Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Healing: the problem with food

"Witches heal."

"All women are healers."

I've written before about healing. It's one of my abiding interests, and I intend to write about it more regularly. I'm in my third year of a program at a school for healing arts (what I often call the "mystery school" when I write about it here); I should know a little something about healing by now. I'll be writing about broader philosophical questions - what is healing? - and more practical matters - energy medicine, acupuncture, herbs, diet, and the like.

Right now I'm all in a tizzy about food. All my adult life, I've been interested in and driven by food trends. I was a vegetarian for 11 years, in the late 80s and 90s, and I attempted various periods of veganism during those years. Diet for a Small Planet was my bible. (I still think Frances Moore Lappe is a saint, and there's a great granola recipe in that book, but leave out the soy grits - they'll make you fart.) I ate a lot of soy, including processed soy products like soy "meats" and "cheeses" (ugh). I did the Jane Brody thing. (Remember her?) I did Andrew Weil's "8 weeks to ultimate health" (an eminently sensible plan, in my opinion, although I took it to extremes). I still go through my Susun Weed herbal infusions phases. I started eating meat again on the advice of a nutritionist about five years ago. Philosophically, I stand for local, humanely raised animals/meat, and I shop and cook that way. But I also go on benders and eat bacon-cheeseburgers at Friendly's, and lunch buffet at Pizza Hut, and goddess-knows-what at Taco Bell. Despite my junk-food tendencies, I'm something of a gourmand, and I love simple, high-quality food, deliciously prepared. I've gone through periods of binging and periods of starving. My weight will be stable for years at a time, but I've gone through times of extreme loss and gain, my adult weight varying over 80 pounds.

My current phase is "nourishing traditions," which I find too limiting (so I stray), but also interesting and delicious. I prefer Nina Planck's approach to Sally Fallon's. Nina's a gourmand, like me. Sally is a dominatrix (and not in a good way). I find her tone in her writing to be angry, punitive, self-righteous, and a bit cultish. But there are good information and recipes in her book.

I'm currently seeing a nutritionist who likes the nourishing traditions approach and also believes in using a lot of Standard Process supplements. I like my nutritionist a lot, though she's something of an evangelist. But I can't find any information critical of Standard Process or nourishing traditions, and that worries me. I want to be well-informed. I don't just want to take what I'm given, even by my very concerned, well-intentioned, expensive-for-me nutritionist. Still, I'm taking my copious supplements for my liver, adrenals, thyroid, etc., and I'm trying to eat less sugar (ha!) and more fruits and veggies.

Yesterday I went to see my acupuncturist, whom I hadn't seen in quite some time, and she was concerned and critical about the many-supplement approach. The upshot of all of this is that I have no idea what to think, who to believe, how to make decisions. I consider myself intelligent and well-informed, but I feel at sea. That makes it difficult to eat at all.

Thus a big question for me right now is, how do I heal myself - emotionally, spiritually, and physically - around food? How do I nourish myself? How do I clear out the noise, get quiet, and know for myself what to do? If you have a healing story around food, I'd love to hear it.


Anonymous said...

Healing and food...two of my serious interests. I also have tried many paths to find myself here...eating as locally and wholely as I can. In addition to my own journey with nourishment, I am struggling with how to help my 15 year old with developing a healthy body image and relationship with food. I recently read, "if the buddha came to dinner" and found many things helpful (not the cleansing part though, I'm skeptical about fasting). I'm glad you are back and I'm looking forward to your posts. thanks.

Sara said...

Inanna - I am *so* with you here. My story is extremely similar to yours - right down to the Susan Weed herbal infusions. :) There are approximately a million different ideas about nutrition, and they seem lumped into camps that directly contradict each other. Meat is good, meat is bad. Drink a gallon of water every day, drink only when you're thirsty. Vitamins and supplements are great, vitamins and supplements are bad. Soy is a miracle food, Soy is the Devil. It goes on and on. I'm currently vegan, have been vegetarian off and on for years, have tried macrobiotics, and am also a fan of the Nourishing Traditions line of thinking though I also think Fallon is a little on the crazy side.

I've taken to some basic things that have worked for me. Whole foods over processed ones. Portion sizes reasonable. Fresh fruits and veggies. Organic whenever possible. Water over any other beverage. Herbs. I try to ask myself those same questions - "what nourishes me?" I'm trying mostly to listen closely to what my body tells me is the best for it - how it feels after eating something, my energy levels, etc. Right now vegan seems to work very well for me.

