Did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
Did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?
-Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd, 1975
So here we are, in North America in the early 2000’s. We drive through. It’s fried. Slapped together. We pay. We pick up. It all happens so fast, doesn’t it? Before I tell you the 7 ways to get liberated, let’s dissect the issue a bit here.
Take yourself back to your great-grandmothers’ day. Our ancestors would have to work to eat. They had to actually grow the food themselves or buy or barter from another farmer in order to eat that day. Slow Food. It took a long time for established cities to actually have stores to buy flour, milk and bread and out of necessity, country/general stores got their start during the colonial period for the many pioneers who lived outside urban markets. It was a whole days’ trip for most farmers to pack the family into the wagon to the store, usually once a week to stock up on necessities they couldn’t get on their land.
Back in those days, eating at home was the only way to survive. There was no other option. There was no 24 hour convenience store or grocery store open at 11 pm.
But as the normalcy of eating outside the home grew as time kept slippin’ on, we’ve tipped the balance now to where it is how we eat most of the time.
According to Mark Hyman, MD: "The slow insidious displacement of home cooked and communally shared family meals by the industrial food system has fattened our nation and weakened our family ties. Most family meals happen about three times a week, last less than 20 minutes and are spent watching television or texting while each family member eats a different microwaved “food.” More meals are eaten in the minivan than the kitchen."
Things get ugly. We are also losing the ingredients themselves, through industrialization of our food, the biodiversity of crops, the herbicide and pesticide-laden farms, toxic water systems, the over-harvesting of our rainforests, and commercializing of animals. There’s a LOT to stand up to when it comes to the safety and protection of those who can’t speak for themselves - our life-giving food.
It’s become a bit of a war.
I’ll help fight it (peacefully.)
But it wasn't always like this.
How did we get here?
Before you get nutritionally liberated, you must know: After the World Wars and the movement to “Feed the World” they created an abundance of food-like substances, excess calories and staggering increased food waste, which has further escalated problems like the big guys getting their hands on the food-processing factories - all the way to combining economics and politics like our big fight of why genetically modified organisms are in our foods and why we are being kept in the dark about their ability to be labelled, and where's their safety guarantee? …. and there's turning on the TV.
... and seeing the billboards, magazine ads, facebook ads, packaged food labels.... Food products marketing is EVERYWHERE (and the majority of it is completely untrue, like sugar-laden cereals being marketed as healthy.) [Read: The Death + Revival of Real Food]
This is the machine.
Unreal. Manipulated. Tainted. Processed. Toxic. Obsession. Addiction. Overwhelm. Stress.
Truth: You can shake the hand that feeds you. You can’t shake the hand of the machine that feeds you.
Machines don’t feed. They just do. And they do on a huge scale. So much of the ‘food products’ we have now include ingredients that were not even touched by human hands along the way. Picked, moved, processed, transported all by machines. But its our reality right now. So, what can we do? Other than running away from the machine to live on an organic farm and live solely off the land, we can do our best with where we are at right now, today. We can’t get angry. It’s just the system. We can’t actually be angry at the machine we were brought into. Fighting for peace is like jumping into the lake to dry off.
What does that look like? It has to have balance. To me, it looks like becoming a liberated eater.
Freeing ourselves from the ‘need’ (and thus, guilt, because its’ not reality to for all of us to get out of the system) to get out of the system fully 100% and eat beautifully all the time. Freeing ourselves from others’ expectations of what our diet ‘should’ look like. Liberating ourselves where our nutrition work (the nutrition evolution within yourself) comes from within, not without.
Because WE ALL KNOW that more diet books, trendy pills or weight loss magic secrets simply do not work.
Finally, here’s the 7 ways to become the liberated eater you’ve been craving to be.
