A brief discussion of my current food journey, wherein I have discovered that treating food as medicine is the key to a happy and healthy life.

A couple of years ago, I realized my attitude towards food and health was anything but nourishing, and I’ve been experimenting with intuitive eating and living ever since – digging deep to figure out what feels healthy and what my body is actually craving.

I’ve been going where my intuition takes me and allowing myself space to go at my own pace, adding bits and pieces to my life and keeping what works. In this journey towards health, I have prepared and eaten liver for the first time ever, developed an arsenal of herbal teas, started breast oiling for lymph stimulation, and incorporated movement and even intense floor-based dancing into my everyday life.

I am currently in the process of overhauling my relationship with food. So far, my experience has been a cycle of processed foods, body shame, and toxic “health foods”.

Lately, I’ve been researching ancestral foods from my lineage, the intergenerational impact of my grandmother’s malnourishment on my own metabolism, and the vast field of natural medicine and holistic eating and drinking. I long to feel nourished by the foods that I eat.

Food As Medicine

The more I read, cook, eat, and think about food and health, the more I believe they are inextricably woven together. Herbs and plants are here to be used. Our ancestors threw handfuls of various plants into their boiling pots – not just a bag full of baby spinach leaves. Our diets are limited despite the vast nature of our grocery stores, and we’ve lost the very soul of our eating. We pump ourselves full of synthetic medicines to assuage the symptoms of malnourishment when all we need to do is look to the land around us.

Perhaps it’s because COVID rewilded parts of the landscape, or perhaps it’s because I moved to Michigan and wildness is just more apparent here, but I am overwhelmed by the diversity of plants around me. It’s evident that we are wasting the vast majority of the actual resources that we have on this earth – simply because we have forgotten how to use them.

So I’ve been trying to incorporate natural foods and herbs into my diet (and life) more. I threw primrose seeds into a soup. I foraged dandelion roots and leaves for tea. I smoked mullein leaf just because I knew I could. I gathered sumac to mill into a spice. I’ve been braising meats/bones and making medicinal hot and sour soups for the past year. I’ve made significant changes and while I am nowhere near where I’d like to be, I know I am on the right path to creating a nourishing lifestyle.

Medicinal Teas

Teas have been a great window into herbalism for me. I started drinking dandelion tea to help detox my body on a whim, expecting to hate it. I was surprised to enjoy the flavor and the process of drinking a hot beverage. I’ve never been a coffee or tea drinker, but I enjoyed the ritual of sipping my dandelion tea each morning.

Eventually, I realized it probably wasn’t healthy to drink a detoxifying tea every single day so I tried other herbal teas. I enjoyed many of them though I never found one that just blew me away. My favorite was the sore throat soother which contained marshmallow root and licorice root.

I actually just used that tea to coat my husband’s digestive tract during a particularly nasty stomach bug. He was surprised how much that and the peppermint tea helped him, and seeing his response reminded me how potent these “simple” remedies can be.

Eat Nature. Move. Drink Water.

These are the things I tell myself every day. I don’t focus on trying to eat certain foods or deny myself certain things. I focus on nourishment. I focus on making nature a part of myself. For someone who spent my whole life trying to shrink down and hunger for nothing, this mindset shift has been transformational. As I have stopped trying to starve myself, I have learned how to feed my body and soul. I am learning the art of nourishing myself and those I love, and it is the most human and healing art we have.

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