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What does food mean to you? Is it an indulgence? Necessity? Pleasure? Worry?

foodforyoga1

I recently read a great post about attitudes to food that reminded me of the many ways we think about food — and how those attitudes affect our strength and well-being. This paragraph really jumped out:

[I often] eat far less than I know I should, mostly because of poor time management. Now, this is a pretty common problem, and here’s some ways that people like me talk about it:

“I know I should have, I just didn’t have time to eat lunch today.”

“There just wasn’t a break between classes and things just had to get done, so I just couldn’t eat before training.”

The problem, though, isn’t just the skipped meals. It’s the fact that secretly I’m proud of having skipped them. This pride is a holdover from a mentality that calories are bad (they aren’t). But being secretly proud of your skipped lunch should make as little sense as being secretly proud of your skipped workout, because both types of activity (eating and exercising) are important.

As a dancer and now a yoga teacher I am very aware of the pressure towards and pursuit of the “perfect body”, which is reinforced by media and marketing. We see so many images of slimness that are equated to health we subconsciously absorb the message that thinner = fitter. If you stop to think about this, it makes no sense. Strength, fitness, and flexibility are independent of body mass. While extreme overweight or thinness can be dangerous there is a vast range of perfectly healthy body shapes, types and sizes.

One great thing about the Rio Olympics was the diversity of athletic bodies on display. Shot-putters look nothing like gymnasts; distance runners would never pass for swimmers; boxers and equestrians have totally different forms. Yet despite this positive reality, it is easy to get caught in the fiction that you’re not really fit unless you’re slim.

This thought process leads to an unhealthy relationship to food. It becomes an enemy or, at best, a grudging necessity. The fact is, food is fuel. When your car needs petrol you don’t mutter and criticise, you just fill it up. We need to have a similarly practical approach to our bodies. We need to eat regular meals of mostly whole foods. We need to enjoy food and appreciate its role in our well-being.

How do you view food? Share your thoughts in the comments!

 

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