Let’s talk about Food.
We grew up on hamburger helper, kraft dinner and hot dogs, iceberg lettuce with ranch dressing, and chocolate milk. Although uber amounts of junk food and soda were not in our diet, aside from the odd bag of bugles or can of cheese balls, our diet growing up represented that of many North Americans eating a highly processed food diet, and a family just doing their best with the knowledge they had.
From the comforts and ease of the Standard North American Diet, we were very quickly launched into the other side of the spectrum, Raw Veganism, where the common kitchen counter items were juicers, trays of wheatgrass, jars of growing sprouts, and soaking nuts, seeds, and grains. This sudden turn in our diet was a shift made by our father, who at the time, was undergoing intensive alternative healing, including that of a raw food diet and lifestyle. We jumped on board in support of his healing journey and embraced the lifestyle fully as we watched him get well on living food and wheatgrass.
Reflecting on what seemed like a miracle at the time, we can see now that there is massive benefit in eating an array of colors and varieties across the fruit and vegetable plane, highly concentrated nutrients that are alive and enzyme rich, that the deep green chlorophyll in wheatgrass and sea vegetables changes the blood composition, detoxifies the organs, and adds alkalinity to the body. We also appreciate that it is not only the super nutritious foods you bring into your world, but the letting go of highly processed food, fried food, sugar, alcohol, gluten, and conventional dairy and meat products, to inspire change in the body. On top of this, there is the emotional release of stressors in your life, and the practice of sitting quietly with yourself, moving your body in a mindful and awareness oriented way, and in general creating a more positive and heart centered environment inside and out.
We had the opportunity to experience the center in which our father began his healing. 20 years old at the time, we spent 3 weeks in detox ourselves and a total of 3 months in the educational side of the raw food program. During our time at The Hippocrates Health Institute, where we were at first very reluctant to be there (after we were told we had to to use an enema bag daily and do wheatgrass implants through the “back door”), our world was rocked and our understanding of the mind body connection was born. Within our group, we watched a sick 90 something year old lady roll in on a wheelchair, and leave dancing on her feet, we witnessed a young man with diagnosed schizophrenia learn to speak about what he was feeling in a clear way and manage his symptoms and behaviors through diet and therapy sessions, and we also watched in horror and amazement as an 80 year old woman released repressed and forgotten childhood experiences of being molested, while breaking down and crying her eyes out in front of our entire group. You can bet we were all crying and also feeling the dense weight of what she had just released. Though these are some of the more prominent memories, we too had our own different experiences in healing and transformation; feeling physically light, healthy and in control of our health, clear minded and introspective, and most of all we felt like we had walked into another realm and were learning a new way of being in the world.
The raw food diet and lifestyle stuck to us for another 3 months or so after leaving Hippocrates, but it wasn’t easy. Once you are outside of the bubble where everything is created for you, green juice and wheatgrass are readily available, sprouts grown, and there are no other temptations, it is actually quite a challenging diet to maintain all of the time. It always made for interesting conversations, however, as we brought along our raw food dishes of soaked black rice salads, marinated and stuffed mushrooms, sprouts, raw “sushi”, and the best, “nut cheese” to our family and friend gatherings. Our people were polite. :)
Fast forward 10 years or so and we will have bounced between Vegan, Vegetarian, and Pesca-Vegetarian diets. Once we had moved to Turks and Caicos, and specifically, the small private island, Ambergris Cay, in which our father was developing at that time, eating fish became reasonable and practical. Now, not talking breaded fish fingers from a package, but the real deal; fresh caught fish off the iron shore, killed, cleaned, and cooked, personally. We likely wouldn't choose to do that again, but at the time it was sort of mandatory and also pretty empowering. There is really no better way to eat fish than if you DIY the whole damn process.
So, what is our food philosophy now? What diet do we follow in our 30’s? What wisdom have we gained from living in all of these different realms of foodism?
Well, for one, the food world we are in now is massively misleading, entangled in corporate greed, and even the so called “health foods” that are out there have jumped on this band wagon of luring the consumer in through clever marketing and a spattering of health claims that may or may not be backed up with factual science. It seems there is an argument for and an argument against every single food out there. It’s confusing for the best of us.
We believe in good listening skills. We all have the answer to what does and does not agree with our own biodynamic, unique selves, but it demands a level of awareness, acknowledgement, and action to see it through.
So in short, become a conscious eater — know where your food is coming from and try to have some knowledge of the agricultural, farming practices, and transportation involved in getting it to you. Eat whole foods, and if possible organic, whole foods. Incorporate as much color as you can to really benefit from the spectrum of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are buried in the rich colors of the plant kingdom. Become an open minded consumer and eater - try new things, but don’t get caught in the diet craze or the “next best thing”, like….bullet proof coffee, quinoa, kale, chia, gluten free, paleo, etc… etc.. —- these are all wonderful things, perhaps not for everybody, but they are not the be all, end all. Find moderation in all things, except wholesome, healthy, plant based foods - go ahead and have loads of those. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, just listen to your body, and the journey will begin. Have FUN!
By: Laura Mensen