Food dominates our list of priorities on any given day. Even when we are swamped with calls and commitments, our stomach gargles and whines until we give in and toss some spinach to it … or a burger or whatever’s in the bag you’re handed at the drive-through window. How much nutritional value are we contributing to our physical health by eating the processed chicken and sugar-infused drinks? Perhaps an even more important question is: “Are we feeding our brains the same junk we’re feeding our bodies?”
“You are what you eat,” my grandma always said, even as she scooped the cream pie from the oven. Guess she thought I would get sweeter than I already was. She was the dessert queen from orange cookies to strawberry-rhubarb pie; our house always smelled like a bakery. Grandpa would get involved when ice cream was called for. He’d crank that wooden barrel full of ice and sugar until it purred like we did once we were handed a cup.
Grandma was always canning and pickling foods. They lasted longer she said. When grandma cooked pickled beets, the house stunk so bad, I’d remain outside with the mosquitoes longer than normal just to avoid going inside. She told me beets were good for me, but I wouldn’t even try them. Anything that smelled that bad couldn’t be good for anyone.
Growing up, other than an occasional comment, not much emphasis was placed on nutrition, but the words “hunger” and “ambition” were synonymous and were used often when describing the drive that motivates people to live their dreams. I now realize that health means more than not catching the flu every time it comes around or just skipping a workout to watch my favorite show.
It means feeding all facets of my body, including mental and spiritual mindsets. After all, if our most fundamental desires are afforded no more importance than what we are shoving in our mouths, how can we be healthy to the core?
My diet today is balanced with protein and veggies and only sprinkled with a bit of indulgence — usually in the form of chocolate something. More Importantly, I feed my brain nourishing thoughts every hour, every day. I believe “We are what we THINK.”
The key is recognizing the hunger your brain alerts you to — such as when negativity takes control and you think things won’t work out or you aren’t capable of obtaining your dream job or removing yourself from a volatile relationship — and then provide fortifying mantras like, “I have everything I need” or “I am creative and resourceful.”
Allow yourself to feel the hunger so you know what you’re hungry for. Are you hungry for a dream you have denied yourself to even pursue? Are you hungry enough to let yourself feel the pain of rejection or failure when someone or something shanghais your dream? Are you willing to then nourish yourself with positive affirmations and truly feed your soul?
How hungry are you? Is the ache deep in your belly strong and convincing enough to brave the uncertain outcome?
I am hungry enough to eat a pickled beet, I say, placing my desires on an ornate platter and my faith where my mouth is.
Michele Zirkle Marcum is a native of Meigs County, Ohio, author of “Rain No Evil” and host of Life Speaks on AIR radio. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.