Why do we eat what we eat?

Why do we eat what we eat?

Why do we eat what we eat?

“We don’t need to eat just because it is meal time if the last meal is still loving us. If we cooked and ate lovingly, there would be much less need for food.

Ponder on this.”

Serge Benhayon Esoteric Teachings & Revelations Volume I, ed 1, p 273

As I’ve begun to eat my meals with conscious presence it’s allowed a space for me to feel and be with me, notice how my body is today, for better or for worse. At the end of my meal I often sit and take a moment instead of getting up right away, and in this space insights and impulses tend to come. An idea presents for something I need to express and if I let myself write it down (like this article here) a whole page or two might be there. It seems the rushing way of being I’ve been so used to has been holding all this awareness back.

It’s embarrassing to admit and confronting to say as an adult that the way I move or breathe or eat (which I’ve been doing my whole life), might not actually be quite right. Such a basic everyday task a toddler knows how to do, but one that we’ve warped and manipulated into something not so true.

As I’ve contemplated the role food plays in our lives, it has taken me back to my life growing up. In many houses I visited as a child, people sat around the TV in a huddle as they chowed down, glued to the neon light and flickering pictures of the screen in the lounge. In my family we prided ourselves on being free of that and eating in a ‘civilised’ way – but what truly was the environment in which we ate? Dinner time for us was often a time of stress, anxiety and conflict between my parents – sitting down around the table it was impossible to hide the disharmony that was there. In this time of so-called togetherness, the way we were being as a group was in our face and hard to avoid. I have memories of screaming matches with my Dad as he tried to force me to be polite or get me to toe the line. Conversations that we had were awkward and forced about the weather and our day at school. There was an elephant in the room – how we were all feeling about ourselves and our lives, which was routinely ignored each time. This created a yucky scenario of escaping from ourselves as we ate, that quickly became our normal way to live.

Then there was force and pressure as well around what we ate and how much too. “Waste not want not” was a mantra my parent’s generation had been spoon-fed from birth, and so we were scrutinised to make sure everything was consumed and nothing left on our plate. Table etiquette was a thing as well; did your elbows touch the table? Did you use your napkin as you should? Did you ask for the spread to be passed using the correct words? Like a straitjacket put on us all, there was an accepted way of behaving that we were required to comply with, at all times. No wonder we as kids often felt ‘fed up’ and wanted to avoid dinner time.

“Eat your greens – you need vegetables to be big and strong.” There was a battle too to make us eat certain foods. “Oh my god parsnips again?!” Cue indignant revulsion and hiding of said food, or withdrawal and forcing yourself to consume something in which there was no joy. Add to the mix the wider beliefs society holds about what a ‘good’ diet looks like with food pyramids and the like and you can end up feeling quite dictated to on the simple topic of what you can eat. As a kid you can detect a mile off when someone comes at you with an agenda of a certain behaviour or way of being that they have pre-determined is right for you.

Looking back now I can see the dinner times and food we ate wasn’t just sausages and mash or spaghetti bolognaise but came laced with all these beliefs and ideals about what is ‘right’. Considering all of this, no wonder we have these tendencies to smash through our meals, eat the food that is ‘good’ or ‘right’, or just indulge in the treats our taste buds like that we were previously denied.

As a new parent it has been fascinating to observe how a newborn child relates to food and the world around, and how as a parent you have on tap all these anxieties and tensions with food that you didn’t realise were there. “Oh no! you’re not finished yet – you need to have something solid to eat tonight (or you won’t sleep)”“don’t you dare get down till you’ve finished your plate” … “eat your broccoli and you can have a treat”. As your child has decided they’d prefer to play with their toys rather than eat their meal, or spread their sweet potato on their hair as a kind of shampoo, a panic descends that they are imminently doomed as they have missed out on eating the meal that you’ve cooked. We’ve been so deeply indoctrinated into a model of ‘three square meals a day’ we’ve stopped questioning whether this amount is actually what our body needs. So much like this is fed to us in our thoughts and traditions that doesn’t truly nurture us or our being.

When children are young there’s an unmistakable and primal need for food that they express as they cry; “hey! I need something now or my body can’t grow and I may die!” the tears and shrieks seem to say. And actually, they have a point. But over time as this ceases to be true for us, the way and reason we are fed when we are emotional or playing up cements food’s role as an emotional comfort blanket in our lives instead. You begin to see that the seeds of our current dysfunctional relationship with food are in fact sown very young indeed.

No child is born and instantly demands chocolate cake. They experiment and try what they see eaten around, but also pick up on the apparent hierarchy we allocate to the things that we eat – “Hmmm, a delicious ice cream yum yum!”… naturally they like to copy and get an extra dollop of your attention too. Watch any toddler consume a pack of sweets and then witness the aftermath and it’s difficult to deny there’s a direct link between food and our energetic state. Some food makes us speed up and go a million miles inside ourselves, some leave us sluggish and stiff instead. A whole other world to food and our relationship is opened up: it has definite side-effects we are actively choosing and think we like.

Observe any of us for a while, and our own particular fancies and habits with our food, and you can see no matter how ‘normal’ or random our choices might seem, there’s actually a precise science at play to exactly what we go for and when that expresses itself in the smallest detail of what we crave – “I need pistachios with salted peanuts too. I must have a toasted cheese sandwich with brown sauce and pickles sliced on top”. In the same way pregnant women are famed for their peculiar cravings, there’s a precision to the things we go for that may be explained nutritionally, but there is more going on than just the digestible parts.

