How Well Are You Feeding Your Body?

Almost two years ago — after nearly 15 years of working in technology and telecommunications firms — I was offered a role at a cooking school. As I weighed the decision and discussed with friends, all of them responded the same way: why are you even debating this? This is perfect for you!

My friends knew how passionate I was about food and cooking, and I think they wondered why I took so long to recognize that a job in the food industry was my calling. I love every aspect of food: from the sensual experiences of touching, tasting, smelling, eating; to the cerebral experiences of studying, learning and experimenting; and of course, the contextual experiences of sharing, travel and culture. But my relationship with food, well, that’s complicated.

Rationally and theoretically, via personal study and through Natural Gourmet Institute’s Culinary Nutrition and Food Therapy certificate programs, which I was fortunate enough to take, I know what to eat to fuel my body and to meet my macronutrient and micronutrient needs. I know that the DASH diet (which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and not a fast-and-furious diet) can help me manage my blood pressure and what foods to eat to add more potassium to my diet (bananas, orange juice, and yogurt). However, when it comes to the practical applications of this, I’m not as successful as I’d like to be. [As a total aside, how many of you get frustrated when you're told to incorporate more of a specific vitamin, mineral, or essential nutrient to your diet, and when you ask how, they stare at you blankly and then suggest supplements?]

This came to light during a session I had with our Director of Nutrition Education, Celine Beitchman, who asked that I participate in a case study as she pursues an advanced degree in nutrition. Part of the exercise involved keeping a food journal, which I found very enlightening, for one eye-opening reason: it highlighted that I am very inconsistent in my eating habits. It's especially jarring since I've been writing about having a better relationship with food and making better food decisions as I explored the Dietary Guidelines for the Brazilian Population.

I work in a school that honors and adheres to Annemarie Colbin's Seven Principles of Food Selection, principles that my parents have practiced as well, although they hadn't codified it as Annemarie so wisely did. So why did I go off track? I lost mindfulness. I neglected self-care at the most basic level: to feed and nurture my body. I became too busy for myself.

“I Love Food Day” is on September 9, and I invite you all to take note of what you eat for a few days, no matter how mindful or healthful you may be. Then plug it into a nutrition calculator to see how you are doing. You can find a couple resourceshere. If you’re on track, that’s fantastic and you should give yourself a pat on the back. If you have areas of improvement, that’s also great because now you know and can take steps to ensure you’re getting all the macronutrients and micronutrients to be the healthiest you.

This is massively important to our health, and we need to accept that our nutritional needs are going to change as we get older and cycle through different stages of life, as we gradually accumulate bad habits, and as our food preferences change. It does mean investing time in yourself, and you are worth it. After all, how can you be productive, help others or even feel happy if you don't take care of yourself first? Knowledge is power. Then it's up to us to take actions to achieve positive results.

This story was originally published by the Natural Gourmet Institute. Learn more about today's Natural Gourmet Center.

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