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.
Being abused in various forms (emotional and mental abuse, physical abuse, financial abuse, hazing) by 3-4 groups in two years has taught me a great deal about what it means to be a victim and a survivor. It also taught me a great deal about intuition, karma, and past life pain cycles. Over the years, I had seen many highly sensitive clients end up in similar situations — they couldn’t understand why they were the target of other people’s frustrations. After all, they were meek, kind, smart and resourceful, and wanted the best in their home and work life. But time and time again, they dealt with the brunt of other’s pent-up anger or resentment and couldn’t figure out why.
Empaths have learned to put up with abuse in its many forms and, as I have witnessed, have in large part remained silent about it. We know that there are unspoken societal rules victims have to abide by to be taken seriously, be liked, and to have the abuse they’ve endured taken seriously once they state their allegations. First and foremost, don’t be “too” abused.
There is an unspoken glass ceiling if you will — a cap on how much you are allowed to have been abused; on how much you are allowed to communicate and bring to light. Anything above and beyond that is considered pure fiction, fable, story, exaggeration. Anything above and beyond, you are considered a troublemaker.
Like many women I’ve worked with, I spent most of my life working hard to have no needs. I didn’t want to be a burden to others because I knew it complicates ones social life when you’re “needy”, “clingy” or “messy”. I became the mom, the caregiver, the healer of others, the quiet sufferer. I did this so well that I worked my body to its breaking point and became very sick under the stress of unspoken abuse. But I had the affirmation I desired from others because I remained a silent good girl. I was accepted by my perpetrators.
Then, suddenly, I could bear the weight no more. I chose to speak.
You see, highly sensitive and empathic people are put in a catch 22 of sorts when it comes to bullying and abuse — if we tell the truth, we risk being seen as a problem or as paranoid. But the reality is, we are targeted by narcissistic personalities because they feed off of our stress response — and if you haven’t identified this, you will be surrounded by these people. They will have infiltrated your work life, social group, and family dynamics. On the flip side, if we don’t say anything about what these people are doing to us, we face many forms of health problems that will inevitably ensue.
How to deal with adult bullies:
1. Tell them what they are doing to you. Reflect back to bullies what they are doing to you, very specifically so they can understand how their actions affect others. Often, these people do not fully understand the cause and effect of their actions, so finding a way to communicate what they have done to you and why it has hurt you is important for them to understand the consequences of their actions. It also sets up an environment where they will not be as comfortable hurting you in the future because they are well aware of their behavior.
2. Tell others what they are doing to you. If you can’t get anywhere with these people personally, you may need to those in authority to help stop the behaviors. For example, speak with a boss or H.R. representative, manager, etc. Once those in authority know, it is their ethical obligation to do something to remedy the situation. It will also likely prevent the bully from acting out such things on you again because now someone else understands the extent of the problem. Bullies usually want to look good at all costs so turning to someone else to help remedy the problem can stop the issue because they will want to “save face”. Do not be surprised if they alter their behavior after you have said something so nothing can be traced back to them — ultimately this may leave others questioning you, rather than the bully (“they’ve never treated me like that; I don’t see how this person could have done that to you”.)
3. Share your story openly. Secrets keep us stressed and sick. We must all actively work to create a cultural climate where secrets are no longer acceptable when we are being hurt on purpose. The #MeToo movement is a great example of this. Sharing your story publicly (whether on social media, a blog, or writing website, etc) helps to change larger societal structures that thrives on silence. This doesn’t mean you use their name to call them out, but you can find a constructive way to share what has happened to you so that strangers and followers can read your experiences, learn from them, and can find the courage to change the cultural dynamics themselves. If others choose to turn a blind eye, it is a form of complicity and is their own karma they will have to deal with in the end.
4. Strengthen yourself. Bullying is unfortunate and a sick behavioral pattern, but you can and should use it to your advantage to become stronger. The bullies are preying on your supposed weaknesses, and we can use their dysfunction to our advantage to no longer be able to be preyed on in this manner. Bullying is never the victims fault, but thinking of it as a call to action helps victims strengthen their personalities so if another problem situation arises, you will know how to act immediately rather than let it fester or pull you into sadness, depression, anxiety, frustration, etc. This can mean doing internal work and self-development so you see how beautiful and competent you really are, or reminding yourself of your successes and achievements. In doing so, you will see it was never really about you — it was about the bully wanting to pull someone else down to make themselves appear superior.
5. Remove yourself from the situation. If bringing the bullying to the attention of those in authority or strengthening yourself does not remedy the problem, consider totally removing yourself from the environment where the bullying thrives, or away from the bully themselves. Sometimes you have to take extreme measures to get away from these people, but in the long run, your health and well-being is worth it.
6. Understand why these people are bullies to begin with. There is almost always a corresponding wound that is causing people to bully others. They likely feel insecure, inadequate, worry about their standing or power status, so they hurt others before they themselves can be hurt. These people may have a history of being abused themselves so they think this is a natural human behavioral pattern. This doesn’t mean we excuse or overlook their actions, it just means we see that the bullying is the root of a larger issue in this person’s life and psyche and it has nothing to do with us — it has to do with their own wounds. This can help us let go of the pain associated with the bullying because, again, you are not being bullied because of who you are — you are being bullied because of who they are.