Originally Published April 05, 2011
I “steal” this phrase from John McCabe and his book Sunfood Living. It’s a wonderful manual for living in harmony with the earth through all of our actions.
He didn’t expand on this idea at all, but the phrase absolutely jumped off the page at me.
For any of us who have given our eating habits just a little bit of thought, we will quickly notice that we eat for reasons other than nourishment of the body. We’ve heard most of them before: we’re bored, we’re stressed, we’re depressed, we have food cravings, we need comfort, pure habit.
I think an additional reason deserves attention, and I feel that this reason extends to absolutely everyone, including those with no weight or health problems or compulsive eating habits.
We eat for fun, as an event. We focus on food as the center of our entertainment, our weekend, our way of using our free time. We think of what we have to eat or what we will be eating as a focal point of our daily activities, a thing to look forward to. It can be a major reason to keep going, to remain cheerful: “we’re going out tonight.” We have the latte to look forward to, the pastry, the ice cream shop after lunch and while running errands, the little chocolate bar from the grocery store, the popcorn with the movie, the candies in the desk drawer at the office, the glass of wine with dinner…. it goes on. There’s something to cheer us up at every moment of the day.
We do eat out for convenience and to save time, but it’s also a bit of an obsession: Let’s compare the food menus, the wine menus, the cocktails, the desserts, the ambiance, the furniture and lightning, the service, the bathrooms, the technology used, the architecture, the staff.
I respect the artistic value of food, the culture of food, and creating a charming restaurant experience. But where else in the world does life so totally revolve around food as entertainment?
I’m not immune to this. I’m best able to write about it from personal experience! I did a cleanse for most of March and noticed how MANY times a day I thought about food when I was undergoing a process of eating more carefully, eating less, and not eating out much at all. (What would we do on the weekend??)
When my focus went to only nourishing the body from a nutrition standpoint and, partly, detoxing, a huge portion of my daily thoughts became meaningless. Well, I became more aware of the fact that they were meaningless.
Food is primarily for nourishment. I say “primarily” rather than “only” because there is a cultural and communal aspect to eating. No matter how much we want to eat a certain way, eating is, at its core, a group activity at the present time. There is a social aspect to be considered. However, this is secondary to personal health. If one is eating with a group of people who eat in a way that you would prefer not to, or that your body does not agree with, you must put your personal needs first. This needn’t be a big deal at all.
Nutrition is the purpose of food, and I think we would do well to realize that and emphasize it. For the body alone, eating serves absolutely one purpose only. We need vitamins, minerals, calories, and other compounds that foods offer our bodies. We need to eat the right amount, not stuff our stomachs till they are bursting. We need to fast periodically to give the digestive system a rest so the body can conduct its natural housecleaning processes and detoxify. Culture and community do not get nourished from these practices, but the body does and it sometimes must come first. At other times, culture and community may be more important to you, perhaps on a special occasion.
When we think of things to do for fun and entertainment, the taste buds should not rule all our choices and cancel out so many other factors. What might the mind enjoy, or the soul? Sitting on a park bench watching the sun set costs nothing and nourishes the soul completely, as does reading a good book, talking all night with your best friend, learning a new skill, and even fixing something in the house that needs repair.
Home is where the heart is! A healthy meal cooked from scratch can’t be beat by ANY body or anything else. Home cooking from fresh ingredients is a form of alchemy. Isolated plants, herbs, and spices become more than the sum of their parts, especially when created with love.
This is, in fact, literally true because when you prepare food, your personal energy or prana goes into it, simply by looking at it and focusing on it. “Made with love” is not a joke or a play on words but a literal physical process. When food is prepared by a person feeling negative, this dirty prana goes into the food and can actually cause stomachache or indigestion. Another powerful reason to only eat from loving hands, rather than stressed out cooks in commercials kitchens who are in a massive hurry.
I know being out in a “happenin’” joint can give you an energy kick, but the best energy kick is staying mostly in your own energy. In your home, you control everything. There is a very particular energy there: yours. This is likely cleaner and better than the general public’s. You also have the control to energetically clean your space, which we can safely assume is not done in public places. This eventually leads to pranic congestion in these areas which, for the price of your meal, you take home with you. I remember a phrase, funny enough, which came from an Ikea catalog: Home is the most important place in the world. I couldn’t agree more!
So notice this! Try a simple experiment and eat only at home for a week, or even a month! Your budget, tummy, body, and even soul will thank you.