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Daoist attitude to diet in the modern world

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I did a search before posting, but only found quite outdated information, the most recent being around 2008, so decided to post this new thread.

I would like to know how Daoism approaches the subject of food, diet in modern society, as opposed to the life of a wandering sage living in the wilds.

Our modern world is a very different place, and the quality of our foods is for the most part far removed from nature. So I would like to know how one should go about establishing a healthy diet from that point of view. Please don't bombard me with stuff relating to the typical western view of nutrition - I'm looking for something more specifically Daoist based. Personally I have never been able to digest meat very well, and have a natural disinclination towards eating it. But I also understand that Daoism is not about imposing restrictions and rules. The key point seems to be the importance of harmonizing with one's environment. But what does that mean in the society we actually live in?

Where I live, it is pretty pointless to expect to gain all the essential nutrients from locally grown foods, because the soil itself is bereft of them. Not only that but everything is sprayed with powerful insecticides and other chemicals all year round. There are many local ecological farms starting to produce vegetables, but their prices are exorbitantly high, and I cannot afford them. In my opinion whether or not one agrees with eating meat, the slaughtered animals are so full of drugs, chemicals and other harmful toxins that I see no advantage in eating them, and plenty of risk to the health.

Local people rear rabbits and chickens and live off them throughout the year. I buy eggs from them, because they are free range and at least the chickens are reared in more natural conditions than the atrocious conditions of the chickens that produce the variety sold in supermarkets. But everything else has to be purchased from shops or supermarkets.

So let's start the discussion...

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Well, if you look at the Three Treasures, the first is kindness, which would seem to push toward veg(etari)anism. Perhaps the third, not taking charge, does too, if one includes animals among those whom one should not dominate.

 

On the other hand, the second one, against extravagance, could be read to mean eating as cheaply as possible, which would be supermarket stuff, probably including some cheap meat, etc. At least in Britain, when I was very hard-up, I found it possible to buy some reasonably healthy stuff very cheaply at supermarkets (e.g. wholemeal or semi-wholemeal bread, which is especially cheap when you buy sets of 3 and so on, tins of baked beans, etc.)

 

That's looking at things at a very basic "moral" way. Obviously, Taoist health disciplines will have more detailed dietary advice as well as exercise advice.

 

There's also the TTC passage about tastes deadening the palate, which could mean that it is best to eat simple, bland food.

 

It's also worth looking into how much wild food you can pick, which is a bit sage-like. People have forgotten how to do that in much of Europe.

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Taoist approach in cooking and eating food is in taking maximum use of the products taking into account personal conditions of a man in this particular moment (health, yin-yang balance etc).

It is not the specifics of the ingredients but the specifics of combinations of different types of products based on their qualities - taste, thermal nature, one of five elements, affected organs etc.)

The best food is one that has just been taken from a plant or just have been prepared in case of meat/fish. But if this is impossible then at least you should take into account the above mentioned.

Rgrds, Ilya

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I am not a Taoist, however, I can not help but think of the TTC 12.

The five colors blind the eye.
The five tones deafen the ear.
The five flavours dull the taste.
For having in excess, dulls the senses.
When the senses are dulled, men look for more stimulation.
Racing and hunting fever the mind.
Precious things cause greed to arise in Men’s hearts.
Therefore the Sage is guided by what he feels, and
not by what he sees.
He lets go of that and chooses this.

 

 

Sustenance, like everything else...

Moderation.

Balance.

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Eat when hungry.

Otherwise don't.

 

I own a small organic vegetable farm, I remain amazed at children's ability to select and enjoy the freshest finest produce available.

At farmers markets if allowed they are natural grazers. They are first attracted visually, then confirm thru taste tests.

They have yet to trained to be concerned about price!!!

Often I felt a bit guilty offering a kid a tasty berry, cherry mater or even a bit of broccoli as I knew a sale was inevitable.

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Eat when hungry.

Otherwise don't.

