“…food which contains the memory of all time, is an extremely potent being for bringing balance to our being” – Maya Tiwari, A Life of Balance
“Food acts as a foundation for medicine. It is sometimes slower to take effect, but more profoundly affects all systems of the body. If diet is used correctly for prevention and treatment, other medicines are required less, if at all” – Paul Pitchford, Healing with Whole Foods
Food and diet span many parts of our lives, from ethical aspects, to political, spiritual, physical to the emotional. There are therefore many ways to consider how we approach this daily activity, which make up our cells, affects us mentally and emotionally, and has roots in a larger ancestral and global context.
“We may be the only mammal on the planet, who has forgotten how and what to eat…”
– Common discussion in Nutrition classes
Looking at food from different traditional perspectives can be supportive in creating change. In the Ayurvedic tradition, and in many Indigenous or Traditional healing systems around the world, food is medicine and food is memory. Food is made up of the very information that creates our bodies, our earth and our ancestral pasts. The plants are, in a sense, our Ancestors. Our relationship with food has the ability to awaken our deepest self knowing. It is not just about finding the perfect diet, or the perfect amount of calories, but about our evolutionary and relationship with the plants and animals who support us to create in our daily lives. In many traditions, all food and all humans are thought to be different melodies of the elements (ether, air, fire, water, earth), the experience of eating becomes a dance in balancing the elements between yourself/body/current thoughts/emotions and the plants/food on your plate/cups – learning to create balance from within and without.
“..nature is so fine and its pattern do intricate that if we were to use our foods intelligently, it would be like intimately knowing the symphony of nature’s cast spectrum of light, colour, sounds and scents…we would begin to remember to balance Life within our lives, like the confluence of a river and streams… ” ~ Maya Tiwari, A Life of Balance
It is becoming common knowledge that going to see a Naturopathic Doctor, usually means that you will be clearing out certain foods from your diet, the current most common sensitivities being: gluten/wheat, dairy, white sugar, soya, eggs, some nuts.
Without a doubt poor quality food has been a large factor in contributing to inflammation, digestive disturbances and emotional imbalance amongst other health issues. If we are to look at the root cause of these sensitivities, perhaps it is what we have been doing to our plants/food in general: over processed GMO foods, coming from pesticide heavy de-mineralized soils, animals being poorly treated en masse & with antibiotics (coming through to us in our food), high pasteurization levels, as well as pharmaceutical consumption, play roles in creating imbalance in our bodies.
This can all affect the absorption of certain minerals, vitamins, nutrients, an area where lab/blood
testing can play a role. Discovering nutrient deficiencies in your body, as well as which foods you are reacting to, can be helpful for increasing absorption of nutrients, increasing energy levels, and decreasing inflammation in gut lining, rebalancing the soil there, so to speak. With more whole, less processed foods, probiotic foods and the digestive benefits of spices and herbs in the diet, we begin to absorb our nutrients more readily, and create better overall balance for your mind and body. In this process, people often begin to feel better- as they begin preparing and cooking more of their own meals, and become more aware of the source of their foods. They also become much more aware of their digestion, and feeling their bodies in general, which supports more sustainable change in choosing to eat more appropriately for health and well being.
Our food choices are highly intertwined with our emotions. My experience has been that to hope for long term sustainable change, we must also address the emotional component of a person’s food choices. To change the field, in which you choose to eat, is to change how you feel about eating. We also live with a large part of our nervous system embedded in our digestive lining, which consists of some 500 million neurons- some of the reasoning behind ‘listening to your gut’. It is important to consider as well, that besides food- we also need to digest life events. Often, in a person’s digestion is poor/in disease state, I ask what was happening in their lives when the symptoms started to arise— many times there are other aspects of their lives, besides food, that need to be digested.
Lastly, lets not forget the true definition. “Nutrition: the act or process of nourishing or being nourished”. This not simply mean food/or what you take in via your mouth. In many traditions- all our senses are considered ‘fed’ in different ways. For example your eyes are nourished by the beauty of ocean, gardens or forest, very differently than by TV commercials or cement walls. Our ears are nourished by natural sounds of water, wind in trees, and any music that brings us joy/helps us express emotion/dance. Our bodies are nourished by the touch of earth beneath our feet, and within the arms of those we trust and love. Nourishment is a word that encompasses many aspects of our lives!