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Do you know anyone who just eats what they want, and doesn’t worry about weight or what’s “healthy?” These days, it may be hard to find someone like that, except among children who haven’t yet been influenced by someone else’s ideas about what they should eat. The influence of others starts early, though. After all, children are dependent on others for nourishment.

I happen to be old enough to have grown up in a time when there wasn’t as much judgment and moralizing about foods as there is now. The question is, are we better off today, or were we better off then, in terms of our relationship with food, and how it affects our health and our lives?

In current times, there’s a lot of talk about “natural” foods. What about “natural” eating? What if we were to just eat in a way that comes naturally to us? Do you think that would be harmful? Do you think the wide array of prepared foods that are available in modern times makes it inadvisable to eat whatever appeals to us? Do you think advertising taints what we desire?

Speaking of advertising, I was inspired to write today because I was looking at the back of a cereal box as I was eating breakfast. I won’t name the brand, but I bought it because I like the texture and flavor of it as a complement to the fresh fruit I want to put on it. Unfortunately, this brand is advertised as a weight loss aid. On the back of the box, there are advertisements for other products with the same branding, and the heading above all of these ads is “Let’s hear it for WILLPOWER.” Ugh! There’s a promotion of a high protein version of this brand of cereal that claims “A new way to CONQUER TEMPTATION!” Words on a green background near the middle say “So many delicious options to help take the edge off TEMPTATION!”

Trigger for writing this blog
Trigger for writing this blog

Obviously, the company is hoping to appeal to people who are trying to limit their food  intake, and avoid all the “wrong” foods. With all the hype about obesity and everyone wanting to have a perfect body, these advertising tactics are probably working quite well.

But does it really make us healthier when we count our calories and obsess about what we eat? I propose that it doesn’t, especially not in the long term. Around 95% of those who diet to lose weight end up gaining back the weight they lost, and many gain more. The regain is often blamed on going back to poor eating habits, but really the regain is about our bodies (and minds) rebelling against deprivation.

I suggest that we choose our food based on what really appeals to us, then truly savor the flavors and textures, and eat until our hunger is truly satisfied. That may seem like a crazy idea in today’s mixed up world. Granted, it may take some time to learn how to successfully practice that way of eating if you have been in a dieting mindset for many years, but I think it’s worth the effort. Eating should be a happy, satisfying experience. That’s what’s really natural, isn’t it? Sure, nutrients do deserve some attention, but we don’t need to totally obsess about them in order to be healthy. Think about what drives your food choices, and whether or not that’s truly working for you, in the long term.