THE CONSCIOUS KITCHEN: ENVIRONMENTALISM & INTUITIVE EATING
WORDS & IMAGE: HOLLY LOWERY
Since I was in gradeschool I have been hyper aware of my impact on the earth. From being the nerdy kid who asked her peers to stop littering on the playground, to becoming the president of my school’s ECO club, I have always had this deeper concern for the environment.
But I remember always thinking to myself, “I could do better.” There always seemed to be someone who was doing more than I was, and it quickly turned into that comparison trap; where it was no longer all about creating a smaller footprint but instead convoluted by a desire to compete.
Fast forward a decade or so, a lot of self study, and even more self awareness and I no longer feel the need to be the perfect environmental activist.
For those who aren’t familiar with my work I am a health coach and an anti-diet advocate. In my line of work I get to do a lot -maybe too much sometimes- of reflection. And in that reflection I’ve come to draw quite a few parallels between embracing the anti-diet [rejecting the diet mentality, eating intuitively and feeling comfy in your body] and living with more awareness of our impact on the earth.
1. Both require a conscious curiosity
Conscious curiosity is the act of consciously and deliberately asking yourself questions. All. The. Time. Getting curious about your impact and your relationship with food + body opens a door for change. Asking yourself a question like, “How is THIS act going to affect the environment? Where is this trash going to end up?” starts an inner dialogue that will begin to subtly impact your consumer choices. Asking yourself a question like, “How am I feeling right now, physically and emotionally? What do I really want right now?” allows you to see deeper into your true desires, and often times shows you that what you thought you wanted [better abs, another piece of cake, another drink, etc.] isn’t really what you want after all. And sometimes it is what you want; but having that deep curiosity allows you to get clear about it.
2. Perfectionism can’t play a part
Life is never perfect. We all logically know this, yet somehow we usually end up in a constant pursuit of perfection; and when that perfection isn’t met we beat ourselves up over it. Dieting is especially good at making us feel like failures; at triggering the all or nothing thinking. But just like when I was younger and thought I could be a better activist, I eventually learned that feeling GOOD has absolutely nothing to do with being perfect. And in fact,a large part of learning to eat intuitively again is about embracing that imperfection and being kind to yourself. Just like we don’t live in a circular economy, we also don’t live in a world where gentle nutrition is prioritized over perfectionism, so we have to use that conscious curiosity to embrace the imperfection; ‘cause it’s going to happen!
3. You must get clear about your values
What do you value in this life? What are the things that make you light up? What parts of your life are really working for you right now? Which parts aren’t? How do you want to feel? These questions of curiosity are crucial in defining your values. The Zero Waste lifestyle is all about getting clear about what you value most and using those values to guide you in your consumer choices. Intuitive eating and anti-dieting are also deeply rooted in values; in order to make choices that consistently honor your body, mind and spirit, you’ve first got to know what you value most- what you really want out of this life.
Write those values down and keep them at top of mind. They’re going to be your pocket map to feeling GOOD about your body and your choices.
4. Keep it simple
Don’t go nuts and throw out everything you own at once, start only eating plants and relocate to the jungle- unless that’s what you really want [use that conscious curiosity!] For most people that’s not sustainable, and quite honestly not the most beneficial. Instead work towards simplifying—your home, your closet, your shopping. Over time these shifts towards simplicity make the biggest impact. Making more intuitive choices with food is very similar; it can literally be as simple as asking yourself, “What sounds really good right now?” Okay cool. Now go eat that. Sometimes it’s the pizza, sometimes it's the smoothie; don’t overthink it.
5. Both result in empowerment
Knowing that the choices you’re making on the day-to-day are coming from a deep connection to your values; knowing that your choices are a direct result of what YOU want- that’s empowerment. Again, you’ve first got to get curious and clear about those values but once you’ve done that, honoring them basically becomes a no-brainer.