I’m writing this post on an empty stomach, which—in some strange way—is probably the perfect state to be writing from when addressing the touchy subject of food.
After all, if I’m at all capable of saying something intelligent about food (and eating), taking the eagle eye view is probably a worthy perspective to hold as—at the moment, I am tethered to nothing, no one, be it chicken soup, tempeh burger, buckwheat pasta, or goat cheese enchilada is influencing my words.
My stomach feels empty as I’m on a self-prescribed juice fast, and this is the second day. The operative word here is: self-prescribed.
This isn’t a blog telling you why you should start this or that diet, or begin juice fasting, water fasting, or to chuck it all and just breathe in all the nutrients you’ll ever need.
The purpose of this post is to say why we should simply take a closer look at food—to hone our personal lens on why it matters so much, or if it matters at all.
Food As Identity
Food is a touchy and relevant subject for the same reason. It’s the reason someone can say, “I’m a meat and potatoes guy (or gal),” and you don’t bat an eye.
Food is part of our identity. We are so identified with the food we eat, we’ll make claims such as this that stand right alongside “I’m funny, or sensitive, or charming.”
The food we eat is as much a part of our sense of self as the skin on our bones. It shapes our social gatherings, binds us to a cultural identity, dictates our behavior (have you ever been on a hike with me when I get hungry?), and is something we must consider every single day.
Our Food Choices
Something with this much sway over our thoughts, emotions, relationships, and identity is probably worth a second look.
Still, for the vast majority of us humans, it gets passing attention in our day-to-day lives, and perhaps a closer look only when shit hits the fan—via heart attack, extreme obesity, fatigue, or other major medical ailment.
We make food choices several times a day, and in each of those moments we are gifted with an opportunity for looking more deeply at the impact that choice will have. In this moment, we often say to ourselves, "I know I should eat better…but…”
Habit gets in the way. Or convenience rears her ugly head. We know we should eat better, but the saliva in our mouth knows pizza so, so well. And those cookies too. What exactly is the impact of these choices?
Your Food, Your Body, Your Mind
Well, as the meat and potato comment suggests—the food we put in us, literally becomes us. We are a living ecology, a composite of countless organisms and functions working together—somewhat miraculously—to make a walking, breathing, thinking being.
This ecology arose from our environment, first given to us from our parents (and the ecology of them), then from everything we’ve acquired along the way. All of those acquisitions, it should be noted—come from the external environment (kind of changes your notion of what’s external, doesn’t it).
Our food is our connection to the land—to the Earth. Our food shows us that there is no separation between thisand that, as... This (me) is all of that (everything that made me).
If our food is our physical bodies, how is it not, then, our mental and emotional selves as well? How can our thoughts and emotions not be dictated, as is the flesh on our bones, by what we’re putting in our bodies?
The answer? It is—food feeds our brain just as it feeds our heart. The food we put into ourselves holds another, less considered, power: the power over how we see, think about, and participate in the world.
Food and Being
The diet filled with processed foods, and refined sugars, and grease isn’t bad, per se, but is simply limiting the person who eats it to the reality within its content—holding them to a particular capacity of being-ness.
Eating chemical-ridden, fatty foods, will give you a chemical-induced fatty view of life, just as it will give you a chemically composed, fatty body.
The food you eat matters more than you can imagine, because you literally can’t imagine a world beyond the one that exists within the reality of your food, as what is inside your food will become what is inside of you.
Why have I chosen a juice fast? I chose a juice fast because I needed to hit reset. I recognized I was becoming limited through my food choices.
Not only were those choices displaying in my physical body, but they also revealed themselves in my thought patterns and behaviors—evidenced by a profound feeling of stuck-ness—a feeling best characterized by the word blah.
The Seeds of Change
It’ll be different for you, as it is for everyone. If you really want to change something about your life, you’ll know how real that “want” is through your personal experience.
If the calling for something different compels you into action, my suggestion: look first at what you’re putting inside yourself—how you’re nourishing you.
Food really does matter more than you can imagine.