Having worked in this field (nutrition/eating psychology) for over 10 years now, I stand both as an insider and an onlooker into the nutritional world and see a culture fascinated, infatuated, obsessed, conflicted, dogmatic, undernourished, asleep, righteous, and neurotic around food on many different levels and, I do believe, for many good reasons.
Even as health and nutritional coaching continue to take first world countries around the world by storm, admirable in their pursuits to clean things up, somewhere eating well has become a badge of honor, a way to simply be better, cleaner, and almost less touched by life.
Have you noticed this?
AND….at the same time, collective awareness has expanded regarding the importance of supporting our local farmers, growing our own food and herbs, and knowing what our food is made of and what conditions its grown in.
Things most of us can agree are progress.
All considered, the interest in healthy eating has picked up some unhealthy baggage along the way.
Personal baggage: as individuals work toward attaining the ideals of being healthy, of doing it “right”, of looking great – goals that can turn out to be oppressive and complicated with hidden motivations, say, when deciding what to order for dinner or how to lose some weight.
Collective baggage: as we as a people are experiencing a loss of a solid center of orientation. Enter the media exploiting this, feeding us images and ideals of what makes a good and successful life – weight, youth, a perfect diet. These become the center of orientation and can trigger the type of shame that encourages perfectionism and food fundamentalism.
How do we sort through it all?
Turns out, a multi-layered way…
As you likely know, I love helping people heal and feel better physically and more confident about their eating. I’ve had an interest in the body and the variety of therapies available to support it, one of which includes diet.
And still, nutritional work alone, without space for the inner life is not enough…it just isn’t.
Think about going to a nutritionist and simply being handed a list of foods to eat and to avoid (Have we not all been there at some point? Even just researching online…)
Does this feel great? Really? Does it last for the long haul?
We don’t know if the “clean eaters” beautiful diet is riddled with fear of weight gain or impurity or if the local foods activist feels contempt towards those that buy non-local foods, including themselves.
So forget the outer appearance for a moment. Who exactly is doing the eating here? What’s driving the pursuit?
Some of the greatest work we’ll do in life has much to do with loving ourselves and touching our most pained or unskilled places with grace and a compassionate heart.
This includes our eating.
An area, I’ve learned in this work, that needs a lot of love.
For all who continue to navigate the wild world of nutrition: There are endless ways to work with food and the diet, but WHO is doing it and in what spirit, is what makes all the difference…
Laura Burkett Gutierrez is a holistic nutrition & eating psychology coach, teacher, and healer based in West Michigan. She’s been supporting her clients holistically drawing on her education and background in ancient & modern nutritional theory, eating and depth psychology, IFS therapy, and psycho-shamanism for over 10 years. You can read more about her work at realfoodwellness.com