Wellness begins with the recognition that our body is a whole system. Everything we do affects us. Our physical health is directly impacted by what we ingest and put onto our skin. Mental health as well has a lot to do with what we consume, and keeping stress levels in check is imperative. Spiritual health is, in my opinion, also a part of this. Deep within each of us is a desire to feel loved. Making choices that are loving toward ourselves is the first step in the process of bringing us into mind/body/spirit alignment.
Now, grab a cup of coffee or cacao and brace yourself for a swathe of information ranging from farming practices to just how yummy eating healthy food can be.
When it comes to food, we are all a little different. What works well for some, may cause discomfort and even illness in others. My intention with this information is to be as inclusive as possible, and to simply share what I’ve found to be Truth. Food, like skincare, speaks a language that our bodies either do or don’t understand. The body’s response-whether positive or negative-and our willingness to listen, is the first step toward healing and harmony.
One of the problems with our current culture is that we eat foods that are highly inflammatory. We don’t prepare grains for proper digestion, we refine the minerals out of our foods, we pasturize and homogonize, and we rarely, if ever, consume fermented foods and beverages. Our bodies respond to refined foods like they’re poison, triggering an inflammatory response, a healthy response intended to rid the body of the invader. The problem is, our food culture is full of these foods, leading to an epidemic of chronic inflammation, disorders, and disease.
I used to believe that fat made us fat. Like many who shopped next to me at the local food cooperatives, I thought soy was a good alternative to cow’s milk and I knew nothing about grains or sugars. I chose organic when possible, and although I never ate reduced-fat processed foods, I didn’t understand how completely damaging the modern western diet is.
Like with most things, you can get closest to the truth when you follow the money. The revolving door of corruption and greed that dominates the relationship between huge corporations and government agencies who’s primary obligation it is to protect us, is astounding. This isn’t the time or place to name names, however I encourage you to do your own research in this area. If you don’t have the time or interest to take that on, a great way to know you’re buying healthy food is to shop small and local, and memorize a few things about what shouldn’t be on an ingredient label.
You can save yourself a lot of heartache by shopping at farmer’s markets, your local co-op, and health food stores. These are the places I’ve shopped for years, and still, about 1/2 of their offerings contain ingredients I know to be damaging. However, businesses like these hold a standard that makes them the first line of defense in your shopping experience, thus, eliminating a lot of the most troublesome offenders.
It took me 36 years to dial in what works best for my body. Many who have found what works for them subscribe to the 80/20 rule. I’m in the camp of 90/10 if only because I have two young children and don’t find myself eating out at restaurants much these days. The numbers refer to a balancing act between making healthy choices and veering off course. Having ‘naughty’ things on occasion is great. We miss the point if we can’t have grace for ourselves, allowing our ‘life of wellness’ to become a point of stress. I have limited time, and although I find it more comfortable now to spend money on organic foods, I’ve been doing this for a decade, and made it happen even when at times it was a financial strain. It’s about priorities. We focus on, make time for, and spend money on the things that matter to us. Food is an investment in yourself. It’s health insurance, and it’s worth every penny.
When I say ‘naughty’, I don’t mean fast food. In no world is that ever going to be considered part of a life of wellness. I say ‘naughty’ in reference to things like refined grains and sugar (lava cake at a party), one too many cocktails, or a burger and fries at a place you know uses conventional meat and rancid oils for deep frying. A real burger joint, not McDeathalds.
The human body needs living foods. Organic and local produce is LIFE. If local isn’t available to you, most likely you can find organic. Pesticides are just no good. They’re damaging to us, and they’re devastating to the soil. The life is in the soil-vitamins and minerals-and this is one of the reasons that big agriculture in this country is wreaking havoc on the land. Monocropping, or monoculture farming is the practice of planting the same crop on the same land year after year. This approach produces higher yields, which is cost-effective, but leads to an almost complete depletion of nutrients in the soil (therefore the food), due in no small part to the abundance of pesticides sprayed on these crops.
One alternative approach is something called biodynamic farming. Treating animals, crops, and soil as a single system, much in the way our bodies are a system. Biodynamic farming practices are intended to “restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.” For example, when we plant complimentary crops near each other, certain plants can act as a deterrent to pests, protecting neighboring crops. Cows move through and graze on grass, they fertilize the soil, followed by chickens and so on. The yields are smaller with this approach to farming, but the resulting richness of the soil, and nutrient density of the produce and animal products produced in this way is nothing like what you’ll find at a conventional grocer.
I used to make my own sourdough bread from a starter (a living culture) I made myself using rye flour (without cheating by using pineapple juice to speed the fermentation process). I used hard red winter wheat bought in bulk and would then soak, sprout, dehydrate, and grind it into flour myself. I did this for years. I LOVE homemade sourdough bread. If I were on death row I would request a loaf of it and a toaster with grass-fed butter and local raw honey and I would eat the whole thing and die - full of happiness. (Would they give me a toaster? I don’t know.) If you’re keen on mastering the art of making bread, this is the way to go. You don’t have to be a maniac like me and do all of it. You can purchase a sourdough starter and use flour from the store.
It’s a spiritual act, making bread. But it takes patience, tenacity, and desire.
If you do bake at home track down Einkorn flour online. It’s an ancient grain grown in Europe, so, not a product of monoculture farming. It’s much lower in gluten content than wheat found in the states, therefore has less of a likelihood of leading to gut and digestive issues. Knowing now how I love bread, you’ll understand how heartbreaking it is that I’ve finally accepted that it just doesn’t work for my body. Once or twice a year I’ll eat a cookie or cupcake made with einkorn flour, but I choose feeling wonderful over the bread indulgence these days.
Cultures throughout history knew about proper preparation of grains.
This is why the 80/20 rule. I understand that this kind of information can be overwhelming, and maybe even off-putting. That is not my goal. I want you to have some of the information necessary to drive you toward live-giving foods, but I also want you to feel that making healthy choices is accessible and even surprisingly easy.
If you bake at home:
Soaking whole nuts, grains, beans, and seeds, takes them from being indigestible, and transforms them into a nutrient-dense food full of enzymes and minerals. Bake by incorporating these into your recipes, and if you use flour make sure it’s organic. Better yet, use einkorn flour in a 1:1 ratio. You can even find sprouted einkorn flour online.
If you buy from the store:
It might take a little searching, but you will find real sourdough bread and even sprouted breads on the shelves of many natural grocery stores. You may want to eliminate crackers, muffins, and pasta made with refined flours. Avoiding refined flours is one of the most effective ways to reduce inflammation in the body.