Grocery shopping with my parents as a child was always such a mundane thing. I remember wandering behind my dad at Ralph’s, watching him fill our cart with a seemingly random array of food. The only thing that piqued my interest during these shopping trips was the checkout line, where I would try and stealthily sneak a candy bar onto the conveyor belt without my dad noticing.
As I grew older, my relationship with food grew more complicated. I began to view food as more than just sustenance, as something that could be “good” or “bad.” Conflicting information regarding what I should and shouldn’t eat came flowing at me from different sources. Classmates who brought strictly organic lunches made me rethink the chicken nuggets I got from the cafeteria. During high school, my search history was soon filled with questions like “How many calories are in a banana?” and “Best foods for weight loss.”
Society’s pressure to be thin muddled my mind’s view on food and I struggled to form a healthy relationship with it. But by consistently attending therapy for my eating disorder and challenging myself to try my fear foods, I slowly started to heal and shift my mindset. Exploring each aisle in the grocery store and picking out seasonal produce soon became a source of joy.
Learning how to properly decipher the true meaning behind nutrition labels and to appreciate all the health benefits inherent in certain foods was now my passion. In the past, I would limit myself to only purchasing the low calorie, sugar free versions of all my favorite foods – not thinking twice about the toxic artificial ingredients prevalent in so many of them. I had fallen into the trap of diet culture and lacked the confidence to go into a store without feeling overwhelmed.
Now, as a Nutritional Sciences major in my final year, I can apply the knowledge I’ve gained from my studies into properly fueling my body. Whenever I need a moment to rejuvenate after a long and stressful day, I immediately drive to Whole Foods or Erewhon if I’m back home in Los Angeles.
There is nothing more therapeutic to me than taking my time to decide between almond flour chocolate chip cookies or vanilla cashew milk ice cream. For the first time in my life, I feel confident and look forward to taking myself out grocery shopping – something I once considered to be another boring and even tiring errand. I no longer feel bombarded and overwhelmed by all the choices on the shelves, but instead I push my shopping cart with ease as I hold my head high, confident that I have the knowledge to choose what’s most nourishing for my body.
Establishing a positive relationship with food and creating a routine around grocery shopping has allowed me to apply that same way of thinking into other aspects of my life. Instead of second guessing every decision I make based on others’ opinions, I remind myself that I know myself better than anyone else, and am therefore equipped to make the choices that are best for me.
I’m proud to say that I no longer swap my freshly baked sourdough loaf for rice cakes just because I saw a girl who looked like a swimsuit model do so. The self-confidence I never thought I could have now grows within me each time I step foot in a grocery store and follows me back home into my kitchen, where I lovingly prepare meals that nourish my body and mind.