"How was your trip to San Francisco?" I asked my friend Melissa as we walked through a park in Phoenix, weaving through the homeless community who were convening as the shelters closed for the morning. "I heard the homeless population there is pretty interesting."
"Oh yes!" She shared a story of sitting on a patio for dinner one night. Their dinner was finished, leftovers wrapped and sitting on the table when a homeless man approached and asked to take her leftovers. Her friend snapped at the man, "Excuse me! That's ours!" My friend said, "Excuse me! That is mine and if he wants it, he can have it." Her friend was thoroughly confused. Melissa explained that they were on vacation and probably wouldn't even get to eat it. The man was obviously hungry and needed to eat, so her decision was easy. This story brought me back to a question I had been pondering for awhile: What if we treated food as an extension of our health, as precious as our eyesight or hearing?
Over my lifetime, I have experienced malnutrition and undernourishment on many levels, from poverty to lifestyle decisions. I have been a health coach, personal trainer, and a community advocate in a food desert. Food has been something that brings people together, served as a salve, a crutch, an obstacle and, even as medicine.
What is food? Is it something created in a laboratory, created for convenience or maximum nutrition, as I have heard the reasoning for GMO food. Is it something that is grown from the ground or raised by farmer? Is it something prepared by a chef? Is it something in between all of this?
Your relationship with food is significant. Change it and you change your health immensely. For starters, the way you view food would shift. We take food for granted. Try growing your food sometime. Learn about the influence of weather, insects, time, and water. When was the last time you really tasted what you ate? Where did it hit your taste buds? How did it smell? How did it look? Consider, even if only for a moment: Who grows your food? Who transports it? Who sells it? What's in it?
Food is not just food. Cook. Make a sincere effort. It does not have to be perfect or fancy to nourish you. The simplest of recipes can be the most delicious. Sautéed kale with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and fresh cracked pepper can be exquisite. Add garlic, sun dried tomatoes, and asiago cheese and you just transitioned into a whole new realm. Start small. Experiment and discover your own unique taste and be willing to fail. My best friend still reminds me that my all time worst dish is pancakes while I make a killer salad and eggs.
Food is sensual. As much as the taste, the smell and texture are important. Think of a peach -- soft and fuzzy with multiple colors on the outside, soft, juicy and usually a bolder shade of orange on the inside, and if you get too close to the pit, a tad woody. Plus, peaches have a very distinct scent. A ripe peach may require the removal of it's juices from the chin, hands and forearms. Be willing to experience the sensuality of food. That requires slowing down and truly being present with the meal.
Try to take a week off from soda, sugar, salt, and processed foods. Replace it with a (hopefully locally grown) lean protein, whole grain, and fresh fruits and veggies. When you cut the chemicals out of the diet, your tastebuds begin to change. That's not all that changes. Notice how it tastes and feels in your mouth, how much energy you have an hour after each meal, how your clothes are fitting, and how your digestion has changed.
When your relationship to food changes, so does the attitude. You may find as you embrace food, you have a desire to share it with those who do not have access to food, such as my friend. Share a meal, share your leftovers, share your unused food with your compost pile, if there is no one to share with. The earth will gladly work its magic with turning it back into the nutrients necessary to grow more food. Just be willing to share.
Wendy's Sautéed Kale
1/8 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbs sun dried tomatoes
1/2 c. white or red wine
1 large bunch kale leaves, washed and chopped
1/2 c. shredded Asiago cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in medium sauté pan over medium high for a few minutes. Add garlic and cook till soft. Add kale for two minutes, stirring once. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add sun dried tomatoes. Add wine and cover. Cook until kale turns bright green. Remove from heat. Add cheese. Serve.
Wendy Reese is a lifestyle strategist who specializes in whole being, author, host of The Whole Being Zone and yoga teacher with 13 years of teaching experience. If you are ready to cut through the limitations that hold you back from being whole, try Wendy's complimentary 7 day lifestyle detox course at www.wholebeinginc.com/detox. Get regular Wendy Wisdom (and inspiration) on Twitter and Instagram @wholebeinginc