Is your “healthy eating” connected to your community or culture?
Maybe for you your favourite meal time memories are of traditional dishes you may only get at certain times of the year.
Maybe you really enjoy going to farmers markets or getting your food from local producers.
Maybe the way your culture eats isn’t represented in mainstream media and you’d like to see that change.
Yesterday we had a hard conversation about body weight, shape and size and how that is often tied to “healthy eating,” most likely at a consequence.
Today we consider rooting your healthy eating in your roots!
My name is Krystal Merrells. I’m a registered dietitian and a concussion warrior in Ontario, Canada.
I’ve had multiple concussions and I’ve seen how food can become this big stressful thing after a brain injury. I am here to help you move towards feeling good with food.
This is Food Love. A 14-day mini-series exploring your relationship with food.
Today is day 11: Community and culture
Previously in this miniseries I’ve talked about how your environment plays a big role on your food choices – it influences what foods are accessible to you.
Part of your environment might also be your cultural upbringing.
I live in Canada and my ancestry is white settler. For the longest time I felt like my food culture was simply the standard North American diet, with no particular cultural influence.
It wasn’t until I did some travelling that I started to connect to my roots.
I am very grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had to visit other countries. As a souvenir, I try to pick up a cookbook from each one, and friends have even brought me back some from their travels to countries I have not visited.
I’ve got a Catalan cookbook from Barcelona and a different one from Mallorca. I’ve picked up two in South Africa and a friend brought me one from Greece. We received a Korean cookbook for Christmas one year and I have a giant Larousse of French cooking.
I would flip through the pages and see foods and recipes I didn’t recognize , as well as dishes I may have heard of but never tried.
This was until I went to Ireland.
Going way back in my family tree we’ve got roots in Britain, Scotland, and Ireland.
I’ve got two cookbooks I picked up in Dublin. Flipping through those pages, I see some of my families foods:
Stews, shepherds pie, baked apples, honey glazed carrots, scones, roast chicken, fish with a buttery sauce, and lots of potatoes!
Now of course not everything was familiar – we are many generations removed! I did learn new language like Pandy, boxty pancakes, and Farls.
But it was so cool going through that cookbook and for the first time in doing so, feeling at home.
I’ve sometimes had clients with different cultural backgrounds ask me if their food, which isn’t typically represented as the “standard” here in Canada, is OK to eat.
Never will I ever tell someone their cultural food is a bad choice (with the exception of an allergy…)
Because connecting with your local community or culture through food can be so healing. Far more than any of the individual nutrients in any “super food.”
So, is there a place for your culture or your community in your “healthy eating?”
How might connecting with your culture and community through food shape your relationship with food?
When it comes to food and eating, what makes you feel at home?
Sending food love no matter where your home is,