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Celebrate food to nourish the mind, body and soul

While it doesn’t get the attention of holidays like St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween or April Fool’s Day, March is National Nutrition Month. How could this special occasion go unnoticed when we all eat, but not everyone is Irish, a zombie or amused by finding tightly wrapped plastic over the toilet bowl?

The obvious answer is no one cares. A million things demand your attention. Besides, you want to eat what you want to eat, without nutrition or health being a forced consideration at every meal.

I couldn’t agree more. This month, celebrate food for all the ways it nourishes you – mind, body and soul.

Sometimes, we make less healthy choices because we didn’t know it was an unhealthy choice. Look at how much added sugar is in your favorite yogurt – then, watch your eyes go wide. (If the %DV is over 20%, it’s high).

Sometimes, we choose foods that are “bad for us,” because they taste so good it’s worth it. From the moment these foods appear in your field of vision, your mind begins to celebrate in anticipation of how the food will taste. Let’s celebrate these foods, too.

For more

Are you interested in celebrating food, community and cooking with your teen? Participate in the next Health Without Barriers program beginning April 30 in Bayfield.

Call to register at 657-0141. Details at https://tinyurl.com/3xwd6bav.

For the record, I’m encouraging you to celebrate, not binge. Proceed with awareness because we occasionally see these go hand in hand.

To celebrate means to acknowledge, embrace, appreciate and enjoy. You can start by scratching the word “bad” from your food vocabulary. Food is food and there’s little sense in judging one’s character based on what you eat. Imagine finishing a small, but delightful bowl of ice cream or plate of french fries with a long-lasting smile and a stream of thoughts detailing everything you loved about that food. Excellent, you’re celebrating!

It’s a subconscious formation, but since the day you were born, you’ve been taught to associate food and eating with human bonding. This isn’t just a reference to breast or bottle feeding, it’s carried on throughout life. Even as adults, we strengthen relationships by preparing and consuming food together, especially when food preferences are shared.

Consider the power of shared food preferences. In essence, these are the foods of your culture. They tell a story about you and your history. Celebrate by sharing your food stories with friends. Share your food stories with strangers, and watch as they become friends.

Eating alone is inevitable sometimes, but when we dine with others, we build a sense of community. With that comes reduced stress and improved happiness. You see, food does nourish the soul.

Here’s a side note demonstrating the capacity of food to bring people together: Have you ever heard of culinary diplomacy? It’s a strategy used at diplomatic events with world leaders. Before engaging in business, attendees share a meal. Culturally relevant foods become a neutral conversation starter and a way to emphasize similarities, rather than differences. Feasting rather than fighting? Also something to celebrate.

Finally, look to celebrate food for how it nourishes your body. I hoped to avoid writing about healthy foods, but I don’t know how else to describe food rich in vitamins and minerals – the ones that nourish your body. Surely a few of these foods can be found within your list of dietary preferences. Eat these foods, not because you feel obliged to eat something healthy, but because they taste good. Different than ice cream and french fries, but satisfying in their own right.

As for myself, I’m celebrating the meal-planning creativity and company of my kiddos in the kitchen. I had no idea Teah could make (delicious) shake-and-bake pork chops in the air fryer – what a treat!

Nicole Clark is the family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office. Reach her at nclark@lpcgov.org or 382-6461.