Crowding in Soul Food
The next instalment in our series of Gentle Nutrition and foods to crowd-in for health might surprise you, but I believe it is essential.
By soul foods, I mean those foods that may not necessarily be health approved but that make your soul sing. These are the chocolate cakes on your child’s birthdays, the fish and chips with your family on the beach or a decadent slice at a local café with your best friends.
What constitutes ‘soul food’ for one person may differ from others but ultimately – it’s those foods commonly referred to as ‘treats’ in the sense that they just plain make us happy.
These foods nourish our hearts and spirits and by doing so also nourish our physical bodies as well.
Contrary to popular belief there is no one food that will heal or harm, it’s the dose that matters. Even too much kale could make you sick!
So why do I advocate including these foods in your lives?
Because when we label them as poison, toxic, bad, naughty or whatever other names you give them, we then restrict – which ultimately leaves you wanting more anyway. Cravings are simply a result of deprivation.
Just imagine that I told you that starting tomorrow, you could never have your favourite food again. I don’t know about you, but I know I’d be going out and overdoing it on that food as soon as possible. Demonising food only puts it on a pedestal and gives it far too much power.
Many European cultures and even those hot spot blue zones (where people live well into their hundreds) engage in the occasional food as a celebration. For the French, in particular, food is a pleasure and food quality is imperative. When enjoying bread, chocolate, or whatever soul food you want to include – it’s made with quality ingredients, it’s satisfying, it’s pleasurable and the experience is that of gratitude.
That’s the joy of eating many of us are missing. Instead, we deprive deprive deprive until we cave and we all know what happens then. We feel like we blew it, so we might as well keep going! A delicious enjoyable ‘treat’ turns into a week of indulgence, guilt and shame. Surely it would be more beneficial to just eat it, enjoy it, be grateful and move on?
So how do we crowd in soul foods without worrying about it turning to a week-long binge?
I admit that this takes some time for some but by engaging in some of the following steps you’re heading in the right direction.
- By practising this acceptance that all foods fit. Knowing you can have a particular food if you want it creates abundance. Scarcity simply drives up the need while abundance makes us feel safe and comfortable in knowing that we can enjoy this food when the time comes. For me, this meant my cravings disappearing and getting much more enjoyment out of food. In between, eat a variety of nutrient dense foods that your body needs and enjoy the times when an opportunity to have some soul food pops up.
- Make quality matter. Just like the French’s indulgences, quality is important. Why waste an enjoyable bit of soul food on cheap junk (unless you LOVE cheap junk). If you want chocolate – get the best you can buy. Want bread? Grab something fresh and delicious. You’ll find yourself far more satisfied in the long run and less likely to over do it.
- Start with ‘normal sized’ amounts or take yourself out to a café or restaurant. This just helps to break highway hypnosis with eating and gives you a chance to slow down and truly enjoy it.
- Make sure you want it. When was the last time you actually checked in to ask yourself if you genuinely want a certain food? We tend to grab and go with food and eat unconsciously –so by pressing pause you’re enabling yourself to check in, assess whether you actually feel like this treat or whether you’re simply grabbing because it’s there. Check in with what I call “The 4 really rule”. Stop, check in and ask yourself if you “really, really, really, really” want it. If the answer is yes, proceed to steps 5 and 6.
- Eat mindfully. So you’ve got an opportunity to eat some soul food, yay, enjoy it! We call ourselves foodies and yet we eat entire meals in minutes. If we can take the time to truly experience the complex flavours, aromas and textures of our favourite foods the experience is going to go a lot further. Think of it like a fine wine – make it an experience and enjoy each bite slowly engaging all your senses.
- Eat gratefully. This is so important! If you’re eating a food that you may have once branded as ‘bad’ I want you to work towards changing your thinking knowing that no one food will harm you. Instead of anxiety or guilt – truly take a moment to enjoy what you’re eating. Savour it and express sincere gratitude that you get to enjoy such an amazing food, know you can have it again, celebrate each experience and move on. Compassion is key.
It’s my mission as a Nutrition Coach to help people achieve their health goals without having to give up their favourite foods. Life is just too short and food is far too enjoyable.
These decadent chocolate truffles will nourish the heart AND body. Enjoy!
- 6 tablespoon Smooth Cashew Butter
- 2 tablespoon Coconut Oil, melted
- 4 tablespoon Cacao Powder
- 2 tablespoon Coconut Nectar or maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- 1 70-85% dark Chocolate Bar (I love Green and Blacks)
Mix all the ingredients together except for the chocolate. Pour into mini muffin moulds or other suitable moulds. Place in the freezer to harden.
Meanwhile, melt the dark chocolate over a double boiler. Once the mixture in the freezer is hard. Remove from the moulds and use a fork to dip each one into the melted chocolate. Place on a baking paper lined board of some sort and then return to the freezer to harden.
About Michelle Yandle
Michelle Yandle is a Health and Nutrition Coach on her way to becoming a Clinical Nutritionist with The Holistic Performance Institute., She is also an international speaker with IISB, successful entrepreneur and two-time author with a focus on traditional diets for health, and nutrition coaching for Empowered Eating™.
Michelle has a bachelor degree from Dalhousie University, Halifax, a graduate degree in education from the University of Maine at Fort Kent, and also holds certificates in health and nutrition coaching through the school of Holistic Performance Nutrition, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Cadence Health in New Zealand.
More about Michelle…