We often hear the adage that “we are what we eat”. If we believe that there is any truth in this adage, it is perhaps useful to (occasionally) examine “what we eat”. If we can honestly examine our “eating habits”, we can correlate our observations to our moods, our energy levels and our general health. An examination may reveal answers to questions like “who are we”? What are we eating? What nutrition is our ‘food’ providing us? Are our ‘food’ habits sustainable for the health of the individual, for our communities, for planet Earth?
“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
The relationship that we have with food is indeed complex. It is influenced by our upbringing and what we were fed as children. The eating habits formed during childhood can be difficult to change in adulthood. It is often a health crisis or the onset of a chronic illness, accompanied by chronic pain, that may pull us towards change. However, food and nutrition are often neglected in the healing cycle in favor of modern medical intervention. We often pay scarce attention to the nutritional profile of our food as a link to illness.
Growing up in India, a large part of my diet – almost 99% of it – was based on fruits, milk, vegetables and plant based products. As a resident of the USA, the balance of my food habits shifted. I often oscillated between ‘pure vegetarian’, ‘no red-meat’, ‘chicken and fish only’ and (currently) back to ‘100% vegetarian’. It has been a long journey, but I can say with reasonable certainty that I feel most at ‘home’ with my current ways of eating. My energy level and overall health, not to mention my emotional and mental well-being seem to be uplifted, ever since I returned home to my ‘eating roots’.
But what does ‘food and nutrition’ have to do with spirituality? It is no secret that if we eat well and feel physically well, it can have a remarkable impact on our spiritual practice. It is very tough to focus, to meditate, when the mind is being attacked by (physical and emotional) pain signals. In addition, the states of health of our immediate family members affect our ability to create time and space for spiritual practice(s). Our state of health affects all those we are connected to. Our personal ability to maintain a good state of health frees up community resources, and we lighten our ‘footprint’ on the planet.
Please indulge me as I ask some ‘nutrition’ questions. What is the state of the quality, the vitality, the purity of our food and nutrition intake? Are we mindful of the impact of our consumption habits on our own selves? How much awareness do we have of the sustainability of our (re)sources? What aspect(s) of our ‘nutrition’ could we change to make ourselves feel physically, mentally, emotionally (and spiritually) better TODAY?
As is often the case, asking one question leads to many. The ‘easy’ way out is to simply bury that one question. But you didn’t read this far to take the ‘easy way out’, did you? Your well being, the well being of your family, your community, of the planet depends on asking the question – what am I eating?
Ask the question. Keep a ‘log’ of the answers. Change one habit. Observe. Ask the question again. Compare with your previous answers. If you observe a positive change, change another habit. Repeat the observation. Who knows. In the short span of a few months, you could create a “circle of health excellence” around you.
P.S. I want to acknowledge and express gratitude to @VegyPower on twitter, who inspired me to return to the 100% vegetarian habit about two years ago. Thank you. Please follow them, if you aren’t already. If you are in the Chicago area, please visit the upcoming @VeggieFest (August 12th and 13th). And yes, do join the #SpiritChat community on twitter, Sunday August 7th as we ask some questions about Spirituality and Nutrition. Perhaps this topic will become the theme for the month of August. Namaste.
Planet Earth Blooms. Keep it blooming!
Let us walk lightly, gently…