5 Principles of Fooition
Here are some guidelines to get you started. Use these as building blocks to explore and develop your sense of Fooition.
1) Fooition is both inherent and learned.
Much like good posture, babies are born with a natural inclination to use good body mechanics but they can quickly become influenced by their environment. In this modern day, it is all too common for young adults to completely forget how they once aligned their body; subsequently bad posture feels completely natural to them. Fooition is something we were all born with, yet for many of us it was corrupted even in stages of infancy. Cheerios and sweetened baby food are enough to create an early sugar addiction. After all, sugar is one of the most effective substances in silencing or corrupting our Fooition.
It is never too late to re-learn a sense of Fooition. We can awaken and re-train our Fooition to be our friend. It may think you don’t want its opinion anymore but all that takes is a few conversations. Once you become aware of your Fooition again, the two of you might notice that your both confused. Like a neglected child, your Fooition may need some guidance and nourishment before it can grow to serve your best interests. Be patient with yourself and your Fooition. Start to pay attention to how individual foods and eating habits make you feel. Do you feel sluggish after eat certain meats? Do you feel bloated when you eat certain vegetables? Does eating when your stressed leave you with a stomach ache? Just beginning to encourage this kind of awareness will be an invite to get your Fooition back in the game.
2) Fooition does not equal food cravings.
It can be confusing when we first start to try and connect with our inner sense of Fooition. You might think, wait a second the voice in my head is telling me to drink coffee and eat doughnuts for breakfast! That can’t be healthy, right? Well, the short answer is no, its not. But that doesn’t mean you should give up on being able to rely on yourself to make healthy eating choices. As foodizens of societies that promote industrial agriculture, convenience as king, and a near obsessive approach to diet, it is hard not to have an addictive relationship with food. You might hear an inner voice that sounds like a 2 year old on the verge of a tantrum, demanding that at this very moment you must ingest potato chips or cookies, but this voice may not be entirely yours. External forces have never before had such influence on the way we eat. The advertising, the FDA, the multi-national food corporations, the latest research, the trendiest diets, and the contradictory expert opinions have all found a home and a loudspeaker in our subconscious.
Stripping away food addictions is the first step to having a genuine relationship with our Fooition. If it seems your Fooition is trying to sabotage you, remember that it is only food cravings you hear, screaming over the whisper your neglected Fooition. A diet full of coffee, sugar and processed treats can literally overpower the more subtle intuition that is inherent to our beings. 20 seconds of deep-breathing before every meal can get your body and mind in a place where Fooition has a chance to be heard. Practice bringing more awareness into your eating; the chewing, the breathing, the taste and texture.
3) There is no ONE diet for Everybody, because every BODY is different!
In much of the Western World diet has become a word that can carry stress, confusion, even judgement. In our frenzy to find the ‘One-Size Fits All Diet,’ the health panacea, the food system in the US conceptualizes eating as a science, placing foods, and even entire food groups, into polarized categories of good and bad; healthy and unhealthy. Fooition is not practiced by counting calories and dissecting food into nutrition facts. Western nutrition tries to boil down the wonder of food to mere fuel, and our bodies to mere machines.
In contrast, ancient systems of nutrition like Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Mayan food culture view food as humankind’s primary medicine and treat it with equal respect. They recognize that “one man’s medicine is another man’s poison” and that there is no ONE diet for Everybody, because Every Body is unique. For example, in Ayurveda each of us has a dosha, or constitution characterized by an excess of a natural element: either mud, fire, or wind. If your body is naturally fiery like mine, eating “fiery” foods like hot chilis, red meat, fried foods, and even some tropical fruits may not be the best idea. Resulting symptoms will also be “fiery” like red acne spots, a quick-temper, irritable bowel syndrome, night sweats, and so on. This is not to say everyone should avoid these foods, for they may be quite useful to awaken the metabolisms of our Mud-element friends.
