Meat, health, and ecology

The Norwegian government released new dietary guidelines with the health of humans and the ecosystems in mind.

In short, they recommend eating whole foods, eating low on the food chain, avoiding processed foods, and avoiding alcohol (there is no safe lower limit to alcohol intake). (This is the way I have mostly eaten since my teens.)

To me, this seems like basic common sense. It’s what makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. It’s the type of food our ancestors lived on and our bodies are designed for.

And, predictably, to some, it seems highly offensive. Are you telling us we can’t eat meat anymore? That we shouldn’t enjoy alcohol? That I can’t have my snacks and pizza?

There is also a discussion specifically about meat. The guidelines recommend reducing the meat intake as much as possible. Some point out that there is disagreement among scientists about whether red meat is problematic for our health. And although that’s an important point, it’s also missing the point.

Meat production is one of the biggest causes of deforestation, and it generally has a huge impact on our ecosystems. Our obsession with eating meat is one of the largest contributors to our collective and individual ecological footprint.

The guidelines explicitly take both health and ecological sustainability into account. Reducing our meat intake won’t harm our health. And it will help us reduce our ecological footprint. That’s more than enough reason to recommend reducing our meat consumption.

And in the bigger picture, our meat intake is intimately connected with our health. Without healthy ecosystems, we cannot be healthy. What happens with the Earth happens with us.

Although the finer points may be up for discussion, the bigger picture is not that complicated.

Image: Created by me and Midjourney

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Why I don’t drink coffee

Some say that caffeine gives us energy, so why don’t I drink coffee or tea?


The simple answer is that I don’t like the effects of coffee. I enjoy the taste well enough, especially when it’s good quality and well made. But I don’t like the effects in my system, I don’t like how it feels. And it also doesn’t really give me anything I want. So it’s an easy choice. I’d rather drink something else.


More to the point, caffeine is a stimulant. It makes me feel wired, and my mind can use this wiredness to ignore my body’s signals to slow down and rest. That’s not good for any of us. It can lead us to ignore these signals for too long, which can lead to burnout and crashes. I have even less wiggle room here since I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). If I ignore my body’s signals, I’ll crash quickly.


So what about the meme above? Why do some experience the effect of caffeine as anxiety?

I assume it’s because our mind notices the effects of the stimulant, and then interprets it as energy or anxiety. If we are not so conscious of it as a stimulant, we may call it something else.


What do I drink instead? In, daily life, I typically drink herbal or spice infusions.

And if I want something that actually gives me (deep) energy, I’ll drink bone broth. (Ideally made from beef bones cooked for a couple of days in a pressure cooker or slow cooker.)


Real energy calms down my system, and it gives me better and deeper sleep. I assume this is because my system has the energy to do what it needs, so it can relax. (If my energy is depleted, I can feel wired and have trouble sleeping.)

The quickest way for me to bring up my energy is through energizing with Vortex Healing. And this has shown me, many times, the difference between feeling depleted and wired, and the deeper relaxation that comes with real energy.

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My own experience with supporting my kidneys through climate, diet, and healing

My kidneys have been a focus for my healing over the last few years, and I thought I would share a few things I have noticed.


First, something I have been told. I got the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) when I was fourteen, in the form of mono/mononucleosis. That led to full-blown Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) a few months later when I was fifteen. Apparently, this virus stayed in my body since then, especially in my kidneys which weakened dramatically over time.

Long before anyone told me this, I had noticed that my kidneys seemed especially weak. Even without specifically scanning my body, I sensed that my kidneys were cold, weak, dry, and fatigued and that this impacted my system as a whole.


Here are some things I have noticed about my kidneys:

My diet impacts my kidneys, and especially sugar and white sugar. If I eat sugar, I notice my kidneys get colder and more (energetically) brittle and fatigued. This is most noticeable for one or two days, but can impact my kidneys over time if I don’t help them with diet (bone broth, etc.) and energizing.

Cold weather does the same, especially if my waist area is exposed to the cold over time, and if I breathe in cold air over time. If I am in a cold climate, this can weaken my kidneys dramatically over weeks and months, and the summer may not be enough for them to recover since my system in general is fatigued.

