May 1, 2017

My Food Feelosophy

My Food Feelosophy

When the messages like “are you vegetarian?” “are you vegan?” “are you paleo?” “are you raw before 4” “do you eat eggs?” “do you eat chicken periods (another word for eggs)?” “do you eat chicken?” “do you eat fish?” “do you eat camel?” (JK to that last one) – I want to bop them down like playing a voracious game of whack o mole. This level of food choice invasiveness comes with the territory and I know that. But it also means the seemingly constant push to declare my food philosophy as “something.”

I will say that I don’t snugly fit into any of the above categories, but my method of eating is not entirely label free. It just has more encompassing labels that are more about feeling and less about fooding. I eat in way that is anti-inflammatory, gut-centric, and mood boosting. Those are my food labels. This for me, emphasizes that my food tendencies are more about brain over body. And this also insinuates a uniqueness – the foods that are inflammatory for me, may not be for other people. My biochemistry is different from other people’s, and so I have different nutritional needs than others.

Eating is so personal – it is human specific – so I try to do what is best for my individual self. Because everyone’s biochemistry is so different, and truly everyone has different caloric, nutrient and biochemical needs, no two people’s diets or supplementation protocol will or should be the same. And that’s okay!!!! It’s what is so beautiful about nutrition, and just a larger metaphor for humanity. Variety is the turmeric of life and that is just awesome. Vegan, vegetarian, paleo, grain free, gluten free, gluten filled, dairy dutchess, WHATEVER!! Who cares. Eat according to what makes you feel smartest and happiest and bursting with vitality.

For this reason, I don’t put limitations on the way I eat. Sometimes I eat meat, sometimes I don’t. If I feel like it and I want it, if my brain is knocking on the door of my stomach politely asking for something, I do not turn it away or slam the door in its face. It’s quite literally invited to the table. And this honestly makes sense. The body is not a stagnant state. It fluctuates and needs different things at different times. Sometimes I crave lettuces and beans and kraut, other times eggs (acetylcholine for brain power) and chocolate (magnesium), and other times, albeit not as often, organic chicken or turkey or grass fed filet (usually paralleling the time when I’m a Pretty Moody Sistah). Which just makes sense. When you bleed, for example, you lose iron, and you need to replenish the iron. You can get plant based iron, though it just doesn’t absorb in the body as well. My body and my cravings are so much smarter than I will ever be. So if I am curious and open enough to allow myself to listen to this internal conversation, THAT is when I feel my best. 

My biggest emphasis is about valuing my insides more than my outsides. I would rather have a highly functioning gut than a six pack, for example. I can only speak for myself, but my most engaging and enriching moments are those when my brain is most active and I am thinking clearest, not how I fit into a certain pair of pants or if my stomach felt flat that day. And the organ system that I value most and pay the most attention to is my brain. And I only saw real change and became my happiest when I abandoned labels and just ate in a brain-centric way: listening to my brain and valuing it more than the way my body may look. There are times when I don’t go to the gym for a week or two at a time because I’m working through something mentally or emotionally and I can’t muster the energy and willpower to do a bicep curl. And that’s okay. I’m just making sure my head is screwed on right and moving my body in different ways like walking or yoga and overall chilling out, rather than taking it out on my body. My mind takes precedence first and foremost and always.

My account actually began during a moment of intense and deep sadness. Before when I was going through some deep heart ache or heart break I was working out twice a day trying to eat a minimal amount and look a certain way because I thought then the emotional trauma would spontaneously dissipate (LOL). I had tried to mute this sadness by either maintaining tight control over what was on my plate – I was my own mealtime helicopter parent, closely monitoring without granting much freedom. With helicopter parenting, though, comes rebellion, and I would then have “cheat” days or nights or weeks where I would mimic my dad’s eating habits and go head to head with him on a pint of ice cream or toss in a frozen pizza for dinner or curl up on the couch with a box of Vienna Fingers. The issue with this was twofold: 1. I was using food to mask sadness and fill a void 2. the foods I was choosing to eat were very high in sugar and processed carbohydrates, spiking my blood sugar, disrupting my gut microbiota, and in turn making me feel worse. The vague nerve connects the brain to the gut, and when there is a shift in gut health, there is a shift in brain health. Hence treat your gut poorly, and the brain feels the effects. I was therefore making myself feel worse with the foods I was choosing to eat.

Furthermore, the deep sadness I felt was overwhelmingly dark. Like lay in my room immersed in darkness for days watching only Parks and Recreation on repeat kind of dark. It was a product of graduating from college, not feeling a calling, living at home, feeling isolated, and suffering though a gut wrenching break up. It has been three years now and I am happy to report I have different coping mechanisms now. It is through family, it is friends, it is therapy, it is talking, it is moving, and it is being able to see myself and what I’m doing in the community that I’m in, knowing that I have value beyond what I can give a single person. I know now how dangerous it is when your entire identity is wrapped up in one person, as when that is stripped from you, so too is your identity and sense of self-worth.

