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A Paradigm Shift from Diet Culture

"Food is not rational. Food is culture, habit, craving and identity." - Jonathan Safran Foer

My journey into holistic nutrition happened by accident. My first nutrition course was at MCTC in Downtown, Mpls. As a part of my associates degree, Intro to Nutrition was a course option. I wasn’t rather blown away by the general world of food or learning the true meaning and purpose of a calorie. { I’d always known them as something I was not allowed to consume too much of. }

But it was the first time a person of education explained the pitfalls of dieting and in thus, what I would come to know as “diet culture.”

Diet Culture is so ingrained in what we do, that we don't always recognize what it is or that we may be supporting it. So much so that it took me 19 years before I would understand the negative habits of diet culture and eventually shift my perspective of food from dieting to holistic nutrition.

So what is “diet culture?” and what profound wisdom had this professor bestowed on me?

We’ll get there! We’ve got to build up to it.

As my journey continued I eventually took more advanced courses on nutrition, including courses that looked at our food systems, curriculum including, An Omnivore's Dilemma, by Micheal Pollan. With every new course, my mind expanded and thus provided me with new perspectives.

When I was 22, I was in school for Massage Therapy which included a certificate for “Holistic Nutrition Coaching” My instructor was, Nathan Sartain, a renowned chef known for more than his ability to cook amazing food but for his passion of substiabily and to create change in our conventional food system.

It is here where my understanding of food, our farming practices and the cultural importance of food converged. I began to understand what my Into to Nutrition professor was talking about, how to create a sustainable and easy diet that consisted of:

  • Food Variety - high in vegetables/fruits and low in animal byproducts including meat and dairy. This will insure the consumption of both your essential macro and micronutrients.

  • Proper Portions

  • Balance

  • Movement/Exercise

  • Water Consumption

  • Have a Meal Plan

  • Locally sourced produce and meat

  • Getting your kids involved

As my time in school ended. I grew up. Through many ups and downs and even more mistakes the nasty claws of diet culture found ways to creep into my life. Diet culture has this amazing ability to appear “healthy” while serving a larger beast, for me, it looked like this:

  • Living with food restrictions

  • Associating health to body size

  • Body manipulation through exercise

  • Having food guilt

  • Defining food as good or bad

  • Counting calories, macros and/or weighting food

  • Weighing myself everyday

  • Eating "perfect" during the week & bingeing on the weekends.

Diet Culture dictated my life...

Even after all my education, it was so easy to slip into diet culture habits. This is the paradigm shift I’m referring to. It takes an active middle finger and huge f***k you to diet culture { and all those on Instagram calling themselves “Online Health Coaches,” bombarding your inbox. } Some days are better than others but the more I stick with my holistic health habits and surround myself with those of like minds and passion, the more the shift becomes natural.

Holistic Nutrition is more than what you eat. It is what you think, what you do, where you buy your food, who you surround yourself with, what you read or watch on TV. It is a relationship with food.

This concept of holistic nutrition can be abstract but more than anything, it takes time. Looking at food with a truly healthy lens is difficult. I’m constantly evolving. I love working with clients to help them create a custom plan to use food as a positive resource as well as educating on the basics of food. I promise you, calories are not that scary!

First Steps

If you find yourself wanting to learn more - Start simple, focus on quality sleep and getting enough of it! Consume plenty of water, track your food {Note, I did not say 'count calories' , I said "track your food" - focusing on whole and quality choices}, have a plan when it comes to meals and when you are going to eat. Meal prep and always have snacks handy to avoid cravings.

There are lots of reasons that us humans consume food and it is not primarily to lose weight. Enjoy food!!

xoxo, Eleacia

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