I LOVE food, I love everything about it.

I love cooking it, I love shopping for it, I love learning about it, and probably more than any of that, I love the way food brings people together.

There’s a section on National Geographic called The Joy of Food.  If you’ve never read it, I really recommend checking it out.  On the homepage, there’s the question “What is it about eating that brings us closer together?”

Food is more than survival. With it we make friends, court lovers, and count our blessings. The sharing of food has always been part of the human story.

The sharing of food. Yum on so many levels.

Food, its nutrients, and what it symbolizes on a cultural level, is incredibly powerful. If you’ve never thought about it that way.  Stop, take a minute, and think about how much food has impacted your life.  You might be surprised by some of the undertones.

While powerful, it’s also a funny and disheartening thing at times, too. While food can often bring us closer together in celebration it can pull us a part in class differentiation and anger – separating the haves and the have nots. It can make us feel ‘bad’ about ourselves and cause comparison amongst friends.  It provides jobs, but some of them very unglamorous.

I’ve had a longstanding love affair with food.  I remember watching my mom make my brother’s baby food with vegetables from the garden, the way the fork pressed in to the peanut butter cookies to imprint them before they made their way to the oven, and the shapes my grandmother used to make out of pancakes. I remember loving the way the eggs folded into the flour to make muffins and the smells that make me nostalgic for the holidays or summer BBQ season.

I love to go to restaurants and recreate meals I love at home.  I love to make some of my favorite desserts in a healthier version and I love to indulge in my favorite gooey, buttery cookies.  I love researching the food culture of a new city before a trip. I love how the perfect wine can make a meal 100x better.

And there is nothing more I love than making food and crowding around a dinner table for hours in wonderful conversations and laughs.

These are my best food memories and probably many that I’m forgetting.  There are some not so nice food memories in there too, like struggling off and on finding a well balanced, non-judgmental, non-comparison, what works for me way of eating and relationship with food. I’ll be honest, it’s been hard at times.

I started cooking for myself when I was in middle school, and it quickly became my space for active meditation, creativity, and inspiration. Soon after middle school, okay awhile after middle school, the beverages found their way on to the table and the love affair continued and grew stronger.

Then, I realized something greater.  Food affects us.  It’s not just flavors, calories, and textures, what we eat actually can change our bodies, our minds, and our soul.  Health and nutrition have always been important to me, but upon studying at IIN, listening to Jamie Oliver’s TED Talk and Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food, which is now a documentary, this understanding has taken me even deeper in wanting to understand what we put in our bodies and feeling passionate about helping more people have access to better food, so they too can feel their best.

While I’m especially passionate about kids getting proper nutrition (re: Jamie Oliver ^), accessibility and education is what we lack so greatly in our country and increasingly all over the world.

Here are a few of my favorite surprising quick facts:

  • Many chronic diseases like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, can be prevented proper diet and lifestyle
  • Food affects your mood. Calories are energy that your organs use to function effectively. When you feed your body good energy, your body is able to perform in the ways that you desire.
  • The government and food conglomerates play a huge role in what we eat. Remember the scene in Father of the Bride…the hot dog guy got together with the guy at the bun factory so you’d have to buy two bags of buns to use all the hot dogs? It’s kind of like that but with wheat, corn, and soy.
  • Children are the biggest targets for marketing of the big food conglomerates
  • Not only are we ruining our bodies and our minds through processed and chemically inhibited foods, we’re also ruining the earth

If you’ve ever had brain fog, a 3 pm slump, weight gain, poor skin, thyroid issues, and poor digestion to name a few, you’re probably victim to the standard American diet, like many of us are! You’re not alone…I’ve been there too J

Fortunately…it’s fixable.  Our bodies have the incredible ability to heal themselves through proper diet and lifestyle choices.

Here are my favorite quick healthy diet fixes:

  • Eat whole, real, unprocessed foods that you make for yourself as much as possible. Do this by making a meal plan and prepping in advance.  Once your food is ready, it will take you 10 minutes to make your lunch instead of grabbing something around the corner from the office or skipping lunch all together.  If you’re in a pinch and need something store bought look for something organic with as few ingredients as possible.
  • Eat more vegetables. It’s that simple.  Add more vegetables than anything else to your plate and eat those first.  You’ll fill up and find yourself wanting less.
  • Eliminate added sugar from your diet. Sugar is so dangerous…it’s addicting, just like a drug and the effects are drug-like. Fill your plate with nutrient dense foods and you’ll find that you crave sugar less.  If you find yourself wanting sugar, congrats, you’re human reach for dark chocolate, dates, or fruit.
  • Drink more water. Drink your water right when you wake up in the morning.  You’ll be so much more likely to get enough.
  • Sleep. Sleep. 7-9 hours every night. Your body needs rest and recovery.
  • Move your body. Regular exercise, even just a walk plays a crucial role in your health and fighting disease.  Start with a walk after every meal. Even just 10 minutes will make a difference!

I know it can feel intimidating to make changes to your diet.  Food is fun and it can be emotional.  Take it one step at a time, making one step at a change.

Implementing healthy habits like these into my daily life actually makes me love food even more.  I try to eat well most of the time, but like anyone, I love my treats, and I don’t hold back. A cheese plate, margaritas, cake, pizza, dinners out have a place in a healthy well-balanced life.

Do you love food as much as I do? Let me know what you think in the comments section below, or if you’re more private, shoot me an email to hailey@hailey-miller.com.

Lots of love,