I now know my tendencies to feel so low, and depression and anxiety run in my family. This is also a large part of the reason I am so hyper-focused on #goodmoodfood and feeding my brain. It is in fact the premise and pillar behind my account and blog, and not just meaningless hashtags to gain followers. They are weighted and representative of my own journey.

I began to loosen the reigns when and only when I started to value my brain and honor my feelings more than I valued the shape of my body. Once I felt like my brain and my insides took precedence over my outsides, my eating began to reflect this and I then used this newfound sense of self to do things in my local community that I wanted as a representation of myself, like Instagram and volunteering and dancing and the master’s program I’m in. My sense of self stretched its fingerlings far beyond my appearance. When I stopped caring what I looked like and I shifted the value to be entirely upon the contents and products of my brain and my intellect and my quirks and my actions and my puns is when the negative self talk, once a sharp jabbing annoying icicle, slowly began to melt away.

And I think true happiness and contentment and “balance” only comes when we really appreciate ourseves as people beyond a physical appearance. Because equating happiness with how my body looked led to nothing but self sabotaging behavior. Wouldn’t it just be so amazing if we shifted to be more concerned about our thought processes, the things that make us us – our quirks, intellect, crazy, silly selves, rather than a number or a size or counting calories or macros? Qualities over quantities.

It is my sincere hope that the more we value and talk about our brains, the less we fixate and condemn our bodies. I want to be my best and happiest self, and for that definition to be totally unrelated to the way my body looks, but rather entirely focused on the way my body and brain feel. Making this small shift, valuing my brain over my body, was really transformative in the way I viewed myself in the world. And made it a lot easier to dim the sometimes cruel voices that are unearthed on a particularly bloated day or week. Once this micro movement happens, we can then get out in our communities and do what you were put on this earth to do. We can value ourselves as unique and special and empowering and inspirational beings.

And hopefully by realizing that everyone is different, and each person has different biochemical and nutritional needs, comes a greater understanding and appreciation for everyone at the dinner table. And less food shaming and food bullying and comments like “ew you eat chicken periods” and “did you know eating one egg is worse than smoking an entire carton of cigarettes” and “gross.” Some people thrive on a vegan diet and others simply don’t. And I think that speaks to the amazingness of humankind and that we are all so richly diverse, and quite literally bring something different to the table. Rather than having our diets be a point of difference it should be point of appreciation of just how wonderful we all are and that we can all coexist at the table even if the same thing isn’t on all of our plates. When we’re at the table and we’re sharing our ideas and our thoughts and our quirks and our intellect, that is what really matters, not if someone chooses to eat beans or an egg or some chicken or tofu or beef. With the climate of our culture and our country at this present moment I think the smallest way we can show and appreciate diversity in the world is by just sitting down at dinner table. Maybe sometimes people choose things that you wouldn’t personally eat, but that does not make them any worse of a person, any lesser of a being, than you are. There is more value in the words that come out of people’s mouths, than the foods they choose to put in them.

My own individual food choices have made me healthy and happy on the inside and the outside. And that is what matters most to me.

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34 comments:

  • Claudia

    Thank you so much for sharing this post — it could not have come at a better time! Lately I’ve been feeling that in order to be happy I have to follow insignificant food “rules” and track calories/macros to achieve unattainable physical goals. It’s so refreshing to see that so many people in this community are shifting away from the physical side of health and instead focusing on what truly matters. It’s also crazy discovering how many women go through similar experiences. Again, thank you so much for the honest post! Much love xx

    • Katie

      Thank you so much for your kind comment, Claudia! I’m so happy to hear this post resonated with you!! We’re all in this together xo

  • Olivia

    You are so amazing!! I love this post and everything you have to say- such a great perspective

  • Amy

    Hey Katie,

    I just wanted to thank you for so articulately and poignantly putting these thoughts into words here. I agree wholeheartedly with what you’re saying about how every body is different, things work for some people and not for others, and putting your mind and happiness first over labels and adhering to a certain image of what society is telling us what we “should” look like or be eating, is all spot-on.

    Love this message and your constant inspiration!

    <3

    • Katie

      Thank you, Amy!! Only took me two years to finally get the random car thoughts into (somewhat) coherent words. So grateful you took the time to read it all!!

  • Kennedy

    Katie, you are amazing. Thank you so much for this entire post. Emphasizing the health of my brain (and the gut by extension) as someone who has dealt with severe OCD and anxiety in the past has made all of the difference in the world. It’s also so nice to hear someone praising the variety in diets that we see all around us, that there is no right way or wrong way but only your UNIQUE way. Love it, and thank you.

