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Chakra Foods for Optimum Health
A GUIDE to the FOODS that can IMPROVE YOUR ENERGY, INSPIRE CREATIVE CHANGES, OPEN YOUR HEART, and HEAL BODY, MIND, and SPIRIT
By Deanna M. Minich
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 2009 Deanna M. Minich, Ph.D., C.N.
All rights reserved.
THE VIBRATION OF FOOD AND THE SPIRIT OF EATING
We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are.
WE ARE "ONIONED" BEINGS
If you are reading this book, chances are you understand that a human being represents the whole of several compressed layers, similar to those of an onion. Healing can occur by peeling away the layers. When we reach one layer, such as the emotional layer, and make a change, no matter how small or big, it ripples into every other aspect of our being like a droplet of water losing itself into a pond. For seconds afterward, the pond is filled with the rhythmic beauty of concentric circles. The pond has been changed forever because of that single, innocent droplet.
Knowing that anything we do to ourselves affects our energetic fabric and, in turn, our physical bodies implies that we can choose to focus on any means of healing that attracts us in order to help heal ourselves. Food and nutrition are avenues that some people choose as paths to their physical and spiritual healing. If you are especially drawn to diets and nutrition, it may simply be that food is your conduit of healing—the medium upon which you learn your life lessons, temporarily or for the extent of your Earth journey.
No matter the path choice, the vehicle will be symbolic in diverse ways. Every path we choose will have intention and be laden with messages if we allow ourselves to receive them. An underlying principle to remember throughout this book, and any book you read on food and eating is that our relationship to food and eating is symbolic of how we approach everything else in our lives. Do you eat convenience foods because you are always on the run? Perhaps you need to look at what you are running from—where does your focus need to be, or what do you need to make time for? Or are you eating alone, secretly, especially if you are feeling emotional? If so, what needs to come out in the open? What needs expressing? Who do you need to surround yourself with?
Our relationship to food and eating is symbolic of how we approach everything else in our lives.
Certainly, our relationship to food can open us up to insight about what our lives are like. It has been said that "As within, so without"—our internal environment mirrors our external surroundings. Our restoration to wellness lies in our awareness of what envelops us, how we engage with the world—with food and eating. The impact that food choices can have on our health can be significant, especially due to the sheer quantity of food we eat throughout our lifetimes—estimated to be at 60,000 to 100,000 pounds—and the fact that we need food to exist on this planet.
In fact, we are given many opportunities to make food selections that benefit the layers of our complex selves. A modest calculation of three meals a day, 365 days a year, for an average life span of seventy-six years would mean that we have nearly 84,000 opportunities to have meaningful, healing interactions with food! There is unleashed potential in every single interface with food: each exchange carries the ability to bring you to a higher state of health, to keep you where you are currently at, or to take you into a state of symptoms or add to the pending avalanche of symptoms culminating in disease. Therefore, I encourage people to ask their bodies before making a food selection as to whether the food(s) will help or hurt them.
In the grand theater of life, food has the center stage, as it serves our most primal need for survival, our bond with the Earth, and our intimate connection with each other. We link ourselves to all living beings on the planet through the process of eating and being a participant in the food chain. As a result, our incessant interaction with food takes on immense power and can define who we are. It is no wonder that people have strong opinions about how to eat.
Despite being continually surrounded by food in all forms, ranging from 24-hour grocery stores to deluxe drive-thrus to vending machines, its existence and our innate need for it are ironically ignored. In the whirlwind of busy days, how many of us have thought to ourselves, or expressed to others, that having to eat gets in the way of doing more important things? Some people admit that they simply "forget" to eat. How can we neglect something as crucial for our survival—what message is this sending forth? When we finally do make time to eat, we find ourselves unable to stop due to an unconscious longing for greater satisfaction and union in the midst of our short, sound-bite-laden society and frequent, fleeting social interactions with others. However, with each hurried, unconscious bite, we step further away from merging with everything that food connects us to: ourselves, community, and the Divine. These surface observations indicate that our umbilical relationship with food has been severed, resulting in the fragmentation of the many aspects of ourselves.
Three meals a day, 365 days a year, for an average life span of seventy-six years would mean that we have nearly 84,000 opportunities to have meaningful, healing interactions with food!
