Susan Teton Campbell has been on quite a journey searching for answers to the food-related health problems that affect millions of Americans, and now she offers those answers and lots of inspiring and practical advice in the pages of her new book Food as a Spiritual Practice. . : Discover your purpose while nourishing your body, mind and soul.
Think of eating as a spiritual practice as a two-for-one deal. First, you get the amazing story of Susan’s life journey, and then you get a host of delicious and healthy recipes. But perhaps most importantly, mixed throughout those two sections is plenty of great advice and insightful information about the value of proper nutrition and the dangers of processed and junk foods.
Susan’s journey to focus on what we eat really began when she realized her son’s body was intolerant to sugar and how, despite her best efforts, when that got out of hand, it also left him open to sugar. addiction to much worse substances. Susan embarked on a lifelong mission to figure out how to reverse her son’s health problems, and in the process, she became aware of the severe malnutrition many of us experience from the packaged and processed foods we eat. .
Instead of just reading about nutrition and changing her and her son’s diet, Susan became very involved in revolutionizing people’s relationship with food. She participated in retreats and spiritual organizations that believed in nurturing both the body and the soul. One organization she became involved with was EarthSave International, founded by John Robbins, the author of Diet for a New America. Part of her involvement with this group was spearheading a program to try to get healthier food served in schools. Soon, Susan was visiting principals and preparing lunches for them, and she discovered that the cafe-style lunch menus in our school districts practice the exact opposite of the good nutrition that school health classes preach.
Susan also discovers her soul in these pages as she discusses her own efforts to eat right and overcome temptation, and most difficult of all, how she learned to set limits and let her son, Aaron, lead him when he refused to follow the rules. . or do what was best for him, but it turned into years of addiction. Ultimately, the trip strengthened Susan because her son provided lessons she desperately needed to learn about herself, and her situation fueled her motivation to help others. At one point, Susan describes how she found herself judging people by what they ate, and then she hit the deep end:
“From that point on, my job became about sharing, rather than having an agenda that required others to change. I learned from Aaron that I couldn’t change it, nor was having an agenda to do it empowering him or me. So, a new evolved, one that would simply share what I knew to be true for me. The depth of this change and how much lighter I felt is beyond my ability to put into words, but it changed me, softened me.”
Susan went on to teach cooking classes and was constantly receiving requests to write a cookbook, but she didn’t want to just write a cookbook, she wanted to share her philosophy and deep insight into our relationship with food and its sacredness. The result: eating as a spiritual practice, a book that doesn’t try to sell us a specific diet, or tell us to pray over our food. Instead, it’s a book full of common sense, a back-to-basics approach, and a reminder to think about what we’re putting in our mouths and the effects it will have on our bodies. As Susan says in the introduction to the book:
“[Y]o You will be inspired to look at food, your body, your life, and the Earth in a new light, a light filled with purpose, gratitude, and promise. Why? Because it is absolutely vital that we are all part of creating a just and sustainable food system for ourselves, our children, and the state of our air, water, and soil. The deepest motivation, which is alive in me and in many others I know, is essentially spiritual. Perhaps, like me, you are a spiritual seeker with a dietary practice that extends well beyond the dinner table.”
Susan makes it clear that we can no longer eat healthy foods as part of a temporary diet or just to lose weight. It should become part of our daily practice just like exercising or brushing our teeth. It must be integrated as a daily discipline in our lives that is “fueled by love and respect.”
Instead of counting calories or trying to reduce our portions, we need to focus on making nutritious choices that not only heal and maintain our bodies, but also nourish our spirits. Our body and soul’s abilities to function at their best are deeply tied to what we eat, and it’s time we paid attention to that connection and did our best to nurture all aspects of ourselves. Susan learned how to do it, and in these pages, she will help you learn how to do the same.