    • Katie

      Thank YOU, Kennedy! I too am a child of OCD and anxiety so navigating this world of wellness has been (at times) a tricky one. Only once I adopted the whatever / oh well / shoulder shrug / do my own thing mentality did some of the pressure slide off. xoxoxo

  • Danielle

    Beautiful post, thank you for sharing your food philosophy 🙂 I love how you emphasize nutritional individuality and the importance of forgetting about labels & instead focusing listening to your body and giving it what it needs. I admire your holistic/intuitive approach.

  • Rebecca

    Thank you so much for this post! I have recently been struggling to navigate my wavering pescetarianism and your words encouraged me to remember that labels are generally unhelpful and prevent attunement to our bodies and brains! Also, thanks for the helpful reminder to not be so hard on myself! Sticking to structured diets and meal plans and macro calculations and gym schedules is not always the best course of action and I was happy to be reminded of that. ALSO, most importantly- #dairydutchess. Yas.

    • Katie

      Yes!!!! You said it best. Seriously this should be an addendum to the post. Thanks to you dairy dutchess xooxoxox

  • Iz

    Yes Yes YES. To everything you just said! I’m so happy that you’ve found this amazing peace and thank you for writing this. Everyone in this community needs to hear it! Xoxo

  • Megan

    Thank you so much for such a great post! It is so easy to get wrapped up in such negativity surrounding food. We should be celebrating the fact that we are fortunate enough to choose the food we eat! Food should bring people together! #carbQUEEN

  • Emily Sell

    “Because equating happiness with how my body looked led to nothing but self sabotaging behavior. Wouldn’t it just be so amazing if we shifted to be more concerned about our thought processes, the things that make us us – our quirks, intellect, crazy, silly selves, rather than a number or a size or counting calories or macros? Qualities over quantities.” BRB crying!

    You spoke what I have been trying to articulate for years! I love this post to infinity and beyond. Thank you thank you Katie.

  • shayna

    this is so eloquent, so relevant, and exactly what everyone needs to read and TRULY digest (pun intended). thank you for always being honest and saying things so simply. your blog is one of my favorites because you capture the mind and body and the scientific and social aspects of food/life/community/health. thank you!! definitely bookmarking this

  • Emily

    Hi Katie,
    My challenge for myself today is to really listen to my BRAIN and what it wants!!

    Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom, love, and advice with us.

    xoxo,
    Emily

  • Bilyana

    Hi Katie!

    This is one of the best things I’ve read in a long time! I feel like so many of us can relate. I truly believe that feeding our brains with nourishing foods makes such a difference and your blog/IG is a great resource. You blend of humor and research make it so fun to be a reader 🙂 Thanks for all you do!

  • Kyle

    F*ck Yeah lady!!!!

  • Hannah

    Exactly.

    You ROCK, Katie 🙂 Thank you, thank you for this.

  • Carolina

    Hi Katie!
    Fellow Bostonian here!…this post just resonated so deeply that I had to leave a comment . As a former vegan who recently started to incorporate eggs, ghee, & wild caught fish to help with gut health & some digestive issues; I can’t thank you enough for sharing this!! The labels we give ourselves are truly so damaging in so many ways, I would of never thought that I would have to talk myself through the guilt and negative emotions that came with eating animal foods!! Re- training my self to listen to what my body wants instead of what I want to give it based on an ideal & label I’ve had for years has been challenging! but I am excited to say that it does get easier everyday & I find myself valuing my decisions more, & being more compassionate towards me. Thank you again for sharing!! xo #forloveandgreens

    • Katie

      Thank you so much for your comment, Carolina!! I agree with you completely – the guilt is pretty absurd and just entirely unnecessary. Labels can be both physically and psychologically damaging and prevent real progress and comprehensive wellbeing. Glad to hear you’re in the re-training phase and that it’s getting a bit easier day by day! xoxo, Katie

  • Ashley Diana

    Couldn’t agree more Katie! 😍

  • Charity

    Thank you so much for writing this! I can’t even begin to tell you how much I needed to here this. I am struggling so much with wanting to focus on my appearance and be a certain way, when what I really need right now is to focus on healing and how I feel. It feels impossible to love myself but I am going to give it a try. Thank you for your Instagram and your blog. It is super helpful for me and has also helped me in figuring out what my passion is and what I want to do as well. Much love ❤️

    -Charity

    • Katie

      Oh my goodness, Charity, thank you so much for sharing this! I’m so grateful you took the time to read and that some of it resonated with you. Focusing on feeling was the most transformative shift for me, and such a great place to start. Just by looking at your blog and IG I can tell your husband and daughter are so lucky to have you! Thank ou again for your kind words xo

  • Annaliese

    With all the disordered thoughts around food and misconstructed beliefs of health this post was INCREDIBLE! I agreed with every word!

  • Lauren

    This is spot on. The world needs this! Keep doing what you are doing, you are an inspiration and encouragement to those (like me) who have struggled with food + what others think about eating choices.

  • Cathryn

    Thank you so so much for sharing this! It’s a needed message. You are promoting such happiness and light in a health world that can seem so dark sometimes, thank you for doing what you do, thank you for being you 🙂

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