“You should know what’s being cooked in the kitchen, otherwise you might eat a forbidden food.” – African proverb
When Hippocrates first espoused that “we are what we eat”, very few in his time and fewer still in the succeeding years have truly appreciated his viewpoint. We all know food plays an important part in our lives, but to claim that it literally influences our physical, mental and even emotional well-being sounds sacrilegious to many. And that is because very few among us truly understand that the foods we eat literally influence our physical, mental and even emotional well-being.
In order to appreciate Hippocrates’ stance, you have to go back to the beginning of you. From your embryotic stage, every organ, bone, skin and hair were created from the nutrients in foods that your mother ate during her pregnancy. And then after you were born, you ate to help you to grow. As an adult, you still need to eat to enable the cells in your body to function. Your existence is supported by food.
We spend lots of resources trying to improve upon ourselves – from our intelligent quotient through to our emotional intelligence. It is understandable that we want to be better individuals, and thus the need to work on ourselves. Sadly, in this effort very little thought is given to the most important ingredient – the foods we eat. Outside a handful of people whose obsession with their physical looks pushes them to care about what they eat, the majority among us simply eat whatever we lay hands on. And we do that without a thought as to where the food we eat comes from; whether it is nutritionally sound, or whether it contains any harmful toxins or chemicals that could potentially prevent our bodies from functioning at an optimal level.
The scenario is more interesting when you consider that our schooling has taught us poor diets have been proven to be the cause of poor health conditions, while nutritious food choices not only contribute to optimal brain health but can actually be a tool for supporting and even improving cognition. This understanding of our human physiology means we need to take what we eat seriously. We need to be selective because it affects our health and subsequently our minds or intellect, as the adage goes. In a strict sense, what we eat defines who we are, what we feel and how we see our place in the world. When you think about what you eat, and where you eat most of the time, you get a good idea of the depth of your personality. Have you noticed how you perceive and actually relate to individuals who are selective of what they eat?
When it comes to who we are, we should not take ourselves for granted. In all honesty, we should be proactive rather than responsive. Caring about what we eat and making small changes in our diets can make a huge difference in our health and well-being. The French have two words which might help us appreciate how to go about our choices of food. The words are gourmand and gourmet. They both refer to a person who loves food, but the words have different connotations.
It is agreed that a gourmet is a connoisseur, while a gourmand is a keen consumer. In other words, a gourmet is one who cultivates a discriminating palate while enjoying the finer things in life, while the gourmand consumes just about anything that is given him or her. The gourmet focuses on quality while quantity is the object of the gourmand. Which of these two would you love as a partner, a colleague, a team-mate, and etcetera?
We need to understand that just because one likes the finer things in life, they do not automatically elevate a person to the status of a gourmet. No – but a gourmet is most likely to appreciate the finer things in life. It is interesting that our food choices affect our personalities, but they do. What we eat controls as much of our physical and mental functions as the brain in our heads. That is why it is important to have a discerning recognition of what you eat. Our foods affect our vitality and subsequently our attitudes. We eat so that we can become what we have eaten. When we eat junk food, we have an idea what we will become; and when we eat fine food, we are assured we will be transformed into finer individuals and make better choices about life. The ball is in your court…
Kodwo Brumpon is a management consultant and a life coach who inspires individuals, groups and corporate bodies to think and feel that which is true, and helps them to positively respond to that which is beautiful while nudging them to let goodness govern their actions. Comments, suggestions and requests should be sent to him at [email protected]