I often get asked for advice on what to eat. Yes, what we eat is important, but eating wiser is about so much more than what we eat. As a child, I remember hearing the proverb ‘No one is born wise’. In order to become wise we must get to know ourselves, accumulate experiences (both ones we would like as well as ones we wish we could avoid) and have an open mind to personal growth. The same applies to making wiser choices with our food. Characteristics to nurture, which will help us on this journey, include:
‘Knowledge is learning something every day.
Wisdom is letting go of something every day.’
One of Oprah Winfrey’s famous quotes is ‘Turn your wounds into wisdom’. Similarly, turn your attempts at dieting into wiser eating habits. Forgive yourself for believing dieting will work. You are not to blame – the pervasive dieting mentality and its marketing that lured you in with false promises – are to blame. Be kind to yourself. Let go of what didn’t work. Learn from this.
‘Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom’
First and foremost, we need to know ourselves: our food choices, our triggers, our eating behaviours. And, how food and eating became so complicated.
Be open to trying foods in new ways. Even traditional dishes – especially if they don’t work for you. Pasta Carbonara is traditionally served with freshly grated black pepper. If pepper is not your thing but a sprinkle of dried chilli flakes is, get curious and give it a go. Putting on a ‘challenging the norm’ hat every now and then, and asking questions like ‘I wonder if …’ may lead to interesting insights into your eating habits.
‘To acquire knowledge, one must study;
but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.’
Marilyn vos savant
Observe your attitude, choices, variety and cooking style. Only after we observe can we adapt. Only after we adapt can we evolve.
‘Consistent positive self-talk is unquestionably
one of the greatest gifts to one’s subconscious mind.’
Just like foods can nurture, so too can words. When you hear your negative inner voice, replace it with nurturing thoughts. A positive self-talk extends beyond thoughts about food or your body. It also includes positive self-talk towards your appetite, eating habits and eating out. Surround yourself with people who talk positively about their food choices and eating habits.
Those who eat wiser consider their food choices on a level beyond nutrition. If and when possible, consider unprocessed, buying organic, locally produced, less packaging, home-grown, minimizing food waste or sustainability.
‘How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.’
The best way to accomplish something that seems difficult is to approach it in manageable pieces. Do what it takes day in, day out, albeit small. It will pay off, health-wise, in the long run.
Through food choices, they not only demand better for themselves but also better treatment for plants, animals, farmers, the local environment and the planet.
‘When the joy goes out of eating, nutrition suffers’
When you eat without enjoyment you quickly discover that there is more to food than nutrition. Eating without enjoyment can feel like just another chore to fit into the day. Eating with enjoyment is one of the most pleasurable acts of self-care. Aim to eat in a relaxed environment. Eat outdoors as much as possible. Take the focus off nutrition (yes, you read correctly!) and put more effort into presentation and taste. Enjoy all foods in the presence of others. Allow yourself to have a treat if and when you feel like it.
‘Strong convictions precede great actions.’
James Freeman Clarke
Those who strive to eat wiser are not lured by fad diets. Their past experiences have proved that quick fixes don’t work. They’re in it for the long haul!