Natural Cures: Food
Part of living the life of a Witch is being aware of yourself and in working towards personal growth. It is easy to get caught up in whatever crisis you have going on, and there are spells galore to help you find love, do better in school, and other intangible things. Despite being a nature religion which places itself in the body, it is easy to get sidetracked by all the abstract stuff. Witches who enjoy healing others will use elaborate concoctions of rare and potent herbs to cause change in the body. But you don’t have to be into all the esoteric stuff to take good care of yourself. Indeed, the basics of self-care through food are an important and easy way to manifest the change we desire.
Keeping up with our societies fast-paced lifestyle is not easy. We run around like crazy and then ask the Gods for the energy to get through the day (and forget to pour a libation of coffee or RedBull–no wonder it doesn’t work!). To start off, most people don’t get enough good sleep. Most adults require 7-9 hours of uninterrupted rest, and teenagers need about 10 hours, with many children needing more. As maturity peeks, we require less sleep, so it is not uncommon for grandma to be well-rested on only 6 hours a night. Our bodies need this time to reset, process the images, feelings and events of the day, and rejuvenate. This is when we dream, and our subconsciousness and the Gods can speak to us, should we remember it in the morning.
But if you’re like, you know, everyone, then you probably don’t get that much uninterrupted sleep. We can help our bodies out by giving them food.
It is easy to overlook food as a natural cure. Most folks don’t have enough background in nutrition to know how food can help when they are feeling run down. Here is a quick guide to healing yourself with what you have in your pantry.
When it comes to healing with food, you are what you eat. We get our nutrients from plants and animals that eat plants. We are also almost 80% water, so drink drink drink! There are three factors to consider when healing with food: what you eat, absorption, and processing.
What You Eat
If you eat nothing but fatty, processed junk food, then you’re going to feel fat, processed and junky. Eat natural, healthy food and that’s what you are. The problem with processed food is that much of the natural nutrients are stripped away in the stabilizing process. Some vitamins and minerals are very delicate, and will be destroyed if they are boiled, like most food is during pasteurization.
You know you are supposed to eat fruits and vegetables. The fresher, the better. They contain fiber, water, and vitamins and minerals that aren’t found in other food. That’s a given. You know that.
So why don’t you? I think we get distracted trying to eat the daily recommended allowances of everything else. We have a problem with portion size–most of the food we are served is more than one portion. Think about a turkey sandwich with mayo, lettuce and tomato on a hoagie: three or four servings of grain, two servings of lunch meat, half a serving of veggies, and a third of your daily fat intake! You probably didn’t mean to put two servings of lunch meat, but a serving is about the size of a deck of cards…which you probably have on half your sandwich. A peek at the label shows that the mayo serving size is only a teaspoon or a tablespoon. A conscientious person may decide to use honey mustard instead (which is fat-free and very flavorful) or forgo the mayo for some ketchup.
Not all fat is bad fat. Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) are processed differently in the body than polyunsaturated fat, saturated fat, or trans fats. MUFA allow key vitamins, such as vitamin A to be absorbed and stored for later use. Our ancestors needed fats because they held a high amount of calories, as they didn’t always know when food would be plentiful again. But Americans have food everywhere, and it is so easy to overindulge.
The body absorbs nutrients through the mouth, but then not again until the intestines. The time in the stomach is spent in digestion to break down food, but no absorption takes place. The body will take in nutrients all the way through a healthy intestine, leaving behind the stuff it doesn’t need. Absorbed nutrients travel to key parts of the body. Some are processed in the liver and kidneys before they are able to do what they do. Carbohydrates turn to sugars, which the body burns as energy to heat, keep organs functioning, and move. Protein replaces muscle fibers that are damaged during regular movement. What I’m telling you is a very simplified version of all the amazing stuff our bodies do with food, but it doesn’t matter what you eat if the body cannot absorb it and break it down.
And by processing, I mean pooping. Eliminating waste is extremely important. How it is when it comes out will give you a good gauge on how well your body is operating. It indicates absorption levels. We all know diarrhea is bad, because we lose a lot of water and unabsorbed nutrients. Plus, it is extremely unpleasant. But not pooping is just as bad. It means the body is holding on, and may be absorbing too much stuff that it doesn’t need anyway, creating toxicity. It can stick to the lining of the intestine and block absorbtion. You need fiber to keep this from happening. Insoluble fiber like whole grains and fruit skins removes toxic particles and keeps down acidity which decreases the growth of bad bacteria. Soluble fiber like oatmeal, nuts and fruit balance blood sugar to make you feel fuller longer, and bind with fatty acids to lower cholesterol.
Using Natural Food Cures
Whatever your ailment, my first piece of advice will always be have a glass of water and take a poop. Often we feel hungry when our bodies are actually thirsty. Because we lose water in so many ways during the day, it is sometimes hard to keep up with replacing it. Especially when we choose coffee or sodas (which contain diuretics like caffeine) instead of water or tea.
For stomach aches, try having a piece of fruit like an apple or mango. The fiber will help push things along, and the enzymes contained in the fruit balance out the drama going on in your stomach. A glass of milk can also help–unless you’re lactose intolerant!
For muscle aches, try a banana or some lean meat. Likely you are missing protein, which you can get from the meat, and the potassium in the banana will help repair muscles faster.
For a headcold, try chicken soup. Yes, your mother was right. The heat and steam will help clear your sinuses. It probably has oregano in it for flavor, which has been known to decrease colds. The boost of vitamins and protein will get the body back to work.
Women’s breast pain? Try soy products like miso and tofu. The isoflavones are like a weak estrogen to help balance those hormones.
Acne? Fine some natural apple cider vinegar at the healthfood store, and mix up a batch of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. Use a cotton ball to put on the face at least twice a day. For more severe acne, add more vinegar to your solution (but most people find pure apple cider vinegar uncomfortable). Or consider taking a few spoonfuls a day internally to get it through your whole system.
Low energy? Try a good, balanced meal that contains a MUFA. Trail mix, burrito with guacamole, flax seed muffin, or some yummy 100% juice. Are you getting enough sleep? Nutrients? Pooping enough?
Look, your Witchcraft doesn’t have to be complicated. It should be applicable in the mundane world, and food is a great place to start.