Wait a Moment! Listen to your foods whisper.

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Food therapy is a tool that makes a direct connection between how we feel and what we eat, between mood and food. Health guidelines would have us believe that eating well is primarily about nutrition. Not true! Eating well is primarily about preparing the right food for how you happen to be feeling.
Food therapy helps to learn how to eat or how to eat better.

Foods contain edible philosophies of life, to which we may be seeking to get close by doing that most direct and understandable of things: eating. We are ingesting physically, but also trying to take into our souls the psychological nutrients we intuit. We want food to bolster certain sides of our natures and compensate for certain weaknesses of spirit. That is what makes eating more than just fuelling up and restoring the body. It's also about rebalancing our misshapen souls.

Let's sum up what food does for us at a psychological level:

1. Food rebalances us

All of us are a little unbalanced in some way. We are too intellectual or too emotional, too masculine or too feminine, too calm or too excitable. The food we love is frequently something that compensates us for a lack: it counterbalances us. When we are moved by a food, it may be because it contains a concentrated dose of qualities we need more of in our lives. The food we call tasty gives vital clues as to what is missing in our psyches, not just our stomachs. It is in the power of food to help us be more rounded versions of ourselves.



2. Food reconnects us with important but currently elusive parts of ourselves

We are complex, layered beings. Not every part of us that matters is close to the surface at any time. We have too much history and so much going on, we lose sight of it. So one's more playful side may get buried. Or the capacity to be awestruck and quietly, but deeply moved by simple things may get neglected (but not destroyed) in the normal demands of daily life. The intense evocative powers of certain foods makes them powerful conduits for helpful memories and associations. The right food can provide access to neglected psychological regions. It might be that one needs to eat fish and chips brought from a street stand to be linked, internally, to one's eight-year-old self and to recover some of the freshness and thrill of existence one had at that point.

3. Food can help us to change our lives

Foods are bearers of philosophies (be kinder, remember sweetness, learn courage...). When we are trying to change our lives (and we should quite often), food can play a role. Certainly we need to surround ourselves with other things, books which pull us in the right directions, friends, work, holiday destinations... But food has something to contribute to this effort at inner reformation as well.
It isn't simply a case of 'going on a diet', as if the only thing one ever needed to change about one's life was how heavy one was. We might ask food to help us on a mission to lead a less cluttered life, or to connect more with others, or to be more engaged with one's own country... How we eat backs up ambitions for how we'd like to be.

4. Cooking as a route to individuation 

In our own lives, it always starts with someone else giving us the food they think we'd like. They often get it wrong. For long periods, we're eating stuff that doesn't make us happy, that just keeps us going in the barest way. Part of becoming an 'individual', as opposed to merely existing, is learning how to arrange bits of the outer world around us in sympathy with our own internal worlds. Learning how to cook has a big role to play in this, for it betokens a commitment to aligning what goes in our bodies with our true beliefs and hopes. No longer are we merely fed by the world, and passively ingest whatever it serves up, we learn to define what we need and ensure we know ourselves how to secure it.


5. Food is an act of communication

Not all of us are very good with words. We want to get ourselves across, but stumble. We'd like to express gratitude to someone, or show them more complex parts of ourselves. We'd like them to know about our imagination, our dexterity, or our commitment to dignified simplicity. But what it can be hard to express with words, one can get across via food at the table. Our penne with fresh basil may be an essay on the love we feel for someone, the grilled mushrooms may be a way to say, in the deepest sense, welcome home, the roast chicken may be a plea for greater harmony in the family, the mango sorbet served with squares of black chocolate externalises a vision of utopia. Like music, food is extraordinarily direct. It can say the important things without having to go through the bore of language.

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