Eating with intention

New calender years are like agricultural seasons, filled with opportunities to apply life lessons and to reassess what we hope to plant, moving forward.

Usually at the beginning of each new year, I reassess my current eating habits and ask myself a few of the following compassion-based questions:

  • How well am I feeding my body? What information (beyond weight or pant size) is available to inform this assessment?
  • Does my body need adjustments in terms of movement or nutrition, to feel its best?
  • Would my body appreciate less or more of certain kinds of food?
  • How much pleasure (or conversely, struggle) am I experiencing in my relationship with food?
  • Have I forgotten, lost, or abandoned foods from my cultural heritage? If so, how can I reclaim them?
  • How well do my eating habits serve my community, including farmers and food workers?
  • Do my eating habits support racist or oppressive systems? Can I shift my food dollars to support local, ethical, diverse food choices?
  • Are my eating choices contributing postively to the health of all beings, including our planet?

My lived experiences over the past three years – aging, health issues, the pandemic, politics, parenting, losses, and antiracism work, have greatly informed my direction in this new year…with food and in many other areas of my life, on personal and professional levels.

Which brings me back to food: the choices we make with food matter. How we engage with food matters.

Please don’t get too overwhelmed with a list like this if you are new to mindful eating. I’ve been playing with mindful eating for a VERY long time. Perhaps just pick one question to explore over the course of 2022 – with a little support from others, if needed.

Speaking for myself, I plan to replace a few poultry dishes with plant-based protein sources, and continue trying out new recipes that incorporate plants and grains I can access locally. Plus building up my repetoire of Russian, Ukrainian, and Israeli dishes, which reflect my cultural food heritage. Also, doing a lot more walking in our new city – especially on my way to community gardens, where I volunteer, to new restaurants, and to urban parks.

Our relationship with food offers the possibility of nourishment, joy, connection, and well-being. If that’s not your current experience, I invite you to reach out to a licensed healthcare professional (such as a psychologist with eating disorder expertise and a health-at-every-size trained dietitian) and also other community resources that represent your interests: faith, farming, or cultural leaders who look like you and who might offer a helping hand guiding you back home to a more positive relationship with food.

If you’d like to infuse your current mindful eating practice with deeper, more diverse expertise, please consider following Civil Eats, as well as the dietitians and mindful eating teachers that I’ve discovered on IG: Rosie Mensah, Tambra Raye Stevenson, Shana Minei Spence, Joby Quiambao, Dalina Soto, Shahzadi Devje, and Sharon Suh. As a clinical psychologist with 15+ years in eating disorder treatment and mindful eating training, and as a mother raising a Black teen daughter, I’ve enjoyed following their posts over the past 18 months.

And now, my body wants to move and go back outside, so I’m signing off. Savor and stay safe in 2022, friends.

P.S. I’ve included specific tags (like dieting and weight loss) that I don’t typically use as a healthcare professional, in the hopes that individuals planning to start yet another new diet, fast, or detox might consider experimenting with different options in the new year.

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