How food influences CFS in my experience

 

I have had CFS since my teens, and especially strongly in two periods (including right now).

From the beginning, I knew that food played a role in how well I do. The type of food plays a role, as does when I eat, and – as I discovered more recently – having some minimal fat reserves.

Type of food. I tend to do best when I eat mostly vegetables and meat, with smaller amounts of grains and fruit, and minimal to no dairy and sugar. The less processed the better. And I prefer organic and locally produced food. I am from Northern Europe, and I notice I do well on traditional Northern European foods. Perhaps it’s genetics, or just what my body is used to, or the climate, I don’t quite know.

I especially like warm food that’s delicious and easy and quick to prepare. Slow cooked stews with bone broth is a favorite.

When I eat. I tend to eat relatively frequently. My main meal is often breakfast, and it’s often vegetables and meat. Lunch and dinner are typically similar. Although I do mix it up according to what I notice I am drawn to. It’s good to not be too strict. (For instance, I had muesli with kefir a couple of days ago and it felt right and good then. And I do sometimes eat chocolate.)

Fat reserves. I have been slim to skinny my whole life, and unable to put on weight even when I have intentionally tried to. This spring, I did a combination of Vortex Healing and using an app in order to put on more weight, and it worked within a week. (The Vortex Healing was for my digestive system and to support my body in absorbing and making use of nutrients.)

I am now up to 84kg (184cm tall) and have a minimal to moderate layer of fat on my body for the first time. It feels like an important and helpful buffer for me. I used to have energy crashes if a meal was delayed or I missed a meal. Now, that doesn’t seem to happen anymore. Joey Lott and others talk about the importance of eating enough in order to deal with and perhaps recover from CFS, and that fits my experience as well.

Additional notes. As I mentioned above, I am not terribly strict in my diet. Now and then, I do eat some grains, some dairy (cheese, kefir), and some sugar (mostly in the form of chocolate). I also find that butter seems to really help me, so I tend to melt butter on most warm meals. I should also say that I do some strength training and typically walk a good deal, so I try to stay as fit as I can within the limitations of having CFS.

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What helps my physical energy

 

Here are some things I have found helps my physical energy.

Herbs. Adaptogens can be very helpful, along with more targeted herbs. I have been greatly helped by taking certain herbs under the guidance of an experienced herbalist. (Right now, I take eleuthero, echinacea, and kapikachu.)

Bone broth. This also helps my deep physical energy. Here is the recipe I use:

Roast bones, 375 degrees, 25-30 min.

Cover with water, add 2 table spoons of apple cider vinegar. Use a slow cooker if you can.

Simmer on low heat, cover with water. (Leave the foam bc of nutrients).

Replenish water as needed.

Simmer for 48 hours.

Cool rapidly, freeze in small(ish) portions – for instance in small containers or ice cube trays. Use in meals or take as broth daily, especially during fall and winter.

Nature. Rest. Food. Spending time in nature. Get plenty or rest and sleep. (Live well within my means when it comes to energy.) Eat low on the food chain. Eat mostly unprocessed foods. Chose foods that work for my system. (In my case, mostly avoid sugars, dairy, and wheat. Eat cooked food during cold months, and more raw foods when it’s warm. Since I have dampness in my system, foods with heat help my energy.)

Vortex Healing. Vortex Healing has helped me greatly over the last year or so. My digestion is much better than it was, as is my general energy level. And it continues to improve.

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Reaction to food bringing things to the surface

 

I had some dairy-free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream last night. It tasted good, and the only immediate effect was a sugar rush. This morning, I noticed some additional effects. Mainly, feeling a bit off in my body, and also a feeling of hopelessness. Several things has come up for me this morning related to hopelessness: regrets about the past, fear about the future, feeling overwhelmed about my current situation). None of it is new. I am familiar with it. And although I feel off now, I also see that it’s good these things are surfacing. They come up so they can return home.

Several things has come up for me this morning related to hopelessness: regrets about the past, fear about the future, feeling overwhelmed about my current situation). None of it is new. I am familiar with it. And although I feel off now, I also see that it’s good these things are surfacing. They come up so they can return home.

