You Are What You Eat

Posted: May 28th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Celiac, Fasting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on You Are What You Eat

You are what you eat.

As I adapt to life with celiac, I’ve noticed that every food I eat seems to somehow be in sharper focus than it was in the past. I am more acutely aware of the nature and quality of every morsel I place in my mouth. I’m aware that what I eat truly affects me to my core. As I reflect on this awareness I realize that this is true of all of us. At a very basic level, we actually do become what we eat. As we incorporate the food we consume into our body, we are simultaneously changed be it, for good or ill. I recently heard a story on NPR that exposed that reality. (The first is the shorter segment on All Things Considered. The second is the longer interview on Fresh Air.)  Take a moment to listen to the reports.

Why Do We Overeat?
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103862714

Mind Over (Food) Matter: Combating ‘Overeating’
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104068820

Former FDA Commissioner David Kessler has studied the food we eat, even dumpster diving behind restaurants, for clues to why we overeat. He has discovered that the food and presentation is designed to stimulate our hunger, to keep our bodies in a stimulated state. The more we consume, the more we desire to consume. The physical stimulus of fat, sugar, and salt actually conditions our minds, especially when melded with appealing visuals.  I believe this is a facet of the same reality I am discovering through celiac. We are not disconnected or separated from our bodies. As we eat, we are incorporating matter into our bodies. What and how we eat impacts all of us.

In this instance, the folk wisdom is right. You are what you eat.

That’s just particularly true for me. I know that a certain ubiquitous ingredient will poison rather than nourish me. But as I consider the above stories and survey my nation, is that not true of us all? Perhaps it’s not as clearly or sharply defined as it has become for me. But if we were really drawing nourishment at a deep level from what we eat, it seems to me that we would all be healthier than we are.

And I wonder if we still fasted together as Christians if we would not share some level of this awareness. Would fasting bring the connection between what we eat and who we are into sharper focus, especially as lived and experienced the fast as a community? Is this not at the heart of Christianity? We ritually eat the body and drink the blood of our Lord. You don’t get any more visceral than that. We consume God in order to transform our being. We swallow God in order to digest life.

Maybe it really does matter what we eat and how we eat it?