In China, Traditional Chinese Medicine has a similar system, along with nutritional concepts that tailor diet not only to the individual, but also to the season and climate. This may all sound very complex at first, but that is mostly because it is so opposite the tunnel-vision approach to nutrition characteristic of Western societies. Once foundational principles are understood, it becomes easy for everyday people to apply them to their lives even without formally studying nutrition. So you see, it is not about choosing the “right” foods. It is about knowing your body and the environment you live in well enough to have the two be in harmony. Recognizing the uniqueness of your own needs can empower our individual sense of how to eat and simultaneously heal our relationship with Mother Nature, who sustains us.
4) Food culture impacts Fooition at the individual level.
None of us live in a bubble. Perhaps you make attempts to cook healthy when you are at home, but when you go out to social gatherings it feels near impossible. Or maybe even in your own home you feel pressured to eat too much or too little, to eat junk food as part of a social interaction, or to eat under emotional stress. These instances are all too common for those of us living in a frenzied and fractured food culture. In many Western societies, there is little value placed on truly enjoying food and celebrating the gift of sustenance. It is ‘normal’ to watch TV while eating dinner, or carry on a boisterous conversation that borders on argument at the dinner table. The influence does not stop at family nuances and friend circles; food culture is ingrained in every aspect of society. A national work ethic that stresses non-stop productivity (or at least the appearance of productivity) does not leave room for a leisurely lunch. Even school age children are taught to shovel it in during the sometimes less than 30 min lunch break they get before recess. The media sends contradictory messages telling us we should strive to be fit, healthy and youthful yet be able to indulge quite regularly in things like Bonnie Bray ice cream and Happy Meals. All these external messages get internalized. We are impacted as individuals by the food culture of the society we live in, and increasingly by a global food culture that is exported along with a global food system.
Sometimes when we feel depressed or have experienced some trauma, it is tempting to retreat from the world and steep in our melancholy emotions. Yet many people express that they were not able to resolve or move past their personal problems until they started putting their energy towards engaging with others. It is the same when it comes to finding balanced eating habits. Finding your own Fooition can not happen by only eating what comes from your own garden and never eating with friends. Instead it can be discovered through a form of community-building that promotes self-exploration. Consider starting healthy potlucks with your neighbors or getting involved in food justice projects in your city. Remember that you are both student and teacher. If you want to improve your individual Fooition you must go out into the world and be a positive player in the food culture that surrounds you. Good company provides essential nourishment that food alone cannot!
5) Fooition Expertise is born from experience, not ethnicity.
You may find in the blog that many of the people highlighted as Fooition Experts are from foreign countries. There are references to ethnic food cultures, traditional medicine like Ayurveda and TCM and personal stories from people I either met abroad, or from refugee and immigrant groups here in the US. This is not meant to write off all Americans or Westerners as fast-food addicted, Fooitionless consumers. I think anyone can be a teacher of Fooition, and all of us, including myself, are forever students. The reason you won’t see as many interviews and anecdotes from Fooition Experts born in the US is simple: there aren’t as many. Too many of us have been numbed to our sense of Fooition due to living in a fast-food nation and a fragmented food culture. There are many young professionals in the world of health and wellness, but they are not necessarily well versed on the art of food culture. Of course there are some, and it is my hope that in future years there will be many more.
For now however, the health food movement in the US can only go so far without re-accessing not only what we eat, but how we eat. We need a food culture revolution and Fooition is the catalyst. Not all people from other countries are automatically Fooition Experts. 100 years ago it might have been fair to say everyone had a good insight or two as to how to eat well in accordance with Fooition. 50 years ago it might have been fair every food culture besides the US had something to offer. The spread of a global food system and marketing of a Western food culture has changed this. Now people from around the world are rapidly impacted by similar patterns that have plagued the health of American people. Yet, still there are many people from around the world that are connected to their vibrant and ever-adapting food cultures through everyday practices of growing, cooking, seasoning, and celebrating food. It is these wonderful people that are too seldom given the stage in the health food movement, that will be given a voice here at Fooition.