I know it may seem weird that food can bring up emotional states such as hopelessness. But I have seen that over and over in my life. Certain foods do sometimes trigger certain emotional states or bring up deficient selves. It’s a food allergy type reaction. Some of my reactions are probably unique to me, and from talking with others it seems that some may be more common.

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Processed food and hopelessness 

 

Nothing new here, but a useful reminder:

I went walking in the woods yesterday. The journey, which was intended to be brief, ended up much longer than planned, and I eventually found myself quite hungry and somewhere I hadn’t been before. There was a McDonald’s there and a bus heading back to the house, so I decided to have a meal at McDonald’s, as part of the adventure. (A meal with milk shake and ice cream.)

Predictably, I didn’t feel good for the rest of the day and the morning after. And specifically, I noticed hopelessness and sluggishness set in, along with a craving for more dairy and junk food. I usually don’t eat/drink dairy, apart from some kefir, because I feel sluggish from it. And I usually don’t eat junk food (fast food, sweets, chips etc.) because my system feels off when I do, and it does seem to bring about a sense of hopelessness for me. Another reason I mostly avoid this is that junk food creates a craving for more junk food. It feeds on itself.

For me, the effects of foods are most noticeable in how they affect my mind. Dairy makes me feel sluggish and drowsy. Sugar makes me feel drained and tired. Wheat makes my mind feel a bit weird and off. Junk food creates hopelessness. And so on. It seems that highly processed foods tend to fuel and activate painful beliefs, identifications, and a victim mentality, at least in my experience. Vegetables, moderate amounts of fruit, and non-wheat grains are usually fine, as are most unprocessed foods.

Now, two days later, the effects are mostly gone. I had a strong craving for more junk food yesterday (anything would have done), but didn’t indulge so it’s mostly gone today. My mind also feels more clear again.

From talking with others, it seems that I am not the only one experiencing heavily processed food in this way. It’s almost astonishing that they are allowed to sell and advertise it. Especially knowing that the food itself is designed, and intentionally so, to create more cravings for it. It’s a drug you can become addicted to. It does impact the mind (and obviously the body) quite strongly, and not in a favorable way. And it doesn’t provide any (real) value beyond that of less processed foods. To put it crudely, it’s there to line the coffers of large corporations.

Spiritual emergencies and diet change

 

From what I read, it seems that spiritual emergencies often lead to diet changes, and these are quite individual and may also change over time.

For me, I went from vegetarian to eating heavier food including red meat, dairy and heavier grains such as oatmeal. It has felt necessary, and nurturing and grounding. Especially slow cooked (crock pot) meat stews have been good, and also brown miso and beef broth. I have also found myself eating more chocolate and sugary foods at times, where I before almost didn’t at all.

In The Stormy Search for Self, the Grofs talk about these types of diet changes as quite common. The body needs more nurturing and grounding, so seeks heavier foods, and it also sometimes needs quick energy and seeks our sugary foods.

That said, I still find fruits and vegetables to be essential in my diet. I also make sure to drink plenty of water, usually in the form of spice and herbal teas. And my diet changes with the seasons and the day, depending on what feels right and nurturing, as it has for a long time now.

It is a little odd to find myself eating the type of foods I earlier judged others for eating. And yet, that too is part of the humbling process. I find myself eating as anyone else, I find myself judging as anyone else, and I find myself humbled as anyone else. It’s part of the human experience.

I still see eating lower on the food chain as essential for our individual health and well being, and also for the health and well being of society, ecosystems, the earth, and future generations. I don’t justify or champion meat eating just because I find myself doing that now. And I still probably eat a lot less meat than what’s typical in western countries.

Eating like my ancestors

 

I like to find very simple guides for exploration, and in terms of food, one simple guideline is an evolutionary perspective.

What did my ancestors eat? Since my ancestors were adapted to their diet, my body may be as well. So how does it work for me if I try something similar?

The fun thing about this approach is that it covers some very different time periods, so I can find some common guidelines that runs through most of them, and some that are specific to different phases of human evolution and history.

