Sunday, March 22, 2009

What is responsible eating ?

Due to the amount of activity yesterday, I never got a chance to snap pictures of my meals, so none posted today. Not a problem , as it gives me a chance to blog about something that has been on my mind a lot, namely responsible eating. Pictures will be back tomorrow !

What exactly is responsible eating ? If you ask 10 people you will get 20 different answers , according to whatever circumstances they face. To a person on a weight loss journey it means eat within your caloric needs. To a vegetarian it means eating cruelty free. To an economist it means eating economically.All good points, but I think each of them is rather short sighted because they treat the eater as merely a mechanical device instead of a true human being. Eat this because of your responsibility and commitment to _____, and just ignore the other "emotional" factors is a formula for failure.

I think it was Shakespeare who said "Man does not live by bread alone", and no greater truth has ever been spoken. Bread, while the staff of life , if served without the circus is only half the picture. Man has nutritional needs to preform a chemically based function called physical health, but man was also gifted with six senses. Seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling ...and connection with a concept of Divinity. Be that in the form of an organized religion, experiencing a moving piece of music , time spent with a fellow human with which there is a commonality , each are ways in which one touches the Divine. It is not how most people would term it, and my reasons for calling these manifestations of the Divine are complicated, so let's just agree to say that it is so ( simply to keep this post from resembling a novel). All humans have a space that holds the shape of Divinity,is hollow, and all of our efforts in life direct us towards filling that shape with experiences that contain an aspect of Divinity. It often comes in the most ordinary forms- a beautiful painting, a meaningful song, time spent with a good friend, the kiss of a lover , and a good meal. Yes, God can be found in chocolate cake. Even better if that chocolate cake is in the company of those you love. Some forms of religion not only recognize that man makes contact with the Divine through 5 senses, but encorporates this into the worship service. Art is present to draw the eyes twoards God, music, smells, gestures and vocal responses do the same. The purpose ? To help satisfy man's hunger and thirst for the Divine.

Overweight people seem to have a body composition that is more water than that of a normal weight person. Water, some say, is a physical element that embodies the spiritual things in life. We are born from a watery place of nurturing, we shed water when we express strong emotions, we use water to cleanse and renew ourselves. I don't think the connection between spiritual nature and water is off the mark, and beliefs do begin because of an actual experience expressed in simple terms. If those of us who are overweight fall into the practice of stress eating, it is then logical to believe that what we hunger for is not food, but connection to Divinity. We need our souls fed in particular because of current events in our life. For whatever reason, the need reached a crisis level.

So why don't we simply accept this as a reality of being human and stop sending our spiritual self into starvation mode ? Instead of seeing those foods that do more to feed our soul than body as "bad guys" ( thinks like ice cream, grandma's cookies, Uncle Nicknac's lasagna and such) , why don't we accept that we do indeed need them ? Why not supply our soul with that kind of nutrition on a regular and predictible basis. Rather than dreading holidays, parties, buffet restaurants and such because of these foods, why not simply accept that they nourish our spirit, and that is just as important as getting in the right mix of fat, fiber, protien and so on ? Simply eat a serving, enjoy it, and continue on with the buisness of life ? I think if you deny yourself those foods that feed the soul, your soul reaches a point of starvation and then you go nuts. Or you get to your goal weight , find that you never really learned how to live with real food and real experiences and you gain it all back.One way this can be done on a regular basis is to bring back the custom of Sunday dinner. Sundays were, at one time, the day you gathered with family and had a meal that was something a little special. It took a little more time, featured foods that were more about spiritual comfort and traditions than small waistlines, and was reatly looked forward to. And you know what ? When this was a common practice, people weighed a lot less. Perhaps the reason was it not only fed the body but equally the soul and it provided a big dose of stress relif on a weekly basis.

Holidays are there for a reason. So is chocolate, prime rib, lasagna and fudge. Same is true with carrots, tofu, chicken breast and fish. Chemically it is all fuel. Spiritually, it has different values.Life without eating a gift of candy from a lover is not a real life. Celebrating Christmas with your family and nothing but celery sticks is not real life either. Eating the Chocolate volcano or deep fried turkey and then spending the next few days eating lighter and moving more is real life. Life and food are so much more than numbers on a scale.Nature itself agrees and provides an infinate pallate of taste, smell, color and textures. We as humans are soft machines, but incedibly complicated machines. Everything in our makeup was placed with a good reason and for a purpose. Physical hunger causes us to ingest physical food. Emotional hunger forces us to seek ways to surround ourself with spiritual things- or ingest them. Both kinds of feedings are nessisary to be a balanced, healthy human being. Satisfying both needs is indeed responsible eating.

I am going to try my best to embrace this concept. I will celebrate the high points in life as well as watch the points and calories taken in and burned every day. I will exercise my body every day and exercise my spiritual muscles through finding meaningful ways daily to connect with the Divine. I will eat carrots in both stick and cake form. I will take a walk and take time to meditate. I will strive for responsible eating in every way, every day.


the Phoenix said...

I think it was Shakespeare who said "Man does not live by bread alone"...

It may have been Shakespeare or Tyndale who gave us the English rendering, but the origin is found in Deuteronomy 8:3, and is quoted by Jesus during his temptation in the desert, Matthew 4:4.

Still, it is about the spiritual connection that has been made with food, and truer words in that regard have not been spoken! Excellent post!

Sugar Bush Primitives said...

LOL! Leave it to the church people to home right in on the "bread alone" quote.

And it is a most excellent post. Our problems don't begin with what we put in our mouths. They begin with what's in our heads.

Thank you for this post - it's real "food" for thought.