Eating provides the opportunity for an intimate relationship with the earth through our bodies. Because we ingest thousands of pounds of food and drink over our life spans, it would be unreasonable to think that our relationship to food and eating doesn't impact our health.
Actually, every choice we make becomes who we are. For the most part, society cultivates eating with our heads — we analyze and intellectualize every food choice into its respective calories, macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals. But what if we let our bodies do the talking? What would our bodies say? What would they need from a nutritional perspective?
Many food and eating issues are intertwined with our ability to feel safe, trust, feel protected, and be grounded and present. Ancient traditions call these aspects of our nature the "root" part of us. Without a strong foundation in basic principles for survival like trust, safety, and security, you might imagine that we may not trust our own bodies' instincts about eating.
In fact, I have observed that most people are completely out of touch with their bodies. They aren't in the present moment, and in order to feel grounded, some people choose to eat in a way that makes them feel detached from their bodies, or fragmented. They get sleepy and fatigued.
Here are a few tips to promote a healthy ROOT:
1. Honor your body's instinct.
Because most people are out of touch with their bodies, it may be challenging to know when and what to eat. Typically, we ignore the body's cues rather than listening to our inner wisdom.
What language does your body use to tell you what to eat and when? Try listening to your body and observe its natural rhythm rather than your intellectually imposed rhythm. See if there are certain foods that your body instinctively needs by simply asking yourself what you need.
Practice trusting the response. Note whether some foods make you feel "grounded" or "ungrounded." How's your energy level after consuming certain foods? Develop a "safe place" within where you trust the messages you receive about your eating needs. Meditate and cultivate a relationship with that part within, including developing a practice of listening to its messages.
2. Engage in healthy social eating.
When we're born, we root ourselves through a community. We establish ourselves within the context of how we're supported by others around us. When we don't feel safe or supported by our community, we may not be comfortable eating in their company, or even being a part of their traditions.
As a result, social eating has the potential to be stressful. It may make us feel insecure, ungrounded, and unsupported in our eating.
Some strategies to overcome the fear involved may include creating your own new traditions or bringing a dish to add to the mix. Give some thought to the belief patterns about foods and eating that you inherited from your family, and decide whether these are still valid for you.
If they aren't, create new belief patterns and enforce them with your new way of eating. You may want to create a community of individuals with like-minded thoughts about eating to get together on a regular basis to share a meal.
3. Eat foods for grounding and stability.
There are three types of food that may help with the root aspect of our nature, because they create a sense of structure and grounding. First, protein-containing foods help our blood sugar to be stable, giving us a feeling of steady energy.
Animal proteins are particularly grounding since their origin is from some of the most grounded creatures — animals who are "sure-footed" with up to four feet on the Earth and in contact with their instinctual selves. Vegetable protein works perfectly for those who are vegetarian.
Second, mineral-dense foods impart the elements needed for structure and stability in the body. For example, calcium is needed for a strong skeleton. Iron is needed to ensure that the body can be properly oxygenated and able to function.
Lastly, root vegetables such as beets, rutabagas, and parsnips, grow deep within the earth, and contain insoluble fiber to help us with elimination and letting go of what we no longer need.