For a while it has been clear to me that there is an energetic effect food has on us that’s way more pronounced and significant than the established nutritional data we have given credence to. “Would you like some heaviness? How about some super speediness to avoid what you were feeling here? I’ve got a dish for you – something to dull and bring your awareness down. What’s that? Yes of course, by all means, load up, there’s plenty more”.

What we eat and why and when has another dimension than what is presented in the cooking shows and enticing packaging in the supermarket aisle. I’ve experimented with this understanding in my own life as I’ve lived and have found it interesting to observe the correlation between when thoughts or food cravings come in, and what I may be feeling and sensing at the time.

Recently there was a food I’d have that I’d find myself having an emotional meltdown just hours after eating. I started to track back and went “aha! – it’s that food that made me behave that way”. But as I tried cutting it out what I found was significant: it was not the food itself per se but the thoughts I had allowed in my head before I ate and the way it was consumed that took me off track. “Oh I shouldn’t really be eating this”… “This isn’t what I normally have”… “Oh well just one treat – I deserve it”“Oh no I’ve lost control again”“Is this ok, is it not?” So much hardness and judgement towards myself for the simple act of eating a piece of food.

Eating disorders are ‘normal’ to hear of these days, bulimia and anorexia are commonplace with the accompanying distorted views of how we look, but in my experiment I started to wonder, just what are the nature of the thoughts and beliefs we all have around food – and are they as normal and harmless as they seem? What I found in my own life was the way I was behaving towards myself and judgements that I had coming in my head were way more toxic and damaging than the food I ate. So I experimented with eating my meltdown food again but staying clear of critique and analysis of the choice. True it felt a little heavy as it went down and maybe was not really what my body needed to have right then, but no meltdown or drama occurred at all. I got to feel with my body how it was and not go into my head about the side effects.

This made me realise that a major part of our diet in life is not just food or the things that we eat, but also the energy we choose to embody and let out. In every moment of every day we are filling up with a sauce that’s passing through, a casserole of conditions, beliefs and ideas we are fed or a simple brew of stillness that has an infinite depth, on which we can fill up. Which café we choose to dine in every day and every moment we are alive (the Check-out Diner or God’s Kitchen) flows on to the thoughts we have, how we move and then what and how we choose to eat.

Any part of life – going to sleep, how we speak, how we work or exercise – is a point in which we can see the type of energy that is informing us how to be. Eating and how we are with food is no different. And when we examine this part of our life up close, our habits and tendencies, it often can reveal back to us just not how we are with food, but also how we are with life as a whole.

What is the diet we are truly consuming then every moment we are alive, and what is nurturing and enriching us to truly grow; and what like fast food is just filling in the space where the true depth and care could be?

There’s food that exists that looks like food, and tastes ‘nice’ that actually has nothing in it to support your body at all but has just been styled (by a scientist in a lab) to create an image that meets what your eyes like to see. It stimulates your taste buds to be satiated, but there’s no real nutrition or substance to it in truth. And so with the way we live, there’s a way of moving and being in this world that ticks the boxes on the menu and seems to be tasty and what we desire, but it’s actually empty of the key nutrition that makes us tick: stillness, love, harmony, truth, joy. Make these the main course of our everyday life and our body can’t help but be deeply enriched.

The other night I was cooking dinner for my wife and son when my sister rang and wanted to discuss something in our family that had been upsetting her for some time. In the past I might have said I couldn’t speak and be present with my preparations for the meal and called her back another time. But feeling it was true to talk I went ahead and listened to what she had to say as I stirred and sliced and chopped. As she shared what was at play, things started to become clearer for her, and I had some things to share which seemed to help her to hear. As we spoke it felt like her troubles were being lifted off gradually layer by layer, and in the process we both learnt a lot. As we finished up our conversation and appreciated what each other had brought and resolved to speak more often, I noticed dinner was complete and cooked somehow on the bench below. When my family came to eat it later on, they declared it to be one of the most delicious I had ever made. And it was clear to me that it wasn’t the freshness of the ingredients they could sense, but the healing quality of the conversation I had had that it had been flavoured with.

Today when I eat, I know it’s not just the food that is key but the quality of energy that it holds. For the way that I move, the extent I honour truth, the depth of care that I bring to each moment of my day, the relationships I have, the way I drive or sleep or speak, this momentum of choices and movements that I make all adds up and is infused in each morsel that I cook. This factor of energy is typically one we avoid and like to pretend does not exist, for it shows the true impact and responsibility we all have in how we live.

Food then is just another way to see that we are naturally designed to be harmonious, at ease and loving in our every step, no more and no less.

Each moment we are alive can be a choice to deaden and dampen down the bigness that we sense, or to let our innate brightness shine. This choice of energy and being aware is the ultimate diet we are involved with every day. A moment of brotherhood and truth moved in full is more filling and sustaining than any cake will ever be. No delicious treat can ever fill the emptiness where the love you are should naturally reside.

Filed under

Body awarenessDietsNutritionWell-being

  • By Anonymous

  • Photography: Clayton Lloyd