by Leika Suzumura, former PCC Nutrition Educator
This article was originally published in March 2010
(March 2010) — There is one distinct difference between nutrition and nourishment: you can buy foods with quality nutrition, but nourishment cannot be bought. Nourishment is based on three principles: balance, moderation and enjoyment. It’s not just about how many calories and vitamins and minerals you eat.
To be nourished is about more than just ourselves; it extends into how our food nourishes the environment around us, which affects our communities.
Balance refers to eating a variety of foods each day that contribute a wide array of nutrients to support optimal function. Carrot juice, for example, may be part of a healthy diet, but if you drink it every day you’ll turn orange from an overload of beta carotene.
In other words, our desire to eat healthfully sometimes can distract us into thinking of foods as individual components instead of a whole, integrated pathway to health. On the other hand, a diet that is well balanced would include the whole carrot.
Moderation builds upon the skill of achieving balance yet requires the will to know when to eat, and when to stop. Moderation involves portion awareness — not letting indulgence control us — while appreciating the pleasures of food and flavor. This is true for chocolate cake as much as carrot juice.
Enjoyment often is left out of our nourishing process. I am reminded of this when I hear people say “I feel guilty because I ate that last piece of cake,” or “I was bad today, I ate potato chips instead of salad like I was supposed to.”
For me, enjoying food in the good company of family and friends is a key element of good health and nourishment. When our emotions are tangled with feelings of guilt or disappointment in ourselves, the stress alone takes a toll on our well being.
Looking at food as a source of satisfaction is important. We can satisfy our hunger without overeating to the point of discomfort. We can make the time to eat with others and engage during a meal. You might even throw in a glass of wine and let the stresses of life dissipate with each deep breath between your laughter!
We are more empowered to nourish ourselves when we have knowledge and support. With the massive amount of information at our fingertips, it’s hard to know what is fad and what is fact.
I learn new things about consumers’ food concerns all the time from teaching the Walk, Talk and Taste classes. Young men ask about how they can get more protein in their diets (when they’re already getting enough or too much!).
People of all ages are confused about soy — is it good or bad? Would I lose weight on a gluten-free diet? Is organic really better? Is milk good for me and my kids? If cows are fed genetically engineered soy, how does that affect their meat?
I always try to answer with fact-based information. When I don’t know the answer, I’ll investigate and get back to you. I often find myself referring back to the idea of balance, moderation and enjoyment.
The Walk, Talk and Taste tours are free and empower our customers through education to be informed consumers and realize the connection between their food choices and their health, the environment, and our local and global community. They fill up fast so please reserve your place in advance online at pcccooks.com, or by calling 206-545-7112. All stores have tours once a month (see sidebar this page).
Join us and gain the knowledge that will allow you to find YOUR path to good health.
Leika Suzumura, R.D.,, former PCC Nutrition Educator, used to teach “Walk, Talk and Taste” classes at PCC stores.