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Food and Emotions

by Montse Bradford(more info)

listed in food, originally published in issue 104 - October 2004

A very complex subject to understand in depth, as there are many reasons why human beings are attached to, or crave certain foods, which can create imbalances at many levels of our being.

If we explore the effects that certain food cravings have on us, we could look at the issue with a new perspective – eyes of freedom, rather than victim's eyes. It could be a physical, emotional or mental reason that makes us eat a certain food, to feel a very short-term need to fill the gap, but we know that it is not a long-term solution.

Food and emotions are very much linked together, already from the moment we are born, as food is given to us for comfort, protection and support: our mother's milk. We keep growing and our family and society reward us with treats, especially sweets, if we are well behaved, if, for example, we achieve good marks at school, at Christmas or Easter, etc… Or punishing us by not allowing a treat if we misbehave.

We keep growing and, as adults, we repeat this pattern with ourselves; later we wonder why we are so attached to particular foods when we feel certain ways. We grow in life, totally connected with the thought that certain foods will create a sense of wellbeing.

Unfortunately, this is not the case as, if the need or lack is at emotional level, then physical food will not heal, fill that emptiness or give us the solution. In fact the opposite; it will generate a sense of guilt when eating in large quantities or unconsciously. We need emotional 'tools and solutions', not an overdose of chocolate or alcohol.

We need to use solutions that have the same level of vibration as the real cause of our problems.

Sometimes, our need for this or that food comes simply because of improper physical eating, i.e. because our daily meals are not well balanced. So we are craving that crunchy biscuit (as our meal is lacking in crunchy texture) or this extremely refined sugar treat (as we don't supply our body with good quality slow-releasing carbohydrates) or maybe crisps (if we are lacking richness or protein in our last meal).

Let's look simply at our physical body's needs for:

1 Good quality carbohydrates – To supply constant energy and vitality and to nourish our nervous system. A good source is whole cereal grains;

2 Proteins and oils – To help with body building, body repair and temperature. Sometimes, we over-dose with lots of highly saturated animal protein and fats or in other cases we underdose. Eating a small amount of protein at each meal is important. The variety is endless, including fish, pulses, nuts and seeds;

3 Minerals – Help us to regulate our blood pH, as well as nourishing our nervous system, muscles, bones, teeth, etc… Instead of just taking supplements, why don't we start including good quality mineral foods in our daily meals with organic land vegetables, sea vegetables and sea salt in cooking?

4 Vitamins – To promote metabolic processes, using a variety of organic vegetables and fruits will supply our vitamin needs, as well as providing a good source of fibre;

5 Frequency of eating – Sometimes we skip meals, but it will always catch up with us by our overdoing it later on in the day. Having three good nourishing meals a day will generate a sense of wellbeing and stability. People who snack often (because they don't have time for cooking) are the ones totally attached to food all day with snacks!

6 Textures – We should integrate different textures in our meals, as usually this is the missing factor which causes cravings between meals. Textures such as: crunchy, soft, dry and wet;

7 Flavours – Each flavour will nourish different organs in our body. If we miss some, we may crave them between meals. Flavours: Naturally SWEET (from whole grains, vegetables and fruits) balancing our solar plexus (stomach, spleen and pancreas) the main one. And balancing with small doses of: sour (balancing our liver and gall bladder) pungent (for our lungs and large intestine) salty (tonifying our kidneys and bladder) and bitter (harmonizing our heart and small intestine);

8 Vital Energy – We need freshly cooked food daily. If we regularly eat leftovers, we will have cravings as we are not supplying our body what it needs: LIFE, FRESHNESS & ENERGY;

9 COOKING WITH LOVE. Our main ingredient in our kitchen. If we cook with negative thoughts or emotions, imagine what the cooking pot is going to be full of!

These are only a few points to consider, or to check if we are regularly meeting our body's needs.

We can get confused, between NEEDS and WANTS. We can very easily meet both, using natural ingredients that our body needs and cooking in ways that satisfy us, creating variety, fun and health.

Autumn Comfort Food – Tofu and Vegetable Stew

• 1 pack tofu (fresh or smoked), cut into 2cm cubes
• 2 onions, peeled and diced small
• 2 turnips and 2 carrots, medium diced
• 1 cup of cauliflower, cut into florets
• 1/2 cup green peas
• 2 bay leaves

• 2 Tblsp olive oil
• 1 Tblsp sweet white miso
• a pinch of sea salt
• freshly ground black pepper (optional)
• freshly chopped basil or parsley to garnish

Sauté the onions with the olive oil and a pinch of sea salt, uncovered for 10 minutes until soft and translucent;

Add the tofu, vegetables (except peas), bay leaves and water to cover 1/3 of the vegetables volume. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes;

Boil the peas with a pinch of sea salt for 5-7 minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain;

Dilute the white miso with some cooking liquid and add to the stew, with the peas and black pepper. Simmer for two minutes;

Garnish with basil or parsley and serve with your favourite crusty bread or rice;

To make a richer tasting dish, you can pan fry the tofu in olive oil before adding to the stew.


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About Montse Bradford

Montse Bradford, originally from Barcelona, Spain, has lived in England since 1978. She is a professionally qualified healer member of the two leading healing organizations in the UK and a certified transpersonal psychology counsellor. Montse has been studying natural approaches to healthy eating and cooking since 1978 and has directed several cooking schools as well as a residential centre in Sussex. She now directs and teaches at her own cooking schools in Barcelona and Bath. Montse is the author of several books, Cooking with Sea Vegetables, which has been translated into five languages, and four titles in her popular Healthy Wholefood Cooking Series: Healthy Eating /Simple Cooking; Cooking with Vegetarian Protein; Vegetarian Classics; and Cooking with Sea Vegetables. Two more books, in Spanish are now being published, The Alchemy of Cooking and In Our Lives and Cooking with Vegetarian Proteins. She can be contacted at The Natural Cookery School & Life Energetics, Tel: 01963 240 641;;

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