By Abby Douglas, RDN, LD
Why do we eat? The most obvious answer is that we eat to stay alive, healthy, and energized. It is not an optional part of life. But there are other reasons why we may find ourselves wanting to eat. Maybe you had a rough day and want to have a sweet treat at the end of the night, or perhaps you’re not hungry after Thanksgiving but really want that delicious piece of pie. Not only do we eat for survival, but we eat for pleasure, social events, boredom, as a way of coping with stress, and more.
This is where it may be helpful to look at the different purposes that foods serve, and to explore cell foods and soul foods. So what are they?
Cell foods are the foods we eat to nourish our bodies, physically.. These help provide vital nutrients for our body and our individual cells – hence the name cell foods. You guessed it – the most common sources of cell foods are fruits and vegetables but also include whole grains, legumes, meats, fish, and more. These are the foods that make you feel alive and vibrant on the cellular level. Think of a food that gives you great energy, stamina, or helps your digestive system work really well.
Soul foods are the foods we eat to nourish our mind and soul. These foods vary from person to person depending on your tastes, preferences, and culture. The most common idea of a soul food may be sweet treats or desserts. A soul food could be your morning coffee, savory steak, that Thanksgiving pie, or even your favorite salad. Anything that helps your soul feel nourished and nurtured..
Soul foods are often the foods we eat as a coping mechanism, at social events, or simply for our own pleasure. They taste great! These foods that help to nourish our souls often get a bad rap for being “bad for you” or “unhealthy” when in reality, they are an important part of normal eating. Everyone needs both cell foods and soul foods to thrive in everyday life. Our society puts so much weight on the importance of cell foods, that soul foods can become a source of guilt and shame. What if we gave ourselves permission to enjoy those foods without feeling guilt or shame? How amazing would that feel?
Right about now, you may be thinking “But wait! You’re a dietitian, right? Shouldn’t you be telling me to only eat salads?” My answer – I want everyone to thrive in the body they live in today and that means nourishing all parts of the body and soul. Yes, do eat your veggies, but don’t put yourself down for enjoying your favorite dessert! Our bodies don’t handle food deprivation well, so let’s allow ourselves to eat and enjoy our food without guilt or shame. That means both cell foods and soul foods! Finding a balance of both can help us all to thrive and let go of negative feelings around food. You have one amazing body. Be kind to both your cells and your soul.
To continue the conversation, reach out! We’re glad to connect with you at any time. Also, you’re invited! Please join us for our monthly workshop NOURISH 360 at Market of Choice in Bend. Next one is on December 5th at 6pm. This hands on experience will help you navigate the grocery store with kindness and ease. RSVP here.
RanDee Anshutz is a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Massage Therapist practicing in Bend, Oregon. As a Health at Every Size (HAES) provider she strives to help EVERYONE in EVERY BODY achieve optimal health.