“Never fear shadows.
They simply mean there’s a light shining somewhere nearby.”
- Ruth E. Renkel
The Shadow Side shows up in many areas of our lives. And if we are what we eat, then talking about practical things like food, nutrition and lifestyle choices is critical. How many of us eat the way we really, ideally want to eat? What does it mean when we consistently eat unhealthy foods or we eat for reasons other than hunger or nutrition?
I watched a young boy that I know “dealing with food” at only ten years old. We were sitting at a breakfast meal the other week and he was talking about wanting to be a super hero. I asked him if he did have super powers, which one or ones would he like? He answered that he wished to have the power to bring everything he wanted into his life. As he was speaking of this, I was noticing his eating habits. He ordered two orders of fried potatoes with his eggs and a root beer float. Afterwards he was asking for an order of French fries. He ate with a huge smile on his face.
As I watched him I became aware of what food does for him, and for all of us; each in our own ways. He was obviously eating for reasons other than physical hunger. He had also said that he never wanted to be older than ten years old. I asked him why, and he said because when you are a kid you can get all the games and things you want. Of course, that is his experience and I found that comment very interesting, especially in connection with his eating habits.
In a healthy and whole world food is about sustenance, nutrition, and love made manifest through the Earth. Food is meant to be positive and empowering. Yet at just ten years old, food for this little boy has become a window into his shadow side. He eats to be filled, but can’t seem to get enough potatoes no matter what he orders. He has been given so much in physical form, and yet he is so hungry in his heart and his soul. Without even knowing anything else about his life, I know that a primary care giver wasn’t able to give him what his heart really needs. He has made up for it by consuming empty calories and choosing food that doesn’t give him the true nutrients for which his body and heart truly longs.
In our time together I could see that food and games have become “love” to him; at least in some primary ways. How to help him begin to value more intangible things is an important question, and better to help him now rather than later.
How many of us see this type of issue in ourselves, and in those we know and those we love? Probably most of us, to some degree or another have confused love with food and possessions. The earlier we can address this issue, the better. Especially with someone so young it is clear to see the shadow side of love in his case.
As we reclaim our hearts and the ability to see beyond what is right in front of us into what is inside of us and into the language of our shadow, we also open the channels of greater love and understanding within us and also to a greater manifestation of health and wholeness; not just for ourselves but for our children and grandchildren.
Healthy Eating and Lifestyle Tips
It occurs to me, that in cases like this, it is important to start at a grass level; literally.
An idea I have is to start a little garden in your home or apartment. You can always work with plants and herbs in pots if you don’t have the yard room. Actively involve your grandchildren, children, or neighborhood children in the activity of starting and working with a garden.
You might even start with seeds so they can get their hands in the dirt and see the whole process of growing vegetables and herbs from seed to full plant and fruit. Have them water, and as often as possible, have them watch the whole growth process. As the fruits, herbs and vegetables ripen, have them crush some of the herbs in their hands and smell it, eat fresh cherry tomatoes, have them help you bring the fruits and vegetable into the house and help you make a salad. You can be creative in what you make knowing the real nutrient is the time spent together .