In the last five years, I have come realize some very important things about food. Food is the most personal and intimate choice a person can make in their life. I have come understand that our food choices help to illuminate our identity. Food defines us culturally. Food can reflect our political stance. Our choice in food reflects our level of knowledge and education. Food even sets people apart economically. Our relationship with food can be either healthy, obsessive, destructive, or detached. Have you ever examined your relationship to food? Do you have patterns with your relationship to food? How is your relationship the same or different from when you were a child? Food is so fascinating, and to me it is the one way to really heal our world because food is everything.
When clients come to me ready to transform, I'm not just wanting to help them to develop better habits with fitness, but to develop a better relationship with food. Food is intimate. Food is personal. Food brings up many emotions and beliefs about ourselves. Think about it. Do you find yourself turning to tastes, treats, meals, or flavors when you are experiencing an emotion? Do you get nostalgic for certain foods during the holidays or months of the year? Do you ever punish yourself with food (this includes deprivation and glutenous behavior)? Do you pleasure yourself or others with food? I am sure you answered yes to one or more of these questions.
I think one of the cruelest or insensitive things we can do is to criticize a person's food choices. I am dead serious. I will never forget when I was in 5th grade and I teased a girl for eating a generic brand of yogurt. Can you believe that? This girl was incredibly poor and my commentary about her choice in food was my way of telling her my family had more money and better access to resources than her family. I still cringe when I think about that day. Fortunately, my teacher kindly helped me to see how cruel I was being, and to this day I am highly sensitive to people's choices with food because our food is connected to so much more than survival and getting energy.
I am not sure if it was karma, but since becoming a bodybuilder I have earned my fair share of food criticism and questions. I'll be honest, so many times it literally infuriated me. I would think to myself, "I'm just eating broccoli and chicken, why are you questioning me, criticizing me, and staring at my food with judgmental eyes?" The comments and questions I received often made me feel embarrassed and alienated. What I came to realize though was that people were curious. It was if people wanted to know if my food was magical and if I had some secret trick to getting my body to transform based on food choice. Then, I began experiencing people shaming themselves in front of me for their food choices. For example, people feeling the need to explain why they were eating McDonald's when I never even asked a question. I would simply say: No judgement. It's okay. No need to explain. Talk about food being personal and a source of great intimacy.
Let me tell you, though, my chicken is no different than yours. My kale is not sprinkled with fairy dust, and my water is not from the fountain of youth. My food choices, however, come from years of education and inner personal work. I have learned that by better understanding nutrition I could transform my body. I have learned that through logging my food I could recover from an eating disorder I had as a teen. I have learned through the cooking of my own food that I could connect with my own creativity and culture. By cooking my own food, I also realized I didn't need to be dependent on fast food or packaged food products. I have also learned that the sharing of food brings me closer to people in my life. Food is not just energy. Food is everything.
If you really want to transform your life, the most important thing you need to do is get in touch with your food. Once you get connected to food, then you can move into the world of nutrition. Once you move into the world of nutrition, you can move into nurturing yourself. Once you begin to nurture yourself with proper nutrients and nutrition, that's when you begin to heal and transform your life.
Below are a series of questions to help you come to some realizations about your relationship to food. I want you to pay attention to patterns, gaps, or sensitive areas that you may have with the questions. What do you notice? Where are some areas you feel need work? Never doubt the power food has over our lives, our emotions, our thoughts, or our beliefs about ourselves and the world. Mind-Soul Bodybuilding is all about helping people to truly transform, so if you need support with food please reach out.
Food Is Personal Exercise
Below are a series of questions to you can either answer in your mind or jot down. You may find that these questions inspire you to journal. You may even want to have a dialogue with a friend about these questions. Better yet, these questions may help you realize that you need support and coaching with complete mind-soul-body transformation.
1. Do you use food to comfort yourself when you feel sad, depressed, dejected, at a loss, confused, angry, or lonely?
2. Do you pleasure yourself with food? Does sharing food make you feel happy? Do you like to cook for others?
3. Are you a food tyrant or extremist? Do you judge or criticize others for their food choices or where they shop for food? Do you criticize yourself about your eating choices?
4. Does sharing food make you anxious? Do you hoard food?
5. Which statement do you say more: "I can't eat that" vs. "I don't want to eat that"? Do you recognize how each statement is drastically different in terms of control and personal choice?
6. Do you cook your own food or do you eat out? What keeps you from cooking?
7. Do you reject or fear foods from any particular ethnic or cultural group? Why? Have you ever considered your relationship to cultural acceptance or bias? Have you ever examined your relationship to racism or classism?
8. Do you envy people's food choices? Do you avoid social gatherings if food is involved?
9. Do you forget to eat? In what other ways do you lack self-care?
10. Do you follow food trends or believe in food fads?
I am a new mother who has her hands full! I juggle not just my coaching business, but I am also a full time educator. I also teach yoga in the Bay Area, and I mentor first generation college students.