Food Rules

Yeah – I like titles that have several meanings or are playful. ๐Ÿ™‚

We’re not all built the same. A suitable menu for one person can be bad news for another. For some, a strict vegetarian approach is suitable. For others, such a diet would lead to serious issues over time. Dietary decisions should not be based on a spiritual or ethical belief but rather on the needs of your specific body. Then you’ll have a suitable platform for spiritual development.

Sure – you can point to all kinds of examples of spiritual teachers recommending a “pure” diet for practitioners. Perhaps celibacy or certain clothing or behaviors too. And there are lots of food militants out there driven by ethics and such.

But denying your body what it thrives on is going to create internal conflict rather than growth. Rose Rosetree gave an example of a group of vegans. The diet was not having a positive effect on any of them, but it varied in what ways. While they were proud of their choice, their bodies where not.

I’m not suggesting veganism is a bad thing. In fact, I’ve written several articles on the subject on my other blog, including recent science. What I am saying is that our choices around dairy, eggs, meat, and so forth should be based on physiology, not concepts.

To promote ethics and quality, your best bet is using your purchasing power rather than your body.

It can sometimes be useful to have an appropriate fast or go on a specific diet to address something. Food can be used therapeutically. But long term, you need a varied menu that suits your body type, even if it doesn’t match your philosophy. And by “body type” I don’t mean blood type or metabolic type or other thing you get from a quiz in a book or on a website. That’s about as useful as reading your sun sign horoscope.

If I seem to be ranting a little, it’s because I’ve seen plenty of examples of people with chronic issues created by following beliefs they’re unwilling to let go of.

How do you find out what’s best to eat? The simple answer is to pay attention to your body (not just taste buds) and how it responds to food. That may take some learning and discrimination. Food can be tricky for many of us. We pick up many subconscious ideas and habits around food at a very early age. Dirt is bad. Sweets are reward. Food soothes my emotions. Meals are when people fight. And so forth.

Science has been making strides towards diet and lifestyle recommendations based on our genetics and other factors. But that’s still early yet. ย 

If this is an area in which you struggle, one option is research with Rose Rosetree. She has a service called Soul Thrill. For this, she reads how your energy physiology responds to different choices – in this case food groups. She can note what your physiology wants and what conflicts you may have energetically to those choices.

For example, when we did this, she found a subconscious driver towards dietary asceticism from past lives that was conflicting with what my body needed. I’ve been a monk in several recent lifetimes but didn’t realize these influences where still at play. Making it conscious helped resolve the conflict. And that helped make the body’s needs more obvious. A few menu changes made a surprising difference.

Remember that awakening is about liberation. This includes not just liberation from the constraints of the ego, but also from our experiences, our emotions, and all the conceptual baggage that has limited us, sometimes over lifetimes.

What is food for you? Liberating? Or constraining? A limitation or a joy?

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28 Responses to Food Rules

  1. As someone who had an awakening and then developed ME and tried many many food therapies on the healing path I can recommend the approach found in the TCM approach where the Energetics of food has been mapped against the specific actions on the energy meridians in the body. I found this very revealing and complementary to using food as medicine and for optimum vitality. There is a wall chart called the energetics of food by Daverick which shows this map. It’s great to have that in the kitchen. For those acutely aware in the body it is really an outer map of our instinctive knowledge.

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Milo
      Thanks for sharing. I’ve studied Ayurveda and it has a similar dosha impact of foods. They get into best time of day, season, and so forth as well.

      Having a decent framework for understanding food influences is good but keep in mind it’s still generic. How a given food will impact your specific physiology may not always follow the charts. We’re all a little unique.

  2. Sarah says:

    Great topic, David!

    It can be tricky for some people to discern between “what the body is asking for” and “what I’m craving (as a result of those subconscious habits and patterns/my taste buds)”, though, no?

    I play with this as my go-to example for what it means to trust oneself, one’s body, one’s intuition.

    In any case, I don’t think it can be over-emphasized how important it is not to just follow fad diets for health reasons (physical or spiritual health), so thanks for this post!

    And Rose’s Thrill Your Soul research is such a help, yes!