1) Be Here Now: Get Conscious
Re-wiring your brain from decades of a diet culture mindset takes time. It’s likely not going to happen overnight. So un-train your brain to think in terms of calories, good and bad or the punishment and reward system. It’s no longer real or valid… and it doesn’t work for your long-term stress management or weight loss. Read: [How to Cleanse Your Doors of Perception]
2) Eat Stress-free at a Holiday Party
Enjoy stress-free (without guilt) is the key here. It’s easy enough to eat ALL through the holiday season. But eating mindfully and without stress and guilt is much more difficult for most of us, with the heavy chains of diet culture tied to beliefs stuck in our minds. Read: [Why You DON’T Need Willpower] And, while your own mindset about this is important, it’s also respectful to keep in mind at holiday parties that folks are typically focused on the quantity of food in order to feed everyone, and not necessarily the quality of the food. While some of the foods may go against your personal philosophies (meat, dairy, highly-processed, etc) that’s no reason to judge the hosts. Smile, eat and enjoy and be grateful for the abundance of food that we have to eat (even though its in thanks to ‘the machine.’) Read more: [3 Ways to Cope Nutritionally at Holidays]
3) “Do No Harm (But Take No Shit)”
The fastest way to become liberated is to stop allowing people to make you feel bad about a choice you made. Stop giving them your power. And, the great thing about liberating yourself is that, once you do it, you automatically liberate others. Once someone sees that their opinion doesn’t skew you, throw you off or bother you - they’ll question that. You’ve planted the seed that they too can have that freedom and remove food stress from their life and reality and don’t need to take external opinions to heart if they don’t fit right. If someone does choose to take time out of their day to chastise you for a diet choice you’ve made you have the right to walk away. You don’t need to take someone elses’ guilt or anger because of a personal dietary choice you made. Read more: [7 Ways to Remove Stress & Shame from Nutrition]
4) Choose Based on Feeling, Not “Being”
You can choose your food based on what feels good to you, rather than what the diet IS or what it is supposed to do for you. You aren’t good or bad based on your diet, ie. “I was good today because I ate salad”, and “I was bad because I ate a candy.” The food you choose doesn’t define your being. It doesn’t define how you are that day. It can identify you, it can show what you believe in, you can use it as a tool or a therapy or ‘vote with your fork’ or where you’re at in life, and in some ways, we can ego-identify with it. But it doesn’t identify your being (good or bad.) Consciousness over Calories requires you to take more responsibility than just thinking about 'calories in-calories out' - it requires a new consciousness, paying attention, tuning in to your body, your needs, your cravings and even your habits. How does this food and drink make me feel? During, after? Mentally, physically? How are my choices impacting my body and mental health? What choice could I have made differently if I didn't like that one? Choose on feeling, not external demands. Read: [Consciousness Over Calories]
5) Hold Space, Not Shame
The best thing we can do in a culture that perpetuates the diet cycles from generation to generation is to hold space for our friends’ who are there. Don’t agree with them, but don’t disagree with them. Just listen. One of the most powerful things we can do for people who need an ear when they are talking food is just to listen, to really listen. That way we don’t add to the conversation and perpetuate the diet cycles. But we don’t shame those who are there, either. Supporting and motivating each other should come before our need to be right. Everyone is on their own journey with their diet, and learning to hold space for where people are at is one of the most loving things we can do. There is no 'better than you' when it comes to nutrition. There can be 'feeling better' once you have more energy with cleaner eating and more plants in your diet - but there is no BETTER person. (See #4.) People are allowed to try things on, see how it feels, see if they can incorporate it, see if it works for their body. And if it doesn't: fair. You can eat 80% vegan and 20% whatever-the-hell-you-want and if you are still feeling good and making change, you are doing it right. For more like this, read [5 Truths About Going Vegan]
6) Eat in a Restaurant Alone
Sure, you can choose a healthy restaurant that aligns with your nutrition philosophy or preference. Read: [Get Healthy with Food Philosophy] But the point of becoming liberated is to choose differently. And it’s so powerful to enter, sit and eat alone in a restaurant. It’s a practice I’ve gotten clients to do, and trust me, magical things happen! While most (not all) foods from restaurants are from the huge corporate system… you’re already in the machine, why not enjoy it by being waited on while you exercise the practice of standing on your own two feet and subject yourself to discomfort in order for growth? While eating in a restaurant alone may not seem like much of a powerful thing at all, the majority of people would say “I could never do that!” when asked. And that’s because it is a big, bold powerful move to stand in your power and eat alone. So try it.
7) In Addition to Food, Make Small Efforts Elsewhere
The zero-waste movement. The minimalist movement. The eco beauty movement. The slow fashion movement. Community Gardening. Politics! Pick something. Make a change. It’s not hard, it just takes your consciousness to see its an issue, and some time to do something about it. Life is about priorities. Make a choice and make a difference.
Can we be free in our cage? While #2 and #6 may come off as ‘in defense of the machine’, they are simply observations of the truth. We can do all we can to NOT feed the machine yet still be part of it. Small choices make a difference, so buying from a local organic farmer once a week (or once a month for that matter) if that’s all you can do is better than not. Liberation is freedom. And while we can’t always be free in the cage that has been built for us, the system we were born into, we can still have freedom in our mind. Do what you can to fight the system (peacefully) and when you can’t - just relax. Do what you can. That’s all anyone can do.
Welcome to the Machine.