Rather than experience a deeper level of understanding about the foods our bodies need for growth and maintenance, people in search of a solution fixate on the path of least resistance, or short-term, quick-fix tools. Is it any wonder that the "diet" approach to eating is a roller coaster of disappointment? Actually, the answers we are so earnestly craving lie before us: at the dining room table, at the restaurant, at the grocery store, and in the garden. Within the eating experiences are planted the true root of what needs healing at our innermost core. When we pay attention to what our body requires and view foods as healing entities, we get right to the heart of why we have manifested chronic diseases or eating dysfunctions. By envisioning foods as dancing molecules of energy that have power and potential to uncover our highest selves, we make food choices to support life-giving thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and actions. Lives can be revolutionized completely by altering our view of food! And the beauty of this miracle is that it can start as soon as your next bite....
Fortunately, our quick-fix eating habits have started to unravel. For example, the "slow food" movement, which encourages the longer, savory experience of eating a gradually cooked meal at a restaurant, has emerged as the antithesis to fast food. Local, organically grown foods and free-range, animal-sourced foods are a prevalent new trend, perhaps even the "hip" way to eat by younger generations. We are gradually returning to a very simple yet profound interaction with food.
FOOD BEYOND THE CALORIE
Although there is much recent news about food being capable of affecting us on many levels (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual), this realization was brought to light thousands of years ago by ancient traditions like East Indian Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. In both these traditions, balancing the energetic properties of different foods in the diet is strongly emphasized. For example, in Chinese medicine, foods are selected according to their warming, cooling, drying, or moistening effects on the body. To the novice, it would be relatively easy to intuitively select foods that embody certain properties, as the principles parallel the concepts found in nature. For instance, in general, "warming" foods are those that rev metabolism and create heat in the body. Curried chicken is a good example of a warming food, as it is an animal product and includes seasoning. Both features make the chicken a "hot" food, and it is usually recommended that individuals with a "warm nature" or who are prone to overheating moderate their consumption of these foods. On the other hand, cooling foods would be those that are more neutral in taste and tend not to be cooked, like sliced cucumber or tofu. In contrast to warming foods, they dampen the metabolism, slowing it down. Current Western medicine does not promote the use of foods to prevent disease as much as these other cultures do; however, this trend is changing with new "functional medicine" or "integrative (holistic) medicine," which honors the inner communication between body systems and focuses on the individual as a whole.
Overall, the field of nutrition as a science has been very physically grounded in the basic elements of physiology—such as ingestion, digestion, absorption, transportation, utilization, and excretion of food substances—and the effect of these processes on health. Although physical aspects of food are emphasized in the nutritional paradigm, there is increasing research in the area of the emotional effects of eating. The remaining missing piece is the integration of our body needs with those of our soul and using the needs of one to heal the other. Some may suggest that many people in Western society are not in touch with their soul. It has been said that "illness is the Western form of meditation"— that we do not engage deeper, soulful parts of ourselves unless we are catastrophically provoked. Since chakras span the body and nonbody (soul) parts of our being, they are an excellent way to access the body-soul connection. By tapping into what our chakras are telling us, we are able to better make choices that support integration of our layers of being.
Understanding our health through our chakras enables us to move beyond ensuring that the body has physical food for energy to live by taking us into the realm of food as "spiritual sustenance" or "food for the soul." The synergy of chakras and food provides a superhighway to accessing spirituality, or our interconnectedness with all of life. Together, the chakras and food help us to recognize that life is greater than the sum of its parts. When we shed the idea of food being functional and replace it with choosing to eat to feel the gentle weblike connection with all of life, food takes on a note of Divinity and sacredness. Many cultures and religions have created spiritual practices—such as giving thanks ("grace") for the meal— around eating as a way of acknowledging this sacred act.
Understanding our health through our chakras enables us to move beyond ensuring that the body has physical food for energy to live by taking us into the realm of food as "spiritual sustenance" or "food for the soul."
UNLOCKING THE SECRET MESSAGES OF FOODS
Emerging science is shedding light on perhaps another dimension to the already existing nutrition foundation. In addition to providing energy, or calories, for the body to function, constituents within food act as messengers that communicate with our body's DNA and influence, to a large extent, the types of proteins and other compounds that cells manufacture. Taking this a step deeper, into the atomic level, the vibrating energetic charged particles of food interact to a significant degree electrically within the fluid matrix inside the body. These vibrations ripple through the system, creating a surge of electrical currents to enhance or deplete the energy state of the cells. The takeaway is that food carries information that will signal our bodies to create proteins to support a vital, creative, optimal structure or to lead to dysfunctional states such as inflammation and pain.