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Sarah!
      Right – that was part of my point although you highlighted it differently.

      For myself, I had seen the impulses where inconsistent but hadn’t seen the conflict and was trending away from “what the body is asking for” without realizing it.

      I also have a tendency to crave sugar when I’m processing something but recognized that and use it as a flag to pay attention. Giving attention to what’s going on can help complete the processing more quickly and smoothly.


  3. Michael says:

    Hi David!

    Great article!!!!

    I would add (form what i have seen) that Body typing Systems can be of great help in the beginning if!! one uses them to get some mental framework and does not become extreme about them especially if one has not encountered this topic before. But after some early education they need to be dropped for one to come really to ones own body.

    with love

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Michael
      Well – I’ve tried various typing systems over the years out of curiosity. Some are reasonable, some rather lame. They did not give consistent advice and some of it was wonky.

      I have found learning about your Ayurvedic dosha is quite helpful – assuming the test used has enough questions. Even better is getting a pulse reading.

      But yes, getting some idea of the general type we have, breaking some diet stereotypes, then getting to know the body we have can be a reasonable progression.

  4. Amaryllis says:

    Thank you David, wonderful post! My personal experience is in harmony with what you are saying; listen to your body as the foremost authority on what and when to eat, and rude good health (generally speaking!) will be given unto thee.

    I think some people mis-hear this as, ‘eat whatever you want’, skipping the step where you really slow down and learn to ‘hear’ your body from the inside, unmediated by concepts.

    Interesting to hear of your previous proclivity towards monkish asceticism, based on previous lives. I felt a flutter of resonance, having long wondered where my own tendency towards that comes from (not saying that it is the case for me too, but it is an interesting possible explanation).

    Regarding the concept of ‘purity’ in any ‘spiritual’ context, I am not quite clear on what it means (as you say, it is used in so many contradictory ways). Is it fair to say that purity is found in thoughts, words, deeds and substances that promote harmony (rather than its opposite) in the human/subtle system? Or is that too simplistic?

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Amaryllis
      Those of us on a dedicated spiritual path will have tended to have lots of past history at this. And thus may have picked up some baggage around core beliefs, etc.

      In some traditions, certain foods are considered impure and should not be eaten. Beef for Hindus. Pork for Jews. Many eastern-based traditions these days recommend a vegetarian diet. Anything else is rated “impure”.

      Purity is found in all those areas but the purity needed for inner clarity for awakening is more about purity in the deeper arenas. That is something you get more from deep practices and darshan than diet.

      Energetically, healing, culturing gratitude and such help.

      In other words, purity is an effect clearing, much as clean clothes are the result of washing. (laughs)

      Purity is associated with clarity, light, and non-resistance. Harmony could be said to be the effect of purity and balance.

      And funnily enough, our attitudes about food and some of those subtle conflicts can have more impact than what you ate. Heavy food can be great for grounding or sugar for processing purification.

      People tend to focus a little to much on the superficial and on rules.

      • Amaryllis says:

        Thanks David :).

        “our attitudes about food and some of those subtle conflicts can have more impact than what you ate. Heavy food can be great for grounding or sugar for processing purification.”

        Yes, I have noticed that. Some days are just peanut butter toast days, and many days are chocolate days; & those foods seem like the most healing substances in the world, in just the ‘right’ amount. Strangely enough, by giving myself the freedom to eat what I want, over-eating has disappeared โ€ฆ

        I realise that I don’t agree with something I said before, about good health following listening to inner wisdom. Mainly this is my experience, but also sometimes present are strange, seemingly random digestive issues that have no obvious cause. I take this as a correction to my (ex)-certainty that good nutrition solves all ills โ€ฆ looks like another belief bites the dust ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Davidya says:

          Right – noticing what we need and just enjoying that.

          Yes, there are a few things that lead to over-eating. The big one is signals from things other than the body. Inner musts, emotional resistance, conflict, trying to fill a void, etc.

          Sugar can also throw off the bodies intelligence and it’s rather prevalent in the modern diet. Yet it can also support release.

