathways in our brains help us make decisions that improve our lives…in a sense. Of course, one can become addicted to drugs, but this isn’t enjoyable long term either. Long-term enjoyment requires you to, in my opinion, be mindful of where you’re getting your reward from. If it’s from things that only spike your dopamine levels and give you strong reinforcement in the short term, it won’t be fun in the long term. Again, eating junk food all day isn’t fun. You’ll feel bloated, lethargic, stupid, and fat.
But when you learn to eat the foods that taste good and give you energy, improve your mood, and keep your joints moving fluidly, you will enjoy eating those foods. But this only happens when you’re connected to your intuition and understand how to use it to keep track of how food affects you. That’s what I did to decide that I needed to stop eating Nutella. I stopped enjoying because it stopped making me feel good and thus, wasn’t enjoyable, even though it’s still addicting.
Stop Eating For Health Benefits
Eating for health benefits is a travesty. It is the plight of the confused Westerner, who studies nutrition science as if it is a puzzle—as if the body is a machine. These ideas have not changed since Descartes came along and then influenced Sir Isaac Newton. This is fundamentally how we view the world and is a big reason why we’re not only completely fucked up when it comes to nutrition, we’ve fucked up when it comes to healthcare, treating diseases as a collection of symptoms, then prescribing drugs to treat those symptoms, on top of more drugs to treat the side effects of the other drugs…the patient never gets better under this model. They just achieve temporary relief and the diseases come back.
It is the same with dieting. We can try to treat the symptom, which is a craving in this case, with willpower, but it will only last so long. We could also try to treat the craving with foods that trick us into thinking we’re full. Zucchini noodles are a great example of a fad that is solely around to trick people into thinking they’re full when they’re not. Zucchini is a poor source of nutrition, as it contains very few calories. A thinking, breathing, and vital human being cannot survive on zucchini noodles. Rice nooldes on the other hand? Now that’s food.
How to Enjoy Food Again
Compare the sensation of biting into the starch contained in rice noodles versus biting into the starch contained in Zucchini noodles. Which one feels better to you? Before the food even enters your mouth, you can start to feel it mentally. This is what your intuition does. How does the idea of eating the food make you feel? How does it sit with you?
Try this with a variety of healthy foods. Simply tune into your intuition and ask it how it feels about a variety of health foods. Turn off the thinking mind that keeps citing bullshit research you haven’t even READ IN THE FIRST PLACE (OR HAVE YOU?) Turn off what your neighbor said about it. Turn off what your mother said about it when you were 4 years old. Turn it all off.
The only thing between you and the food now is your intuition. Your non-thinking mind. Your feelings and sensations.
Now, you are ready to understand whether or not the food is good for you. Ask it, yes or no. That’s IT!
How to Make Conscious Choices While Enjoying Food
It’s a common misconception that we can’t enjoy food while eating healthfully. And it’s a common misconception that eating healthfully means limiting red meat, sugar, salt, and starchy carbohydrates. All that matters is your body’s needs, and achieving optimal health through diet. Of course, some things are tried, tested, and true, and those include the fact that eating too much sugar is bad for us. But you don’t need a nutrition degree to figure that out. You can test it on your body and tune in with yourself, and learn to trust yourself to have the answers.
Your body is a source of wisdom. Your mind is an antenna that can receive information from the universe. You are not powerless. You can discover a lot just by making the mere intention to and paying some attention after that to carefully note your observations (ahem…all of this is coming out in my book, which will be released very soon, sign up for the newsletter to get a freebie version of it).
You should enjoy what you eat. You shouldn’t eat for “health benefits,” which are all estimates anyway and don’t factor in your individuality for the most part. Study some nutrition science, but most people need to tune into their bodies more, rely on science less, and rely on intuition much more.
Intuition is not taught in schools. Logic is deemed as superior. Yet, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, and Immanuel Kant, three great Western thinkers, emphasized the importance of intuition in arriving at truth.
Whether you have an eating disorder or are just interested in eating healthier, what I would recommend is avoiding all blogs that tout the health benefits of foods and attempt to cite research; I recommend trying out a variety of foods, reading a real cookbook, and letting your tastes and sensations of how foods make you feel guide you to a happy place. There, you will understand what foods are working for you, and most importantly, what you enjoy, and thus, can actually stick to.
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