Food matters. Food matters a lot. A whole lot. While these comments are repetitious seeming, you’d be surprised at how many people don’t know about food.

At one of my heart chakra yoga class, I brought homemade chocolate truffles. One of the ladies in the group went on to say how she doesn’t taste her food. How it makes her miserable and she only eats scrambled eggs and tries to shovel them down as fast as possible so she doesn’t have to taste them.

My mind and eyes both exploded out of my skull. Instinctually, I made her stop shoving the second truffle in her mouth, and together as a group, I taught them all how to eat chocolate. For the first time ever, this woman actually tasted something that went into her mouth.

I try to think about how I got so serious about food. Moments like when I first met my best friend and I almost screamed when she went in to cut a soft blue cheese –– at the wrong angle –– with the wrong knife. We laugh at this story today, however, my impulses remain the same.

I peg my passion for food on my Sicilian heritage. I was raised around amazing authentic European cooking all of my life. My family has a motto “if it doesn’t eat us first, we will eat it”. This very much stands true as I have eaten live things, like sea urchins. This background explains my love for eating food… but when did it really become a slice of my soul?

As a child, I was very connected to nature, and the logic that this earth is beautiful and has nourishing things to offer. That we should honor and love and respect the things that give us life every day. Yes, I was that child who ate a giant wild mushroom in the backyard after a roasted portabello dinner.

I never participated in sports growing up, until high school and then track and pole vaulting entered my life. I was very serious about winning in all of my events in track & field. It became mind consuming… the destruction of other competitor’s efforts. I knew I had one leg up on everyone… I had an amazing food culture at home.

I was hyper-aware that what I put in my body was the result I got out of it. When I trained for WVU’s pole vaulting team this idea that “food is fuel” could never have been more true. Every calorie mattered. Every kind of organic matter I put in my body would mean the difference in recovery, training, and performance. The fuel I put in my mouth would shape not only my body and the way muscle was built, but it would also measure my health. 

I was very much a normal person, I drank Starbucks and ate cookies and such. I could feel the effect inside my body when I consumed things. Drinking coffee on an empty stomach would leave me anxious, jittery, and cold. Pasta was wholesome seeming, but it would leave me tired and hungry. Oreos made my mouth happy, but after a whole pack, my bowels were very unhappy. 

We all feel these changes in our body when we eat. Why don’t we care more about these good and uncomfortable feelings? Or rather, why don’t we choose something better for ourselves? I don’t have the answers. I do have personal advice based on my life with food to share. A new perspective to look at the food we eat.

If we eat too much of certain foods we can acquire terrible health diseases for the rest of our lives. Eating the right (er) things can mean the difference between a happy bowel release and a regretful one. (why spicey food, whyyyy!?) Eating for OUR body brings us to a truer weight and mood that reflects the person on the inside. 

Food does matter. Everything that you choose to put into your mouth is your choice. I had a friend with a list of health issues like high blood pressure and he liked to eat out a lot. He had a conversation with his doctor about his eating habits and his doctor asked how much he ate out. He ate out a lot, and his reason was meeting up with friends. His doctor informed him that these foods were too greasy and salty, etc. My friend’s response was “well I can’t be responsible for the food that the restaurant cooks”. 

Who is supposed to be responsible for his health then? Should his friends make better restaurant selections based on his health needs? Should he go back into the kitchen and yell at the chef for putting too much salt or fat in his food?

I’m sad to say, only my friend is truly responsible for his own health. We are responsible for OUR health. Sure, if your a kid then mom/dad might be responsible for the food that’s on the table, but you’re probably not a kid. 

Maybe you work late and your partner prepares the meals and you leave that territory to them? Although, a conversation about the meals prepared in your home is still partly your business. Especially if it’s costing you your health/ life. It has to start from you.

I’m not a health nut. I have done a lot of food research. I have tried “diets” and food fads and I was even gluten-free for a decade (because my body felt like SHIT). 

What I love the most about trying different diets* is how they can open the mind up to new foods. New ways to prep, eat and serve food. When you shift the list of ingredients of ingestion your body will act differently. 

This just step one. The job you have now is to notice. Notice what gives you energy for a long time. What doesn’t sustain you at all? What makes you feel light? What makes you feel heavy?

These answers are the key to finding your perfect diet! And this will change every season, every year, and as life goes on. Your constitution will need different things in life. Something that kills your body today could be your new hangover cure in 20 years. The best thing you could ever do for your body and your food relationship is to notice how you feel.

Food matters. It matters a lot. It matters more than you think. Food affects your mood, stamina and body figure. It affects your hormones, brain chemistry, your intelligence (maybe? We always said fish was brain food!). 

The next time you go shopping, think about what’s in your cart. How many preservatives are on the ingredients list? Does your food even have an ingredients list? What shapes are in your cart? Can you swap the frozen burger for some local beef and homemade buns?

Food matters. It matters a lot. Take a moment and think about how you fuel your body.

*Diet: The routine of foods you consume. It does not mean a list of foods that make you lose weight. A diet is what you eat today. Ex. My baby chicks have a diet of worms. –– My baby chicks are not trying to lose weight.