Over the past month or two, I’ve felt riddled with anxiety whenever opening instagram, emails, text messages, and anything with a deadline of like… yesterday. I don’t say that for pity because I can confidently say we’ve all been there. We live in an era of more more more leaving less time for taking care of ourselves.
I wanted to write this because writing lets me let it out and let it go. Instead of bottling it up inside, I can release it and essentially lock it up in a notebook. Unfortunately, I don’t have my Lisa Frank diary anymore but you better believe that baby had an actual lock.
Focusing on how food nourishes and brings people together always increases my mood, and I thought this community would be a good place to share it. Taking a break from social media, honing in on things that bring me joy, and focusing on taking care of myself made me realize how important food is in my life, and how much more than “food” it really is.
For me, it can be difficult to genuinely express gratitude when I’m going through a stressful time or am frustrated with another person. I start forcing things like “today I’m grateful for my desk.” Okay, yes but we could probably dig a little bit deeper there. So I start with food gratitude and let it spin off from there.
Baking + Cooking
As I’m writing this I’m realizing that baking and cooking could potentially bring more anxiety to a situation. Ever find an “easy” recipe online, then realize you have to zest 74 lemons and grow your own rosemary while the oven is pre-heating?
Last week I was studying for an exam that I had to pass in order to graduate. ~No pressure.~ I was feeling extremely overwhelmed at one point, so I decided to bake my cookie jar recipe (subtle plug).
Then I realized how damn therapeutic cooking and baking can be. It makes me present and helps when my mind is going a mile a minute. The tools, the textures, the colors (in the case of cookies, 50 shades of beige), the sound of food sizzling, my favorite playlist playing in the background, and the aromas engulfing my cozy apartment.
It’s a process that requires judgment, taste testing, creativity, and is something to be proud of when you finish. Even if you stress-eat half of the finished product. Which brings me to another point.
Gratitude for our bodies.
Things like eating past fullness or eating a lot of “fun foods” can sometimes bring feelings far from gratitude. You may start to speak unkind things to your body, and want to start micromanaging what you put into it. Those are red flags for me to shift my focus towards body gratitude.
It works its magic through digestion, it extracts the nutrients it needs even when we don’t feed it the “rainbow,” and it does its best to keep us going day-to-day. Taking classes like anatomy and micro/macronutrient metabolism helped me feel more gratitude for the human body. Sometimes I sit there reading slides like oh my body is doing ALL of this? Without me knowing?! While I use the rest of its energy to stress over something that will be irrelevant in a week? Perfect.
Bringing People Together.
In a class I’m taking at a community college, I met someone with a Puerto Rican and African American background and he explained how food is meant to nourish in his family. It heals and brings people together. Recipes, food, and family are intertwined.
I was working at the farmers market and asked a vendor how he got started baking. He said he used to work in a rehab center and baked with the patients as a form of their treatment.
One of my classes this semester is community nutrition, and I really respect my professor. She exudes empathy, and seems to work on projects that surround nutrition without focusing on the minutia. For example, she does work for Hope Lodge that provides accommodations for cancer patients and their care givers. There’s a kitchen that provides nourishing meals while serving as a place without judgement (there can be a lot of shame/guilt when it comes to nutrition for cancer treatment). In class, we talk about access, perception, and other obstacles to a healthy lifestyle. I really appreciate this because it helps me realize that yes, food can be medicinal, but it’s not that black and white. Sometimes we have to take a step further than “make a majority of your plate vegetables” when it comes to working with someone with their nutrition.
Even when it comes to instagram, my favorite part is meeting people in real life. There’s something so special about spending time with people who have the same weird hobbies as you, you know? I’ve loved the social part, it’s just the media part ( and mindless scrolling) that can get my brain into trouble.
Basically, I noticed this week how important food is in my life, and its ability to bring people together. I mean, you could be young, old, green or purple and strike up a conversation with someone here in Philly if you bring up cheesesteaks. I think that’s pretty cool.
Especially in a “new year new you” season, with more deadlines and projects being implemented, and the daily stressors of life, it’s refreshing to see food as good, and to change our perspective on what it can really do for us.
Thank you for reading!! And I mean this genuinely, not as a cheesy way to end a blog post, but if you have a way food brings people together or joy in your life, I’d love to hear it 🙂