Food as a Spiritual Practice by Kori Leigh

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I've been loving exploring all different types of foods these last couple months. Working with Kori has taught me that nutrition is more than calories in vs calories out & the size of your clothing. It's about understand your own individual body, what it needs, & treating it divinely. It's about wholistic foods prepared in a way that supports & encourages our growth as humans. I want to take this week to celebrate the many different options we have in Calgary that help us to do this. We're starting it off with this beautifully written piece from Kori about why food should be treated as a spiritual practice, something I strongly believe in. We have interviews with four local small businesses sharing their views on nutrition and why they started this endeavour. Finally, we're going to finish off the week with an amazing giveaway! Make sure you're following us on Instagram for the details. 

FOOD AS A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE

By: Kori Leigh -- holistic nutritionist & certified life coach

When I am asked to write about Nutrition, I can not help but separate the world of personal evolution, spirituality and health. For me food is a practice, it is a deep a spiritual form of connection to our beautiful planet, to our unique bodies and to our fellow human beings. 

I have always loved the mind-body connection and for me this fascination has always presented itself in the form of how food interacts in our bodies. I love (and believe) that Mother Earth has given us all that we need. I adore the fact that plants hold powerful medicine. I am intrigued at the communication that comes from Mother Earth's gifts. I am humbled at the intricacy of our humans bodies; they baffle me, amaze me and keep me in a constant state of awe. We have not even come close to comprehending the infinite complexity of our human bodies, let alone how whole-foods interact in our bodies. It is a miracle -- a yet-to-be-understood miracle -- and for that I find deep reverence. 

It was not always this way for me. 

Although I have always been fascinated with food and the mind-body connection, there were many moons that passed in my journey where I was at complete war with my human body. I was at war with what I looked like and I was in a deep and constant battle with the food I put into my mouth and how I perceived its effects. My conceptual idea of self did not match reality. My vision was blurred by self-loathing and this, of course, affected everything I did and all choices I made. I didn't have reverence for food then the way I do now. The scale was a battle field and food was a weapon of self-mass-destruction. I was in a state of obsessive self-hatred. I counted calories, skipped whole foods, binged and starved, at the worst time I found myself trying to purge all that I had eaten. Thankfully, those were failed attempts.

I did not understand the medicine of food nor did I comprehend the concept of mindfulness or living a fully glorious life. I battled in eating disorders for years. Even after I had begun emerging on the other side; letting go of self-hate and body image distortion and acceptance of self love and eating food for fuel; it was years before I truly started to use food as a spiritual practice. 

It was not until I entered into my version of hell-on-earth that I started to find another way with food. I dove into the world of Holistic Nutrition and it was here that I found faith. We all practice faith in different ways, for me, food and Mother Earth is it. 

Other than my bout of body image issues and eating disorders that lasted about 4 years; I had been relatively healthy until this point. I ate my vegetables and I quite frankly knew more than most about navigating my way in health. It was my passion and I had spent both my time in education and in career learning it and practicing it.  However I hated cooking, I was eating mostly vegetarian (which i would learn is not the best idea for my biochemically unique make-up) and I was eating a plethora of foods that make me sick in which I had no idea there effects. 

In the year of studying holistic nutrition I was also actively engaged in some major life changes, including trying to navigate my way through the darkest nights of my soul. It was in this period of time that I discovered the Light Cellar and the world of herbs. My Grammy was big into this world… holistic foods and herbs and crafting potions and mixtures in the kitchen… I always wanted to be like her --  kinda of witchy, kinda healing, kinda off-beat. I suppose, looking back, my hours spent in the Light Cellar, my time trudging through the soul-swamp and my holistic studies was really the birthing point of my ‘inner witch’. You see, it was hours spent in The Light Cellar learning about herbs that I started to really unlock what made me tick. It was there that I found my kinda people, and I was able to start to really practice showing up as who I really am. I was fascinated beyond belief at plants. It was here that I would start my personal study into medicinal mushrooms, herbs, adaptogens, elixirs, tinctures and tonics. Each week I took home a new plant medicine and I spent my time researching it, worshiping it and learning how to craft into some kind of a potion that would aid in my evolution. 

I discovered that I had more power over my personal journey to wellness than I knew. I could use plants to specifically craft potions to support exactly where i was at physically, emotionally and spiritually. 

In school in these days I was blowing my mind with what I was learning, specifically in the world of digestion, gut health and allergies. This knowledge changed my life - legit. I learned my own food sensitivities and how they were manifesting for me. I was experience anxiety, insomnia, depression, brain fog, scratching and cravings all because of the food allergens I was eating. Of course our state of health is multi-faceted and there were other contributing factors to my unstable mental state in those days; but this was a major key player to unlock my person potential for wellness. 

I learned the power of my biochemically unique make up. I learned that for me gluten, dairy and eggs do not manifest wellness. I learned the power of fermented foods and gut health. I became equipped with the knowledge of how healthy fats, including Omega 3 EFA’s affect our brain and Nervous System. I added quality meats, including bone broth into my diet which in turn added to the stabilization of my moods. I discovered the appropriate supplements for my unique body chemistry and I learned of herbs and rituals to aid in the recovery of a life long battle with insomnia. And I learned that the kitchen was kind of like my church. I learned that I had an incredible power over my health and wellness. What I put into my body actually matters. I ended the war with my body and in the process I fell in a deep state of reverence and love for Mother Earth… and for my human anatomy. 

What one human needs is not what all humans need. We are biochemically unique and it is so important that we learn to respect the communication from our bodies for it speaks to us through symptoms. Our bodies are insanely divine and smart; if we learn to listen and surrender into her language she will in fact guide us to what we need.  

Food is a practice for me and so it is truly impossible for me to separate our overall intuition and evolution from the foods that we put into our mouths. I have learned the deepest respect for plants, Mother Earth and the ritual of nourishing our bodies. 

We live in a world that is more complex than we can ever imagine, I choose to stay humble and connected with plant medicine. What is your choice of magic?

 “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” -Hippocrates