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How Do You Use Food?

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How Do You Use Food?

I spent last Thanksgiving in the Santa Fe State Penitentiary. It’s not what you think; I left after a couple of hours, having gone there as an invited speaker to lead a talk. Our topic: what makes us feel nourished. And though I expected the answers to be vastly different, they were heartwarmingly similar. Family. Love. Rest. Nature. And, not surprisingly, food.

What is it that makes most of us feel nourished, and what exactly does it mean to be nourished–truly, deeply nourished? For me (not surprisingly) as it is for many of us, the answer is food. It’s quick, easy, darn cheap compared to other pleasures, and can be had at all hours of the day or night.

Of course, we want nutrition from food: we expect it  to make us lose weight, lower our cholesterol, increase our energy, make us live longer, and generally render us infallible, if we can just arrange the appropriate line-up of vitamins, minerals, omega-3s and healthy fats. But we also turn to food for solace, comfort and joy, for company when we’re lonely, for peace when we’re feeling put upon, to make us feel whole, complete and nourished.

How does nourishment differ from nutrition? Not long ago, I had an illness that resulted in, among other things, an inability for me to chew and swallow. Needless to say, this greatly interfered with my ability to eat. Suddenly, my once-fertile culinary landscape–rich with fragrant sauces, tangy dressings, robust spices and interesting textures–was barren. I couldn’t eat harissa, coarse sea salt, pomegranate molasses, chipotle peppers, crisp lettuce. All I could eat were bland, lukewarm soups, pureed into a drinkable gruel. I made as many variations on these as I could; because I was sick, I often ate them alone. Brimming with sometimes a dozen different organic vegetables, legumes and nut oils, they were the gold standard for a nutritious meal. But I didn’t feel nourished.

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Lisa Turner

Lisa is a chef and nutritionist with more than 30 years of professional experience and formal training in food, nutrition and product development. She’s written five books on food and nutrition and is the creator of The Healthy Gourmet iPhone app, and has been a featured blogger for many national sites, including Huffington Post and Whole Foods Market. Lisa is a faculty instructor at Bauman College of Culinary Arts and also teaches food and nutrition classes and workshops to individuals and corporations. She's a black belt in Ninjutsu, an active volunteer in the Boulder Valley school lunch system, and an avid wild food forager.


+ add your own
8:50PM PDT on Jul 17, 2014

thanks :)

8:06PM PDT on Jul 17, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

4:55AM PST on Jan 12, 2011

Excellent, thank you.

1:53PM PDT on Aug 12, 2010

Loved the post and the comments......for me, it is necessary to only eat when I feel physically hungry.

3:14AM PDT on Jul 26, 2010

Thanks! I enjoyed reading this

11:02AM PDT on Jul 21, 2010


11:01AM PDT on Jul 21, 2010


12:10AM PDT on Jul 21, 2010

I FEEL rotten reading this. i am suffering depression and food is the last thing i want to see right now.
However those of you who have ever nurtured a picky 2 year old would realise that every peice of apple, every sandwich they eat is a step forward.

6:40PM PDT on Jul 20, 2010

RE: "When we turn to food for comfort, indulgence, solace, company or peace, we’re not really seeking nourishment."

I disagree. "Nourishment" -- as opposed to nutrition -- means contentment to me. Satisfaction. Completion. And when life lets me down, food rarely does. It gives me a sense of contentment, satisfaction and completion that no amount of meditation, physical action or counselling has ever been age to do. Spiritual advisors and spiritual practices have let me down. Introspection and self-analysis have let me down. My health and my own mind have let me down. Food almost never does. I anticipate the bliss of delicious food crossing me tongue, and when I actually taste it, the bliss of the taste is there. It's a promise that is always full-filled. And fullfilment, for me, is nourishment. Nutrition is for the stomach. Nourishment is for the soul.

10:34PM PDT on Jul 19, 2010

Lisa is right. It's so important to be conscious when eating, it's not just about eating healthy food, it's also about slowing down and really enjoying our food when we eat. This will help with digestion and of course help us feel truly nourished! Great article!

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