          It is broadly true that health – physical, emotional and mental – comes from balance and inner wisdom. But, yes there are all kinds of dynamics at play. For example the digestion is run by prana which can be disturbed a number of ways. Purification can cause various side effects when being released. Some healthy foods are not good in combination. And so forth.

          Experience will bring more wisdom. And life will bring more change – then what worked before may stop working. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. celeste says:

    And now I must add my take on this. First I love the article and it is so appropriate now as I see so many of my friends with a lack of energy doing what they feel is “right”.

    Being a nurse for 40 years, I have to bring in the medical background. Do whatever you feel is the right diet and then get your cholesterol levels, fasting glucose levels and,hemoglobin A1c levels and see if your body is doing well. So many people (I being one) feel that their genetics is strong (both sides of the family live to 100). When I found out I had high cholesterol, pre diabetic and I am not overweight, I looked at what I am doing seriously. Too many carbs is easy eating vegetarian. I approached my Ayurvedic doctor who gave me some new herbs that lowered my cholesterol and glucose, I increased my exercise which has helped.

    Please get cholesterol and glucose levels done yearly. There are health fairs that it can be done for free. Most health insurance will pay for it yearly.

    Two of my favorite gurus have diabetes one just had quadruple bypass surgery, she is younger than me and once again not overweight and vegetarian, she is surrounded by doctors and has panchakarma by Dr. Lad regularly.


    • Davidya says:

      Hi Celeste
      Agreed. It’s very common in the western diet to be eating too high a carb load. A little inflammation and we get cholesterol gumming up the works, even if we eat only “healthy” foods. Vegetarians also often use carbs (fibre) to feel satiated too.

      Similarly, ease and convenience has made us so sedentary. You don’t even have to get up to change the channel or answer the phone.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

  6. Celeste, I especially appreciate your wise comments here (although I’ve read with interest ALL the conversation on this topic of such interest to spiritual seekers).

    When I facilitate that kind of research Davidya mentioned, that Thrill Your Soul Aura Reading, it becomes easier to tell the difference between the appeal of a choice (Like making today “Chocolate Day”) because it feels good emotionally, or the use of self-authority feels good spiritually, versus making a choice that will actually nurture the body.

    • Davidya says:

      Agreed Rose. It can be nice to have a “day off” where we soothe the emotions or mind. But day-to-day and ongoing, we have to be careful not to drift into adaptations that may soothe the feelings but bog the body.

      Better to heal the feelings and take care of the body.

    • Amaryllis says:

      Yes, I think the proof that there is so much unclear energy and control around food culturally is that it’s a fascinating topic for nearly everyone. Getting a blood test done yearly and comparing results is a wonderful, easy way to keep track of what’s going on in the body. Making any rules about food, like making a certain day of the week ‘chocolate day’ seems to go in the opposite direction of tuning into the body, but having the freedom to eat chocolate when it’s a good fit, is something I wish for all people.

      • Davidya says:

        I agree, Amaryllis
        The key though is being conscious of what is driving chocolate, for example. If we’re eating it to nourish the body in some way, great. Sometimes sweets are great for purification, for example.

        But if we’re ignoring the body to meet other needs, then it can be more problematic. We may be using a workaround or means of avoidance related to suppressed emotions, for example. In that case, there are better solutions.

        One of the signs of this? What Rose mentions below – the Yes but. This indicates information that conflicts with a story we tell that lets us handily explain away our behaviour rather than looking a what is here.

        But also, it can be deeply liberating when we let go of the shoulds and musts around so personal a thing as food.

        Lots of dynamics!

  7. In the absence of such research — and I recognize that it isn’t everybody’s cup of tea — or cocoa ๐Ÿ˜‰ — it is all the more important to get regular medical checkups and seek the expertise of the best health providers we can find.

    • Davidya says:

      I’m all for regular medical checkups and regular energy checkups. Practical directions for quality of life.

      My suggestions are not about getting to some future nirvana but living the best life right now.

  8. I hope every one of your readers, Davidya, paid especially close attention to this concluding statement from Celeste:

    “Two of my favorite gurus have diabetes one just had quadruple bypass surgery, she is younger than me and once again not overweight and vegetarian, she is surrounded by doctors and has panchakarma by Dr. Lad regularly.”