When I look at what may be a common theme across the different phases, I see that all of them includes locally grown food, seasonal foods, an emphasis on vegetarian foods with occasional fish or meat, and food made “from scratch” (unprocessed). Since that’s what I find I am attracted to, and what works best for me anyway, it’s a good match.

Diving it up slightly further, I see that for some tens or perhaps hundreds of thousands of years, my ancestors ate partly raw and partly cooked food. It’s a good bet that the same is good for me as well, and that too is what I find from own experience. During the summer, I naturally eat more raw foods, and in the winter more cooked foods, and at any time there is a mix.

And going into the specific time periods, I know that my immediate ancestors are mostly from Northern Europe (with a few from central Europe), which means a diet of vegetables, fruit, berries, grain, fish, and some occasional meat. Again, I know this works well for me, especially if I go back to a diet free from processed sugars, if I exclude dairy, and if my main grains are the non-wheat ones (oats, barley etc.). I also find that fermented foods works very well for me.

My pre-civilization ancestors probably ate similar foods as gatherer-hunters to today, which means fruits, berries, roots, and – again – occasional fish and meat. This too works well for me, although I must say I appreciate some grains as well.

Even further back, my ancestors ate raw foods and – most likely – mostly vegetarian foods. I include raw foods in my diet, and haven’t tried it as an exclusive diet. Although it’s not a conclusive argument, I suspect that my ancestors adapted well to cooked food (since so many generations lived on it), and our bodies and bellies have changed somewhat since our exclusive raw-food days (and I know that an exclusive raw foods diet works well for many).

Mainly, this is about experimenting and trying out what works. And what works well for me now may be different from what used to work well, or works well in the future. And it’s also, to some extent, different for each of us. We have different ancestors, are of different age and health, live in different climates, have different inclinations and preferences, so it’s not surprising that what works best for our bodies differ as well.

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Food

 

A quick exploration of food:

It can be quite simple. Here are some of the guidelines I tend to follow for myself: Eat (a) what works with my body, the food I notice makes me feel and function well, and (b) aligned with how my ancestors ate.

This includes (a) moderate amounts, “just enough” (end the meal before feeling full), (b) diverse foods and as much as possible in season (seasonal eating provides variety over time), (c) unprocessed food, made from “scratch”, (d) low on the food chain (less meat), (e) local and organic if possible (also supports local farmers and organic food production), (f) aligned with traditional foods of my near ancestors (Norway, northern Europe) and my more distant pre-civilization ancestors (fruit, berries, nuts, vegetables, a bit of meat and fish now and then), and (g) not taking any of these guidelines too seriously (I’ll for instance have burgers and milk shake occasionally). All of this is good for me, and eating local, organic and lower on the food chain is also good for the ecosystems and future generations.

Since I have a tendency to food intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome, I also have a quite reduced intake of sugar, dairy and wheat. And I also take a generous amount of ginger and cloves (powder in capsules) with each meal. Without ginger and cloves, almost any food tends to feel like a stone in my belly and I feel drained of energy and vitality. And with ginger and cloves, I feel nurtured and supported by the meal. I also find that food cooked in a slow cooker, especially with bones (bone broth), feels deeply nurturing.

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A stable attention, inquiry and food

 

A stable and relaxed attention is very helpful for inquiry. It supports doing inquiry as meditation.

I can support stable attention through stability practices (samata) such as bringing attention to the breath.

I can support a stable and relaxed attention through exercise (aerobic, strength), yoga, tai chi/chi gong, Breema or TRE.

And I can support a stable and relaxed attention through my diet. For myself, I notice that staying away from sugar supports a stable attention (my attention goes a little,  or sometimes a lot, haywire when I eat sugar). Dairy tends to bring a sense of sluggishness, and wheat makes me feel a bit “weird” so reducing or eliminating those is also a good support for inquiry, and for my life in general. When Byron Katie asks participants for The School to eliminate sugar for a week before The School, I suspect it’s partly for this reason, to support a more stable and relaxed attention, and partly so resistant thoughts will surface for inquiry.

