A healthy lifestyle is a process, a life-long learning about optimum health & nutrition. Dr. Bauman (Founder of my College) has created 4 levels of eating that describe the awareness and maturity of a person’s eating habits. To create a healthy balance of inner and outer ecology, we need to exercise greater levels of thought and awareness regarding food selection. There will be days when we move from one level to another depending on mood or energy, which is okay! Awareness is key, so we can catch ourselves slipping and move back into eating for health.
Level One: Eating for Pleasure. This level is an immature and impulsive approach to eating. This level is for immediate gratification wtihout considering later consequences. Foods in this category include, refined sugar and flour, excessive caffeine, sugar and alcohol, processed and fast foods. Food choices often reflect what we were fed as children to appease us, such as ice cream, cookies, candy and soft drinks. Level one is often emotional eating, compulsive overeating and a way to manage tension, stress, trauma and pain.
Level Two: Eating for Energy. This level focusses on blood sugar regulation by chossing foods that fill up so you don’t have to eat again for several hours. Examples include, complex carbs, fast food burgers, pizza and burritos. There is little concern over quality of food (antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, environmental toxins, etc) and ecological impact of food choices.
Level Three: Eating for Recovery. People who experiences the ill effects of level one and two eating- typically obesity or overweight, diminished health, energy and mood. People who experience these effects decide to go on diets formulated by someone else that organizes food into good and bad categories and limited quantities. These diets typically do not emphasize good quality or ecological impact. These diets include, The Zone, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Blood Type, Raw Foods, Macrobiotics, etc. The benefits are usually fewer refined and processed foods. However, the diet usually reaches a point where it’s no longer satisfying or producing promised effects (plateau). This stage can be tiresome, judgemental and supplement driven, and people often slip back into levels one and two.
Level Four: Eating for Health. This is a spiritual, healing approach to the culinary arts. It allows for personal choice, diversity, seasonality and individuality according to a person’s needs, tastes, ethnic origin and committment. This stage is about moderation, time, care in preparation and presentation, nourishment. Food is appreciated as a means for healing and sharing with others. Nourishing ourselves becomes an act of mature, loving awareness of our bodies and of the planet. This includes an array of organic, seasonal, local, sustainable fruits, vegetables, legumes, non-gluten grains, nuts, high-quality protein, seeds, herbs, teas, spices, purified water, healthful oils, mineral broths, etc. There is no set diet to follow. Listening to your body’s needs creates peace, balance and wisdom within the body, mind and spirit.
“Food is the best medicine.”
Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2012). Foundations in Nutrition. Penngrove, CA: Bauman College