EATING WELL IN KANSAS CITY - September 2019
The Sacred Journey to Eating Well
By Sandra Silva, J.D.
Befitting the theme of this Evolving issue, Sacred Journeys, I share my journey as I pondered the following question, “How the heck am I going to write an article about Eating Well in Kansas City and join it with the theme of Sacred Journey?” I needed an idea.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines sacred as "being dedicated or set apart for service or worship, worthy of religious veneration, holy, entitled to reverence and respect, of or relating to religion, not secular or profane, highly valued and important, i.e. a sacred responsibility."
That was a start. However, I am aware that nothing is as pure as this definition suggests. In our daily lives we try to reconcile the tension among concepts that are presented as having to be only one or the other, never both. Regardless, many times we live in the space of paradox or the in-between. I remembered the words of The Very Reverend Brian G. Grantz at a wedding when he said, “Love lives in the space between the sublime and the ridiculous, between poetry and prose, between art and science, between the divine and the mundane. Love lives in the space between claiming our highest calling and doing the dishes.” I felt hopeful that I was onto something and turned to the next word.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary was again helpful defining journey as "travel from one place to another, such as a trip; as passage from one place to another, such as a journey from youth to maturity or a journey through time.”
Further, I recalled the words of Dan Millman in his book The Peaceful Warrior, “The journey is what brings us happiness, not the destination.” How often in my life had I struggled with circumstances or relationships only to finally remember it was about the process, not merely a solution? And to also recognize that while I had to explore the tensions that presented themselves, I also had within me a sense of grounded knowing from the onset, reminiscent of T.S. Eliot’s words in Little Gidding. Elliot reminds us, “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
I was feeling I had a shot at linking the thoughts thus offered with the notion of “eating well.” Whatever that was going to be, I knew it had to be out-of-the ordinary, i.e. not mundane and have a purpose or support a transformation. I also knew that it didn’t have to be linked to a specific faith tradition yet had to incorporate a spiritual dimension. There also had to be a paradoxical or counter-intuitive sense to this next step.
Deep breath in, deep breath out; invite the idea and YES! The focus of the article appeared, “The Sacred Journey of Fasting”: the benefits of not eating. Appreciation and a deep bow.
Fasting refers to the deliberate abstinence from food and drink for a set period of time; i.e. total abstinence from any and all calories. Typically allowed are water, green tea and black coffee. The set period of time can be intermittent periods of fasting and non-fasting within a 24-hour period, or one may elect to eat normally for five days and then fast for two days.
The notion of fasting has a rich history in religious traditions and is still practiced today. Most religious traditions support fasting as a method of purification, coming into closeness with God and as a way to enhance concentration during meditation or worship. Of the seven major traditions reviewed, fasting is associated with either phases of the moon, in preparation for specific feasts and holy days, or linked to the calendar with fasting practiced on specific days each month. One of the longest periods of fasting is Ramadan (Muslin) that calls for fasting beginning at dawn and ending at sunset for an entire month.
Intermittent fasting has recently come into its own with significant research setting out its potential benefits. Some benefits can be experienced after fasting for twelve to sixteen hours. Dr. Stephen D. Anton led a group of researchers in Silver Springs, Maryland, who published their work, Flipping the Metabolic Switch: Understanding and Applying the Health Benefits of Fasting. At the twelve to sixteen hour mark is when liver glycogen stores are depleted, and fatty acids are mobilized.
Not only are some benefits almost immediate, the overall health benefits are broad and have the potential to extend not only quality of life but longevity as well. One of the most readily observable benefits of fasting is weight loss. All things being equal, including a nutrient rich diet, weight loss is experienced without any other changes in lifestyle when intermittent fasting is introduced.
There also exists a plethora of research indicating that fasting lowers cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, increases insulin sensitivity and enables the body to metabolize fat and glucose quicker than with other diets, which in turn reduces important risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.
My writer’s journey is now complete. While this article often times ends with a recipe, today I’ll simply leave it to the reader to savor your favorite water, cup of green tea, or mug of coffee. Enjoy your fasting journey! Perhaps it will be a highly valued and important passage akin to a sacred journey.
Sandra Silva, J.D. is the Store Manager of GreenAcres Market in the Village at Briarcliff. Sandra has a deep commitment to healing and healthy eating. She and her staff are available to speak at community gatherings, small or large. Contact Sandra at the Market, 816-746-0010 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good health! www.greenacres.com