The term soul food refers to a variety of cuisine that became popular in the southeastern US of A around the 1960s. Soul food restaurants were largely black-owned businesses that were community meeting places serving dishes such as fried chicken, mac’ and cheese, cornbread and cobbler. It is said the name of the cuisine originated from the reminder it gave patrons of the home and family they had left behind to seek greener pastures – the food was good for their souls!
I’ve always maintained that the food you eat should be both healthy and enjoyable. The soul food I referred to above may be enjoyable, but it’s not the healthiest and I was talking about a type of cuisine. What I’m really talking about here is eating food that is good for you, inside out. That is, mostly consuming food that is good for your physical health and performance, AND your mental health and performance.
When talking about food we generally focus on physical health and performance. How is that going to affect my blood sugar? Will it give me high cholesterol? What is going to give enough energy to perform well in training? How will that affect my recovery before the next session? But how often do we consider the psychological effects of food?
While I’ve alluded to the psyche of eating through topics of balance, approaching food as a fuel, and habit formation, I’ve never talked about feeding your soul. That sounds a bit airy fairy. By feeding the soul I mean eating in a manner that takes care of you – your self-esteem, self-confidence, happiness, and general wellbeing. It’s having a regard – giving a shit – about yourself.
Taking care of yourself is making your nutrition a priority. When that happens your approach to challenges changes from excuses to solutions.
“I don’t know what to do” becomes “I’m booking a nutrition consult.”
“There weren’t any healthy options” becomes “I had a good meal before the function and packed some snack just in case.”
“I was preparing snacks for the family so I didn’t have time” becomes “We all mostly have the same food now.”
Getting your nutrition right is challenging, especially because your body and needs are forever changing. But it’s just challenging, not difficult. You just have to make caring for yourself a priority.