It seems that fear also impacts my kidneys. For instance, if I work on an issue in the evening that brings up fear, I often notice this fear in my system during the night, and when I wake up in the morning I notice that my kidneys are cold, brittle, and fatigued. This tends to pass during the morning, especially if I help energize them.


So how do I support my kidneys?

A warm climate helps avoid the stress on my kidneys from cold weather and cold air. If I am in a colder climate, I often use a haramaki – a wrap around my waist to keep that area warm.

My diet strongly impacts my kidneys. It seems to support my kidneys when I reduce sugars and refined foods, eat more whole and unprocessed foods, eat lower on the food chain, drink lots of liquid (often warm), and have a daily dose of good dark bone broth.

Several herbal remedies help nurture my kidneys, especially some adaptogens.

I am working on my emotional issues. Since fear is behind any emotional issue, this helps reduce the generalized fear in my system and the times fear comes up more strongly, and that reduces the kidney drain that comes from fear.

Using a pendulum has been a helpful tool in pinpointing what drains and nurtures my kidneys, especially when it comes to diet.

Vortex Healing (VH) has also been immensely helpful in working on and supporting my kidneys.

With VH, I can more easily sense what’s happening with my kidneys. I can bring up the different energies related to the kidneys, especially prenatal jing, kidney essence, and the constitutional energy of the kidneys. I can optimize the energy pathways related to the kidneys. And I can optimize the function of the kidneys themselves. This has been invaluable and has helped my kidneys greatly.

When I do healing for my kidneys, I find it’s important to invite the divine within the kidneys (making up the kidneys) to reorganize to help energize and heal the kidneys. An inside-out orientation works better than an outside-in orientation (channeling from the outside-in), perhaps because its closer aligned with reality.


There is a big caveat here, and that is that I am by no means a medical expert on anything, let alone kidneys. I am not trained in nutrition, Chinese medicine, herbalism, and so on. And there is probably a lot I am missing. Also, this is just my own experience. It may well be different for you, and there are probably many things I have left out that may be as or more important than what I have mentioned here.

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Bone broth

I have been using bone broth off and on for the last couple of decades after I shifted from a vegetarian to a flexitarian diet.

Bone broth is one of the things I have found that significantly and consistently improves my health and well-being. It helps with my energy level, digestion, cravings, and the CFS.

(Other things that help with my general well-being and energy levels are: good sleep, drinking plenty of water – often in the form of herbal infusions, eating nourishing foods in general, eating and drinking regularly, eating with the seasons, some adaptogenic herbs, Vortex Healing energizing, Breema, and generally learning to understand and follow the signals of my body.)

I started again with bone broth last week, after some months without taking it, and it’s easy to notice how it nourishes my body and fills up deeper layers of my energy system. 

I notice the familiar difference between chicken broth and beef broth. Beef broth fills up deeper layers of my system. (I am sure this is different for different people. I am often drawn to the stronger medicine.) 

Bone broth helps my digestion in an amazing way. My digestive system is much more stable and seems better able to deal with a range of foods.

I notice how I am less drawn to meat when I have bone broth. The ideal diet for my system seems to be bone broth from beef and otherwise eating low on the food chain. Ironically, bone broth makes it easier for me to eat a more vegetarian diet. 

And I notice how cravings – for sugar and other less-than-healthy foods – go away when I have bone broth daily. I even have a slight aversion to those foods, likely because my system is more balanced and nourished. 

I should mention that I have tried bone broth powder. It has some effect but not even close to the bone broth I make myself.

I typically cook beef bones for two or three days on low heat in a slow cooker, with some vinegar to draw out the nutrients. (Update: I now started to use a pressure cooker, and it seems a good time is 15-20 hours to get the nice dark golden color.)

There is another side to this. One of my issues in life is not feeling deeply nourished – both psychologically and physically. So the deep nourishment that comes from bone broth seems especially helpful and important to me. That’s also why I am drawn to practices like Breema that have a deeply nourishing quality. 

Note: The photos above are from beef bone broth cooked 15-20 hours in a pressure cooker. It’s smooth, rich, delicious, and feels deeply nurturing.

