Irish Workshop with Fionnuala Collins
THE LOST ART OF “EATING WELL”.- “You are what you eat…. You are how you eat…”
It has often been said that you are what you eat, meaning that your health and well being depends entirely on what you put into your body. It is obvious that the quality of cells depends on the quality of the building blocks that we give those cells so we know that to grow and to heal we need to be careful to eat well. Food is medicine after all.
BUT, do we also know that how we eat (and maybe even why we eat) also may have an effect on our well being? So even if we are eating the best and most nutritious food available, if we are stressed or emotional, we may block the potential healing effects of the food….
An exploratory workshop was held in Spain and the details will be spared for now as it is worth repeating with all partners with some modifications but worth sharing is the intellectual “fruits” or learning that came of the workshop.
Food in the overfed west is no longer a thing for survival but has come to be associated with security, with abundance, with love, with decadence, with creativity, daring, with the need to impress and be impressed. Aside from the ethical arguments of what we should eat, the act of sharing meals together can conjure up all kinds of feelings of safety and security and even a sense of place in the world.
Some people want to be left “full” after a meal, more than satisfied, to a point of saturated decadence. Some wish to be left feeling light, as if food is functional. Some wish for a guilt free plate of food and some are motivated by the need to feel textures and tastes that induce pure pleasure. Some people eat for the pure experience of eating-without any consideration for the purpose of food.
We eat with our eyes but also our other senses, with smell, taste and feeling.
BUT sometimes we eat without any sense at all-emotional eaters wolf down food to stuff down feelings that are uncomfortable. Does the way we eat when stressed create a bad relationship with food, using food as a drug.
Knowing how to eat has become a lost art-never mind what we should eat: to explore our relationship with food as part of the jigsaw. When we eat from hunger, we start the process of correcting our relationship with food-and we give the body fuel at the right time-so the saliva needed to process food has a chance to build up.
When we eat at any other time or for other reasons, food can become a burden and a toxin, as our bodies struggle to cope and break down unwanted and unnecessary goods-we are dumping on ourselves-literally.
So do we know how to eat? Can we remember us overfed citizens of the West having a good relationship with food? I asked my soon to be 95 year old healthy grandmother about what and how to eat and she gave me three tips to a long and healthy life…
- Eat when hungry
- Eat simply (not too much variety)
- Enjoy your food but not too much!
Wise words indeed from one who never had to give too much thought to what food to have on her plate-quite often she had little or no choice in the matter. So how we eat may be more important than what we eat. And the concept of “eating well” needs to be re-examined from so many perspectives from social eating, ethical foods, the combinations of foods on the plate to the emotional intensity or stress associated with the meal. It is not about a diet but about having a good relationship with, understanding of and appreciation for the food we give to our bodies. If we can do that in good company, we are beginning to eat well. And knowing when to eat and when to stop is entirely another question!