Has Fear Infiltrated our Food

Are we making our food choices based on fear?

Have you noticed that lately, when it comes to food, we’ve become more and more fragmented?

There’s a diet for almost every lifestyle — and that could be a good thing if by “diet” we’re simply referring to the way we eat — and we tend to wear our food preferences as a label to define, separate, or limit us. Everywhere we look, food is the fall guy for a long list of ailments. I thought food was a way to connect — not separate; to enjoy — not fear? Whatever happened to just eating fresh food, prepared simply and shared in good company using common sense for what we ingest?

The obvious answer might be that since our lives have gotten busier and busier, fewer and fewer people cook regularly, and so we ingest all kinds of nasty things mixed into our food. Certainly, because of the way food is produced in many parts of the world (especially in the US) we do need to make informed and conscious choices, but at times, it feels like we’ve entered a battlefield titled “partake at your own risk”. We can blame the system all we want, but unless we take responsibility for our choices, we remain powerless and a prisoner to whatever ails us.

This makes me wonder, “Are we making our food choices based on fear?” Has fear infiltrated our minds resulting in an all out war with our food? Aren’t we ourselves, part of the problem by participating in the battles… and therefore also part of the solution?

After teaching thousands of people how to cook, publishing countless recipes that are widely circulated, and entertained a large variety of guests in my home, I find I can no longer plan a simple meal or class without asking, “What do people eat or not eat?” Many people have a long list. And that’s okay… I’ll still cook for you, yet the question remains, “Is this list of foods we should consume or avoid really feeding our fear and guilt? Is the divisiveness a symbol for what ails us?

I’ve never promoted any specific diet (though my recipes are certainly influenced by my native Italian) which is why you’ll see vegan, vegetarian, seafood, poultry and meat dishes all included. My criteria are to use fresh ingredients in simple ways. That’s it! The choice of what to eat is yours. Still I can’t help but notice how many people get offended, not only by a certain type of food but by an ingredient — even if used in a minuscule quantity that wouldn’t harm anyone.

Too often people argue over the merits of one diet versus another and get angry because of another’s choice in what they eat!

Getting offended and angry is always a defense that comes from fear and guilt. These emotions don’t make us healthier regardless of how much green juice we consume! In our quest to be informed, we too often choose what to eat based on what the media tells us; what studies show; or from personal experience that’s been conditioned by the “experts” as to what’s good or bad.

The problem is, what’s good or bad is always changing and not always true.

And what’s always changing can’t ever come from anywhere except the ego thought system. It comes in all kinds of disguises, packages and scenarios, wrapped with hidden agendas. It’s a master mixologist combining the good with the bad; pleasure with pain. But this way is always based on fear and never good for us. Somehow we must find a way to make peace with our food, our body and our self.

I imagine as enlightened beings, we could eat anything and still be nourished… and not get fat. But until then, we need to clean up the misperceptions in our mind and take an honest look at what ideas we’ve been willing to ingest; what beliefs we hold, unquestioned…sometimes for generations.

Where do we hurt?

Are we willing to see things differently — that our aches, pains and sufferings are clues calling to be healed?

Are we willing to make our wellbeing a priority and begin to question the motivation of why we eat as we do?

Isn’t it possible to begin to loosen the chains around what we allow ourselves to eat and simply eat what we like using common sense, without guilt, in moderation and balance, in a space of love whether consumed alone or in company? Can’t every meal, regardless of how humble, be a celebration simply because we have fresh food before us? Gratitude, love and forgiveness are the ingredients that trump all the supplements and nutrients we frantically look to fill our deprived diets. They add the nourishment we truly need to supplement the nutrient weak food we sometimes need (or want) to consume.

What I know for sure is that nothing good ever comes from fragmentation and separation.

There must be a way to eat whatever we deem right for ourselves without feeling judged, shamed, or guilty; without holding our choices as a righteous shield before others. There must be a way for everyone to have access to good food in a world of plenty. Food has always been a means to connect us and I don’t want to lose that. Do you?

Don’t we collectively know that there’s got to be a better way? Let’s ask for one in our minds and hearts. Sooner or later… a better way will show up.

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Silvia Bianco

Silvia Bianco, MBA, is an award winning chef, writer, teacher and former restauranteur where she wowed her patrons with original sauté dishes inspired by her native Italy. She began offering cooking classes to her restaurant patrons in 1995. Today she teaches private and corporate group classes for some of America’s top companies including: GE, Unilever, Dannon, Barnes & Noble, Proctor & Gamble and many others.

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  1. A thought-provoking article that challenges us to examine our relationship with food and our relationships with others over food. Yes, I so agree! There is so much misinformation out there when it comes to what is good and bad for us. It can at times be so misleading. Yes, do we want to go to war over what we eat, or do we want to find peace and enjoy. I loved the perspectives you shared here. Thank you.

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