If you’ve read my last two blog posts on the Mediterranean diet you’ll know by now that a key component of following this lifestyle is sharing and enjoying your meals with loved ones (if you haven’t read the previous blogs you can catch them here – “A Little Intro Into the Mediterranean Diet” & “Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet“). Food is absolutely meant to be enjoyed and celebrated and the fact that many of us feel guilt or shame around our meals is, well, a real shame. As a studier of holistic nutrition, I have a hard time supporting most types of deprivation diets (with the occasional exception given to therapeutic diets for ailments such as diabetes, heart disease, etc.) Most of the time we’re let down by deprivation diets and when they fail, we feel as though we’ve failed ourselves. The thing is though, these diets don’t set us up for success. They draw hard lines and turn food into a quantitative black and white subject when really finding the right balance between what you enjoy and what makes you feel good is a multi-layered work of art.
With this mindset, I feel as though food shouldn’t be labeled as “junk,” rather we should feel comfortable reflecting on how we might feel like “junk” when we eat it. When we quiet our minds and really listen to our bodies, they’ll let us know what we are and aren’t meant to eat. A perk of the Mediterranean diet is that it’s built around restful and pleasant moments, punctuated by enjoyable meals. When we structure our meals as something that we’re also meant to enjoy (rather than choking down the first gas station burrito we can find in order to get to our meeting on time) we allow our bodies to take a moment and reflect on how our food is treating us. If it doesn’t benefit us in multiple ways, chances are we won’t choose to eat that item again in the future – as long as we’re listening to our bodies!
Other pitfalls of deprivation diets include those pesky emotional eating triggers. Especially as we move into the holiday season, these colder, quieter, and darker days trigger something in me to sit on the couch and eat little treats as often as I can. This is mostly due to the fact that, like Pavlov’s dog, I’ve been conditioned to think of this time of year and associate it with over-indulging in the multiple pies my Aunt Debbie brought to our family meals. Though it’s a nice memory and a happy emotion, it still triggers me to think I need another slice (or two) of pie. This situation is obviously made worse by negative emotions like sadness and stress – the two heralds of binge episodes. By following the Mediterranean diet, you’re encouraged to listen to your body more. When given this opportunity, your body will let you know that it’s not food you’re craving, it’s love, attention, support, etc. that you need. And when you feed your body its missing element, you’re satiating that feeling rather than binging on oatmeal creme pies and feeling like crap (the oatmeal creme pies give away that this is a direct example from my life).
The Mediterranean diet is enjoyable for so many reasons, but I most enjoy that it involves listening to your body and finding out what it actually needs – you can learn so much when you actively want to know more. Depriving your body of food or rest is just punishing it when it really could work so much more efficiently with just a little more care. Take care of yourself and join us and your fellow community members for the 2nd installment of our Native Plate series with Chef Devon Hammer. This is open to the public and is a full sensory experience that will delight your tastebuds as much as your soul. Visit our website here for more information and to purchase your tickets – we can’t wait to share with you!