The disappointment on the woman’s face was unmistakable.
After explaining in some detail how her efforts to abide by a strictly raw food diet had failed to have any real impact on her health, the response she received from the evening’s keynote speaker was anything but encouraging.
“I’m sorry to say this,” replied renowned health expert, Dr. Andrew Weil, to a packed auditorium at San Francisco’s Hyatt Regency hotel, “but a raw food diet is not something I would recommend as a way to improve your health.”
Of course, he had plenty of other things to recommend – everything from fewer prescription drugs to brisk walks to increased fish oil. But it was Weil’s almost too-brief mention of what we can and should be ingesting mentally that provided the audience with the most practical advice of all.
“On the mental level, I think there are a whole lot of interventions that we can do that are very useful,” he said. “[For instance,] there is a significant body of scientific research on the power of gratitude that boosts emotional well-being…. There is also a great body of literature on the power of forgiveness.”
What Weil didn’t mention – although he is undoubtedly aware – is that there is plenty of evidence to suggest a similar connection with our physical well-being.
For some, such moral pursuits may seem like a quaint if not extraneous addition to a strategy geared more toward an immediate physical need. But the advice given by a health expert with an impressive track record and from a much earlier time turns this notion on its head.
“Don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’” said Jesus a good two thousand years before anyone had even heard of things like antioxidants or Omega-3 fatty acids. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
Hardly a green-light for having Twinkies and Coke at every meal, these instructions lay out a clear and concise plan for mustering both the inspiration and the ability to “live righteously” and, in so doing, enjoying better health.
As far as we know, Jesus never made any specific recommendations in terms of diet – no mention of vegan this or vegetarian that; high protein, low carb or Mediterranean. He does make it clear, however, as to where any game plan needs to begin.
That said, getting religion and “seek[ing] the kingdom of God” may not appeal to everyone. But somewhere within the thought that wants to get a second opinion when confronted with disheartening diagnoses, there must be a willingness to see things from a different, if not divine, perspective. Jesus was simply suggesting that’s where to start.
If such a course of action leads to a grateful mentality, more forgiving, we have every reason to expect to see both emotional and physical improvement – even if all we ate for lunch was raw food.
Eric Nelson’s columns on the link between consciousness and health appear weekly in a number of local and national online publications. He also serves as the media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in Northern California. Follow him on Twitter @norcalcs.