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Cooking as a force of evolution

 

Cooking is something we all take for granted but a new theory suggests that if we had not learned to cook food, not only would we still look like chimps but, like them, we would also be compelled to spend most of the day chewing…..

Cooking food breaks down its cells, meaning that our stomachs need to do less work to liberate the nutrients our bodies need. This, says Wheeler, “freed up energy which could then be used to power a larger brain. The increase in brain-size mirrors the reduction in the size of the gut.” Significantly Wheeler and Aiello found that the reduction in the size of our digestive system was exactly the same amount that our brains grew by – 20%. Professor Stephen Secor at the University of Alabama found that not only does cooked food release more energy, but the body uses less energy in digesting it. As a consequence, more time was available for social structure to develop.
– from BBC, Learning to Cook Produced Bigger Brains

Changing food habits is a good example of how we shape our own evolution.

Our evolved biology makes our behavior and culture possible. Our behavior and culture changes, and this allows us to make use of our evolved potential in new ways. Both of these changes our selection pressures. Which in turn changes us biologically as a species. And this changes what is possible for us as individuals and as a culture.

We have evolved so it is possible for us to use tools and cook food. Cooking food allows us to make better use of food nutrients, which in turn allows us to make different and new use of our evolved potential. Both of these changes our circumstances and selection pressures, so different characteristics are selected for. This changes us biologically as a species. And this opens new options for us as a species and a culture.

Nowadays, our own culture is perhaps the most significant source of our own evolutionary change, as it has been for tens or hundreds of thousands of years. Through culture, we change our social and ecological environments, which in turn changes the selection pressures, which in turn changes who we are.

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Lessons from the Blue Zones: How to live longer and healthier lives

 

The four essentials:

1. Move Naturally – Make your home, community and workplace present you with natural ways to move. Focus on activities you love, like gardening, walking and playing with your family.

2. Right Outlook – Know and be able to articulate your sense of purpose, and ensure your day is punctuated with periods of calm.

3. Eat Wisely – Instead of groping from fad diet to fad diets, use time-honored strategies for eating 20% less at meals. Avoid meat and processed food and drink a couple of glasses of wine daily.

4. Belong to the Right Tribe – Surround yourself with the right people, make the effort to connect or reconnect with your religion and put loved ones first.

More info at Blue Zones.

Food choices

 

But before we cede the entire moral penthouse to “committed vegetarians” and “strong ethical vegans,” we might consider that plants no more aspire to being stir-fried in a wok than a hog aspires to being peppercorn-studded in my Christmas clay pot. This is not meant as a trite argument or a chuckled aside. Plants are lively and seek to keep it that way. The more that scientists learn about the complexity of plants — their keen sensitivity to the environment, the speed with which they react to changes in the environment, and the extraordinary number of tricks that plants will rally to fight off attackers and solicit help from afar — the more impressed researchers become, and the less easily we can dismiss plants as so much fiberfill backdrop, passive sunlight collectors on which deer, antelope and vegans can conveniently graze. It’s time for a green revolution, a reseeding of our stubborn animal minds.
– from Sorry, Vegans: Brussels Sprouts Like to Live, Too by Natalie Angier, New York Times

Albert Schweitzer had a good take on this: No matter what we eat, someone or something dies, so we are in debt to life. The question is, how do we pay this by back? How do we serve life?

When I make my own food, I try to eat local, organic and lower on the food chain. Although I do eat meat at times, and I will eat anything I am served by others. For me, it is more about quantities than absolutes. And I have tried to pay back through several years of work in sustainability (local, solution focused, partnership oriented, using guidelines such as the ecological footprint and The Natural Step). And now, more through offering free Breema bodywork and low-cost classes.

There is no need for us to try to justify our food choices, because no matter what we eat, we take life. But there is a need an invitation for us to make the kindest and wisest food choices possible, individually and as a society. What serves life best? What is delicious, nutritious, good for the local economy, good for ecosystems, good for future generations, reduces suffering as much as possible, and practical? How can we organize ourselves so these choices are also the easy, fun, and attractive choices? Many people work on this, and there are many good examples out there (such as CSA farms), so I won’t go into details here.

