Food – Sustenance Or Sacrifice? Part Two

In the first part of this article, we looked at our attitudes to food and the way we feed ourselves. We also viewed re-thinking our eating habits as a potential catalyst for change and in particular how this can help us to make the transition to a more sustainable lifestyle. In addition, we considered how nourishing ourselves in a wholesome way re-awakens our links with nature.

Nurturing

Food is not a substitute for love (although preparing a tasty, nourishing meal for someone can be a way of demonstrating your love for them.) Let me explain that a little further. Maybe you have noticed feeling “empty” sometimes. When you examine that feeling a little more closely, you will be able to tell whether the “empty” feeling comes from your heart or your stomach. If it comes from your heart, then it’s love that will fill the gap, not food. That’s the time to do something to nourish your heart, such as reading an inspiring book, watching an uplifting film, or spending time with loved ones. If you want to nurture yourself, then only eat when it’s your stomach that’s hungry.

From the nurturing perspective, food is not designed to be for reward or consolation. Some people reward themselves with “naughty but nice” food when they think they’ve been “good” and use similar food as a consolation prize when things go “wrong”. This is a distortion of the idea of nurturing oneself. When you think about it, it is actually a form of self-harm if it becomes habitual.

So, on a more positive note, how do we cultivate health, sustainable ways to nurture ourselves, where food is a natural and wholesome part of our everyday lives?

Sensuality

Eating can be a wonderfully sensual experience and I guess it was designed to be otherwise we would not have survived as a species. Rather than just being a means to an end, preparing food – chopping, washing, peeling, grating, stirring, smelling, touching – can be a pleasurable, relaxing and social experience. Thus, nourishing ourselves becomes a stress-relieving activity. In order to enjoy it in this way we will need to make time for food preparation and for enjoying eating our creations. That is all part of downshifting i.e. spending fewer hours each week earning a living and more time re-discovering the joy in life of which nourishing ourselves is a very important part.

Gratitude

According to abundance theory, when we show gratitude towards nature, farmers and growers, a higher power or the universe for providing us with nutritious food then we will attract more of it into our lives. Showing our gratitude towards those who prepared the food and for our good health, which has resulted from eating the food, will also prompt us to consume our meals in a favourable emotional state. This is something which, according to Deepak Chopra in “Grow Younger, Live longer” promotes improved digestion, reduced stress and therefore better overall health.

Spiritual

Our emotional state when eating can also form part of our spiritual association with food.
Think how much more satisfying it is to eat food whose origins we can be sure of and trust and that we know has been produced with kindness, not cruelty.

Food is often part of our rituals in life. I’m thinking here of everyday family mealtimes, special occasions and anniversaries. We use food as a way to demonstrate our appreciation of nature and for our loved ones. Eating then becomes a way to socialize and to connect with others.

Food as education

If you are a parent, grandparent of spend time with children in another capacity, you will probably notice how curious children are about food. Perhaps answering their questions will re-awaken your own inquisitiveness and add to your enjoyment of preparing meals.

Those who spend a lot of time cooking with their children report how much science their children learn from this one activity. By weighing, measuring, observing mixtures and chemical reactions, the effect of heat, cold, and physical processes on food substances children (and adults!) can learn a great deal of what we currently call chemistry, physics and maths.

In growing their own fruit, vegetables or herbs, children readily absorb knowledge relating to the link between food and nature and where humans fit in the food chain. They can learn about the effects of the weather, animals, pests and diseases, cultivation methods and soil type on their endeavours.

We can move from the Rat Race mentality of “food is an emotional bandaid” to the simple living philosophy of “food is nourishment” by making a few simple changes in our lives. These involve:

1. Deciding that our health and wellbeing is high priority.

2. Deciding to nourish ourselves in a way that is in alignment with our values.

3. Taking time from our busy working lives in order to plan how and where we buy food.

4. Making time to prepare homemade meals.

5. Enjoying the physical sensations, the creative processes involved and social opportunities that mealtimes offer.

© Sally Lever 2007 sallylever.co.uk sallylever.co.uk

Sally Lever is a Sustainable Living Coach who specializes in supporting and inspiring those who are downshifting or otherwise moving towards a more sustainable way of life. Receive a FREE report, “Decluttering Paperwork the Sustainable Way” when you subscribe to her free monthly ezine, “Fruitful”.

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