Do you believe good health means looking at the root of what is health?
In one of my earliest graduate Nutrition classes I can distinctly remember the morning where my professor put a cartoon on the front board of the classroom for us to discuss. This simple black and white cartoon has shaped one of my deepest philosophies of health.
The cartoon was showing a sink with a small water leak. There was a bucket underneath the pipes of the sink which was used to catch small drips of water that dripped, dripped, dripping continuously and slowly. This leak wasn’t a big problem because someone was there to empty the bucket when it got full.
My professor equated this cartoon to how some of us use ‘our buckets’ as band aids to temporarily fix our health problems (through using medicine as one example) when in fact, looking deeper into the cartoon as a metaphor, you could understand that this small water leak won’t ever be fixed until the reason for the leak is found. It is the same for our health. Things run smoothly with our health until that day where we too ‘spring a leak’ (oh, la,la that sounds a bit scary but you understand). By not knowing or understanding the root of our health problems we cannot rely on just medicine, nutritional supplements, fad diets or other ‘band aids’ to fix our health issues.
The underlying premise of Intuitive Eating is that you will learn to respond to your inner body cues, because you were born with all the wisdom you need for eating intuitively.
This term is not to be confused with either mindful eating or conscious eating. Mindful eating is, according to the Center For Mindful Eating, “the use of mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness helps focus our attention and awareness on the present moment.” Conscious eating is based on thinking about what foods and drink you put in your body.
In April 2010 I was interviewed by Fitness Magazine for an article on how the French eat. The article, called “Why Don’t French Women Get Fat,” was recently published in the October edition and it highlights three of my simple ways to stay slim and trim, using French techniques. In conjunction with the article, I have published here on BrightonYourHealth an E-report called “10 Simple Ways to Eat Like the French Without Having A Food Snob Attitude.” (You can get your copy of this report here, by subscribing to BrightonYourHealth). While writing this E-report and reflecting on these simple ways of eating, I was drawn into thinking about what is the real root here? The real trunk of these simple methods of eating slowly, enjoying food and recognizing our own bodies’ hunger and full cues? The real reason that fad diets don’t work over long time. The answer of how to get slim and trim or just have better health and not gain weight? Why have the French succeeded in their battle against the bulge and other differences with their health compared with other countries?
It is what I believe to be a combination of the cultural aspects of France but also their ability to use an approach to food: mindfully, intuitively, consciously.
Over the last ten years spent in France I have incorporated the cultural ways of eating à la Frenchy. Proudly, I am 100% American too and appreciate and treasure the American culture, food and relaxed atmosphere of eating. But America is in a food and eating crisis. This article would be too long to begin to discuss all the aspects of what this crisis is, how we can get out of it, what are the solutions.
And America will not be able to fully escape from the lifestyle related health issues without looking at the root of the problem. Knowing both cultures well, the American and French, and being acutely aware on the statistics on health and obesity in both countries, I believe that intuitive and conscious eating, habits ingrained in the French culture, make the difference in why Americans have higher rates of lifestyle related health issues. The French don’t necessarily eat ‘better’ foods but it is in the way they eat them.
Even in France, food traditions are dying
The French are not fanatics about always eating healthy food. You must know the French image of cream, butter and cheese: it is true, many French eat like this. But it is their way of eating, the slowness, the appreciation, the time cooking food, the ‘exigence’ (being demanding) on how the food tastes. The French are experts in this eating philosophy because it is part of their culture which has been passed down generation through generation. Even in France though, things are starting to change. ‘Quel dommage (what a shame)!’ Like a language that is disappearing, so too are the traditions of eating for pleasure and satiety, for longer meals, for intuitive eating. Is it all completely lost in America? Have we have given up the back to basics eating way too long to move forward again to restoring some practiced long ago food habits, before there were labels that some call intuitive, conscious, mindful eating? I would like to call it just EATING or just eating for pleasure and good health. What do you think? Shout out your opinion in the leave a reply below this article.
If you enjoyed this article today, why not share it with your favorite social media or by email to friends and family. You can find links below.