book review: Nourishing Wisdom
Have you ever thought, “What exactly is a ‘healthy diet’ and how do I go about eating a ‘balanced’ meal?”
Or have you wondered, “How can I find out which foods and in what proportions will foster the physical, emotional, and spiritual growth I desire?”
I’m fairly certain that I’m not alone in my desire to eat the foods that will best nourish me in my intellectual and physical pursuits, but the tireless search to develop a functional definition of what it means to eat a well-balanced and healthy diet has left me lost and a little discouraged. Well, until recently…
Nourishing Wisdom by Marc David is quite possibly the most mindful ‘diet’ book that I have ever read and proves that we need not be bound by the ‘eat this, not that’ mandate that has become standard practice in the diet and nutrition community. In his book, David goes to great lengths to illustrate how our beliefs, perceptions and lifestyle choices influence our decisions and encourage us to eat a certain way. In and of itself, this idea isn’t totally groundbreaking, but he then goes on to discuss how our individual circumstances are bound to change and that developing self-awareness and the ability to remain open and honest about our relationship with food can relieve the burden our values place upon our dietary decision. Removing the stress of our subconscious opens the door for true nourishment that better serves the mind, body and spirit.
This is where David separates his message from most work in this field. The level of awareness necessary to overcome our dietary devils requires us to identify the spiritual or psychological roadblocks that are preventing us from being truly nourished by our food, family and environment. Further, by identifying the true nature or our beliefs, attitudes and relationships with and around food, we can overcome the obstacles (tangible or not so much) that may distort the food-body connection.
However, as someone who has spent a considerable amount of time in introspective thought, the honest reflection and self-awareness required to overcome deeply ingrained misconceptions concerning food and diet does not come easy and may be a process that is best supported by the guidance of a spiritual adviser. Don’t let this discourage you from undertaking such a task, because the benefit of having an honest, open and trusted relationship with our food and ourselves is well worth the effort.
Here are just a few of my favorite ideas presented in Nourishing Wisdom:
- The missing ingredient in most dietary systems is a spiritual context that incorporates the sacredness and interconnectedness of all things. Every time you eat you are feeding your soul’s longing for life and its desire to learn, love, have faith and seek truth.
- What works for some, may not work for others. When someone who has found success with a certain nutritional approach and endorses it as the only way to eat, they are simply reading their body’s signals and translating them on to yours.
- The value we ascribe to food depends on our preconceived notions and personal biases. When we label a particular food ‘bad,’ we consider our desire for that food as bad and see ourselves as bad for having that desire. Further, if we consume foods labeled ‘bad’ with an attitude of guilt or self-punishment, the experience of the food will be un-nourishing.
- By searching for the perfect diet, we project onto our food what we desire from ourselves: perfection. We are seldom fully satisfied with what we have and we naturally want the body to be different to conform to the standards we believe will ensure love and acceptance from others. The secret is acceptance – acceptance of our limitations.
- The more we crave a food outside of our nutritional beliefs, the more we label it ‘bad’ and prevent ourselves from identifying its true meaning. When confronting a craving, it is importance to witness all the feelings and physical sensations that arise without suppressing or fighting them.
Last, but certainly not least:
Whole body eating is the simple practice of eating with awareness.
Let’s stop living under the misguided belief that adhering to absurd dietary restrictions are the only way to get healthy and live in harmony with our food and body. If we allow ourselves to reframe our perception of food and diet, our nutritional and spiritual well-being will improve beyond measure.
For those busting with developing a mindful and open relationship with their food, here is a nice little post that offers a few suggestions for how you can get start developing an eating philosophy that is uniquely yours as you wait for your copy of Nourishing Wisdom to arrive.