By Kirsten Serrano
Ah, spring! It is the season of potential. As a farmer, I deal in potential. I see bushels of produce when I look at a seed. Farmers know that potential is nearly limitless. The trendy term for this way of looking at the world is “abundance mindset.” I urge you to apply this lens to the world of food and health.
Let’s explore what that looks like.
If there are foods you need (because of allergy/sensitivity) or want to avoid for health purposes (I’m looking at you sugar), instead of thinking “I cannot have that” reframe that into “I am choosing not to have that.” The first is a restriction/punishment, and the latter is a choice. Choice making is what is really happening anyway. My celiac daughter chooses to not eat gluten because she knows the damage it causes her body. You may choose to eliminate sugary treats because you know you will feel better.
If you feel like your food choices have gotten boring and limited, reacquaint (or introduce yourself) to the amazing world of food. Americans tend to eat the same 6-8 foods on repeat. Break free and pay attention to the abundance of food diversity. A fun way to do this is to visit an international grocer. It does not matter what population they cater to because they will certainly have items you are not seeing at your regular market. Buy something weird and enjoy. Look up a new recipe, take a cooking class or try a new dish at a restaurant that is new to you. Another great way to broaden your understanding of food diversity is to peruse a seed catalog. A great one is Baker Creek Seeds (rareseeds.com). It’s impossible to look at all that food and not be amazed. There is an abundance of food in the world and an abundance of ways to prepare it.
If you are facing a health challenge, it is very easy to get stuck in the “why me” mindset and see no way out. What I have learned from my own experience, training and in working with others on their nutrition/health journey is that food is often a powerful solution. What if you gave your body everything it needs? Your body is an amazing machine with great capacity to heal. Nutrition is not magic and it is only one of many ways we can impact our health, but I have seen it work miracles. One of the best examples of applying an abundance mindset to nutrition and health is Dr. Terry Wahls. She is an Iowa physician with multiple sclerosis who used nutrition and movement to get out of a tilt-recline wheelchair and reverse most of the symptoms of her disease. Our food choices are a powerful prescription for health and they are abundant.
If you are struggling with eating better because you just do not like vegetables or hate shellfish for example, apply an abundance mindset. Keep trying. Maybe you do not like kale, but you find a brand of kale chips that you love. Perhaps you grew up hating peas (I am talking about me here), but you discover that you adore eating raw sugar snap pea pods. Keep trying. Food is abundant and there are an abundance of textures, flavors and preparations. Expect to like something and perhaps you will. I had been repeatedly told that oysters are hands-down the best source of zinc. Despite knowing better, I avoided a can of tinned oysters in my pantry for years. I finally took the plunge and found out while I would not say I crave them, I do not hate them. Also know that tastes change. Your palate will change with your diet. Also know that many of the “I do not like vegetables” folks have just not had great, flavorful, fresh ones. My pea hatred was really a hatred of mushy canned peas. I still hate those.
Applying an abundance mindset to health and food has the potential to help you realize your own abundant power over your health. So, when people say to me that they could never eat kale, or how can you eat oysters, or I couldn’t live without x, y, or z; I understand where they are coming from (I really do,) but I wish I could convey to them succinctly that these small investments are the keys by which I own my power. It is an abundance of riches.
Kirsten Serrano is a nutrition consultant, chef, farmer, food literacy educator and the best-selling author of “Eat to Your Advantage.” You can find out more about her work at SmallWonderFood.com.