  9. It is all to easy for a food zealot (as many of us are or have been) (Self included) to read this practical wisdom and immediately think…

    Yes but.

    As in, “Yes, but that guru wasn’t as in-tune with herself as I have learned to be.”

    • Davidya says:

      Yeah, me too. Food as soother too.

      Worse, I’ve seen people labeled “impure” or told they must not be following the teaching if they have any health or other issues. (cringe)

  10. Aren’t there some words that can apply so vividly to relationships with food.


    Hey, I’ve been there. I’ve been there. I’ve been there. Gotta love Earth School!

  11. Or, come to think of it, these words can also apply to one’s relationship with what you, David, referred to as “The Teaching.”

    I’ve been there, too. Haha.

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Rose
      Yeah – it’s not uncommon for people to go through a phase of being really keen on a new diet or teaching or whatever.

      And then the reality sets in. Discrimination time.

      The key then is not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  12. Cathie says:

    I agree with this in principle although it can be hard sometimes to discern what the body thrives on, as opposed to merely surviving. It can also be hard to distinguish between food addictions and more genuine promptings. And, while I’m not sure if we have always been like this or whether it is a transitional phase in our evolution, humans do seem to have an overwhelming need to turn everything into a religion, whether it is dietary rules, “science”, political views or denial of the non-physical. Two thoughts I would like to offer. First, some of our most powerful fellow mammals are pure vegans.You can be pure vegan and still be radiantly healthy. Take a bison. (They do however have the foresight to accept nature’s help by fermenting their food and allowing their microbial co-dependents to manufacture any necessary additional nutrients.) Which leads to my second thought: I may not necessarily know what is best for my body on this particular day or in this particular place, but “Nature” (or the larger ecosystem that I inhabit) does. I’ve observed over the years that as I’ve established an ever deeper relationship with the land where I live I’ve become part of a mutually supportive ecosystem. There are sometimes new arrivals – some would call them “weeds” – and I’ve learnt to consider these carefully because invariably they either bring some nutrient or “medicine” I happen to need or they embody a lesson of some kind that I needed to learn. (Or both.) I think plants (or animals, although I tend more to the vegetarian side myself) that have grown in your own environment may well prove to be what your body and spirit most needs, and fortified in this way the body may do quite well even on junk food if need be.

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Cathie
      As discussed in comments, the first step is often getting “typed,” to find out what your general body style is. For that I recommend Ayurveda. As we shift to a diet that supports the physiology we have, the signals get clearer and we can favour what works for us better.
      Complicating the issue is old food dynamics and karma.
      Refined sugar is probably the worst for throwing us off and its near ubiquitous in the western diet. The body also asks for it when we’re stressed or purifying but there are healthier ways of getting a boost.
      (laughs) yes on religion. The identified ego is insecure and seeks certainty. So it latches on to things it can “believe” in and screens out everything else. Cognitive bias.
      On Veganism, that has become very popular but not everyone is suited to it – especially a raw emphasis. Many in the west have strong Vata which is best soothed with warm cooked food. That said, most westerners eat far more meat than they need so lightening up there can be helpful.
      On the flip side, I’ve known long term vegetarians whose health improved after introducing weekly chicken or fish.
      On “weeds”, a friend is a plant intuitive. He observed and demonstrated how nature is in balance. For every poison, it’s antidote is within a few feet. And yes, plants will arise to fulfill a need.
      I have noticed that at some point post-awakening, a number of people have dropped all food rules (along with all shoulds and musts). They simply eat what the body wants and enjoy. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Thanks for sharing. Life is a wondrous thing

  13. Cathie says:

    Life is indeed a wondrous – and multifarious -experience! I think the take home is, as you suggest, that there are no rules. Each person is different. As the study referenced in this much too long article also suggests:

    The effects of karma on metabolism is not something that had ever occurred to me although it makes perfect sense. But karma can be transcended. Rather like one’s metabolism can change – and does – along with food choices.

