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Show Me Your Food, and I’ll Show You Mine

Food is not just about nutrients. It’s part of who we are.

Updated 10/2020

How we care for ourselves and others. Things we hadn’t thought about enough – or maybe even at all – are now constantly top of mind. Or need to be.

I am a Registered Dietitian by training. Sticking to scope of practice is critical for all of us. One of the things I love best about my professional training was/is the inclusion in my undergrad and grad programs about how important food is to who we are in addition to what it does for us. It’s not just a way for us to get nutrients.

When it comes to food, we have a connection. An existing, or soon-to-be-discovered, love of a flavor. The excitement of trying a new restaurant or cooking a new dish. The gratitude for food that provides life sustaining nutrition where it might not have been before. A connection to generations past, and a bridge to generations yet to come. Food is agriculture. It’s celebratory. It’s comfort and caring. And more…

One of my favorite memories of my days doing one on one nutrition education (we call it Medical Nutrition Therapy) is when patients and their loved one(s) would make an appointment when they were ready, come in, and share their food point of view with me. We would touch on the cultural, familial, and religious point of view of their choices in the context of overall intake, and of course, budget, taste, cooking skills, and so on. Really, we covered so many of the wonderful reasons we choose the food we do. Not only to understand what matters in choices to each person, but also to discover what they need and want to honor, and how to approach food choices so that traditions remain while new choices important for supporting health goals could fit in easily and appropriately.

There are many right ways to eat for the sustenance we need – the nutrition we need. It’s a disservice to the uniqueness of who we are to not embrace, celebrate, and learn more.

This is top of mind consistently. I think hard about both the words and the imagery selected to help tell a story with the intent to provide important and useful information, or to share a concept. Food is complex. So are people. We must be thoughtful and intentional to help with connection and understanding.

Food can unite us if we let it, and the concepts I talk about are intended to inspire and inform anyone who may be interested in options. Nutrients know no boundaries. There are many food choices that give us the micro- and -macro-nutrients needed to thrive mentally and physically. In food, there doesn’t need to be judgment. Just knowledge. How wonderful if we applied this approach to more aspects of our lives.

I’m watching, learning, and listening along with so many of you. We can do better for each other. We must do better for each other. It starts with one step. Perhaps we can start by learning about each other’s food.

global cuisine
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

By Kim Kirchherr

I am a dietitian working in food and fiber (agriculture) through retail, addressing opportunities to make things better for people and planet.