99% of nutritionists make the same mistake.

They only focus on what and when to eat, but never on the where and how.

In my experience, putting equal weight on all these aspects results in an intimate relationship with food that plays a crucial role in general health and nutrition. Below are some food rules I have established for myself.

MY FOOD RULES

1. Eat real food.

As opposed to modified foodlike substances. God knew what he was doing when he created food. Trust nature and pick up foods that your grandmother would recognize. Things that grow from the land, and not concocted as a science experiment.

2. Eat everything.

Or at least most things. Food should not be wasted. Even what we think is waste, is not. Bones and husks and stalks can be used for homemade soup. Pre-made grocery store soups tend to be very high in sodium, among other things. Plus I love very rich, stew-like soups loaded with veggies and protein and topped with cilantro and lime juice and avocado. Some of the stuff in the store shouldn’t even pass as broth.

3. Prepare real food.

Food preparation should involve our sense of touch. I love washing and chopping. Just the action of running my fingers under water and then under the blade of a knife. I love knowing exactly what ingredients are present in every single meal. And I love recognizing those ingredients.

4. Eat at a table.

I had my dining room table custom made out of solid oak. It is currently my most valuable possession. I love the idea of respecting my food enough to place it at that table, physically sit down in front of it, and just eat. No distractions, no TV, no computers.

It was important to me that I customize a table to a quality level that can outlast generations. This isn’t a table you give away when you move. It’s one that you pass down to your children, and grandchildren. I like eating there and imagining that I’m the first of many who will sit around it and enjoy the company of family and good friends over a great meal.

5. Touch your food.

I’ve always loved finger foods. I never got over playing with my food, but now it’s ok. I love fresh fruits and vegetables that I can hold. It helps me appreciate every bite and stare in wonder at what I am eating. Touching allows me to experience different shapes and textures. It also allows me to eat common food in an uncommon way.

For example, I love taking a cucumber slice and nibbling on the rim until the circle gets smaller and smaller and all that is left are the soft seeds in the centre. I like taking orange slices and trying to maneuver the seeds out with my tongue while leaving most of the skin intact. Sometimes I take a small spoon and poke holes in my apples. Or I’ll peel a lime like an orange.

Food was meant to be experienced and enjoyed.

6. Appreciate your food.

I know a lot of people who pray before they eat and verbally SAY thank you. But sometimes it becomes just a verbal run through. I’m talking about sitting there and remembering that your food came from somewhere. It came from a living plant or a breathing animal. It didn’t come from the grocery store and hopefully not from a factory.

7. Chew your food.

There are so many benefits in doing this. Firstly, there’s digestion. Your stomach doesn’t have teeth, so the more you chew the better. Secondly, the more you chew the longer it takes for you to eat, the quicker your brain realizes you are full, and the less you will eat. And my favourite benefit: It allows you to really taste your food.

Processed foods manufacturers spend a lot of money trying to figure out how to make things taste good. But the interesting thing is that a lot of natural foods already DO taste good, we’re just not taking the time to roll them around our tongues.

The amazing thing about your tongue is that your tastebuds are constantly regenerating themselves. In two weeks from now, you will have none of the tastebuds that are currently in your mouth. They will all be brand new.

This means that our taste buds can become more refined. Before I started eating whole foods, I could not tell the difference between a lot of food products. Now if I eat ketchup, I can TASTE the sugar in it and it’s disgusting. Sometimes I can actually taste when something contains white sugar or a sweetener. It feels different on my tongue. I can have a natural dried cranberry and it’s like a taste explosion, whereas a sweetened cranberry makes me want to spit it out.

8. Share your food.

If at all possible, don’t eat alone.

In class I sit next to a girl who always pulls out almonds in the middle of a lecture and shares them with me. I love that. For us it’s a sense of connection on the same level as passing notes. Good food should be accompanied by a sense of community and mutual affection, prepared with love.

There’s a verse in the Bible that has nothing to do with food, but really reflects its ancient social role. The verse is talking about someone so bad that you should cut him out of your life. But the specific instructions are, “With such a man, do not even eat.” (1 Corinthians 5:11)

Don’t eat with people you hate. It’s bad for digestion.