Eating with joy with Dr Joanna McMillan - Happy + Well : Happy + Well

Eating with joy with Dr Joanna McMillan

Written by on April 2, 2016 in Happiness, Wellness with 0 Comments


Eating and food is about much more than nutrition,” says Dr Joanna McMillan.

Joanna asks when the question of what to eat became such a dilemma. In one study, more than 80% of people said they were confused about what is considered to be healthy food.

Dr Joanna quotes Stephanie Alexander, who said at a recent conference, “I hate having my food described as good for me!” Her advice to Joanna was to never call something healthy, “Just call it delicious!”

Have you heard the term ‘nutritionism’?” she asks. We’ve become obsessed with the nutrients that food contains, but food is more than that. “It’s part of our culture and our background.” Joanna says that food and drink is part of everyday life, and it should be pleasurable. “Unfortunately, for many people, it’s not.”

There are many ‘warring diets’ circulating at the moment. But we shouldn’t let it overshadow our diets. “We now have a new term floating around. Orthorexia is an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating,” Joanna says.

Joanna asks us if we ever feel stressed about eating ‘unhealthy’ foods. Every day people tell her ‘I’m trying to cut out bread,’ and she says, ‘Why?’ “Bread has been around for a very, very long time. We’ve gotten fat in the last 50 years. Are we really blaming bread?” Michael Pollan says that his greatest achievement was learning how to bake a great loaf of bread. Nurturing the soul, having joy in collecting wonderful ingredients, and then truly enjoying sitting down to eat – what could be better than baking your own bread?

Dr Joanna cites studies done on French women, who are not giving up their baguettes, and not getting fat. The Americans are getting fat, eating low-fat everything. “We are getting something wrong in the way we are talking about food, nutrition and controlling our weight,” Joanna says.

Food needs to bring us joy, not stress. “What I truly believe is that there are many healthy diets, and it’s up to you to find out what it is,” she says. This will depend on your cultural background, your beliefs, your likes and dislikes, your allergies and intolerances.

The basic foundation is real, fresh, whole foods,” Joanna says. That doesn’t mean we have to cut out all packaged food. In fact, packaged food has released a lot of women from hours of labour.

She shows us her ‘Dr Joanna’ plate: a template for eating. “But then we need to think about why we’re eating?” She asks us to consider where we are on the hunger scale when we want to eat. From 1-10 on the scale, where 1 is absolutely ravenous and 10 is after Christmas lunch, you should be about a 3 when you go to lunch. If you’re not that hungry, you need to identify why you want to eat.

Joanna says it’s normal to want to eat sometime when you’re not hungry, for example if you feel like eating some chocolate because it tastes nice. What’s not normal is if you’re always eating at the top end of the scale. “I call that swallowing your emotions.” When you eat on autopilot, you’re not going to get joy from your food.

The best way to eat is to give priority to meal time: at lunch, take a full hour and sit down with other people. Try the Japanese practice of hara hachi bu: eat until you’re 80% full, not until you’re uncomfortable. Then you’ve stopped getting joy from your meal.

We need to bring food talk away from nutrition and back to what’s really real, and what’s really joyous.”

Dr Joanna McMillan, qualified nutritionist and one of Australia’s favourite and most trusted health and wellbeing experts presented this at Happiness & Its Causes 2016.

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