She is a powerful leader and passionate advocate for building nourishing new narratives for us, that don’t include depriving ourselves of the cultural foods we grew up eating. She’s been featured and quoted in Well+Good, NY Times, and Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health Podcast. Check out her work and learn more here.
Healthy Food: It’s All About Wholeness
The world of food and nutrition can be confusing, and as we navigate through it, the notion of “healthy foods” pops up. Due to different ideologies about this subject matter, we become blasted with questions and/or concerns about what we “should” eat and what we “shouldn’t” eat, plus the kind of food that is “bad” and “good” for us.
In reality though, the idea of “healthy” isn’t solely about unique nutrients or avoiding specific food; it is simply about wholeness. Whatever makes your body feel whole, is by very definition, “healthy”. One key catch though – you need to learn how to listen to your body to know what whole feels like, for you.
This post, therefore, seeks to shed light on why wholeness is essential when dealing with healthy food and how to integrate this idea into your relationship with food.
What is Wholeness?
The sense that something is full, complete, and integrated is what is referred to as wholeness. In the backdrop of food, we can refer to wholeness as considering food that makes us feel completely satisfied, instead of basing what’s whole on certain ingredients and/or nutrients.
One way to easily determine this is think of a food, a moment really, where you ate something and felt perfectly content just from one bite. Maybe you were already full, maybe the full was just sooo good (or so rich and thick).
By reflecting on a moment like this, you can see how various components of food work hand in hand to offer nourishment and influence our relationship with food.
Wholeness and “Healthy” Foods
You may focus on the ingredients or nutrients when thinking about healthy food, which shouldn’t be the case. For instance, you may be considering food as healthy because it is high in protein and low in calories. But, this is a narrow focus that can be problematic due to neglecting the bigger picture of how food works in our bodies.
Let’s use a piece of fruit, for example. Considering the nutrients point of view, fruit is a great source of minerals, vitamins, and fiber. When you only concentrate on these nutrients, you may miss out on the bigger picture of the working mechanism of fruits in our bodies. Fruits are a great source of sugar, which offers the energy we require, gives energy and life to our brain, muscles, and internal organs. What’s more? Fruits are a source of fiber that keeps us regular (yes, we mean pooping). Besides, fruit is generally a whole, unprocessed food, which implies it preserves its natural fiber and nutrients – there aren’t whole fruits that have had vitamins or minerals removed and then added back in.
Overall, through centering on the wholeness of food, it is evident that a piece of fruit is simply not just a source of nutrients. Rather, it is a full package that offers several benefits to our bodies, and can create a feeling of true satisfaction. This stance can assist us in making more informed decisions about what we eat and how we can integrate whole, nourishing food into our diets.
Alternatively, when you accept the notion of wholeness in your relationship with food, you’ll start to see food as one part of the larger puzzle. You’ll likely realize that our food preferences are influenced by several aspects such as environment, emotions, and cultural background. So, we learn through listening to our bodies and trusting our instincts when dealing with food options, instead of simply depending on external guidelines and rules.
Some Tips for Incorporating Healthy Foods:
Listen to Your Body
In this hasty and modern world, we repeatedly miss the reasons to listen to our bodies. Reason? We make ourselves so busy that we disregard the signals we receive from our bodies, such as hunger, fatigue, and pain. This is damaging in the sense that listening to our body plays an integral part in a healthy lifestyle. It helps us make great decisions about what we consume, how much we exercise, and how much rest we require.
So, take even 30 seconds to do some breathing – in through your nose, hold, and out through your mouth. Close your eyes and repeat that breathing cycle as slowly as you can, two more times. Ask yourself – how does my body feel right now? Does it feel light? Do my muscles feel fluid or tense? Notice any point of tension or tightness, and do your best to simply relax that one part.
Once it’s relaxed, focus on the next part of your body you want to relax. Then, ask yourself:
- What is my body craving right now?
- Imagine – what would make my body feel like I have the highest energy I’ve had all day?
- What would make my body feel complete, right now?
You don’t need to go too far into the future and if you feel anxiety or worry, remember that you are safe, you’re calm, and no matter what your body says, it’s right and all good.
Intuitive eating is a great framework that cheers you on in listening to your body when making food decisions. Instead of adhering to strict rules about whatever you consume and when to eat, this approach encompasses being aware of your body’s fullness and hunger cues, as well as eating when you’re hungry and stopping when full.
While the 10 principles within the Intuitive Eating framework are very well-constructed and proven, it’s important to remember that the practice’s basic elements connect back with creating a healthy relationship with your food and learning to trust your signals instead of depending on external cues.
Last but not least, mindfulness is a factor that can help create more wholeness in your relationship with what you eat.
To explain this better, mindfulness entails the practice of being aware, available, and wholly engaged in the present moment as best as you can. No one is perfect – quite the contrary, we are all imperfect.
But, when you are genuinely and honestly making an effort to be mindful, it becomes easy to tune your body and surroundings and become more knowledgeable of your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Those are the core elements of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and when you become aware and mindful of what your thoughts, emotions and feelings are, while keeping your mind focused on your Peace Point, your thoughts and emotions and feelings start naturally mapping to your Peace Point, and your behaviors naturally start to map to it.
Overall, mindfulness can be a powerful mechanism for helping us collaborate with the fullness of how food influences our body, and our lives. By understanding the right time to eat, we can taste the textures and flavors of our food while treasuring the nourishment that it offers. What’s more? We become more aware of every internal cue and stay in the know about exactly how food influences our bodies.
The Way App: Why It Matters
Modern life poses many complexities that often make us ignore the importance of a healthy relationship with food and the body. Living in a culture that’s obsessed with weight loss and dieting has caused many people to fall victim to physical and mental issues, in part as they have become disconnected from their bodies and they no longer listen to body cues.
The Way app comes right in here to help people find more peace in their relationships with food and their body. Blended with unique features of intuitive eating, behavior science, and mindfulness, the app helps reconnect users with their bodies by encouraging them to listen to body signals and develop a mindful relationship with food.
Starting from the latter, among the key features of Way is mindfulness. Mindfulness here is about being aware of the food you’re eating and how it makes your body feel. Through the short and easy breathing techniques promoted in Way, your whole body relaxes and gets into parasympathetic nervous system (aka a calm state of being), which prepares you to get into the mindful state that really helps and supports self-exploration and reflection on food and body.
The second aspect of the app, behavior science, the app incorporates dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques. The former is a kind of therapy that aids in regulating one’s emotions while improving interpersonal relationships. The latter is more of a talk therapy that focuses on identifying the negative through observing behaviors and the thought and feeling/emotional patterns and, after that seeking to replace them with desired ones.
Lastly, combining intuitive eating with evidence-based therapies, Way has proven to be an incredible tool for anyone looking to heal their relationship with food and their bodies. By meshing together intuitive eating and behavior science, you can identify negative or unwanted patterns and replace them with desired patterns, while incorporating a more intuitive approach to eating, so you are much more connected and in tune with your relationship with food and body.
Overall, the Way App is a key part in helping create peace, in a diet and weight-loss-obsessed society. It’s the perfect alternative that ensures you enjoy your life with regard to food and food-related issues without leaving you feeling guilty or ashamed. It’s about the body cues that help you find peace with your relationship with food.
In a nutshell, incorporating the above tips, mindfulness and wholeness, intuitive eating, and listening to your body and using the Way App as your daily guide for practicing, you’ll definitely have the best relationship with food and your body. The key is it’s not just about the nutrients in food; it’s about the health of the relationship with food.