Food has become one of my passions, and I have set out to educate others on the importance of connecting with the food you eat. It is each bite of food which your body–hopefully–digests and absorbs that becomes your cells of tomorrow. I have recently read or heard a number of sources commenting that eating is our most intimate connection with our environment. Elizabeth Lipski, PhD, author of Digestive Wellness made this remark at a presentation the other night. Dr. Cate Shanahan states in her book Deep Nutrition.

Our genes make their day-to-day decisions based on chemical information they receive from the food we eat, information encoded in our food and carried from that food item’s original source, a microenvironment of land or sea. In that sense, food is less like a fuel and more like a language conveying information from the outside world.

A follow-up Dr. Cate quote from her Real food Summit interview:

So the positive light that I like to put things in for my patients is to see food, not as a source of toxins to avoid, but as a source of vital information created by the earth that comes from the earth. And the chemistry of every cell in your body is expecting its information and has the biology that can transform that information into the living, breathing, moving tissue that is a healthy human body.

So the question I pose is: if this is such an intimate act, why do we often treat it with such disregard? Why do we allow “dirty partners” such as GMO’s, MSG, chemicals, aspartame and more to be a part of this interaction? Do you know the source of any of the foods you ingest?

If not, or if you are uncertain about the concept of connecting with your food, then I challenge you to investigate further. Start becoming aware of what is in the foods you eat. Learn about where your food comes from. Read labels, know ingredients, understand processes. Educate yourself. And then pay attention to how these foods, or as Michael Pollan describes many of them, food-like substances, make you feel. Once you know what you put in your mouth, and can “hear” your body’s response to it, you can determine if that item is a worthy partner in the intimate dance which build’s your cells, your health, your future.

Not sure where to start? Dr. Cate went on to describe 5 simple questions to help you determine whether a food is worth sharing your DNA with:

1. What is the source? What does the place the food comes from look like? Is it one of beauty, like rolling fields or the tranquil ocean? Or is it one of industrialized despair, such as an over crowded feedlot?

2. Is there a tradition behind its use? Has this been used by traditional societies? A classic example is olive oil. There’s olive oil in Italy and Greece going back thousands and thousands of years.

3. Does this food violate the principle of wholeness?
Is it a “whole food” or has it been processed into something entirely different? Have parts or nutrients been removed or added, or is its nutrition still naturally intact?

4. Is this something synthesized? Read the labels–does it sound like something you can whip up in your kitchen easily with whole ingredients, or does it sound like it was brewed in a chemistry lab?

5. Is this something I am allergic to? Some people have clear immune responses to foods; others will not so easily make the connection between a sensitivity or allergy to a food and the symptoms they are experiencing. However, by learning more about the first 4 questions, many people naturally find they are already more in tune with their bodies and can fine tune their diet from there. If you find yourself reacting to even whole, natural foods, you may need a more individualized healing protocol.

Let’s make sure our intimate relationships are ones that lift us up, heal us, give us strength…and this includes our food. Whether you like to think about it or not, every bite you put in your mouth becomes YOU. Show yourself some love and choose to think about it!