July 23, 2014

Eating Ourselves And The Planet To Death

Bon Appetit?

We are eating ourselves and the planet to death. A new relationship with food is required.

Thai meditation teacher Ajaan Fuang is someone I have learned from when it comes to my relationship with food. He was known for his wise words on many subjects, including concepts surrounding food and eating.

After a trip to America, one of his students asked him if he had had a chance to eat pizza while he was there. He mentioned that he had, and that it was very good. This surprised one of his students who had gone along on the trip.

"You ate only two bites," the student said. "We thought you didn't like it."

"Two bites were enough to fill me up," Fuang answered. "Why would you want me to eat more?"

Once a woman who had been studying with him for a short while decided to prepare some food to give to him. Wanting to make sure it would be something he liked, she asked him straight out, "What kind of food do you like?"

I love his answer: "Food that's within reach."

Fuang was very familiar with the problems our stomachs get us into.

"We human beings have long tongues, he said. "You sit around and suddenly your tongue flicks out to sea: You want to eat seafood. Then it flicks around the world: You want to eat foreign cuisine.

He also knew the solution - "You have to train your tongue and shrink it down to size."

Even before eating became an entertainment for the masses he was advising anyone that would sincerely listen, "When you eat, keep your mind on your breath, and contemplate why you're eating. If you're eating simply for the taste of the food, then what you eat can harm you."

Training our tongues and shrinking them down to size will go a long way toward changing our relationship with food and restoring health on Earth. Besides, in these days of rapidly increasing food prices, who can actually afford to eat recreationally?


  1. My husband and I were raised in the 60's when it was common practice for parents and teachers to tell kids that they couldn't leave the table until they finished everything on their plate or tray, thus we learned that being stuffed was how you should feel after a meal. We raised our daughter differently and she is lucky to have a little switch in her brain that tells her when she's had enough to eat and she won't eat another bite after that. She's remained slim and trim, but unfortunately my husband and I both still feel compelled finish her leftovers. :-/

    1. Clamco,

      I am not sure what is wrong with stopping when feeling full, and saving the rest for later. Leftovers are my favourite meal.

  2. this is what's now called "mindful eating" -- eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full. Don't eat anything you don't love, and pay attention to your body the whole time you're eating, and turn off the damned TV during meals! I've learned mindful eating as part of my eating disorder treatment and it's been very helpful to me. I have a much better relationship with food than I did before, and I eat less. Wonderful post!

    1. I.D.H.,

      Good suggestions for eating and for mindfulness in general. TV viewing while eating or in the bedroom are counterproductive. Glad you have established a healthy relationship with food. Eating less is better for our bodies and bank accounts.

  3. I haven't got a copy of the Tao next to me right now, but from memory one of the lines says 'too many tastes dull the senses'. It's a challenge for people to get the appetite back under control as we've all been exposed to 'too many tastes', in the form of foreign foods, fast foods etc... It's hard to then go back to simple fare.

    I used to wonder how people managed in a little cottage like mine with it's little kitchen, then I realised that there was not such a variety of food available when the house was built, and some of their food would have been plucked straight from the garden. I'm endeavouring to get back to a simple diet more in line with what my ancestors ate (minus the meat), and including fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs and honey from my back yard. To me it makes so much sense. I' lucky to have enough garden to play around with this idea :)


    1. Madeleine,

      This is just another example of more being less - more food results in less healthfulness.

      Linda and I have a very basic, whole food diet that is super simple. We know what we like and what is good for us, and are so content with what we eat that we rarely eat outside our normal routine.

      Some may find our diet 'boring' or 'plain', but it works and keeps things predictable and simple. We are eating to live, not living to eat.

      Your cottage and kitchen sound wonderful, and we like minus the meat.

    2. Anonymous7/24/2014

      So I think a post is in order on your plain old boring meal plans. I'm now in charge of cooking and want to find simple "go to" meals that are good for you, frugal and healthful. Nothing fancy or spicy for us, so where do I start?

    3. Miss Marla,

      I have been considering writing more about food and cooking for a while. Perhaps now is a good time to get started. We don't do fancy, but we do like it spicy. But any recipe can be made less spicy and still be good.

      Thank you for getting me thinking about this important topic again.


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