An old Cherokee Indian chief was teaching his grandson about life.
“A fight is going on inside me,” he told the young boy, “a fight between two wolves.
One is evil, full of anger, sorrow, regret, greed, self-pity and false pride.
The other is good, full of joy, peace, love, humility, kindness and faith.”
“This same fight is going on inside of you, grandson…and inside of every other person on the face of this earth.”
The grandson ponders this for a moment and then asks, “Grandfather, which wolf will win?”
The old man smiled and simply said, “The one you feed.”
I love this story. It is one of the most pertinent stories for me currently as I embark on a different relationship with food. We all have a fight within us – right? Well the fight within me is often one of food. The well-worn path for me is one of living to eat, which for me brings about all these emotions – anger, sorrow, regret, greed, self-pity – as my life revolved around food and in particular, food that wasn’t all that healthy for me. People may have looked at what I ate and thought that there was no problem with it, but my body was telling me otherwise and so, I am making a conscious decision to listen to my body with an open heart rather than with my defenses up. I realize in a true, felt sense that my body is not actually an enemy, but my best friend telling me what it needs to continue on freely in this life.
I have had periods in my life previously where the wolf full of joy, peace, love, humility, kindness and faith has prevailed but there has always been something that has brought me back to feeding the other wolf and that seems to have been, unwise food choices. These choices have a ripple effect that effects every molecule in my body. I had never fathomed the depth of this effect until just recently when, after a few days of turning to chocolate for energy to keep up with my little ones throughout the day, I noticed I was more tired than usual. I was feeling down and not that interested in much at all. It was increasingly hard for me to be mindful, and my mind was mainly focused on that food. Crazy how quickly these addictive thought patterns surfaced, just after a few days of a repeated behavior.
I have been experimenting with food and the effects it has had on my body for a little while now, focusing on sugar, mainly unrefined, and seeing how it is related to my emotions, health, sleep patterns, energy levels, etc. We all know that sugar is a toxin and too much of it can have a detrimental effect on our health, but what about unrefined sugar? It is still a sugar – right? I became interested in this when my youngest was only a few months old. Breastfeeding her, she got all the nutrients I put into my body and all the other stuff as well. I noticed that if I had a non-refined sugar treat once a day for a week, I ended up with ulcers in my mouth, a sore throat and runny nose, and she was ill as well. This happened regularly until she got a bit older and perhaps built up a tolerance in her body.
With the “living to eat” philosophy obviously not working for my body or my mind, I am interested in experimenting with the concept of “eat to live” where I am eating to feed my body the fuel it needs to thrive. What does that mean for me? Well, I aim to eat nutrient packed foods – vegetables, different proteins (not just meats), savory snacks and fresh fruits, mainly homemade foods, and I think the main word is ‘fresh’. I can’t remember how many times I have had a potato chip and noticed how unclean and bathed in oil and salt my mouth felt yet then overriding that feeling with the thought, “oh but they taste so good” so that I could keep eating them… my conditioning that chips are a tasty treat was so strong that the action of eating them superseded the initial sensation my body had towards them – how powerful our mind is!
I am interested in the effect this will have on my thoughts, my emotions, my mood, my energy levels and my relationships. It will be fascinating to see if this “eating to live” turns into another addictive behavior or whether I can let go and be mindful of what my body needs on a regular basis. Watch this space with kindness and acceptance as I attempt to feed the good wolf.