 

I own a small organic vegetable farm, I remain amazed at children's ability to select and enjoy the freshest finest produce available.

At farmers markets if allowed they are natural grazers. They are first attracted visually, then confirm thru taste tests.

They have yet to trained to be concerned about price!!!

Often I felt a bit guilty offering a kid a tasty berry, cherry mater or even a bit of broccoli as I knew a sale was inevitable.

If guilt is induced, gift.

 

Mmmm, cherry maters.

:wub:

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Often I felt a bit guilty offering a kid a tasty berry, cherry mater or even a bit of broccoli as I knew a sale was inevitable.

 

I am curious, why the guilt?  (offtopic: lately, there is some shift on my perception, I inquire and wonder about this 'guilt' thing.    when is guilt healthy and when does it get excessive, unhealthy or not constructive)  

 

on topic:

Does food have any connection with guilt?  How do Daoist connect food with the emotions of the mind?   

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I suppose traditionally food has been equated with love. 

Primarily shared among family friends and those we hoped to trust.

Food was bartered before being bought and sold.

 

In my opinion Americans in the most part have a terrible value system.

Look what value we place on clean air water food.

For the most part I was known for having High prices, the highest at the many markets I vended at.

 

I attribute my pricing to needing to make a living and having a healthy ego.

 

In a way I was directly challenging the child's parent to honor their offspring's genuine healthy desire(s).

I have never seen a animal except for Humans discriminate against fruit based on visual values only.

Every one from ants to deer and everything between employ their noses and tongues to decide value.

 

Never saw and don't expect to see a deer turn away a wormy apple or other fruit...

The worm is proof of its ripeness...

 

Many a parent was shocked when I failed to stop their child from free ranging on our samples*, and or allowed them to wander off with a pint box of maters. Of course I kept an eye on them! I really enjoyed a happy consumer almost as much as I enjoyed getting paid for my labor!

 

* All our fruits and unpackaged veggies were washed and ready to eat.

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I am curious, why the guilt? (offtopic: lately, there is some shift on my perception, I inquire and wonder about this 'guilt' thing. when is guilt healthy and when does it get excessive, unhealthy or not constructive)

 

on topic:

Does food have any connection with guilt? How do Daoist connect food with the emotions of the mind?

 

I do know that there is a classification of foodstuff and tastes that places them in the 5 Phase system. I remember @Taomeow saying that it was a pretty complex thing to determine wether a certain produce or spice etc was metal, wood, fire, water or earth in it's fefect and i have no clue how to do it myself. It's easy enough to find online info about but it barely scratches the surface i think.

Iirc taste, nutrient content, energy, color, smell and so on each play a part. Combining a meal that is suitsble to your specific situation (boosting this, lowering that)

Yin and yang food is a thing also i think, like hot and cold, wet or dry etc.

 

The 5 Phases relate to the organs, the body, the mind: emotions (negative) and virtues (positive). This isnt to say that one food will always have the same effect on everyone (except a few ingredients that are almost always good as i understand it) because we are all different and our phases can be more or less harmonious, it takes training and experience to understand these things, it's a whole paradigm of science and a lot of people cherry-pick stuff from traditional and classic chinese medicine, mix a little of this and that etc. Trained TCM and CCM practitioners also have a few different theoretical systemtics to base their analysis on.

 

TLDR: food is medicine basically and it affects us on a complete level: body, mind, energy, emotions. Certain ingredients may be beneficial for some and they might be affected by other ingredients.

 

But on a general level: to be healthy one should eat fresh food that is cooked without damaging the ingredients, food that smells scrumptious without adding a lot of extras, if there is no smell and taste, it's not really doing much for your body and therefore your emotions will be affected.

 

Rough example: a person who has a natural tendency or a habitually caused water deficiency shouldn't overdo sweets (sweet relates to earth and earth absorbs water).

If you have a water phase problem it can be reflected emotionally through a fearful disposition, perhaps your metal phase is being sapped by it so depression might come.

