We are moving right along to week #3! Last week you hydrated, the week before you remembered to breathe, now put it all together while you feed yourself!
Week 3: Feed Yo Self!
The body is an organic machine. As such, it requires fuel to function at optimal levels. The body is made up of many systems, all of which require fuel to produce various chemical reactions as well as to move through space. Movement utilizes the pulley and lever system of the muscles and bones. Muscle and bone is quite heavy, therefore, the body requires fuel in order to have enough energy to move. Calories are essentially the fuel that the body utilizes to create physical energy to complete its processes.
The nutrients within the chosen fuel are also needed in varying combinations to maintain bodily functions and repair tissue. While there are uniformly common things a physical human body needs, most bodies are unique in the particular amount and/or combination that it will require. Carbohydrates, proteins, fats, micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals are used slightly differently by each human form. You must develop an intimate relationship to your own physical body to understand its needs.
Learn to listen to what your body is asking for. It always communicates. The language it speaks can be subtle at times. It will take some time to refine this understanding. Most know the feeling of hunger, but less know the feeling of satiation. Many cannot tell the difference between needing nourishment or hydration. Even less are in touch with what particular kinds of nourishment the body is asking for. More often than not, the purer the form from its source, the better the body can utilize it for its purposes.
The closer to life your nourishment is, the more life it can provide the body. Only you know the true composition of what your physical body requires to perform optimally. There is no one right way, and there is not a more spiritual or virtuous way than another. It is simply what variety and combination of fuel and nutrients your body requires. This can and does change throughout life, as well as with the seasons, and with changes in activity level or mood state.
More mental activity will require one to pay close attention to replenishing the kinds of nourishment needed by the brain. While the more physically strenuous the activity, one will have to account for the kinds of nutrients needed specifically by the muscles, bones, and nervous system. Deeply emotional or spiritual activities require yet other kinds of nutrients to allow the body to properly replenish what was used during such activities.
The immune system requires particular vitamins and minerals to work optimally, as do the organs. Specifically if you partake in drugs, alcohol or other non-nutritive ingestion, you will need to be mindful to restore and support the systems that process what you take in. Some things we ingest deplete vital nutrients from other parts of the body, such as carbonated sodas leeching calcium from the bones. This is something to be aware of. Speaking with a nutritionist, or doing your own research regarding what each body system needs would be beneficial. However, learning to tap into and listen to your body is enough to know what you may need more or less of at any given time.
It is a misconception that to be truly spiritual, one must adopt a plant-based diet. The truth is that the most spiritual thing one can do is live in true harmony with the body and its needs. For some that is a plant-based diet, for many others an omnivorous choice is best. If you are concerned about the karma of killing animals for food, I invite you to ask yourself why you have denied yourself the right to your own animal self. As animals, we are predators, not prey. Ask yourself what about this fact you have shamed within yourself.
Yes our soul is divine and highly spiritual. But our bodies are of the earth and we are also animals, plain and simple. The animal kingdom as nature designed it is indeed savage. Though I personally believe that all sentient beings have free will, thus even those animals we use as food have somewhere agreed to participate in that experience. Plants also feel pain and retract from outside threats. Therefore, causing pain or discomfort to other beings for our nourishment is absolutely unavoidable.
We are however, all one organism and are living in a co-creative experience. Everyone and everything signed up for the experience that they are having. If you feel particularly guilty, consider offering yourself as a volunteer to trade places with that cow you’ve eaten. In another life you can, and already have, been the one sacrificed for the pleasure and sustenance of another. It is an honor in some ways to assist in the perpetuation of a physical body in order to carry out its divine mission on this planet. In that sacrifice, that being is also part of that great mission.
In my humble opinion, the issue here is one of reverence for life and not for whether or not you choose to eat animal products. Acknowledging the sacredness of the exchange of energy from whatever living thing that you derive your nourishment from is key. Bless the food you eat. Bless all the hands and life forces that contributed to the arrival of said food onto your plate. Feel the awe and wonder of the interconnectedness of it all. Do your best to choose more sustainable, cruelty-free, and local options whenever possible. However, don’t berate or punish yourself when you don’t.
