I am unsure of exactly when, but at some point I started worrying about food: food sources, food safety, food processing, farming practices, and the list goes on. There was a time in my life where I lived in blissful ignorance of the fact that food differs in the extent to which it is good or bad for human health, good or bad for the environment, and good or bad for the people farming and manufacturing the food.
I no longer live in that blissful state of ignorance, and I must admit, food can now seem stressful. By stressful, I mean it can feel like I am always doing the wrong thing, buying the wrong product, or making the wrong decision no matter how hard I try or how many labels I read.
I think I am supposed to be eating local. But, what if the local farm isn’t organic? And, what if it is not organic because of cryptic laws about being truly deemed organic rather than because the farming practices are not organic? What if it is organic, but also a GMO? Am I supposed to be avoiding GMOs? What if I just want to eat a slice of pizza or can’t afford to eat food with all the specifications I just mentioned?
Ultimately, I just want to be the healthiest, most balanced that I can be. Yet, what I should be doing, buying, and paying attention to in order to do this can be truly difficult to figure out. For me, this lead to fear. Not the kind of fear that sends you running and screaming, but just a constant hum of anxiety caused by wondering whether I should have made a different choice. The thing is, approaching nourishment with fear is not going to keep my body healthy. In fact, it is antithetical to proper nourishment. It is instead going to flood my body with stress hormones that are more toxic than most foods I could have chosen.Want to make sure your body responds poorly to that slice of pizza? Just make sure it is flooded with stress hormones.
Furthermore, fear leads me to hide rather than share my food choices with others. If I am worried about whether I am buying what the right foods or supporting the right farming practices, the right farmers, or the right industries, I am not going to shout that from the rooftops. I am instead going to hope you don’t ask me about my food so I don’t have to worry about how to answer. Then the conversation never happens, but change also never happens. Fear closes people off and shuts them down, and that is that last thing we need when the conversation matters for our health and the health of the planet.
So, if worrying about what is on your plate isn’t going to help you, what do I suggest? I suggest we start by taking one big collective deep breath. Then, I suggesting trying what worked for me. Just use your intuition to the best of your ability.
I pay attention to how my food choices make me feel both emotionally and physically. I feel better emotionally when I know the source of my food. I do a little emotional happy dance when I know the farmer or the source personally. I know I feel better physically when I eat fresh organic produce. It allows me to work all day or all night and still have enough energy to see my friends, pop into a yoga class, or both. So now, instead of fearing food, holding my breath, making a choice, and ending up in a non-productive pessimistic cycle of worry, I calmly do what I can do, accept what I can’t do, and know that my intuition will let me know if I am moving in the right direction with my choices. When you really aren’t sure, start a conversation. I am sure you aren’t alone in wondering.
Fear itself is toxic. Since I aim to be a less toxic me, contributing to a less toxic planet, there is no reason to be adding any more fear to my own psyche or to the world. Ultimately, being at peace with myself in the moment is the most important thing I can do. For me, that has translated into better more conscious choices that promote my own health and the health of my community.