 

Pinch of salt: the above is merely examples of it, i'm not sure if i illustrate it correctly in the details, i'm just trying to tie the 5 Phases into the discussion. :)

Edited by Rocky Lionmouth
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We are blessed that our city hosts a rather immense farmer's market twice a week... so much of it organic and grown within 50 miles of us... some within 5 miles.  So we are blessed with many low cost, very high energy fresh veggies, for being in a large city.

 

We basically try to eat fresh and local... though I haven't found a local Goji berry farm so I still eat plenty of shipped food.

 

Over the last five years or so, our family has steadily reduced and eliminated from our daily diet processed grains, processed sugars and dairy.  We have exceptions and are not fundamentalist about it, but those exceptions usually come when traveling and eating out, or at friend's houses, so they are once in a while.  The shift was a natural progression for us that came about when I was recovering from an irregular heartbeat.  I studied nutrition therapy instead of voluntarily turning to a series of pharmaceuticals to treat high bp, high cholesterol and blood sugar.  When I realized that I could affect great healing in my life by using food as medicine, the shift was natural and over time we weened ourselves off of sugar, dairy and grains. 

 

I invested in a 3hp blender and began making potent concoctions of phyto-chemical rich smoothies... which altered my blood chemistry in 90 days and convinced my general practitioner at the time, to get his own blender and begin preventative eating as medicine himself after witnessing my results.

 

I still eat some meat but about a quarter of what it used to be... once or twice a week.  This is not due to political or moral reasoning as I grew up eating almost entirely, wild caught meat brought in by my father and I from the forests of Minnesota.  

 

I did however realize as my cultivation progressed, that my body was shifting as was my awareness and my body was simply craving and responding better to more veggies and fruits and reacting less beneficially to the greasier, animal based proteins.  It has simply been a tuning into what my body is communicating when choosing what to prepare.  Increased awareness and attention, which leads me to the most beneficial aspect of incorporating some Daoist philosophy in my diet.

 

Perhaps the most rewarding progression for me has been a deeper connection to the state of my being as I prepare and consume food, my relationship to and awareness of the process as a whole and how I am resonating within it.  For decades, though I enjoyed my food, I would usually eat quickly, to fill the hole and move on to the many things I had going on in life.  On special occasions of course, I would slow down and enjoy the process, but day to day... it was.  Get it.  Make it.  Eat it.  Clean up.  Move on to the next thing.

 

Now I have really grown to love being heavily attentive to the entire process of preparing the meal and enjoying it.   A subtle but potently profound shift in relationship that has brought much benefit... particularly in the sharing with others.   

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I am not a Taoist, however, I can not help but think of the TTC 12.

The five colors blind the eye.

The five tones deafen the ear.

The five flavours dull the taste.

For having in excess, dulls the senses.

When the senses are dulled, men look for more stimulation.

Racing and hunting fever the mind.

Precious things cause greed to arise in Men’s hearts.

Therefore the Sage is guided by what he feels, and

not by what he sees.

He lets go of that and chooses this.

 

 

Sustenance, like everything else...

Moderation.

Balance.

It is my understanding this chapter emphasizes on moderation and not attach emotions to over indulgence and concentrate on the inner self. Embrace simplicity and not embrace superficiality in life.

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Michael Saso.Taoist Cookbook Paperback ‚Äď October 15, 1994
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Tuttle Publishing; 1st edition (October 15, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804830371
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804830379
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 7.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
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I invested in a 3hp blender and began making potent concoctions of phyto-chemical rich smoothies... which altered my blood chemistry in 90 days and convinced my general practitioner at the time, to get his own blender and begin preventative eating as medicine himself after witnessing my results.

 

If you wouldn't mind, I would like you to go into more detail about your smoothies, because that is more or less what I have been forced to live on since quite some time ago when the climatic conditions where I live (extreme heat in the summer months) which killed my appetite totally.

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Listening to your body (stop eating when your full)

Balanced diet

Food with the least amount of artificial tampering

 

Can't say I do all these but I'm getting better.