It’s absolutely okay to enjoy your food. The guilt of enjoying nourishment is closely linked with the shame placed upon us by religion in regards to pleasure. Again, pleasure is the nature of the universe. Life-affirming behaviors and activities will always illicit the sensation of pleasure. Therefore, eating well, and eating what your body needs and asks for brings along with it a tremendous sense of pleasure and satisfaction.
The pleasure of nourishment is the sensation of strength. It is the pleasure of rootedness and wholeness. It is the pleasure of stability and security. It is warm and sure. It is a pleasure that is literally delicious. It is thick and viscous, providing heat like an inner sun invigorating the body towards life. When food becomes a drug, it is being used in avoidance of an unwanted feeling, not because eating feels too good. If you find that you turn to food to avoid your feelings, do try to address those feelings head on instead.
If you find that you are often reaching for foods that you know are not good for you, pause and ask yourself “What is it I’m really wanting right now?“. Is it comfort? Sweetness? Warmth? Soothing? Pleasure? Freedom from restriction?…etc. Whatever it may be, allow yourself to bring this to your conscious awareness before you eat what you were about to eat. You don’t have to deprive yourself. Go ahead and have that treat once you have taken a moment to be more conscious about it. This exercise is simply to begin to become more aware of the underlying motivations, so you can face and heal them more directly.
If you’d like, you can keep a food journal and list how you are feeling next to each food choice you make this week. You may begin to notice a pattern of either emotions causing you to eat a certain way, or how eating a certain way may be affecting your emotions. From there you can utilize shadow work techniques to clear the emotional triggers and heal past trauma that is showing up as dysfunctional eating patterns.
♥ For the next 7 days you are going to begin to listen to your body and make certain that you are nourishing yourself properly.
♥ Meal planning is essential to staying on track if you are not in the habit of eating regularly. Plan two good sized meals and one small one daily. Have in mind two healthful snacks to have between the first and second meal, and another between the second and third. You can plan your meals the night before, or do them a few days or even a whole week at a time.
♥ While grocery shopping or making a list to stock up for your meal plan, take a deep breath while thinking or holding the food item. Ask your body if it is something that it can utilize and feel good with at this moment. Your taste buds or cravings may not always agree with what your body says yes or no to, but trust it.
♥ Eat what’s in season. Often your body is highly connected to the changes of the seasons, whether you are aware of it or not. In the northern hemisphere it is winter so choose warm and cooked foods. In the southern hemisphere it is summer so consider more cooling, raw, and hydrating choices.
♥ Include complex carbs, protein, and healthy fats. Avoid processed foods, or those high in added sugar or preservatives. Swap out unhealthy snacks for similar healthier alternatives. Fruit, nuts, and yogurts, are excellent snack choices.
♥ Do not deprive yourself of treats or desserts if you like them, but do enjoy them in moderation and never on an empty stomach. Eating sweets with some form of protein is best to avoid blood sugar spikes. Also drinking extra water is important when indulging in sugary foods.
♥ If you and your body disagree on something, you MUST negotiate. Do not ignore when your body says no to something just because you want it. Ask your body why it doesn’t want that food. If you still want it, make some kind of deal. Agree to eat a cup more spinach or something healthy in exchange. Agree to drinking an extra few glasses of water. Agree to swap out one treat for that extra glass of wine. Whatever you need to do to negotiate with your body, do it and honor that agreement.
Start small – If your eating habits are particularly poor, you can’t go all health nut right away. If you only eat one meal a day, commit to adding a healthy snack somewhere during the day. Once that is established, commit to adding another meal, and so on.
Don’t deprive yourself – Diets don’t work. Deprivation leads to binging. Begin instead by adding healthier options into the mix rather than taking things away. Add a salad to your regular fast food meal. Eat a handful of nuts before you have that bag of chips in the afternoon. Drink a glass of water before you have that slice of cake for breakfast. As you begin to add healthier choices into your regular routine, you will begin to notice how much better you feel when you make those choices over others.
Don’t force yourself to eat – Your body will naturally have cycles where it wants more or less food. Don’t ever force yourself to eat a whole meal when you don’t feel like it. Instead, have a protein shake or a smoothie. Perhaps a slice of cheese and a handful of nuts or dried fruit. It is perfectly fine to eat less or more some days. The important part is that you are ingesting things at regular intervals. Even if you are not having a full on meal, do have a little something at the scheduled meal or snack time.
SAMPLE MEAL PLAN