What is food literacy?

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Over my past seventeen years as a psychotherapist, I’ve helped individuals navigate a myriad of physical and mental health struggles and delivered a variety of research-supported interventions. I’ve also maintained a long-standing passion for health education, both as a tool for recovery and a preventative measure.

In this next chapter that I’ve named The SAVOR Project, I’m bringing what I’ve learned as a psychologist to the (literal and figurative) table to promote a more positive, connected  relationship with food. And the journey begins with food literacy, which can be broadly defined as the ability to access, choose, process, and enjoy food.  

In The SAVOR Project, we’ll focus primarily on what researchers have been conceptualized as the “psycho-social” factors of food literacy.

“Food literacy extends beyond nutritional recommendations and cookery lessons, to fostering important and vital connections between food, people, health and the environment…”(Colatruglio & Slater, 2014)

In the course of upcoming educational workshops, you’ll learn how to become an informed, active participant in your relationship with food, through:

  • Mindful eating instruction, which teaches us how to listen to our bodies, recognize needs that may masquerade as physical hunger, and better recognize appetite cues
  • Savoring exercises that connect us to pleasurable experience, especially in nature, and combat our inherent negativity bias
  • An introduction to therapeutic horticulture through engagement with edible, multi-sensory gardens
  • Expressive writing tools to reflect upon and understand your evolving food story

The SAVOR Project centers the process (not the content) of our relationship with food. Although we celebrate body diversity and endorse the Health-at-Every-Size movement, we encourage anyone seeking basic nutritional guidance to consult with a licensed dietian. Also, if you believe you are struggling with symptoms of an eating disorder, you should seek the evaluation of an eating disorder treatment professional. The SAVOR Project may be an appropriate resource once you are well on your way to recovery and/or with the ongoing support of a trusted psychotherapist.

SAVOR participants are encouraged to cultivate curiosity, self-compassion, and a spirit of adventure in their experiences with food. Food literacy leads to improved health and enjoyment, and if you learn to prepare a few simple dishes at home, can result in cost savings. Food literacy boosts your sense of competency and confidence, provides a creative outlet, and enhances resilience (your sense that you can face and navigate challenges).

Finally, the SAVOR Project promotes mindfulness-based awareness, skills and knowledge during a time when we feel estranged from our food – and our food systems, more than ever before.

If we feel connected to something, we begin to care about it. When we care about something, we become intimately tied in its welfare. We want to tend to it, not destroy it.

Apply this perspective to the food we eat, the bodies we feed, the communities we live in, the planet we inhabit, and food literacy becomes not just an educational tool but a powerful, even revolutionary act.