Despite being told we “don’t know” why diseases happen or they only happen as a result of a shitty genetic Russian roulette, the truth is that illnesses come about for numerous external and internal reasons according to the individual’s gene mutations, experiences, core wounds, health history, chakra imbalances or karma, chemical exposure, and more. Therefore, the specific diet a person should be eating will vary according to this personalized history. It is why, although I believe there are dietary practices or theories that are in many ways superior to a standard western diet, there is truly no one-sized-fits-all approach. Who you are determines what you should be eating, not the other way around.
This is the standard I have held myself to over the last 8 years while directing clients in comprehensive nutritional plans. You are unique, your diet should be equally unique. Unfortunately, we are saturated with programs, books, classes, and internet experts telling us there is only one perfect diet (Paleo, Autoimmune Paleo, Keto, Vegan, etc etc). Will you trust your body or will you trust these money-making schemes?
Like I said, there are certain nutrition practices I think we should all to a large degree adopt (unless there is a specific contraindication for you personally). Take, for example, the fact that indigenous cultures and peoples instinctively understood things about food that our modern society overlooks and takes for granted: food should be consumed in its whole forms, it should come directly from the earth, it should be organic and unsprayed or not irradiated, and that you should consume what is local and available to you.
Another principle that transcends time and peoples worldwide is the idea that every meal should contain a raw or fermented food that is rich in enzymes. In Eastern Europe, we see this practice as the dollop of sour cream on the soup or the raw butter on toast; in Latino societies, we see it as the unpasteurized alcohol or fresh condiments consumed with food (tepache, chicha, salsas, curtido); in Asian cultures we see it as the fermented vegetables added to meals or used as side dishes (banchan, for example). These traditions are not “primitive”, they are ancient wisdom that should be respected.
You see, enzymes aide in digestion and not only help your digestive tract to break down foods so they do not end up as inflammatory immune threats, they also help the kidneys and liver in processing foods. Enzymes can also be called life force or energy: they are living and alive and killed by cooking processes. Energy isn’t just about picking up the bad attitudes of others when you walk into a room, it is about what you intake in other ways, including what you eat.
When you eat dead foods, your body has to compensate for the lack of enzymes or water that would normally be found in unprocessed foods. Over time, this creates a deficit that forces your digestive tract, kidneys, and liver to work extra hard. Imagine the consequences of a lifetime of eating foods with no life force. Think back to how many modern meals we eat that are completely dead and devoid of any enzymes: fried potatoes, meats, pizza, pasteurized dairy, roasted vegetables, rice, bread, and on and on. While many of these foods can be healthy when sourced from quality purveyors, or when prepared in certain ways (grass-fed burgers, for example), they are still dead and force your body into an energetic deficit.
Another way I’ve heard “life force” interpreted when it comes to food is this: the kind of food you eat, when, how, and at which pace, affects how you feel afterwards. For example, you will feel differently eating a salad versus a bowl of pasta. One will probably leave you feeling light and energized afterwards, and one will leave you feeling stuffed, lethargic, and ready for a nap.
In nutrition school, I also learned that coming together for a meal is about more than a social gathering; it is also an exchange of energy between the people sharing the food. Sure, you will get to talk, enjoy the people you are with, and get energized (or, perhaps, brought down) by their personal energy, but you will also end up collectively feeling the same way afterwards if you all eat the same thing. It’s one reason we congregate for meals: to get into a kind of positive groupthink with family or friends. This is in large part due to the fact that if you are sharing one big meal rather than everyone ordering something different so you will likely have similar blood sugar responses, levels of satiety, and therefore the same energy during and afterwards. On the flip side, we also know that having inhibitory responses (ie: getting stressed, nervous, holding back, being ashamed, etc) slows down the thyroid immediately and prevents thyroid hormone from being released, which aides in digestion. Food brings people together for many reasons, and energy is one of them.
My nutrition school professor also described the energetics of food with this example: a famous and highly sensitive Japanese nutrition expert (a leader in the Macrobiotics movement) was so energetically sensitive he could always feel the energy with which the food he was eating was prepared. So once, a man tried to purposefully trick him to see what his interpretation of the food “energy” would be. This chef danced around the kitchen, clapping his hands, yelling, jumping up and down as he cooked. When the food arrived to the table, the nutrition expert took a few bites and said he was very confused with what had been done to this food. While it tasted delicious, he said the energy was chaotic and crazy and couldn’t understand what had happened while it was cooking. Despite not being in the kitchen while it was cooking, he knew something was “off”.
If you are a highly sensitive person, you may not feel the food life force quite to this degree, but your body will likely internalize it and it could stimulate or sedate you based on who prepared it and the emotion with which it was prepared. Now think about what happens when you go out to eat: the food you’re eating may be prepared by a worker who doesn’t particularly care for their job, slaps the meal together in a hurry with little love or care, and gets it to the table as quickly as possible. It’s one reason home cooked food tastes so good and we crave holiday gatherings or food from the “mother”: most likely, she put her heart and soul into it and prepared it with love.
The takeaway here is that you are an energetic being with constant energetic requirements. You must in-put good energetic sources of food, and be surrounded by positive energy while eating in order to aide the digestive tract and other vital organs.