Food for the Soul
It is your divine right as a human being to derive a sense of solace from what you eat. You are allowed to take comfort from food and not have to pay for it later. Not just allowed to—supposed to. You are not meant to be above desire for food,somehow capable of operating beyond spiritual and emotional hunger.
It’s also true that not every food can give you the support you’re seeking. Those doughnuts that smell like bliss at the bakery on your morning walk to work? You already know that while devouring one may give you a momentary sense of enjoyment,shutting off worry and despair as the refined sugar and fried fat overpower your brain,there will be a price to pay when you come off the high: a poor cholesterol reading at the doctor’s office,a strained waistband on your jeans,the feeling of being a little comatose for the rest of the day.
Certain foods,though—Holy Four foods,which come from the earth—have a whole host of benefits that go beyond physical nutrition. They can offer you a feeling of in-the-moment comfort and grounding,and they can also offer longer-term resolution you never knew possible. When you know how to unlock their secrets,these foods can even have an effect on the people around you—sometimes just by having them out on the kitchen counter during a difficult conversation!
That’s why in Part II of this book,you’ll find that each fruit,vegetable,herb,spice,and wild food has a segment on emotional benefits as well as a spiritual lesson. Feeding yourself isn’t an escape from higher-minded pursuits;when you bring the Holy Four into your life,it is part of enlightenment. Just think about the mysterious forces that encourage a seed in the dirt to one day produce a glowing red grape. Nothing beats taking that miracle into your body. God created these foods to nourish you in ways you never thought possible,and angels watch over them to enhance these crops that they know are vital to the future of the human race.
Each life-changing food has a special set of healing characteristics. Just like we all know that the vitamin C in orange juice is handy when you’re fighting a cold,there are foods for any manner of metaphysical ailments. There are fruits that prime us to find our true friends,vegetables that give us hope when we’re grieving,herbs and spices that help us cultivate self-worth,and wild foods that make good memories stick. These are not just abstract lessons that the foods have to teach us when we spend time thinking of them;these are properties that become a part of us when we ingest them. Like tools in a tool kit,we can reach for these different healing foods in our different times of need.
There are also soul-boosting secrets of all the Holy Four foods,like the unknown fact that some of the water they contain is specifically geared toward our emotional and spiritual health. Further,there are techniques you can employ to amplify the healing effects of what you eat. I’ll cover all that below. As you read the rest of this chapter and this book,then turn the last page and return “to the world,remember: Food is meant to be a joyful part of your life. Healthful eating isn’t meant to be an exercise in deprivation. We’re so used to reading articles on nutrition that talk solely about fiber and blood pressure and sodium levels that it can be easy not to realize: when you know the right foods to eat,and how to tap into their benefits,food can feed you on every level—and you deserve that.
FOOD AND FEELINGS
When it comes to food and feelings,there are two ends of the spectrum. On the one hand,we’ve got the traditional concept of comfort foods: macaroni and cheese,fried chicken,pie à la mode. We have a stressful day or week or month,and that club sandwich or cheeseburger or pizza feels like exactly the choice that will take the edge off. For some of us,there’s an element of addiction involved,a food-as-drug feeling,an out-of-control impulse to overeat. For others,it doesn’t go into binge-eating territory,and yet we still don’t feel so great afterward. In the moment,though,the smell of that cookie overpowers us,reminding us of that “safe,warm feeling of sitting at Grandma’s kitchen table as a child. And after the very grown-up phone call we just had to make about an aging parent’s health,we feel the need to indulge.
Then there’s the food-as-fuel approach to eating. On this end of the spectrum,we try to take all emotion out of mealtime and make decisions about what to feed ourselves based solely on nutritional content. We tell ourselves that it’s a form of enlightenment not to need any comfort from what we eat,and that our emotions are there to be felt and not numbed out in any way. It’s the mentality that drives people to shun snacks,spend hours without eating,and live off protein powders that taste like dirt. This viewpoint can veer into disordered eating when someone starts seeing her or his body in a negative light and restricting food to a point that causes stress. Food-as-fuel is also the approach that scares off a lot of curious onlookers. They want to eat healthier—they know they should eat healthier—and yet the idea of subsisting on carrot sticks alone takes all the enjoyment out of life.
I’m here to tell you that there’s a balance to be found between these two poles. There’s a secret element of the healing foods in this book that no one is currently tapping into,because no one knows about it yet. This is the key that can unlock healthy eating for you,the answer you’ve been waiting for about how to find a sense of both emo “tional comfort and spiritual fulfillment while simultaneously recovering and healing.
You know how there’s a huge difference between a plum and a prune? How you have to be careful not to leave lettuce out on the counter too long, or it will start to shrivel? And you know how droughts are one of the biggest threats to crops?
That’s all because the water content of produce is a huge part of what defines it. And while dehydrated foods have their place, the water that’s inside fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and wild foods possesses incredible healing qualities. Here’s a distinction science has yet to discover, though: These plant foods actually contain two different types of water. Each type is structured differently, with different information stored within, and a separate system for delivering its healing benefits to you. The water doesn’t all serve the same purpose, and it doesn’t all go to the same place when it enters the body.”
The first type of water that’s inside all fresh Holy Four foods is hydrobioactive water. This is the water that holds life-giving nutrients to support your physical health. It’s also the water that hydrates your cells better than any drink of plain water can. Hydrobioactive water—living water—is the reason people instinctively add a squeeze of lemon or cucumber slices to water, or reach for a coconut water or fresh juice or smoothie after a workout: because, like the name suggests, this water will replenish your body, feed your bloodstream, and keep you going.
