We always make a decision. I type these words and you will decide what they mean to you. It doesn’t have to be deliberate. We are conditioned if we aren’t instead mindful. It will happen one way or another.
Think about the day after Halloween when you were a child. The crash that comes after the sugar high. And now think about experiencing that, even in a diluted form every day. Odds are? You already do.
The traditional western diet has come under fire in recent years, and for good reason. Portion sizes have increased, and additives fill up space that nutrients once occupied in our foods. Beyond weight gain and heart health, the western diet has resulted in an increase in addictive behaviors and a generally fogged mind.
Most of the carbohydrates in a typical diet, like white flour and sugar, are associated with a burst of energy. The body metabolizes sugars quickly, flooding the bloodstream with easily accessible calories. However, that quickness works against the brain in the long run, as the energy disappears as fast as it was released.
The addiction comes about when the sugar disappears – the sugar crash. Because the brain grows accustomed to getting its energy from sweet foods, the brain and stomach together cause cravings for the same kinds of sugars. And that’s where the feedback loop starts. Continuing to feed the craving only ensures that the craving will return, and that the body will never have access to sugars that are released slowly, like the sugars in whole wheat flour.
When the body is focused on feeding itself constantly, refueling its energy stores and satisfying the physiological craving for nutrients it’s not getting, it’s hard to concentrate on anything else. That’s why it’s important to forge a stronger bond with your own body by emphasizing nutrition and healthier patterns of eating, beyond food itself.
Most world religions emphasize a change in diet as a component of spirituality. Catholics take the Eucharist at mass; Jews eat unleavened bread for Passover. During Ramadan, Muslims are only allowed to eat after the sun has set. Islam very literally incorporates intermittent fasting into its follower’s diet.
Studies by the National Institute of Aging have supported that intermittent fasting, a diet “in which you eat hardly anything at all and then have periods when you eat as much as you want,” helps to support brain function by increasing synaptic plasticity. Synaptic plasticity refers to the brain’s ability to produce new neurons. New neurons improve the brain’s ability to heal itself and transmit information more quickly.
As Islam and other religions and philosophies have demonstrated – Hippocrates, Socrates, and Plato are all known to have engaged in fasting – the way we eat is just as important as what we eat in order to improve mental clarity. A better satisfied stomach leads to an increase in the body’s ability to process the outside world, causing better intuition and spiritual practice.
Caitlin Stripes is a contributor for TimetoCleanse.com, a respected clean living, healthy lifestyle and detox website.(Bold, italicized text is input from One World class participants. Thank you!)