Developing Your Personal Food Philosophy

Philosophy: a system of values by which one lives

We all have a life philosophy whether we are completely aware of that or not. You live by a certain moral code. You do things for a certain reason. A simple example of that is respect for human life. Chances are you are not a murderer and that is because that goes against your system of values by which you choose to live.

When it comes down to it, most of the big choices and decisions we make in our lives are governed by this life philosophy. However, some people choose to be even more deliberate about this and really begin to mindfully create and live by a higher standard they have developed for themselves. An example of this would be a person who has decided to drive only hybrid vehicles because it is important for them to be environmentally responsible or someone who chooses to buy as much as they can locally to support their community.

The beauty of having a defined philosophy about something whether it be general or specific is that in outlining your beliefs and the “whys” behind your choices, it becomes easier to stick to that philosophy in the long-term. If you have made a choice to not eat meat because you feel strongly about the way animals are treated, it is going to be much easier for you to stick with that choice because it is something you really believe in.

The thing about a personal philosophy is just that – it’s personal. My philosophy is mine and yours is yours. A personal philosophy must be something that you OWN as your own set of values to live by. It has to work for you, and when developing it you must be honest about what you truly desire and WHY you desire that, as well as be practical about if you will be able to implement it.

So when I speak of a “food philosophy” I am talking about developing a set of standards that you will live by when it comes to making choices about what you buy, what you put in your body and why. Your food philosophy has to work for you in the way you want food to work for you. What do you really want in relationship to nutrition and food? How can you create a food philosophy that reflects your desired relationship?

  1. Be honest.

This is not a time to be pie in the sky idealistic. Sure, I would love to eat all local food, but that is going to leave me stuck in the winter here in New York when all I can eat is potatoes and rutabagas. You also have to be honest with yourself about what it is you truly desire. Do you want to eat for health? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to find a way to eat everything in moderation? The philosophy must reflect these desires.

  1. Take responsibility.

Understand that these are your decisions and your choices. Don’t choose to put something in your philosophy because I have it in mine. (If you would like to take a look at my personal food philosophy you can read it here.) When it comes to health and nutrition you can apply the concept of integrity just as you can in life. (For more on health integrity here is a great article.) Do what you say you are going to do, and if you choose to not do that, own it. It isn’t anyone else’s fault if you go astray from your personal philosophy. You can’t blame food or family or friends or stress for the choices you ultimately make. That is all you.

Here is a list of questions you can answer to get started on developing your own personal food philosophy.

  1. What are your short-term and long-term goals in relation to nutrition and food?

  2. What role do you want food to serve in your life (i.e. fuel, health, social, etc.)?

  3. In your experience, what “works” for your body (foods or groups of foods you know make you feel great and help you achieve your goals)? Your mind (foods that create focus and positive thoughts)? Your spirit (foods that nourish and comfort your emotional well-being)?

  4. Are there any foods that need to be entirely off-limits for you? Why?

  5. Are there certain ways you would like to purchase or consume food (i.e. local, organic, grass-fed meats, etc.) and why?

Success requires mindful choices and having a food philosophy will start to shape those choices in a more meaningful way. Do you have a personal food philosophy? What are some of the tenets of your own philosophy of eating?