As a holistic health counselor and conscious eater I have firsthand experience of my own and others turmoil’s around personal shifts in health and nutrition. I have come a long way from neurotically not caring at all what I ate as long it tasted good, to neurotically only eating the highest quality organic, biodynamic, anti-biotic free, preservative free foods. I have been vegetarian, only eaten raw foods, and have rigidly erased one ingredient after another in the attempt and quest for optimal health. Essentially it has been an amazing but often inflexible path when I decided to take my health into my own hands. The sanity was that I had been sick for most of my life, and had completely healed myself through holistic remedies, particularly nutrition.
Although I felt better, most of my health symptoms diminished and I was well educated about nutrition, my health became unmanageable when I would visit family or friends. My mama’s meals I loved as a child became a haven for my nutrition-snob criticisms and rationalizations for why I shouldn’t eat it. When a good friend would invite me out to a local burger joint I would pass. When the birthday cakes would be sliced I would deny myself the pleasure, and instead think all about the studies and facts about food that were now controlling my life.
Essentially my education was now making me too smart for my own good. I wasn’t able to enjoy a meal without having a parade of after thoughts and regret. I had forgotten how to enjoy life, family, and celebrations where food often plays an essential role, regardless of how healthy or unhealthy those foods may be. Now I am not saying to disregard healthy food choices, particularly if there is an illness you can heal through modifying certain foods. I am saying that after going through an evolutionary process in my nutritional paradigm, I have come to a middle ground. I will never forget when one of my greatest mentors said to me “I don’t care what kind of biodynamic fancy foods you are eating if you are feeling horrible on the inside. It would probably be better to eat a twinkie with gratitude.”
I am not de-emphasizing the importance of having a solid ground and knowledge of supportive foods and lifestyle habits. Certain diseases and healing processes require each of us to say no to certain foods at particular points in our lives. The strictness that may arise from the process of shifting our personal health needs may be the perfect learning curve for finding true balance. We are never going to be perfect in our food choices, but being perfect isn’t the goal, being healthy is. One way I recommend to clients in supporting this process is called the “90-10 diet”. This means that 90% of the time we make healthy choices, 10% of the time we indulge with joy! Go to the birthday party and eat the cake, go out with your friends and get what you would really love to eat on the menu without guilt or shame about it. Most importantly enjoy your life, enjoy every bite of food, enjoy your family and its traditions, and be grateful for all you have, your health depends on it.
Written By: Rebecca Elise Norton
Rebecca Elise Norton is a Brooklyn bread Holistic Health & Nutrition Counselor, Teacher, and Contemplative Artist empowering individuals and groups to live healthy and inspired lives. Her background also includes in depth study of Expressive Arts, Contemplative Christianity, Buddhist meditation, Peruvian Shamanism, and Jungian Dreamwork. Through personal commitment to health and life visioning Rebecca believes we each have the potential to awaken to the loving, creative, and abundant Presence that seeks to express through us.