Feeding the Body, Nourishing the Soul - A Review

Today I'm reviewing Feeding the Body, Nourishing the Soul by Deborah Kensten.

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Generally I like to start out with a disclaimer. I am an contemporary witch.  I look for the connection between magic and science without the need to search for a creator. I receive no compensation for these reviews and all my links are standard Amazon links and not affiliate links. I am a practicing photo reader and have spent the last 16 years honing my craft.  I offer personal readings by request and have a strong online history that boasts over 412,000 views.

As this was sent to me as an e-Book I'll not be reviewing the physical book and instead going directly into the review of the material covered by the author.

I was a bit skeptical at first beginning this book. I sometimes find that when modern science begins to address things like prana or the metaphysical in general it usually ends in "magic" being labeled as bunk.  I was pleasantly surprised in this book.  The author takes a look at several different groups and shows how religion or spiritually applies to not only to the preparation of food but also our relationship to it.  She takes us through several traditions, as well as ethnic groups to fully digest, pardon the pun, the impact of food on our spiritual being.

She address the strength in ritual preparations that take place in the Jewish and Catholic communities as well as the spirituality of the meals prepared by Africans taken as slaves to the United States. within the chapter African Roots: American Soul Food, the section "Making Do",  really connected with me.  Living in rural North Carolina and growing up poor many of the food listed were staples in my grandmother's household.  We had many meals of tomatoes and rice or liver-pudding and rice. We made do with what we had, and what we had was pretty limited.  As I grew into an adult and looked back on these times, I remember my grandmother rationing butter and using saccharine because sugar was scarce.

The next section, "Cooking from the Feel", resonates with me.  I can usually tell just by smelling something if its "right" or not. While not subjugated to illiteracy by institutionalized racism, the majority of our recipes were shared by watching and doing.  I watched my grandmother make biscuits every day for years until I finally attempted them myself. And before her passing on, I was able to stand at the table beside her and make them with her.  On several occasions, as I entered the house she would yell in her 97 year old voice, "Rhonda Renee, get in here and make these biscuits. I've been waiting on you!"  Now, some 6 years later, I can still get a whiff of something and tell you if it's just right.

The author goes on to talk about Yogic Nutrition from India.  For me, a student of yoga and with a background in witchcraft, I believe that what you send out comes back to you times three.  If you send out negative, it comes back to you.  If you put in negativity into your food, your life or being it all comes back to you. I believe that the everything round us is made of energy.  That includes our food. For me this is what Empathetic Eating is all about.  I covered this in an article I wrote in February. I've also noticed when I'm in a mood or my husband doesn't feel just right, his dishes aren't as flavorful. To me, this is adding prana, or love to the dish.  The author goes on to tell us about how savoring food with your eyes first with the following quote:

"The food an natural colors are often arranged beautifully, so the eyes appreciated it first.  Then the nose smells the food and digestion has already begun." 

Making food appealing to the eyes is something I strive for. I believe that if you can look at it and see the beauty, you're taking that beauty into your body and becoming one with it.  For me that is the essence of soul food. You'll see and appreciate the life-force contained within.  Of all the eating styles in the book the Indian style is the most I am aligned with.

The author goes on to tell us about the Islamic meal traditions which include fasting as well as Buddhisms look at mindful meals.  She then journeys to China and Japan to explore food, folklore and tea. She reaches into the Native American vision quest and the wedding feasts of Hinduism showing us how teach culture connects the act of preparing and consuming food with our spiritual well-being.

Two important chapters are 11 & 12 - Enlightened Eating and The Starving Spirit take the reader into the mindset of what can happen to a person who has a disconnect between food and spirit. From a personal level, as a person with an eating disorder, body dysphoria and morbid obesity, I can tell you that when you have lost that connection to good food you suffer.  Filling my body with highly processed foods and an animal product rich diet, I felt ever bit of pain those animals endured.  I felt the pain of the chemicals in my body through Fibromyalgia.  I felt the sickness of pre-diabetes with each bit of garbage that passed through my lips.  My body ached from pain feeling each death blow dealt to the animals in the slaughterhouses that fed my addition.

Understanding the connection between the food and the mind is tricky. The author dedicates an entire chapter on understanding how each food type can work with or against our emotions. Leading us to crave foods that are good for us or foods that will break down our bodies.  That emotional connection is something I struggled with for a long time.  I'm happy to say that today I'm able to move past that and look at the food as sustenance, while thoroughly enjoying dishes I make with the same zeal, excitement and satisfaction of a young girl watching her grandma make biscuits.

Overall this is a fantastic book for those interested in understanding the spiritual connection we all have to food.  I love the way the author included the scientific background and included personal stories to fully demonstrate the power and the connection of food between human beings. As a foodie myself, I believe that those interested in learning more about how we as a race have similar practices related to food, will enjoy this book.

If you're interested in learning more about my journey you can find it here.  If you'd like to join me in learning new recipes and the science around Whole Food Plant Based living you can find my page here.

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