Have you ever thought about what you believe? Have you ever pondered the origins of life and why we exist on this earth? Do you have any particular spiritual beliefs that guide you in the decisions you make? Do your beliefs influence the food choices you make? As a dietitian, I used to think that I only had to be concerned about modifying someone’s diet for their beliefs if they followed a certain religion such as Judaism, Islam or Hinduism. But we all have certain beliefs that influence our food choices. The Paleo diet is a good example of a diet trend based on the theory of evolution as an explanation for how mankind evolved into a higher intellectual being. It promotes a diet that is presumed to be associated with that evolution. Some hold cultural or traditional values that cause them to eat some foods and avoid others. Some diets are chosen based on ethical convictions such as being vegan to avoid mistreatment and killing of animals or to minimize effects on climate change. Others believe there are no rules for diet as long as what you eat causes no physical harm.
When I think about all of the different beliefs that influence our diet, I am reminded that we have such a variety of foods on this planet that not everyone should eat the same diet. We have such diversity based on geographic location, climate, access to seeds, good soil and water that each area seems to have their own food culture based purely on location. We can now experience a taste of foods from almost any part of the world due to improved transportation. But for the most part, our diets resemble those of our culture. So when you are preparing to eat your next meal, ask yourself “why do I choose to eat this?”. The answer to that question is why diet should be individualized. I always hesitate to give someone a set meal plan to follow without knowing what their particular food preferences and beliefs are. Never underestimate the importance of what a person believes about their diet because that alone can have a profound effect on whether the food is received for healing or for harm. There is a mind-body connection that we should not ignore. May we all be more mindful of what we eat and why.