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Sure thing.  The recipe I used for that was

3hp blender: 

18 oz of distilled water

large handful of organic strawberries

medium handful of goji berries

several nodes of cilantro

several sprigs of mint

palmful of cordyceps

1 fuji apple

1 beet

1/2 cucumber  *skin on

1/2 avocado, plus the pit   *don't try adding the pit without a 3hp blender

1-2 inches of raw ginger  * often for myself I go much heavier, but use this when sharing

1/2 a lime      *peel just the green off for taste, but leave all the white pith

1-2 cobbs of corn  *not the cobb, just the kernels

 

I would blend on highest setting for two runs of 50 seconds.

This makes enough for me to have breakfast and lunch.  I work in construction of scenery for film and television, so my work is quite physical and it still amazes me just how much enerby I get from such simple, light food. 

 

I also took a Reishi mushroom extract and completely cut out, caffeine, sugar and dairy as well as cut my meat intake by half for those 90 days in between blood tests.

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It's cool to drink distilled water? I thought that stuff was toxic (something about the molecular structure affecting the outer layer of red blood cells?) even in small amounts but you're obviously doing fine ST so there's that for me to consider :)

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Yea, I switched over to mostly distilled water several years ago, but it's not mandetory at all for the smoothies, I just mention it as I'm trying to be accurate to what I was doing at the time of my treatment.  I still drink tap and purified water as well and the occasional glass of wine and juice too. 

 

The anecdotal evidence I've encountered suggests that distilled water, being devoid of minerals, will naturally pick up minerals as it passes through the body.  These excess minerals are often deposited in joints and lead to arthritis pain, so this is good prevention and treatment.  

 

Ben Franklin was said to have distilled his own water to treat his arthritis, but I haven't dug into it too deeply. 

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Yea, I switched over to mostly distilled water several years ago, but it's not mandetory at all for the smoothies, I just mention it as I'm trying to be accurate to what I was doing at the time of my treatment.  I still drink tap and purified water as well and the occasional glass of wine and juice too. 

 

The anecdotal evidence I've encountered suggests that distilled water, being devoid of minerals, will naturally pick up minerals as it passes through the body.  These excess minerals are often deposited in joints and lead to arthritis pain, so this is good prevention and treatment.  

 

Ben Franklin was said to have distilled his own water to treat his arthritis, but I haven't dug into it too deeply. 

 

Pardon me for saying so, but you should make it mandatory! Let me explain why: The reason for using distilled water - and let me stress here that this has to be steam distilled, not the stuff you purchase for topping up battery cells - is that both tap water and bottled water is full of chemicals and heavy metals.

In addition to that, tap water also contains many residues from drugs which cannot be broken down or successfully removed from the water supply. Also, distillation is one of the few effective ways to remove fluoride from water. Very few filters can do so.

The lie that big pharma feeds the public about distilled water leaching the minerals out of the body directly supports the bottled mineral water industry (Why do you think Coca Cola got on board?).

The truth is that although the days of being able to drink rainwater are sadly long gone, at one time it was the purest natural source of distilled water available! This is because rain water is (was) simply water that has evaporated (caused by being boiled by the heat of the sun until steam is produced) into the atmosphere, condensed, cooled and is then released as rain. Another name for that process is distillation!

So those who try to con you into believing that bottled mineral water is purer and better for you are lying. We do not assimilate minerals from water, but rather from food. The bottled mineral water industry is conning the public out of their money. It is one of the biggest frauds this century, because it has grown into a mega industry. Spring water is actually full of impurities which can create many problems for one's health - including various types of calculus, such as kidney stones. It is usually full of natural heavy metals and chemicals which have filtered in from the earth as the water passes through. 

