Nutrition & Religion. Two massively powerful realms that are typically not associated with one another but are really more alike than different. Both have been around for literally all of history, have a tremendous impact on our well being and are highly debated. I often find that when listening to a debate over religion or nutrition it reminds me of two arguing siblings trying to prove their point to the other one…
Nutrition & Religion: Separated at Birth
Religion. Faith. Believing in a higher power. Putting your trust into a set of beliefs in the attempt to best feed and nourish your soul.
Nutrition. Diet. Believing in a way of eating. Putting your trust into a set of beliefs in the attempt to best feed and nourish your body.
Just as two examples…
Think of the loyalty, passion and certainty of Mormons.
Think of the loyalty, passion and certainty of Vegans.
Whether dietary or religious, countless belief groups exist across the globe and have very common themes:
They all believe their way is the right way.
They all have some history or “proof” to support their beliefs.
They both provide structure and guidelines for how to do things.
They all seem to want the best for people.
They want others to see “the light”.
They all have orthodox and extreme people, often blind followers, unwilling to see other viewpoints.
They all have people who have been saved and are born again.
The more extreme they become the more the word “cult” seems to fit.
They are often hypocritical.
They often shun non believers or non members.
They all are very willing to hear supportive evidence and dissect and/or dismiss contrary evidence.
They both offer support, community and a sense of purpose.
They both forgive sins against the rules if you reconcile and repent.
They all have leaders, gurus and/or revered members along with lower level practitioners spreading the wisdom to the masses and offering guidance to followers.
Books, manuscripts and movies are constantly being created and distributed describing and promoting them.
They are both manipulated and controlled by outside influences with alterior motives.
Many people use these beliefs to take advantage of others.
Challenge their beliefs and you’re likely to end up with a debate, argument or enemy.
The more devout the follower the less likely you are to have them over for a casual dinner.
Twins Growing Up
From the beginning of human history, we ate food and many people contend that we were contemplating the existence of a higher power. In the beginning, it was that simple: eat what we can and figure out how this crazy world works. Then, as we started to congregate and live in communities both food and faith began to change, often in harmony. Food became a bit more predictable and controllable and as we started to understand the world around us more faith also became more structured.
The more evolved humans and society became, the more each of these was thought about and played a role in the development of. As sophistication grew, our treatment and analysis of religion and nutrition grew. Details got studied, theories developed and derivatives were born. Now they are two of the most studied and debated topics across the globe. We put a lot of time, energy, money and effort in these two realms. They are, simply stated, a big deal. They are both used to explain so much of human well being and experience on this planet and are often used as the cause for both miraculous good and devastating bad things that happen to people. Nearly every event that a person experiences on a day to day basis can be traced back to diet or faith. These two higher order realms are often the most important thing in peoples’ lives. The passion and commitment to each of these often even surpasses the bond of family and loved ones. People are often more married to their dietary or religious beliefs than their significant other.
Not surprisingly, food and religion go hand in hand and to this day crossover is seen in both areas. Nearly every religion has specific food rules/practices/guidelines, from fasting to gluttony, avoiding certain foods and everywhere between, food has been a vessel for a message of faith and often helps define someone’s religious identity and commitment. Parallel in nature, nearly every dietary practice has rules that are defined almost as commandments and the more strict one adheres to them the more serious or devout they are considered to be about their nutrition and health.
There is no one accepted religion. But almost everyone believes in a higher power, even if it is Mother Nature and/or the mystical planet Earth.
There is no one accepted diet. But almost everyone believes there is a correct way to eat, even if they don’t practice it.
Despite there being no consensus on either they remain integral to the life of almost everyone who cares about them.
There are some people who don’t believe in religion, just as there are some people who don’t believe diet matters.
One of the only big differences that exist is the changing of diets that some people go through. Very few people try religions out for a few weeks and then give up, only to try another the following month, where as this happens all the time in the diet realm as people try to figure out what works for them. Interestingly, when people do end up committing to a diet and see a benefit they often stick with it too firmly and against their body’s signals that it may no longer be working. When things start going poorly they feel that committing more deeply, often termed being “religious” about their diet, is the answer. Very rarely does this work and conversely many find that trying a different and often contrary dietary program helps them feel tremendous. Lesson to be learned in religion???
Religion: Food For Your Soul – Diet: Religion For Your Body
To me, nutrition is a form of religion, just as religion is a form of nutrition. They are both at the most simplistic level a form of nourishment to our species.
We all seem to want to search for the truth and want to believe that what we are doing is accepted, correct, good for us and what other people are doing. The reason that people are so connected to both religion and nutrition is that they offer this to us. These two twins, separated at birth, promise to nourish and support us throughout life and give us the community we seek in this increasingly confusing journey through life.
You get to choose how religious you are about faith and food. No matter where you stand on each, the level of commitment is up to you. If you want to believe in a higher power but not go to church and believe in eating healthy but not commit to a diet it’s up to you. That may be the best approach. If you feel better going to church every day in both food and faith, go for it. If you’re a non believer, you’re a non believer. We all get to make up our mind (and change it if you want).
Just don’t forget that no matter where you stand with these two realms, even if they don’t seem like twins, they are as forever connected as Julius and Vincent Benedict.
Thanks for reading, have a great day!
P.S. I find it interesting that the more “evolved” we have gotten the more battles we have over both religion and nutrition? In essence the more we think we know/figure out the less we actually agree. Makes one wonder if we are indeed “figuring” things out…