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The Missing Ingredient in All of Nutrition

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For many people today, the gold standard of healthy eating is a natural, organic, whole foods diet. And for sure, this is a fabulous standard to aim for. But it’s not always enough. You could still be missing this one particular key ingredient. You won’t find this missing ingredient on any nutrition labels, and it’s not commonly talked about, but without it, no meal is truly complete. Interested to know more? Then check out this new video from #IPEtv where Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating explains this mystery ingredient and how something that’s so easy to overlook can have a profound effect on our nutritional health.

YouTube video

Here is a transcript of this week’s video:

Greetings friends, this is Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.

Today’s Topic: The Missing Ingredient in All of Nutrition

An old Jewish folktale tells of a father and small son who built a lifelike dummy to scare the birds from their garden. The birds ignored the dummy and continued to eat the crops. Disappointed, the father surrendered the garden to the birds, but he still kept hope. He visited an old Rabbi on his deathbed and told him of their plight. The Rabbi said, “Here, take this,” and wrote something on a small scrap of paper. “On this paper is written the name of God. Place it in the dummy’s mouth and your garden will be saved.”

The boy dashed to the garden and placed the piece of paper in the dummy’s mouth. Instantly the dummy came to life. The birds scattered and the dummy jumped off its pole and began tending the garden with the skills of an expert farmer. The townspeople soon discovered the miraculous dummy could also build houses, plow fields, and even sing and dance. When approached with questions about the nature of life, the dummy spoke with great wisdom, softening the hardest hearts in the village.

But, alas, the townspeople grew lazy and wanted him to work rather than teach. They pulled at his arms and legs, saying, “Come, plow my fields”; “No, come fix my house”; “No, come mend our clothes.” In the scuffle the piece of paper with the name of God fell from the dummy’s mouth, and immediately he collapsed in a lifeless heap.

The most skilled craftsmen were summoned, but none could bring the dummy back to life. Then one of the villagers exclaimed, “Something is missing, some vital piece of the dummy must have fallen off as we wrestled with it.” The villagers searched, but all they could find was a scrap of paper with some gibberish on it, and they threw it back on the ground. Sadly, the little boy picked up the piece of paper, placed it in his pocket, and as he walked to the garden he heard the distant voices of the townspeople saying, “Something is missing…something is missing…”

Something is Missing

In my search for a coherent approach to nutrition amid all the conflicting theories, I realized that the missing ingredient in most dietary systems was a spiritual context, a way to see the sacredness and interconnectedness of all things. We are more than just a body, a tongue, and an assortment of nutritional requirements. We are a soul clothed in the elements of the earth, journeying in a realm where matter and spirit unite in human form. The body serves as a sacred vessel fashioned through millions of years of evolution to carry the spark of life, “the name of God,” as it were. Without that little piece of paper in our mouth, we are nothing more than a “dummy,” a lifeless collection of elements.

Food is not merely something we eat. It is a ceaseless reminder that we are mortal, earthbound, hungry, and in need. We are bound by a biological imperative that forever keeps us returning to the soil, plants, animals, and running waters for replenishment. Eating is life. Each time we eat, the soul continues its earthly journey. With every morsel of food swallowed, a voice within says, “I choose life. I choose to eat, for I yearn for something more.”

But what is something more?

The great twentieth-century thinker Aldous Huxley refers to a view of humanity called “the perennial philosophy,” which represents the collective wisdom of all the great spiritual traditions. According to the perennial philosophy, we are more than a body and more than a mind. We are of a spiritual source. From it we emerge at birth, and to it we return at death. And whenever the spiritual source seems a faint memory, we yearn for its presence. Some call this yearning “religion” or “faith,” others call it “the quest for happiness” or “inner peace.”

It is here in the spiritual realm that our journey into the mind of the eater begins. For beneath our nutritional theories, eating habits, and food obsessions, beneath our insecurities and embarrassment about the body, beneath any doubt as to the basic goodness of existence, there dwells within us a condition of wholeness born from the spiritual source. This is not a state of pristine perfection and eternal comfort where all problems disappear and we wallow in meditative mush. It is a condition of timeless identification with the Divine, where life and death, pleasure and pain, success and failure, happiness and discontent, are met with equal acceptance. It is a state of equanimity where we feel fully human, completely alive, and in love with life no matter what happens.

Our True Wholeness

According to the perennial philosophy, human beings are separated from the spiritual source for one reason alone: We believe we are separate. Each of us holds the false belief that “I am separate from all creation, I am alone, and I am not enough as I am.” Consequently, the state of wholeness exists only as a potential within us. And though it lies buried like a dormant seed, all beings instinctively intuit its existence. Our purpose in life is to rejoin the spiritual source and embody it here and now. This is the “something more” we continually seek.

With this perspective, nutrition can now be seen in a new light. Placed within a spiritual context, the ultimate goal of any dietary philosophy is to take us fully into the body, and beyond the body. That is, by taking us fully into the body our dietary system must enable us to experience the maximum physical benefits of food – good health, the delight of eating, and the fulfillment of nutrient needs.

By taking us fully beyond the body, our dietary philosophy must serve to remind us that we are feeding more than just a body. Nutrition not only keeps the body healthy and attractive, it maintains it as a vehicle in the service of the Divine. By nourishing the body with joy and reverence, we nourish the spark of life within the body.

And when the body yields to disease and decay (which no amount of vegetables or vitamins can prevent), we are left with the knowledge that good nutrition is important but can take us only so far. The deeper nourishment that sustains heart and soul is what ultimately matters most.

I hope this was helpful my friends. In the comments below, please let us know your thoughts. We love hearing from you and we read and respond to every comment!

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