Friday, March 16, 2012

F is for Food

Your body is a temple.

You are what you eat.

Food is sacred.

These sayings aren't just old cliches, axioms we have learned to associate with feeling guilt about our choices and shame about our bodies. These ten words are the gateway to true love... love of the body.

"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spirit beings having a human experience."
-Yogi Bhajan 

We have bodies and for the foreseeable future, we need bodies. Yet most of us live our lives in a perpetual state of war with our bodies, spirit trying to claw its way out and be free to soar in clean air and green land. We try to "whip" them into "shape" (as if there was one kind of perfect human shape) and we talk about our "diet" as if it is a quick-fix industry like any other.

The food and drink that goes in your mouth builds the cells of your body. The air you breath, the chemicals you use, even the people you share space with, all of these things are broken down and remade into the person you are right now. You aren't a static thing moving through space. Your cells are recreating themselves as we speak, your organs and fluids transporting important building blocks to the places where they are needed most.

Your body was meant to be an efficient hunter and gatherer, to roam the land and run after large prey, to learn to tie knots and set traps even. It was not meant for midnight donut drive-thrus and running on the treadmill under fluorescent lighting then bathing in chlorine.

Unfortunately for most people, very little of our chemical intake is under our own control in the short term. While we can realign our lives with certain principals and make efforts to make changes in the future, and advocate for systemic change through activism, the one thing we can most easily control today is our food intake. How do we live for the bodies we are in?

1) Eat lots of vegetables and some fruits, in particular non-starchy ones. Corn is not a vegetable, it's a grain. White potatoes also do not count. Focus on leafy greens and colourful things like peppers and berries.

2) Avoid grains and legumes, including their oils (corn and soy). Even if your grains are organic and sprouted, soaked or nixtamalized, making them a regular part of your diet not only involves a lot of work, but a heavy carbohydrate load, which should be used to eat lots of fruits and veggies!

3) Get "plant fat" from healthy sources like avocado, coconut, nuts (NOT peanuts, these are actually legumes), or if you must, an organic and cold-pressed seed like sunflower or grape. Other great fats come from animal sources, along with your protein.

4) Get animal fats and proteins from quality sources where the animals are fed an evolutionary-appropriate diet (roots and roughage for pigs, grass for cows and sheep, insects and seeds for chickens) and try to buy locally. Not only will this help you get to know your farmers and the farms they keep, but locally grown vegetables will be fresher and more nutrient dense, not to mention seasonally appropriate.

None of these are "hard and fast" rules, and eating one piece of birthday cake or one banana shipped from Mexico isn't going to kill you.But every time you eat something, think about what purpose its contents will serve in your body. Look at the overall picture of your intake and see how it is reflected in your health and your body, both physically and energetically. See how you can make slow changes (like grow your own vegetables! or visit a farmer's market!) to begin building a better and stronger you.

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