    Vegan is an impossibly broad term I think. But I agree that for many people accustomed to a traditional “Western” diet, raw can be a challenge. I would tend to attribute this to the type of gut bacteria that have become prevalent with a diet over-reliant on processed food. But you can modify your gut bacteria through your food choices over time and I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules about raw/cooked etc. Some foods tend to be healthier raw, some release more nutrients cooked, some acquire more nutrients when fermented… And different people respond differently to specific foods, even within, say, a “vata” profile.

    And yes, for some meat of one sort or another is helpful, either on an occasional basis or regularly. We appear to have evolved as omnivores, not herbivores, and there is some science suggesting that meat eating contributed to the development of the large human brain. But I wonder whether we are now transitioning into a rather different phase of development? One that will see us gradually veer away from meat-eating.

    There is a larger question though: the degree and quality of life in food. Raw and fermented foods are live food, cooked food is not. That is not to say that cooked food is bad. But that it may not be enough on its own. Equally important to my mind, though, is how the food was produced. Does meat from an animal that has been raised humanely and in a fully natural environment affect us differently from, say, a crate-raised calf, or farmed fish fed artificial diets and kept in highly constricted and artificial environments? You can grow food “organically” but still be engaged in highly manipulative and artificial practices. Or you can grow it in a way that is not destructive of the environment and in fact enhances the environment’s well-being. (Paul Gautschi in the PNW demonstrates this quite well, drawing on principles he has observed in nature.) Does this affect what we gain from such foods in more subtle ways? (And can contribute to the wider “environment”, both seen and unseen, in return.) Does it affect our sensitivity and ability to feel empathy? To perceive more subtly and with greater intelligence in the true sense of that word? Does it affect our own capacity to evolve further on this planet?

    Unless we begin to value other life expressions for more than merely their utility or novelty we may never find out the answers to these questions.

    There may be no food rules per se, but the manner in which humans produce food matters greatly I would suggest in the larger scheme of things. It is perhaps the most fundamental question facing us at this point. We can change external energy sources into less polluting more sustainable forms but none of this will matter if we do not change how we value Life in the larger sense.

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Cathie
      Yes, karma can be transcended but it still must be experienced. The question is if we act it out in the world or resolve it energetically.
      You may want to explore the Ayurvedic model of food. For example:

      In that model, foods have certain qualities. Do those qualities support our own qualities or cause excess or imbalance?
      I agree going from a western diet into a raw diet is challenging – in multiple ways, including the gut biome. But there is also the question of balance. Raw food may have more nutrients but they may be harder to digest. If they also have qualities that create imbalance, then it’s not an ideal solution.
      It wouldn’t surprise me if we transition into a better relationship with our food sources, with our bodies, and with the environment. But this will take time and education. Sustainability has become far more prominent in recent years, for example.
      The quality of life in food is known as prana or chi. We can learn to feel that, such as when shopping. Cooking doesn’t destroy the life in food if its done properly. It can make it more accessible too as cooking can make for easier digestion. This is well understood in many traditional cultures, including Ayurveda.
      For example, the life and nutrients in many grains are not accessible unless it’s cooked.
      And yes, an animals experience of life is passed into its body both physically and energetically. When we consume that, we have to digest both. It’s not even all that subtle – an animal dying in fear passes that on to us.
      Our sensitivity and subtle perception are a somewhat different process. They can be affected by the food we eat but are more affected by refinement and grounding in presence. If the latter is solid, the body can process more with less impact. (hence the falling away of rules)
      I’ve observed in many circles that there is too much emphasis on superficial “purity” in ways that lead to rigidity rather than opening. Enjoying the food we’re eating is much more important. Worrying it might be imperfect has a greater impact than the imperfections themselves. This is because our inner state when eating has a greater impact than the foods we eat.
      That said, it is valuable to make moderate changes in quality and to learn what our body thrives with, recognizing it’s needs will change.
      As we discover our more universal nature, we begin to directly recognize our connection with all things. Then we’re more inclined to take care of the whole. As long as we’re identified with a personal me, we’ll be stuck in how it’s about me. That’s the fundamental issue with the world today that leads to all the other issues.
      As more people are making this shift, the collective will pull everyone along. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Big topics…

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