Do you live in a culinary convent? In other words, are you confined by too many food rules whether for health reasons or just because? Do you want to scream?
Working with people, whether one on one or in groups, has given me great insight into the connection between food and behavior. I often see those who claim to have multiple food allergies when in fact, they have never been tested or if they have been scrutinized, true allergies don’t exist. There are those who tell me they can't eat gluten and when I ask them why, they have no idea other than, "My friend told me to avoid it." More often than not people unconsciously enter the culinary convent because food is something they can control in their perhaps disorderly life.
My dear friend who recently completed a book on food and health phoned me in a panic on the day she delivered her manuscript. “So let me ask you something, do you think I should go paleo? I mean after researching and writing this book perhaps an extreme dietary approach is the way to go for optimal health.” My response, “Your mantra, as well as mine, is moderation so why go extreme all of a sudden?”
Apparently her journey with book number four made her question all she knows and believes. And for those of us in the trenches of kitchen nutrition, the more we know, the more we are inclined to impose more rules upon ourselves. As I talked my friend off the ledge, I reflected on how many times I have in fact done the same for myself. There is something called analysis paralysis—the act of reading and listening to inordinate amounts of information on one particular subject (as in food) leading to an utter state of “What The Fork should I do?”
Many years ago, I opted in and out of many different food lifestyles including special medical diets, macrobiotics, veganism, vegetarianism and more as part of my healing journey. And after years of being a self-proclaimed “culinary lab animal”, I have settled on this (which is not dissimilar to Michael Pollan’s suggestions from Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual):
- Know where you food comes from
- Eat real food (versus highly processed food)
- Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds and high quality animal protein (including eggs and dairy)
- Avoid GMOs
- Aim to buy organic if possible
- And most importantly, enjoy your food
If you have a true food allergy or the need for extreme (or not so extreme) dietary change to manage health or illness (whether celiac disease or cancer), then follow a necessary regimen, otherwise, step out of that culinary convent and nest in nourishment!