Note 2: Gelatin powder has a similar effect to bone broth, although not quite as deeply and richly nourishing. I take neutral (unflavored) gelatin powder in hot water, often in the morning. It doesn’t quite replace bone broth, but it’s a nice emergency measure when traveling or when I run out of bone broth before having made a new batch.

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Chronic Fatigue reflections I: movement, surfacing emotions, crashing, food, and anger

I decided to start a series of posts with Chronic fatigue Syndrome (CFS) reflections. These are just my own observations so take it with a big grain of salt and explore it for yourself (if you have CFS).

Chronic fatigue and conscious movement. One thing I have learned through living with Chronic Fatigue (CFS) is to be extra conscious of how I physically move. If I move too fast – and frantically – it’s clearly not good for my health. I need to find a comfortable way to move, and that usually means to slow down. Beyond that, if I can find a nurturing way to move, that’s even better.

When I see others moving in a fast or frantic way, it’s a reminder to me to slow down. I am usually pretty good at it, but I too notice the temptation to speed up and try to do a lot quickly. It’s also helped me to look at why I am tempted to do this. Mainly, when I have some “extra” energy – beyond just being able to lie in bed do close to nothing – there is a temptation to do as much as I can – and perhaps to do this relatively fast – since I don’t know how long it will last.

I have done a lot of conscious movement work in my previous life so this is relatively natural for me (tai chi, chigong, yoga, Feldenkrais, Breema). For others with CFS but without this previous experience, I imagine that very gentle conscious-movement explorations can be helpful if it’s adapted to what they are able to do without worsening too dramatically or crashing.

Chronic fatigue and surfacing emotions. We are a seamless system so emotions play a role in any aspect of our life, and so also in chronic illness. For instance, chronic illness may lead to – at different times – anger, frustration, sadness, grief, anxiety, and so on, and it’s good to address this to improve quality of life and give the system a better chance to heal itself. It’s also possible that certain personality traits – like perfectionism and people-pleasing – is connected with CFS although research has not shown this (yet).

In general, why not address emotional issues? It can certainly improve our quality of life no matter our situation, and it can also free up resources allowing our system to better heal itself.

There are many possible connections between CFS and emotions. Here, I want to highlight just one. When my energy level is good, my old emotional issues are mostly “hidden” and not very obvious. I have the resources to deal with life without having too many issues triggered.

When my energy levels go down, these old issues tend to surface more easily. Even smaller challenges in life can trigger my old hangups since I don’t have the resources to deal with life’s challenges as I normally would.

The gift in this is that I get to see these old hangups, make a note of them, and perhaps – if I have energy! – address them.

Chronic fatigue & crashing. When my system crashes, it’s typically when I am out of bed and in some activity, and when I do too much and haven’t had food and water frequently enough. The recipe for avoiding crashing is the reverse: do less, rest more, and eat small meals and drink (water, herbal teas) more frequently.

When my system crashes, it feels like a whole-systems crash. My physical body begins to shut down. My mind goes into survival mode with a single-minded focus on food and water. And if I perceive that someone or something is in the way of me getting food and water quickly, I may also get frustrated, angry, and/or grumpy. (The focus is often on chocolate and sodas since that gives me quick energy, even if I rarely if ever eat and drink it otherwise.)

Chronic fatigue & food. I know I do better when I avoid some foods (wheat, dairy, sugar, refined foods) and eat more of other foods (vegetables, some fruits, some less typical grains). In periods where I eat more indiscriminately, my system is eventually impacted and I need to switch back to a more intentional diet. Similarly, if I eat strictly for too long, I eventually need to broaden my diet.

The foods I get sick from if I eat them regularly become medicine in small amounts in periods where I eat more intentionally (for instance, cheese, cream, chocolate).

As mentioned above, if I am out of the house and notice I am about to crash, it can help to eat foods I usually completely avoid (AKA “junk” food) – simply because this food is full of quick energy.

Chronic fatigue & anger. I suspect that, for me, there is a connection between suppressed anger and fatigue. It may be one of several keys to healing. (It was obviously not the only or main factor in causing the illness, if it played a role at all.)

In my case, there is probably a connection between perfectionism and people-pleasing and suppressed anger (when we ignore our own needs in order to please others, we naturally get angry). And there are also beliefs and “shoulds” about anger from my family (where showing anger is not acceptable).