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Oat breakfast

 

Going into the summer, I find that I eat more fresh and raw food, so this is a good time to write down a recipe I have enjoyed this winter and spring – as a reminder for myself for next year.

  • Steel cut oats, soaked overnight. This starts a slight fermentation process and eases digestion.
  • Add coconut flakes, raisins, sliced apple, banana, sunflower seeds, etc. I usually use only coconut flakes and apple.
  • Cook w. green temple chai, or another spice tea, instead of some or all of the water. This adds to the flavor and gives a nice warming effect in the body.
  • Slow cook on low heat while stirring the bottom occasionally.
  • Serve w. gomasio (roasted and salted sesame seeds), honey, etc.

Sauerkraut!

 

I have fermented foods off and on for a while, but for some reason haven’t gotten around to making sauerkraut yet. (Could have something to do with irrational prejudices left over from childhood!)

I now have a nice batch of dill-sauerkraut fermenting in the kitchen, and it should be done sometime next week.

Above is a nice little video on how to do it, with more information at the Kitchen Gardeners International website.

Fermented food tastes great, is richly nutritious, and is easily digested and made use of by the body. When I ferment it myself, I find that it creates a deeper sense of connection with my food, body and life in general, and is fun and easy to do as well.

Nutritional supplements may not always be that good for us

 

New research suggests that nutritional supplements may, in some cases, lead to increased mortality rates.

I am sure that these supplements are very helpful in some situations, but it also is a reminder that there is no substitute for eating healthy, and that eating healthy in most cases is sufficient.

After all, we evolved for billions of years – counting our pre-human ancestors – eating whole organisms, and we have only had nutritional supplements for a few decades. Food contains nutrients in a form and combination that our bodies have evolved to make use of.  So when it is available to us, it makes more sense to rely on varied, fresh, mostly whole, and less processed foods.

And if it is local (family farms, CSAs), and grown in healthy soil (organic, biodynamic), it has additional benefits. It tastes great, supports the local economy and ecosystems, and supports a healthy form of food production. And if we need an extra boost, teas and infusions are a good first choice before supplements.

Research has suggested certain vitamin supplements do not extend life and could even lead to a premature death. A review of 67 studies found “no convincing evidence” that antioxidant supplements cut the risk of dying.

Scientists at Copenhagen University said vitamins A and E could interfere with the body’s natural defences.

“Even more, beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E seem to increase mortality,” according to the review by the respected Cochrane Collaboration.

Source: BBC News.

Hara hachi bu

 

An interesting story from BBC on three locations where people live unusually long and healthy lives.

The Okinawan’s most significant cultural tradition is known as hara hachi bu, which translated means eat until you’re only 80% full.

In a typical day they only consume around 1,200 calories, about 20% less than most people in the UK. Culturally it is a million miles from attitudes in a lot of Western societies, where all-you-can-eat meal deals are offered in restaurants on most high streets.

Hara hachi bu is not specific to Okinawa, so there are other factors at play. And whether it has an impact on longevity or not, it certainly has an impact on immediate well being, as I notice very clearly for myself.

If I eat until I am full, I feel heavy, sluggish, dull and constipated, with all of me. But if I eat until it is just enough, hara hachi bu, I feel alert, nourished, ready to go on with my day.

So whatever long term benefits it may or may not have, it certainly have immediate benefits that makes it well worth it.

It feels better all around, and when I notice that, it becomes easy to eat just enough. Eating more is not pleasant anymore.

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Food pragmatics

 

A post on food dogmatism by c4 reminds me that being pragmatic about food is more peaceful, and also, in the long run, probably more effective.

There are many good reasons for eating vegetarian, including ecology (less land used, less antibiotics used), health (helps many aspects of our health), and concerns for our fellow creatures. (Would I want other creatures to suffer for a short lived enjoyment for myself? No.)

And there are also many good reasons for being flexible about our food habits, such as our relationships and, sometimes, our health.

