The blog below is a guest contribution by my good friend Tanya, founder of The Wellness Hub (NZ).  We're sure to be hearing much more from Tanya in the future. Why? Her words are powerful, discover for yourself!

Follow her bog here.

February 19, 2014

One of the things that I really hope to inspire in other people is being able to see the enjoyment and pleasure in food. Being able to look at food in a different light, and seeing the real beauty in fresh produce, and the richness it can bring to your life in the form of good health and creativity.

Earlier this week I was really questioned on why I eat the way I do and how could I prove or promote that my way of eating was best for everyone?! I was then challenged as to how ridiculous it was that I ate the way I did because I was already "tiny".

Truth is, I can't tell you all that how I eat and the recommendations I have been given are best for all of you! And I most certainly don't follow the recommendations from my specialist for weight loss purposes. I eat more these days than I used to, purely to keep on and maintain my weight.

My mess is my message and the whole point of my wee Hub here is to provide, from my own personal experience, encouragement for you to all find approaches to nourishment and wellness that works best for YOU! It certainly isn't to promote that my way of life is 'perfect' (I fall from grace often), or 'right' for you!

Again (as I have said a few times before), draw on all the conflicting wisdoms to create a wellness plan unique for you, and you alone! Ask questions! Research! Try approaches out for yourself. Keep a wellness diary. And see what serves you and let go of what doesn't.

My conversation got me thinking (and yes, I am grateful for my oppositions line of questioning - thank you!): Why is it that some of us don't enjoy food anymore?

I believe, with the constant barrage of food information and advertising in today’s society, food has become too overwhelming. People are confused, nervous, and even afraid of food – kind of insane don't you think?

So, what can we do?

I also believe that a large percentage of the world’s health problems today are diet related.

This is probably why we all keep searching for that ‘perfect’ diet which will make us immune to the diseases surrounding us (yes, that is me!). We have tried to find this perfect diet by looking back in time from two hundred years ago, to two hundred thousand years ago. We have tried eliminating either fat, or carbohydrates, or animal protein. We have fasted, we have detoxed, and we have restricted calories. Of course, there are certainly benefits to every ‘diet,’ but are we really (I mean, really) questioning how they weigh up.

We should know what foods are good for us. We know portion size is important.  We know to avoid processed and packaged foods. We know that we need to eat a combination of protein, fats and carbohydrates. We know that every day we need to learn more and improve on our own health. And finally, but most importantly, we know that we need to enjoy and take pleasure in the food that we eat.

So, why is it important that we enjoy our food?

We all are aware (I hope!) of the detrimental health effects yo-yo dieting can cause. But do we ever think about the underlying, emotional, impact? For instance, is it possible that we are losing quality of life by not sitting back and really enjoying our food? Good health is not only about nourishing our body with good food, but also nourishing our psyche with positive emotions.  Is it worth feeling unhappy and completely uninspired by the food you are eating?  Does feeling constant guilt about your diet promote harmful outcomes?

Rewinding to a few years ago, I would eat (or not) out of fear. I was so strict on myself with a whole lot of 'shouldn't eat... this, that... etc... because it will make me fat'... If I was to eat chocolate or high carbohydrate foods, I would feel extremely guilty and be at the gym as soon as possible to burn it off. Crazy! Yes, absolutely. Definitely. Certainly. Crazy!

These days, I check in with what my body needs. And I really enjoy my food. I certainly have a recommended diet of low carbohydrates. But this isn't for the purpose of my weight as a number, or my size of clothes. It is for the purpose of improving my health as much as possible! There are days where I really feel like a higher dose of carbohydrates. Where I crave pasta, or bread. So sometimes I 'indulge', making fresh quinoa pasta instead of white flour based pasta. There are days where I feel like chocolate, so I'll have the 70% dark, bitter version. For me, it's all about 'listening' and then making a conscious decision to make nourishing choices that are best for me (and avoiding some of the pay-backs for doing so).

The point I am getting at is that we should not feel like food is just a chore. That it is just something we have to do to fuel our bodies. I think food should be much more than that. It should be a social occasion, a creative outlet, and a heartfelt experience. Food should be eaten with complete consciousness, and not about whether it is going to make you fat or skinny, but conscious in the fact that this it’s a gift from our earth.

Don’t feel so bad about those occasional indulgences, relish in the enjoyment that that little treat gave you.  You have already eaten it, and no amount of guilt is going to change that.

We shouldn’t feel the need to live our lives by what the scales say.

We should live our lives fully!

Food is essentially only a fuel source, but we are highly complex organisms, and we need it more than just to keep our motors running.  Food is love. It is a gift. It is a social experience. It is nourishing. It is altruistic.  And in New Zealand (and many places around the World), there is an abundance of it, so ENJOY!!!

I believe we should all just embrace the art of eating sensibly. Eat a balance of all foods.  Eat a healthy amount. Eat foods for you, and not to please anyone or anything (those nagging scales), else.

And finally, eat enjoyable foods for a richer and healthier life.

It's about being kind to yourself. Always, always be gentle and kind to yourself!