Edge Life by Cathy Combs

Food For Thought? I Think, Therefore I Eat?

As a child I first heard the words, "It's food for thought," meaning it's something to consider. As a child, I understood that we need food to survive. As an adult, I now understand my relationship with food on many levels.

I view my body as a temple where Spirit resides. I care about my body. I care about my life, so I pay attention to what I use as fuel for my life. I now understand that not only does my body need food, but specifically my brain needs food for energy. More specifically, my brain needs good food for energy -- food that has the appropriate vitamins, minerals and proteins rather than "junk food," which is just chemicals and preservatives.

Years ago I consciously chose to become a vegetarian because I felt it was healthier for me. I did not want any of the cancer-causing nitrites and nitrates in processed meat. I also felt at least some kinship with, and responsibility toward, not killing an animal in order to survive when it seemed clear that by my choices I did not have to do that and I could still get all the nutrients I needed to be healthy.

Today, more than 30 years after that initial decision, I am still primarily a vegetarian. About eight years ago, I started eating primarily organically grown foods and I joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) group to support local farmers who grow only organically grown foods so that the food I ate would be as fresh as possible -- so that the most nutrients would still be available in the food I was eating. About five years ago I stopped drinking carbonated drinks of any kind. About three months ago I stopped eating the candy and cookies and sweets that used to be a daily part of my life for so many years.

Looking back on these two most recent changes, I remember feeling that although I knew carbonated drinks were harmful (Coke can be used to clean the links in your battery cables) I couldn't imagine giving it up but I finally made the decision to do that and I'm thrilled. An even bigger decision was not eating my daily ration of candy and cookies and sweets like I had done all my life. The huge benefit is that not only do I feel great, but I have effortlessly lost more than 30 pounds over the last five years as a direct result of these two most recent changes I've made in what I'm eating.

For me, food is not only a nutritional and spiritual decision. It is a political decision. All these levels are linked for me. It means a great deal to me to support local farmers who grow organically grown foods. I do not want to support agribusiness. I do not want to eat conventionally grown foods that have pesticides and chemicals. All the nutrition is leached out of them, because the land they're grown in is degraded by the farming methods used. The farms producing the food are 3,000 to 10,000 miles away, so the food is not fresh and the nutrients are pretty much all gone by the time they get to the store. I read a stunning report recently about how much the nutrition in our food has changed over the last fifty years. Fifty years ago corn had 84 percent of the nutrients in it. Now it has 16 percent. That is a shocking and sad statistic to me!

Another component of my decision-making process in regard to the foods I eat is in relation to what is called emotional eating -- eating not because we're hungry but because we have an emotional need. In our society, food is often equated with love and comfort. It is important that I remember food is meant to feed and nourish my brain and my body, not to fulfill my emotional needs. It's certainly fine to enjoy what I'm eating. I believe that's a fundamental part of eating. However, when I'm eating to fulfill an emotional need, not only have I missed the fundamental purpose of eating but I'm also not taking appropriate care of the emotional need and I'm getting further and further disconnected from how my body and mind are meant to work together as an integrated, well-functioning unit. That is a real danger signal.

It is no secret that this kind of disconnectedness leads to "dis-ease" in body, mind and spirit. It means a great deal to me to live my life responsibly and respectfully so I pay particular attention to doing everything I can to keep my body, mind, and spirit functioning at an optimum level.

Another component of my relationship with food is learning to identify which processes hurt the nutritional value of food and which processes help. Recently I have learned some interesting details: cooking tomatoes is better than eating them raw, because cooking brings out the lycopene, which is a powerful, necessary antioxidant that helps to prevent cancer. I also learned that microwaving my food destroys the nutrients, so I rarely use my microwave. Yes, it takes added time to prepare my food by not microwaving, so I use the time to honor the food I'm preparing and I pay attention to the process I'm using and my frame of mind while I'm preparing the food I eat.

Quite some time ago, I learned that boiling food also destroys nutrients. That kind of information reminds me that the purpose of eating is to nourish myself. It is not meant to be something I do in a hurry "to get it over with" or to "get onto the next project in my life."

I really do take these details seriously. It means a great deal to me to live my life consciously in every detail. By living my life consciously, I feel more and more connected to the quality of my life, to love, to joy, to happiness and a sense of well-being. As I slow down enough to pay attention to what the impact is on my body and mind I can make better and better choices about the food I eat and all the decisions I make in my life.

From a spiritual and nutritional perspective, I do realize that not only does food have power, it is power, and therefore, it very meaningfully and purposefully contributes to my personal growth. I believe that food is a manifestation of Spirit, a gift from Spirit, for us.

I am very grateful for the many food options I have and for the ongoing opportunity to learn more about food on many levels. I am aware that food anchors me lightly in this lifetime and I'm happy to be here.


To Return to the Website, Minimize or close this Window.