Which is why I often say I eat 95% vegetarian when someone asks me. I eat mostly vegetarian when I cook my own food (rare occasions with smaller amounts of meat), and I’ll eat whatever is put in front of me when I am with others. (I also try to eat organic, local and free range as much as possible, and when I eat with others, I go for mostly the non-meat parts of the meal if I serve myself.)

There are many reasons why it makes sense to not be too dogmatic about food. Relationships is the obvious one. Do I see food choices as more important than my relationships? No. Can I find ways to balance out the two if I am pragmatic about it? Yes.

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Stangeland’s Tea

 

I my teens, I discovered a tea which had a profound effect on me, nourishing me deeply throughout the body and energetically. It is made by Stangeland who worked with energy medicine, and put together different teas to nurture us in the ways our modern foods and life often does not. I have used it occasionally since then, most recently right now, and am still amazed by how deeply nurturing I experience it. Especially when I feel depleted for one reason or another.

The tea can be ordered through their website, which is only in Norwegian. (But you can email.) The basic tea is called “basis te”, which I now use in combination with the chakra tea.

They recommend simmering for a couple of hours, store in the fridge, and drink half a cup two or three times a day. I cheat and make it as an infusion (which in my experience works as well, and is easier): Fill a jar with hot water and add the tea (a couple of large spoons), let it sit for a while, and store cold. I also refill once or twice with hot water to get more out of the herbs.

Food & a breakfast recipe

 

I am visiting my family, and food is one of the things that receive more attention than usual. It helps me notice again the difference between tasting with the mouth or with the whole body.

If we taste with the mouth only, we are usually in for trouble one way or another. As we eat, we may ignore the signals from the body saying “that’s enough” or “stay away from that right now” and then pay for it later.

But if I experience myself as that whole beyond and including body-psyche, and am more aware of and responsive to the body, I taste with the whole of me, the whole body and mind. And here, it becomes easy and simple to eat just enough, and also to say no to the foods that do not seem nurturing right now.

I notice that my center of gravity is stably and easily in the second, although I do choose to override it occasionally, which then is just another experience. Another thing to explore and notice.

And a recipe for my favorite breakfast right now:

  1. Soak steel cut oats, coconut flakes and raisins over night
  2. In the morning, make a cup of strong Green Temple Chai (or another spicy tea)
  3. Add the tea and pieces of pear, banana and/or apple (or any other fruit) to the oat mix
  4. Cook on low heat for a while (I often do it for half an hour or so)
  5. Eat with Green Temple Chai or another spice tea

Right now, during the cold season, this is a breakfast that feels deeply nurturing for the whole body, whole mind.

Cheese influencing the content of dreams

 

cheese.jpg

 

The British Cheese Board has found that eating different types of cheese before going to bed induces different types of dreams…!

85% of females who ate Stilton had some of the most unusual dreams of the whole study. 65% of people eating Cheddar dreamt about celebrities, over 65% of participants eating Red Leicester revisited their schooldays, all female participants who ate British Brie had nice relaxing dreams whereas male participants had cryptic dreams, two thirds of all those who ate Lancashire had a dream about work and over half of Cheshire eaters had a dreamless sleep. […]

What is particularly interesting is the reported effect different types of British cheese have on influencing the content of dreams. It seems that selecting the type of cheese you eat before bedtime may help determine the very nature of often colourful and vivid cheese induced dreams”

I am not really that surprised as I have found that many things seem to influence not only my sleep but also my dreams, including what and when I eat (chocolate cake is especially good for making my mind go haywire) and where I sleep (sometimes, it even seems that my dreams pick up the typical content of other’s dreams if I sleep where someone else usually sleeps).

In general, food influences me and my mind in sometimes dramatic ways. Dairy makes me and my thinking sluggish and heavy. Sugar makes me very tired. Wheat makes my mind go slightly haywire, in a different way than chocolate cake (!) Chocolate cake wreaks havoc with my attention, where wheat makes everything feel slightly weird and unreal. Apples makes me and my mind feel alert and fresh, and the same is the case for most other fruits. Vegetables, especially if cooked, are more neutral. Meat gives a nice earthy heavy feeling.

