So, why on earth would I make potato leek soup or sautéed carrots and burdock root to help me focus? It’s pretty basic when you think about food and energy. It’s not just about the energy we get from the composition of the food when it’s broken down into its different vitamins and nutritional components. Many people acknowledge that foods have energetic properties that affect the mind, body, and spirit especially when we look into ancient Chinese and Indian healing systems. Root vegetables grow in the dirt and absorb nutrients from the soil, hence they are grounding.
Do I have your attention? Most people in modern day times have habits and thought processes around what certain foods and beverages will do for them. For example coffee, soda and other caffeinated beverages increase your energy, or stimulate the body to be alert. Many of us also turn to sugary snacks for a quick boost of energy or to help elevated our moods. We all know that after a stressful day that turning to our favorite cocktail will help take the edge off. But have you ever heard someone say, “Wow I’m super anxious about presenting a project at work tomorrow, I think I’ll ground myself by eating some beets.”
Think about what you are really giving your body with caffeine, sugar, and alcohol. These may work as a quick fix, but in the end may only serve to depress your mood or make you sleepy and irritable, and of course impact your health and waistline in other opposing manners.
Take a moment to think about food and energy. I mentioned that root vegetables can be eaten to feel more grounded, but also in the fall according to macrobiotic theory are also warming. When it comes to food from plants, consider how the plant grows. Green leafy vegetables, for example grow upwards towards the sun with expanding leaves, and hence they can elevate mood. Imagine that you are in your favorite nature setting, perhaps in the mountains, or at the beach. You open your arms reaching up as you take a deep breath of fresh air, closing your eyes as the sun warms your face. Liken it to a warm hug from the sun. Now take that energy and eat it. In a similar fashion, things that grow elevated from the ground such as apples and peaches can elevate the mood and increase energy. Things that grow along the ground, like squash balance mood and energy.
Does it seem that far-fetched that we can create the energy we desire in our lives by choosing what foods we eat? Some take it to another level by not only considering the type of food, say a carrot verses mustard greens, but where it was grown, and how it was prepared, and if it was an animal how it was treated. I know there are videos and jokes out there about ensuring that the chicken a couple is going to eat for dinner was a happy chicken during its life. When energy is really considered, I know I would rather fill my body with happiness rather than how one may feel as a chicken in a factory living in crowded conditions, often surrounded by the sick, and with only walls to look at instead of trees and grass.
Think also about how the food is prepared. How good does it feel when you make or reminisce about the cookies mom used to make or the pie grandma used to bake as a special treat when you were a child. Remember the love she poured into the treat. Doesn’t it just fill you with warmth and happiness? One of my favorite stories is “Like Water for Chocolate.” If you aren’t familiar with it, I suggest reading the book or watching the movie. The basic premise is a love story. The daughter of a Mexican family and a boy, the ranch hand, fall in love. As the youngest daughter she is, by tradition, never to marry but to take care of her mother. In order to be close to his love, the boy marries her older sister. Of course, the young girl is overcome with sadness, and unfortunately must help prepare the meal for the wedding feast. There is a scene where her tears fall into a vat of chocolate that she is preparing for the dessert for all the guests. As the guests eat the dessert, they too are overcome with emotion and sadness, many of them cry. What a wedding day, but you get the point right? The whole story is filled with how emotions can be communicated through food from sadness to love and fury to lust.
I realize that meat wasn’t discussed very much, but use your imagination. I would love to hear your stories, or if any of this resonates with you please contact me.
In Love and Health,
Integrative Nutrition, Feed Your Hunger for Health and Happiness. By Joshua Rosenthal. Greenleaf Book Group LLC, 2014, pp44-46.