Then there’s undiscovered cofactor water. This other form of living water contains information to help restore your soul and spirit, and to support your emotions. Inside of a fresh piece of produce, hydrobioactive water and cofactor water are side by side, held apart on a delicate cellular level, almost the way a honeycomb has walls dividing each of its tiny compartments. If a bear comes along and claws down a beehive, the honeycomb will break, and the honey will all run together. The same is true on a micro level when we bite into, say, an apple: The cell walls dividing hydrobioactive water “and cofactor water rupture, and the juice comes running together. Our bodies can still differentiate the two, though, and they put each to separate use.
However, this remains undiscovered by science, because when fruits and vegetables are under study in the lab, the tools used to take samples rupture the cell walls just like our teeth do. Even a minuscule syringe has this effect, so the water content of fruits and vegetables continues to be studied as one entity—and the spiritual side of food isn’t exactly a hot topic in medicine, so all we keep hearing about is physical nutrition. What would truly advance research is if scientists approached the study of water in fresh, living plant foods the way they do blood and lymph in the human body—separate and yet aligned.
The takeaway is that cofactor water is just as important as hydrobioactive water, because it contains trace minerals, mineral salts, enzymes, and phytochemicals that specifically feed you spiritually and emotionally. Keeping your soul alive is just as important as keeping your heart pumping, so it’s vital to understand that the living water in the Holy Four nourishes us on every level.
LIFE-ENHANCING FOOD RITUALS
The Holy Four foods are helping us out when we eat them, whether we know it or not. It is part of their purpose and mission to enhance all aspects of our lives, and they will go on doing that whether we wake up to it or not. However, there are specific steps you can take to enhance what they do for you, and to bring out their life-enhancing qualities.
Grow Your Own Healing Foods
Growing your own food can be the best thing you ever do for yourself—physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Gardening can be a transformative meditation. It’s a soul-healing, soul-purifying method of getting in touch with the Earthly Mother. And you no doubt already know that it’s great exercise, as well as a chance to access food at its freshest, keep chemicals off what you eat, and as you read about in the previous chapter, get critical elevated biotics into your system.
In addition to these amazing benefits, there’s a secret you won’t hear anywhere else: When you grow your own food, it grows for your specific needs. Each leaf of cilantro, each raspberry, each cucumber develops with your name written into it. ”
“When you plant a kale seed, the plant grows knowing exactly who you are and exactly what you need on every level. If you have an illness, the kale intuits what that illness is, even if you haven’t been able to find a diagnosis for your symptoms, or aren’t even aware that you’re ill. As you tend to the plant—watering it, feeding it, and weeding around it—the kale picks up on who you are, and it develops with the right blend of nutrients for your individual requirements. When you eventually pick those curly leaves and turn them into a salad, it becomes the most healing salad you could possibly eat, because it delivers tailor-made nutrition to your body.
The same is true of your needs on a soul level. If your soul is fractured, if you’re going through a difficult time, if you’re questioning your purpose on earth—the plants you cultivate pick up on it. They want to help you come out on the other side of your distress, so they grow with the right elements and energy to mend your emotions. Food that you grow for yourself will protect you with fierce devotion. Sometimes “we’re trying our absolute best to enjoy the present moment, yet memories of the bad times won’t let us relax. Often there isn’t an obvious resolution: We can’t always find the right listeners, the people who will truly hear our life stories and say exactly the right thing in response. We can’t always make amends with people from the past. What we can do is tend to these tiny seeds in the soil that become symbols of vitality, plants that want to thank us for tending to them by tending to us.
Say you’ve always suffered from feelings of seeming invisible to those around you, and you read in this book that potatoes help when you’re feeling trampled on. So in the spring, you plant some seed potatoes in your local community garden. During the months that you visit the plot, treating it to organic fertilizer, watering it when there hasn’t been rain, and keeping your eye out for beetles that could ruin the crop, the potato plants pick up on your struggles. Plants like these are your true listeners, your true friends. They sense the childhood experiences that first kicked off your sense of being ignored, “and the life events that followed in adulthood to cement your frustration. When the day finally comes that you can stick your shovel in the dirt to unearth your buried treasure, the meal you make at home with those steamed new potatoes will feed your soul like nothing else can—while going after the slight E. coli infection in your bowels that could turn into Crohn’s disease if not eradicated early. As you continue to cook with those potatoes in the weeks that follow, they’ll continue to protect your body from microscopic invaders and soothe those spiritual wounds. That is what I call the ultimate soul food.
Make Food Your Own
We can’t always grow our own food, whether because of climate, time and space constraints, or other reasons of impracticality. And when we buy food from the market or grocery store, we still want to receive its maximum healing benefit. The trouble is, the very same principle that makes food from your garden so individually beneficial for you means that food you don’t grow yourself has picked up other people’s energy.
“From the farm workers who planted the seeds and rootstock to those who tended the fields and orchards to the pickers to the shippers to the grocery store produce department employees to the shoppers who pawed through the food displays before you, a single peach or head of broccoli or sprig of rosemary has been in a lot of hands. It can pick up on all those people’s needs and gear itself toward their healing. To counteract those effects and make your food purchases your own, here are a few techniques that go far beyond preparing food with love and gratitude. These practices truly make what you eat the most beneficial it can be for your specific struggles, on both a body and soul level. While it’s best if you can do all three for your produce haul, just one of these techniques will have a powerful effect.
A few times a day, run your hands over your precious produce. The fruit ripening on the counter, the items sitting in the fridge—take a moment when you’re walking by to touch them, just as when walking by a beloved pet, you would connect and make contact.
Talk to your “your produce like the dear ones they are: “You were grown for me. We were meant to be together. There was just a delay in that process, and now we’re finally united.”
Before cutting into (or otherwise prepping and eating) a fruit, vegetable, herb, spice, or wild food, hold it in your hands for 30 seconds to give it the chance to attune to who you are and what you need.