Now I will leave you to describe what remains in the bottom of your steam distiller to the naysayers....how you can drink tap water knowing what the distillation residue looks and smells like is really beyond my comprehension! And one other suggestion: let's try an experiment...any of you with a steam distiller. Try distilling a bottle of spring water or mineral water and see if the residue is much different from the residue produced from tap water. Then please post the results here. You can also carry out a test on the purity of water with a readily available digital tester, compare the readings of tap water, and bottled mineral and spring water with those of pure steam distilled water, which will give a zero reading!

Edited by DSCB57
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Yea for me it's important to drink mostly distilled and I came to that conclusion when I was learning nutrition therapy to treat the irregular heartbeat and my blood issues some years back.  Though I do not distill my own water, perhaps I'll look into that as well.

 

And one of the common responses I hear from folks regarding distilled water, is 'oh but that's dead water'.  My experience tells me otherwise.  But I am not a fundamentalist about it.  Nor many things these days.  I whisper to my water and all things before I consume them these days.

 

We are fortunate that here in Torrance, we have a 22 million dollar reverse osmosis plant that filters our tap water and our ground source is drawn from a wetland/marsh, one of natures finest filters, the entire bay that I live in, used to be covered in wetland before humans moved in... then for a century or so, it was home to massive citrus groves.

 

I tested our tap water out of curiosity and found it's ph slightly better than the filtered water we purchase.

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On the subject of distilled water, I would just reiterate not to drink any other distilled water than steam distilled water. When you purchase the type of distilled water found in a pharmacy (chemist) or hardware store, there is always a risk that the plastic from the container may have leached into the water and contaminated it, or the actual purity of the water is not sufficiently high enough to begin with. Typically a steam distiller is also equipped with a secondary carbon filter which is ostensibly to improve the taste, but in fact it also serves to filter any heavy metals or chemicals light enough to be carried in the steam.

A steam distiller is basically just a kettle with a cooling system on top to catch the steam and cause it to drip into the container. In the USA you are lucky enough not to be limited to only electric steam distillers, but you also have other types which can be placed over a stove, requiring no electricity (for when TSHTF). These are not available in Europe, sadly. The only downside in fact to my purchase of an electric steam distiller is the limit to the amount of water it can hold, which is only 4 litres. It would be far more useful to have sufficient distilled water to also wash vegetables or whatever, as 4 litres per day is just about sufficient for drinking and cooking purposes, and the distillation process is fairly lengthy - several hours for 4 litres. 

 

Moderators - I edited this and the post duplicated itself!!! ???

Edited by DSCB57

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On the subject of distilled water, I would just reiterate not to drink any other distilled water than steam distilled water. When you purchase the type of distilled water found in a pharmacy (chemist) or hardware store, there is always a risk that the plastic from the container may have leached into the water and contaminated it, or the actual purity of the water is not sufficiently high enough to begin with. Typically a steam distiller is also equipped with a secondary carbon filter which is ostensibly to improve the taste, but in fact it also serves to filter any heavy metals or chemicals light enough to be carried in the steam. a steam distiller is basically just a kettle with a cooling system on top to catch the steam and cause it to drip into the container. In the USA you are lucky enough not to be limited to only electric steam distillers, but you also have other types which can be placed over a stove, requiring no electricity (for when TSHTF). These are not available in Europe, sadly. The only downside in fact to my purchase of an electric steam distiller is the limit to the amount of water it can hold, which is only 4 litres. It would be far more useful to have sufficient distilled water to also wash vegetables or whatever, as 4 litres per day is just about sufficient for drinking and cooking purposes, and the distillation process is fairly lengthy - several hours for 4 litres. 

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Main aspect of nutrition in Taoism is not the chemical pureness of foods (though it is also important) but qi and balance of all factors. This means that firstly you should understand:

- what foods to prepare in this particular moment (taking into account people who will eat)

- how to prepare (way of cooking, sequence of putting foods into a cooking receipt, time etc).

If there is understanding of above, then choosing correct and pure products will be a minor issue.

And obviously you need the practice to boost your sensitivity to distinguish between good and bad products.

Rgrds, Ilya

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