We eat every day, usually as many as 3-5 times a day. From work to exercise, from reading a book to watering the garden, from attending school to lounging on the sofa, food provides the fuel for our bodies to do all the activities we do in our daily lives. For some of us, eating is an integral part of our existence Ė we plan our days around our meals and make an effort to provide the highest quality fuel for our bodies. For some of us, eating is a bother Ė meal planning and preparation is just another thing which must be done in an already over filled day. Many of us fall in the middle of these two extremes. We enjoy a good meal, but donít really think much about WHY we need the meal. Eating is pleasurable; food preparation is a necessary task. Fast food or frozen dinners are a reasonable way to get the job of filling the belly done with a minimal amount of fussing, and they taste good enough.
Most of us donít think much about why we need to eat, beyond the fact that we are feeling hungry. We may notice that we feel really good after eating some foods, and really bad after eating others, but we often donít think about it enough to consider that maybe there is a pattern. We notice when we are too hungry or too full, but the sensations in between tend to be missed. Some of us are taking medications and have been told to avoid certain foods such as grapefruit or leafy greens while taking the drugs. WHY would a FOOD be something to avoid while taking a DRUG?!
Our bodies are made up of a variety of chemicals (mostly carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and calcium) which interact together in certain ways to give us physical structure and to allow all of our physiological processes to work. Medications are made up of chemicals which have effects on the chemicals in our bodies. Foods are also made of chemicals, and they also have an effect on the chemicals in our bodies. Whether a food is ďgoodĒ for you or ďbadĒ for you is generally a factor of whether the interaction with your particular body chemistry is favorable (you feel good), or not.
When considering the effect of food on the body, think about the fuel you put in your car. Does your BMW drive better on regular, or on premium? What happens to your engine if there is water in the gas tank? Or sand? Your body deserves at least the same consideration that your car receives when picking its fuel!
In America, most of our diet choices are based on convenience Ė we eat what is readily available and quick to grab or prepare.† The FDA makes recommendations for the minimum daily intake for certain vitamins and minerals, and provides a food pyramid to guide our food choices to minimize risk of certain diseases.† Most of us donít realize that there are strong traditions of food as medicine in most Asian and many European cultures.† In Chinese medicine and the Ayurveda of India, the first thing a doctor looks at is the diet.† It is accepted that when you have certain conditions, certain foods should be avoided because they will make the situation worse, and other foods should be consumed because they will be beneficial.† In Jewish families, the first defense against a cold is chicken soup.† For the Chinese, itís rice porridge (congee).† For the Japanese, itís miso soup.† Think about what your grandmother recommended when your tummy was upset.† Ginger-ale or flat pepsi was the thing in my family, followed by dry toast or plain rice when solid food would stay down.† Have you noticed the green leaf on the plate in some high-end sushi restaurants?† Perilla leaf is a famous Chinese remedy for seafood poisoning.† Eating this leaf with your sushi (and the pickled ginger!) helps to prevent illness if something youíve eaten is just a little past its prime. If youíve ever wondered WHY these traditions of kitchen remedies developed and which ones to try, this section on All Things Healing is for you!