I haven’t heard about any other studies looking at the connection between food and the mind (including dreams), but it seems that it would be fertile ground for research, and even have some practical implications.

Centaur and tasting

 

Centaur


I am not sure if this is the experience of others as well, but to me it seems that the centaur level also involves a change in taste. (Centaur=a living and lived experience of the whole beyond and including body-mind, the whole of our human self.)
If there is a fragmented sense of self at the human level, taste is also fragmented. Specifically, something can taste good in the mouth and not in the body and the other way around. And this can of course give a sense of conflict, of shoulds and wants pulling in different directions.

But when the sense of our human self is more whole, when there is a direct living experience of the larger whole, the taste also is more whole. When I taste, I taste with the mouth and the body simultaneously. The two are not only aligned, but revealed as the same. Shoulds and wants give way for a simple centaur response to food, so what is good for the whole is also what is wanted. (There are apparent exceptions to this, but even then, what I eat turns out to be something this body-mind seems to need and thrive on, at least in smaller amounts.)

I noticed this even in my teens and early twenties, but didn’t always live from it. Now, it there is a sense of more maturity in it so it becomes (typically) daily and effortless.

Poison, medicine and dosage

 

Last night, I was reminded of the old advice of the medicine (or poison) being in the dosage, and also that any guideline is only a guideline. Life is always more and more fluid than any guideline.

Over the last few days, I have been getting progressively more tired and exhausted, in spite of a good diet and a regular amount of sleep. I have also had a strong dairy craving which I successfully (and it turned out, stupidly) resisted. Then last night, I bought some feta cheese for a salad, and had a good chunk of it (with a couple of tomatoes) for myself, which almost immediately – and miraculously – restored my energy. I had a great nights sleep, and woke up completely rested.

So the dairy craving was a craving coming from the physical body, needing something in dairy. And, as I well know from before, even if dairy is poison for my body in regular and large amounts (bringing a great deal of sluggishness), it is essential medicine in irregular and smaller amounts.

Food

 

food.jpg

There is no lack of ironies in our relationship with food in our civilization… for instance, a good number of people across the world starve because they have limited access to food, while others are malnourished from eating large quantities of not especially nutritious foods.

Yet, it can be so simple, and so obvious. Here are some of the guidelines that work for me…

  • Drink lots of water (pale to blank urine… this is by far what is most important for my own system, the whole body-mind feels congested if I don’t)
  • Eat foods with multiple benefits… good for the body, enjoyable to the mind, gentle on the pocket book, and (as much as possible) good for the local and global ecological and social systems
  • Eat fresh (local and in season when possible), colorful, varied and less processed foods
  • Eat mostly low on the food chain, with some meat (also good for our ecosystems)
  • Eat at least some raw foods at each meal (fresh and more nutritions)
  • Eat with the seasons, not only in terms of what is available but also in how it is prepared (I eat more raw foods in the summer, and more cooked in the winter)
  • Eat the main meal mid-day when possible, and avoid eating in the evening and especially late at night (a big meal mid-day gives me energy for the rest of the day, and I feel congested and have weird dreams if I eat too late…!)
  • Cook on low heat
  • Eat fermented foods (pre-digested, extra nutrients)
  • Eat with others when possible, and slow down when eating (chew each bite well, and take time to really taste it)
  • Use it as an opportunity for appreciation and gratitude, and as a reminder of the radical interconnectedness of all that is.
  • Leave some space in the stomach, don’t fill it all the way up (again, I feel congested if I eat too much)
  • Don’t take any food guidelines as anything more than a general guideline (food is too important to be absolutist about)
  • Listen to the body, and adjust when and what you eat depending on what the body tells you – which will change over time depending on time of day, seasons, health, age, and so on (I eat dairy, wheat and sugar in only limited – or often no – amounts, because my body-mind does not do well on those)
  • Don’t stray too far away from what your ancestors ate (it is a good general guideline, but our ancestors ate quite different foods at different times – raw further back and cooked later on – so it is not fool proof)