Hippocrates, widely considered to have been the “father of medicine”, said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” This physician revolutionized medicine in ancient Greece. He separated the discipline of medicine from religion, believing and arguing that disease was not a punishment inflicted by the gods but rather the product of environmental factors, diet and living habits. A lot has changed in medicine since those days, notably a greater understanding of human anatomy and physiology as well as incredible advances in technology and pharmaceuticals. Even though these advances have helped us to avoid disease, overcome illness quickly and live longer lives, I think his wise words still hold a great deal of merit. You can be given all the drugs on the market and undergo every operation known to man, but if your diet is unhealthy and unbalanced, none of that will help.
In the concept of food energetics, different foods possess different energetic properties that can either enhance or diminish your state of well-being. For example, foods that are eaten raw have a cooling property to them. High water content foods, such as cucumber are wonderful for the summer months to regulate body temperate and give the body the hydration it needs. Conversely, cooked foods vary in effect depending on how they are prepared, but essentially all have more warming properties. Plants that take longer to grow, such as carrots and beets, tend to be warmer than faster growing foods like lettuce. This explains why we have a natural inclination toward salads in the summertime and soups in the winter. Logically, we should be eating for the seasons so that our bodies can maintain balance and function efficiently throughout the year without interruption.
Throughout most of this month I have been consuming more raw foods than cooked foods, mostly due to time constraints. Even as the temperature continued to drop, I kept eating my salads, raw nuts, celery and peanut butter and raw fruits. I began to notice I was having trouble getting warm, I felt bloated and gassy and I was feeling more spaced out and tired than usual. What was going on? I was still eating healthy foods but they weren’t making me feel as energized and well nourished as I was a few months ago. After doing a bit of reading on the principles of food energetics, I realized that I was consuming things that were energetically wrong for me. I needed to reexamine my food choices and try to incorporate things that would meet my energetic needs.
I selected one day of the week that wasn’t jam-packed with errands and appointments to devote to cooking my food for the week. I steamed a bunch of kale and roasted a combination of cauliflower, carrots, parsnips, onions and sweet potatoes These foods are all great for providing a more grounding energy for maintaining a feeling of internal warmth. I found all of these foods at the Union Square Greenmarket. Buying your food locally ensures that you are buying only what is in season within your geographical area, a great way to know you are getting foods that will feed your energy needs in the right way. I made a little salad out of my cooked vegetables, topped with some olive oil and apple cider vinegar, to eat throughout the week and I immediately noticed a change in myself. I felt more focused and able to tackle tasks without getting overwhelmed; although I was still cold (it is winter after all!) I didn’t feel as bothered by it as usual; and my digestion began to function at a more normal level. By paying attention to what my body was telling me I needed, I was able to therapeutically heal myself through food.
We all have our favorite foods and it can be easy to get into the habit of eating the same things each day; however, I challenge you to look at your diet and see if, energetically, you feel balanced or if it could use a little tweaking to realign yourself with the new energy that surrounds you. Your body is incredibly intelligent and when it tells you what it needs, stop and listen to it.
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