Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A perspective on food challenges

A few things have happened lately that have helped to remind me to keep a positive perspective about food challenges. First was an article in the most recent issue of Living Without, entitled "Living with Allergies: Food sensitivities can help us live with passion and purpose." The author, Jax Peters Lowell, reminds us to embrace the flip side of having food challenges - that we must slow down and "live more mindfully" in order to keep ourselves safe and maintain good health. He challenges us to see that "moderation, patience and self-control—[which are] qualities in short supply at this period in time" are a by-product of adjusting to food challenges...and these are actually good things!

I recently read the book "The Omnivore's Dilemma: A natural history of four meals" by Michael Pollan. Pollan asserts that, because humans can eat just about whatever they want, this causes a dilemma - he calls it a "national eating disorder," where we mindlessly consume foods that are low-quality. We give no thought to what is in them, where they came from, and how they got to our grocery stores. This type of zombie-like behavior has contributed not only to the rise of major health concerns, but also to the demise of the American farmer who, thanks to our demand for fast and cheap, can no longer afford to produce delicious, nutritious, organic, local foods. I found the book to be sobering, and I definitely look at the grocery store in a much different light. My husband read it, too, and we both agreed to make some changes to our eating habits as a result.

Society is moving at such a fast pace these days. No one stays still for very long. Food that is quick and convenient is in high demand. Countless studies have shown that the kind of lifestyle Americans lead has had a direct impact on the rise of many dangerous health issues. When you have food challenges, you must think long and hard about what you put into your body. Having dinner with friends this past week reminded me that, in a sense, I am lucky. Out of necessity, I have to prioritize my health. I cannot be a zombie when it comes to eating. The silver lining here is that I am much healthier for it. One of my friends said that he is trying to eat a GF diet because he knows it's much better for him. Many studies are starting to support his thoughts on this.

Lucky? Huh...that reframe helps. Our thoughts influence our feelings, which then influence behavior. If we are thinking "this stinks, I hate this, it's not fair" about our food challenges, well, this will lead to negative feelings and not-so-helpful behaviors. However, if we can switch our perspective to be more positive, then our feelings will improve, and, in turn, our behavior will improve. Try it and see for yourself.

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