A couple months into my IIN program, I am even more excited about my new chosen career path than when I first began. I have been learning so much about food and nutrition, and the more I learn, the more knowledge I crave. The guest lectures on the various dietary theories fascinate me. David Wolfe on the benefits of raw foods. Andrea Beaman and Lawrence Kushi on macrobiotics. Joshua Rosenthal (IIN's founder) on all the varying modes of vegetarianism. Walter Willett on the (many) shortcomings of the USDA food pyramid and Marion Nestle on the politics that enable the perpetuation of the Standard American Diet (SAD). I absorb their words eagerly, mentally weaving threads from each viewpoint into my own philosophy toward food and my approach toward counseling.
While I'm enthralled by the nutrition facts and dietary theories, I'm especially affected by the program's emphasis, at every step, that food is, in fact, not our primary food. What actually feeds us is the quality of our relationships. Our level of spiritual fulfillment. Our level of satisfaction with our career. Our physical activity. The strength of our connection to our community.
These are the things that truly fulfill and sustain us, and part of the reason our culture is so screwed up about food is that we believe, mistakenly, that it has the power to fill that deeper void we might feel in other areas of our life.
True wellness is not only about adopting a healthier diet and hitting the gym more often (though these things are good and would undoubtedly yield benefits for much of the population). Rather, it's recognizing that every aspect of our lives - relationships, spirituality, career, physical activity, community, etc. - has the potential to fill us up or to starve us to death.
The quality of our diets is hugely important to our physical health, but the food itself is only part of the equation, and to change our relationship with food, we must first examine any imbalances we're experiencing in other parts of our life.
I love being a student again. I especially love being a student of wellness, which, as I'm learning, is really about improving the quality of our lives, and the potential we have in doing so, to change the way we experience the world.
Image via IIN.