Anger is energy, and when it’s suppressed it means that the energy of the anger – in the moment – is not available. I also suspect that suppressed anger corresponds to chronic tension in the body (see other articles on how chronic tension is necessary for us us to hold a stance and believe anything at all), and that tension requires and “binds” energy that could have been used for the normal functioning of the body and for healing.

I notice that when I connect with the energy of anger, and perhaps use it when I speak and act (in a constructive way), I feel stronger and I feel I have more energy. And I don’t crash the way I normally do following exertion (PEM).

I thought this would be the end of this article but I’ll add a few more observations / questions….

Yawning as a signal. Over time, I have learned to notice signals that helps me avoid crashing. Yawning is one of those signals.

In my experience, when I yawn it means one of three things.

Most often, it means I need food – and that I need it right away. It’s already been a little too long since last meal or mini-meal.

If I have recently had food, it may mean that my system needs energization. Vortex Healing is the best way for me to do this.

And if I have had food and my system is relatively well energized, it may mean that I am ready for sleep.

What I eat

I thought I would briefly mention the guidelines I use for food.

Eat lower on the food chain. More vegetables, fruits, nuts, and berries. Less fish and meat.

Eat less processed foods. More whole foods. I tend to get the raw ingredients and make my own meals.

Eat local and organic when possible. When I am in California, that’s easy. When I am in Norway, a little more challenging.

Eat closer to how my ancestors ate. My more immediate ancestors lived in Northern Europe and ate grains (oats, barley), vegetables, berries in season, fish, and a little meat. In general, they ate with the seasons, and – obviously – local and organic food, and mostly lower on the food chain.

Follow my body. This is one of my main guidelines. Notice what happens when I eat certain foods, and when I leave certain foods out for a day or a few. Personally, I have discovered I do much better – physically and mentally – with less or no sugar and less or no dairy. I also seem to do much better with less or no yeast products, and less or no wheat and rice. So I mostly leave out all of these and only have a little now and then. I also seem to do much better on cooked food in the winter and fresh and raw food in the summer.

Good for the Earth. I keep this in the back of my mind as well and check my other guidelines against it. I already know that eating lower on the food chain, and local, organic, and with the seasons, is what’s generally best for the Earth and future generations. It’s best for me and my well beings, and generally best for the Earth as well.

Leave fads alone. There are all sorts of fads when it comes to food, both in popular culture and among nutritionists. These come and go. What’s left for me are the guidelines above – eat lower on the food chain, less processed food, and when possible local, organic, and with the seasons, and listen to my body.

Don’t be too strict with any of it. There is no need to take this too seriously or be too strict. I’ll have just about anything now and then, especially if it’s offered to me. The guidelines above are just that, guidelines, and probably influence about 80-90 percent of what I eat. At least when I make my own food.

In general these days, I eat mostly fruits, vegetables, nuts, and berries, with some occasional meat and fish, some occasional grain (the less common ones seem to work best for me), very rarely dairy, and rarely refined sugar. I tend to have a light breakfast (depending on my day), the main meal early afternoon, and I often don’t eat (or only have some fruit) in the evening. Most days, I do a mini-fast through the evening and night and until late morning or early afternoon. It would probably be good for me to do some intermittent fasting as well, for one or two days a week. I drink a lot of herbal and spice teas through the day, so my urine is pale or sometimes even clear. I also find that if I am in the high-healthy range for my BMI, I feel healthier. And I do enjoy food, and especially recipes that are simple, nourishing, and tasty. (One of my favorites is roasting vegetables in the oven, perhaps with a small amount of gourmet sausage – if possible local, organic, and free range.)

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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.

Jane Goodall: How could we have ever believed that it was a good idea to grow our food with poisons?

Someday we shall look back on this dark era of agriculture and shake our heads. How could we have ever believed that it was a good idea to grow our food with poisons?

– Jane Goodall, Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating

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.

Chocolate cake of dread

I had a chocolate cake last night, and as sometimes happens when I eat sugar and/or dairy, it showed me some of what’s left.

In this case, it brought up a sense of dread and some fears and images creating that dread.

Thoughts may say it’s unfortunate. Or – if taken as an opportunity to see what’s left – as a gift.

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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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.


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



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


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.



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)