in LEARN | 22 Dec 2016

Our greatest love in life. This may surprise you...

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food" - George Bernard Shaw

We have many loves in our lives, but the love of food is a simple one. There is nothing quite like the delight of eating. The anticipation. The smell wafting through the room. The taste. A multitude of sensations lingering on your tongue. The touch. The texture. Food consistently pleases and sustains us. So much joy, pleasure and satisfaction can be derived from the luxury of eating.

Consider our first source of food as humans. Our mothers. Not only did they provide vital nourishment, but this feeding process creates an irreplaceable bond between mother and child. The pattern of love growing over the sharing of food is one that is repeated throughout our lives.

Think about modern romance. The majority of dates revolve around food and drink. As we get to know someone more intimately the dates change from a coffee, to a drink, to eating together. Slowly eaten long dinners are the hallmark of romance. And friends bond over sharing food.  Eating together gives us a sense of belonging and intimacy. Interestingly, studies have shown that isolated people have the lowest nutrient intake.

Of course don't forget the importance of self love. Studies have also shown that those with a high self esteem eat better and consume more nutrients. Not so peculiar. If you really care about your wellbeing, you care about your body and what you put in it. All foods and liquids that pass through our lips impact us in some way, take for example our brain. Foods high in serotonin such as walnuts, bananas, tomatoes, pineapple and fish make us happier. Too much sugar or carbohydrates deplete our serotonin making us feel bluer.

In ancient times elders knew the medicinal properties of everything we ate. There were natural remedies on hand for each ailment made from plants, roots, herbs, and flowers. So many modern illnesses are derived from our lifestyles and diets, so its time to reawaken this knowledge, and understand exactly what we're putting into our bodies. If you've got the flu don't just take a paracetamol, eat foods such as ginger or turmeric that strengthen immunity. This not only alleviates symptoms, but also provides nourishment to prevent future reoccurrence. Understanding what we're eating is one of the simplest ways to be more connected to our bodies and its metabolic processes.

Once you are connected with what you are eating, you can then become more aware of how you eat. This is easier said then done, but even just moments of this are rewarding. Eat with love and self-compassion. Practise mindful eating. Enjoy delicious food in moderation. Sit down to eat. Savour each bite. Think about what you're eating. Be aware of the ingredients of foods. Try to taste every flavour. Eat until you are no longer hungry, stop eating before you are full. Loving yourself is being attuned to your body. Know what makes you feel good, what gives you energy and what leaves you lethargic or ill.

Wondering how to put it into practise? One of the easiest ways to reset your body and start a new page is to do a cleanse. It give the digestive system a break and flushes out toxins. After a fast you are a lot more mindful of what you are eating. You are aware of everything you put in your body. You savour each mouthful. You recognise when you are hungry. You recognise when you are full. You enjoy the complex flavours of food, and take pleasure in each mouthful.

This festive season could be an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with food. Eat compassionately. Eat what makes you feel good. Eat with loved ones and cement those intimate bonds.