I know I've probably mentioned in my previous posts, but here it is again, if I wasn't a personal trainer, I'd be a chef. There is nothing that brings me greater joy (next to motherhood and training of course!) than creating a meal for family and friends. I believe that creating an amazing meal for someone is another way of saying you love them. Corny? Perhaps, but it my opinion, true. It's too bad that people just don't think of food that way anymore.

My goal is to go to Italy next spring. I've only been out of the country a couple of times, and my dream has always been to go to Italy, shop the local markets, stay in a villa and create amazing meals. Well, this past week as I was walking to work, I saw a neighbor of mine and started chatting with him and Italy came up. Come to find out, he and his wife go to Italy about 3 or 4 times per year and have been doing so for a number of years. Impulsively, I invited them over for dinner and he graciously accepted.

As we sat around the table sharing great food, most of which was harvested from my garden, (I so love summer!!) I realized the positive power of food and friends. However, leisurely meals with great conversation seems to be a lost art. It appears people can't enjoy food like they used to because they're either on a diet or feeling guilty for over imbibing. Therefore, people just don't really "enjoy" good food anymore. It's too bad.

I believe that if we cooked food for nurturing purposes versus how many fat grams or carbohydrate grams the food has, we would not have the obesity rate we do. We have taken food and turned it in to a science project versus what it's meant to be which is nourishment for body and soul. Unfortunately, food has become our enemy (will I gain weight or lose weight eating this?) instead of our ally.

When you cook, (if you cook) do you enjoy what you're eating? Do you even think about what you're eating or are you simply programmed to focus on food that's allowed or a "cheat"meal. Don't misunderstand me here, I'm not saying that going out for a double cheeseburger and fries is food for the soul, you know it's not (O.K. I know some of you are saying it is! I'm all about moderation). I'm talking about getting back to basics with food, focusing on the foods that were naturally designed to promote a healthier you. Does that make sense?

In other words, food has become all or nothing. Either we're eating fast food or processed "carbage" because we're not on a diet OR we're limiting our food selections because we are on a diet. The truth be known, like anything else in life, if you focus so much on the end result, you miss the scenery along the way. Diets/dieting has relegated "good for you foods" into the diet category and unhealthy foods in to the "not on diet, go nuts!" category. Diets have led people to believe that the naturally healthy foods are "diet food," so not true.

If we can just get back to basics with food, and learn to really enjoy "good for you food" then it is no longer an obsession rather a progression, i.e. learning how to eat well for the right reasons, good health.

At the end of the day, diets have wiped out an opportunity to learn and implement healthy eating. Diets force people to only think about calories, fat, carbs, etc. without any thought to the QUALITY of food you're eating. We've been led to believe that just because something is low-fat it's automatically good for you, so not true.

Getting back to basics, cooking more at home, being creative with lean proteins and vegetables and fruits allows us to get back to a positive relationship with food. Remember, the more basic your food choices, veggies, fruits, etc. the less you need to focus on "how many calories does it have?" The closer to nature, the better it will be for you.

Bottom line, I really believe that when we stop focusing on the "diet" piece of nutrition, we will naturally eat better. Diets create obsession with food and in my humble estimation, that is what has catapulted obesity to the level it is at today. You see, the more you obsess about food (which is what diets create), the worse you eat.

As long as you continue to diet or eat to lose weight, you will never realize the amazing culinary options available to help you be your best. Getting back to basics is the best way to learn that food is not the enemy, diets are. Get back to basics and discover the wonderful options available to you.

Author's Bio: 

Nicki Anderson has owned and operated the award winning Reality Fitness, Inc. Personal Training studio since 1991. As a successful business owner and sought after speaker, Nicki’s enthusiasm and business prowess on subjects including customer service, marketing and deconditioned populations, makes Nicki a sought after international speaker. Nicki is the 2008/2009 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year. She is the author of numerous books, her most recent, 101 Ways to Motivate Your Clients and Increase Retention (Healthy Learning, 2009). Nicki is the health and fitness columnist for Chicago Suburban Newspapers.For more information about Nicki visit, www.nickianderson.com www.realityfitness.com