The Brahma Kumaris – the people behind all the Inner Space free meditation centres around our cities – are onto something. They don’t eat anything that hasn’t been prepared in their own kitchens.
When I first went to their beautiful Oxfordshire retreat centre, I found this concept interesting, and certainly the food – prepared consciously and with love in their own kitchen – tasted gorgeous and made me feel really well. But I thought: ‘Wow, this must be a pain in the arse to uphold. No eating out at restaurants. No quick shop sarnies or hot chocos. No Green&Blacks?!?!?! SMH.’
Fast forward 10 years, and I’m totally with the BKs. The longer I practice yoga (and the older I get!), the louder my body shouts about how it feels on a physical level of course, but increasingly on the subtler levels. I’ve become super-aware of the things that make my cells sing, and those that make me feel dead inside.
I started to notice a while ago that whenever I ate a packaged meal – even a ‘natural’ or ‘clean’ one – I would feel peevish/ depressed/ flat after eating it. My mood would spike, I’d get tired or spaced out, and disgruntled thoughts would come out to play.
Now, I love a Pret Superbowl as much as the next person, but whether the chef who made it was thinking about an argument with their girlfriend as they chopped the beets, or the food has travelled so far from its source only to be wrapped in plastic that it’s lost all of its joie de vivre, I don’t know. But a feeling of crossness will arise towards the end of, or very soon after eating, said meal. It’s an interesting experiment – stay very present with your emotions and inner landscapes as you eat a packaged salad or sandwich and see what happens.
Which is why, gratefully taking a leaf from the Brahma Kumaris, I take my meals with me when I leave the house. It’s a faff and requires planning, but it’s worth it. I know what’s gone into it – physical and subtle ingredients (love, rice, gratitude, kale, good intentions, sesame seeds) – and I know what I’ll get out of it (conscious nutrition and an even mood that stays light and level through the day).
Of course, that’s not always possible, so on the days where I’m caught short, I’ll buy my food and watch with interest the resulting flavour in mood. And, realistically, I don’t think I’ll ever give chocolate the hoof!
Here’s an excerpt from our KRI Level 2 Vitality & Stress training manual, p165:
What to Do About Stress and Food
So, the question then becomes: is it more stressful to prepare ‘slow food’ (whole grains and vegetables) or is it more stressful to consume ready-to-eat convenience foods? The answer is clear; yet how do we incorporate slow food into our routines so that they don’t add to our already overburdened stress load? Using a natural foods diet to stabilize blood sugar and hormone levels works. For the best bets in healthy eating, reduce total sugar consumption by reading labels and choosing packaged foods low in sugars. Better yet, concentrate on preparing whole foods with little refined sugar.
Best get cooking and haul out that lunchbox.
Sat nam x