Thanks for the post!!


Laura said...

Mine is a story in progress, but there are similarities - the long vegetarian phase, adding meat again at medical advice, opting for whole food as much as possible, but rarely feeling that I have the time to do what I want.

I am now working with a program called The Solution where I am trying to explore the emotional things behind the eating I do. I have high hopes that it will lead to a story of healing and food.

Inanna said...

Joyful - Thank you for the book recommendation; I'm definitely going to check that out. And thanks for your kinds words and for leaving a link to your blog.

Sara - I find what you say really helpful; I've been thinking about it all day. The idea of making choices as I go - choose the less processed food, choose water over any other beverage, choose the lunch entree that has veggies in it and comes with a salad (I did that today).... It may sound simple, but I just think it's really helpful.

Laura - I'm going to check out that website. My mantra the last few days has been, "I deserve to be well nourished."

Thanks all. In this diet-obsessed culture (and I'm hardly immune), it really helps to hear from people with similar values.

Grian said...

Inanna, I can't claim to have had many of your experiences, but I know women who have - very particularly my best friend.

I think the solution is in nature itself. What is natural for you? Are suppliments found readily in nature? Is bleached flour a natural state of wheat?

Eating things that are as close to possible to their natural state seems like the best bet. Whole wheat breads, organic fruits and vegetables, meat without hormones, etc. I don't think it has to be quite so hard.

Before I end this comment I'm just going to say that I love Dr. Pepper and Pizza Rolls. So, maybe I'm not the best person to listen to. :) Best of luck and happy eating.

Niobium said...

I've been on the same food roller-coaster as you. And like one of your commenters, I think Sally Fallon is a little coo-coo, but I like her basic belief system of eating local, in season, and as wholely as possible.

One thing that I've been trying to incorporate is eating what's in season. Tomatos can't be grown in Janurary in New England (hothouse aside) nor can any other veggies and fruits. This means I have to learn to can so I can eat the veggies and fruits I've grown in January without having to injest the pesticides from veggies grown in South America. Besides, what are they doing to the food to keep it fresh while it's being shipped here from afar?

Like many, I find comfort in food. On New Years Day one of my cats crossed over to the Otherside and the first thing I did was reach for the food to comfort me. Becoming aware was the easy part, now it's time to do something about my binge eating.

Great post. I look forward to more on the subject.

Anonymous said...

Liked what you had to say...women and food, the eternal dance, but more symbolic of how we nurture (or don't) ourselves.
Bytheway - not sure what image you are referring to - but the beautiful large image on the left of the "bird shaman" is called, "Our Northern Ancestors" and was painted by Susan Seddon-Boulet

Mama Kelly said...

I don't have a story of healing to share but know that you are not alone.

I have strugled with food and weight issues stretching as far back as the summer before 6th grade when I was put on a diet --- and body issues predate that.

I too am struggling this year to finally try and break the cycle learn how to "heal myself - emotionally, spiritually, and physically - around food" as you are doing.

I've been skinny, chunky, fat, and am currently obese. I've done starvation and binging and puging. I've done vegetarianism and supplements and gone on long cycles where I eat nary a thing with a whit of nutrition.

But I am hoping to make progress this year to reclaiming by body as a temple and finding some healing.

Blessings on your Journey

Mama Kelly

The Witchy Blog

The Dieting Blog

Inanna said...

Anon - thanks for the information about the painting, which I forgot to include.

Maggie said...

Like others commenting here, healing and food are two of my favorite things to read and write about. After some time as a vegan, my body sort of broke down and I had to re-think things. I'm now an omnivore again (boy that's weird to say - I've labeled myself vegetarian for the last 17 years) and focusing on how to be an ethical omnivore. I'm sourcing my food locally, researching the farmers and ranchers I buy from, and following the Nourishing Traditions advice. I hadn't found Sally Fallon to be crazy, but I do tend to get pulled in by rigid thinking and take it on...maybe that's what's happened here. I'm ordering Nina Planck's book to see if that feels more nurturing.

Thanks for your honesty and willingess to not-know!


Tarot cards said...

Hmm Well I was just searching on Google for some Tarot readings of some Tarot reader
and just came across your blog, generally I just only visit blogs and retrieve my required
information but this time the useful information that you posted in this post compelled me
to reply here and appreciate your good work. I just bookmarked your blog