Nutritionists are taught in school that proteins and carbohydrates both create the same energy currency within the body. For every gram of protein or carbohydrate eaten, 4 kilocalories of energy are available to use. It is now known that these basic nutrients, despite the fact that they are similar in calories, have a different vibration or electrical potential. People can consume the same number of calories, but the metabolic effects within the cells can be different. Protein from vegetables like soybeans and protein from animals like milk-derived casein create different responses in the body even though both are protein. Therefore, the new message is that the quality of food, and the dietary signature it carries for the cells, is perhaps most essential.
"Rainbowed eating" is one of the keys to enhancing the whole of our selves.
Unfortunately, it appears that the American profile of eating, referred to by some as the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.), has a deficit of good food signals. We are eating what I like to call the "Brown, Yellow, and White Foods Diet" because it is limited in supplying us with abundant, healthy compounds from plants ("phytochemicals") that equip our cells to work optimally. The food industry has stripped away the colors of foods to give us processed cereals, breads, meats, flours, and baked goods. We are left with lackluster eating, devoid of the rich, flavorful phytochemicals that send high-quality information to our cells, allowing us to flourish. Each compound of color, whether the purple anthocyanidins found in grapes or the red lycopene in tomatoes, has a specific function in the body. If we omit a color from the rainbow spectrum, we are not providing ourselves with the physiological and spiritual functions of that vibration. Hence, as you will uncover in subsequent chapters, "rainbowed eating" is one of the keys to enhancing the whole of our selves.
Not only is the quality of food important, but also how the food is eaten. Think of all the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Do you think this region of Europe experiences less cardiovascular complications because they eat whole foods rich in precious plant compounds that are heart-protective and antiaging? Most likely, but perhaps not entirely. One point that is often overlooked is the manner in which Mediterranean natives eat: a meal is an event potentially lasting for hours in the company of friends and family. Eating in these countries is an important social event, and working hours are adjusted to accommodate longer lunches, enabling the individual to go home to eat and relax before returning to work again. Imagine how little stress is felt when you have 2 hours to eat lunch versus 30 minutes, and how that can impact your physiological and spiritual responses to food! Eating under pressure may result in absorbing fewer nutrients and feeling ungrounded.
Without a sense of pleasure and being present in the moment of eating, we may want to eat more to satisfy our need to connect with the experience.
Eating begins before and lasts after the first bite is taken. It starts in the grocery store when we are engaged in food selection or as far back as the field when we planted seeds in the soil. In the grocery store, what colors call out to us? What shapes, forms, tactile sensations, words on packages invite us to buy them? How mindful are we when we grocery shop, or are we distracted by cell phone calls or mental preoccupation with the day's events? If we are growing our own food, are we conscious of the quality of soil we use, our mindset when we are watering the plants, the location in which the seeds are planted? The process of eating continues to the stage of meal preparation, where we gift our olfactory sense with rich aromas and heightened flavors, eventually signaling our gastric juices to begin flowing and specific gut peptides for satiety to be released. If we make a meal with others, in a community setting, the quality of the experience expands many times, as it magnifies our interconnection with others. After the meal, the eating experience continues on the physiological level through the processes of digestion, absorption, and assimilation. If we eat quickly, without mindfulness, we may not be efficient at integrating these food messages into our body and soul. Without a sense of pleasure and being present in the moment of eating, we may want to eat more to satisfy our need to connect with the experience. Therefore, eating while doing other things, such as driving in a car, watching TV, or reading a book, may take away healing energy from the eating experience rather than provide it.
Indeed, modern physics gives a whole new twist on how to view living matter. Essentially, all living organisms are compositions of cosmic, dynamic, responsive particles vibrating at a specific frequency. It has been said that the building block of life, the atom, is made of more than 90 percent empty space, implying that only about 10 percent of what is seen as the organism is actual reality. The chunk of most physical life-forms is vibrating energy. These particles of dancing matter form a web of connection, sending signals and creating patterns, vortices, and cascading effects. Therefore, when we think of ourselves as molecules in motion, it is highly plausible that the frequency generated by these interacting particles is modified by our thoughts, our words, the air we breathe, and even the food we eat. In support of this concept, many published research studies, such as those on meditation, prayer, visualization, and diet, support that our minds, words, and environment are powerful and, in ways beyond our understanding, influence emotional, mental, and physical makeup.
Excerpted from Chakra Foods for Optimum Health by Deanna M. Minich. Copyright © 2009 Deanna M. Minich, Ph.D., C.N.. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
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