Relating to Food

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Atheopagan Zoom Events:

https://atheopaganism.wordpress.com/2021/05/04/please-join-us-for-zoom-events/

Food psych podcast mentioned, by Christy Harrison: christyharrison.com

A few food and sustainability podcast resources:

Sustainable Dish: https://sustainabledish.com/podcasts/

Regenerative Agriculture Podcast: http://regenerativeagriculturepodcast.com

Remember, we welcome comments, questions and suggested topics at thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com

S2E17 TRANSCRIPT:

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Food

Yucca: Welcome back to the Wonder Science-Based Paganism. I'm one of your hosts Yucca.

Mark: And I'm the other one, Mark.

Yucca: And this week we are talking about food. And there's a lot of different directions to go with this topic, but it was actually inspired by the topic from this mornings atheopagan zoom mixer. So do you want to touch on that Mark?

Mark: Sure be happy to the atheopagan Facebook community holds a zoom in-person mixer every Saturday morning at 10:15 Pacific time. And it's It's something that you, as a theist pagan are welcome to check out. If you go to atheopagan ism.org, there is a post up right now that invites you to various zoom mix, various zoom activities that the community is doing.

And so the links are there.

Yucca: I'll put a link to that post in the show notes

Mark: perfect.

Yucca: so that everyone can click on that. Yeah.

Mark: We We didn't really have a pre-set discussion topic for today's mixer, but we stumbled into this conversation about our personal relationships with food and with eating and all of the sort of issues around that. And the reason why that is pertinent from a pagan standpoint is that paganism.

To a large degree is about liberation from the over culture. It's about getting those kind of disempowering authoritarian anti pleasure. Anti-sexual anti-women anti gay, anti black. Frameworks off of us to as great a degree as we possibly can and being liberated as people as a result. And so this conversation.

I mean, it was just really lovely and everybody had something to contribute to it. And we don't really talk about our relationship with food. Very much. We get bombarded with messages, but we really don't talk about it much. And so I thought that for Yucca and me to have a conversation today about that would make an interesting post an interesting podcast for you folks to listen to.

Yucca: Yeah. And so I wasn't present for this conversation this morning. But I think in addition to what you've just said, Mark, about, about paganism often being about this liberation, there's also a component of it being about connection. Connection with our world with the rest of nature. And food is one of those ways that we are connected.

This is the primary way in which we relate to the rest of the biosphere food webs that's and no matter what choices we're making, we're tied in that way. And so there's a lot of. Really interesting directions to explore with that.

Mark: Yes, I think so too. And we, I mean, we really only scratched the surface too, to some degree, much of what we were talking about in the mixer this morning had to do with people's individual feelings around eating. And we touched some on the dreaded D word dieting and the. You know, how hungry people feel.

At various times, some people don't, aren't very able to detect when they're hungry. I'm one of those, and I'll talk about that more later. Other people feel hungry all the time and have a hard time differentiating when it's that their body really needs the food. And when it's that it doesn't. So there.

Are some there are just some very interesting ways that all of this can go. And we're going to explore some of that today.

Yucca: This topic could be its own podcast. It could be its own weekly podcast of paganism and food, but we're going to try and handle it a little bit today and jump into that.

Mark: There is actually a podcast that I'm going to mention later that was brought up by someone in the zoom. I'm opening the chat now and I'll find it and we'll post it in the in the in the notes. but it's about. it's by a woman named Christie Harrison. And it's just a very sensible, healthy common sense, understanding about food as something that your body needs and people have different body types and they shouldn't all be trying to tailor their eating in order to achieve that body type.

Just a very healthy perspective on on eating and food. Okay.

Yucca: Great. Yeah. So we'll include that as well. So, Structurally let's start with the big and how to narrow down. Maybe we let's talk a little bit about food's role for humans, its role in society, its role in community.

Mark: Well, where would you like to start with that? I mean, I tend to think in terms of social messaging and culture, I mean, there are a lot of, you know, just sheerly logistical things to talk about in terms of food, with the industrialized agriculture that we live with maintaining us and our population.

And there are all kinds of problems with that things to talk about, but

Yucca: And both of us actually professionally have some connection to this. Right. My background as an agro ecologist. So I work in primarily restoration ecology now, but that intrense was into agroecology and our relationship as humans with the rest of our ecosystem. And how do we construct and how do we work with the natural processes instead of.

The trying to fight against them, which ultimately won't work out for us. Doesn't work out for us. And then you work in a food bank. Is that correct?

Mark: I do a food bank now, but I worked for seven years for a wetlands Conservancy that also was working with land owners and working to develop sustainable agricultural practices. So, and performing restoration projects in the wetlands adjacent to these agricultural operations. So, I have a background in that as well.

The. There's just so much to be said about the ways that our agricultural system needs to be reformed. And that could be a podcast of its own. Honestly, it could. And I'm sure there are some out there that are exactly about that,

Yucca: There's some great ones. Yeah. Drop some links to those too. This will be a link heavy show notes.

Mark: lots of different directions you can go with the subject of relationship to food. But what I tend to think about societaly in relation to, you know, this kind of big picture understanding of our relationship as individuals with food as part of a society. Yeah. Is the kind of poisonous pornographic kind of media bombardment that we get constantly.

Of advertising, mostly of food that appeals to people when they're already hungry or malnourished. So it's heavy on fats, heavy on sugars highly processed and fast, right? That you can continue your maniacal capitalistic work load without taking too much time to actually enjoy.

Yucca: And these are all what we call hyper palatable foods that have been literally engineered to be the most attractive to us possible to what is coded into us evolutionarily, whether it's good for us or not. It's what it's getting our bodies to really want it. And it becomes very addictive on many levels there.

Mark: Right. Many snack foods, for example, are engineered such that you cannot be satisfied in eating them. It doesn't matter how much of them you eat. You could stuff yourself with Doritos and you. They'll want more Doritos because their flavor has been engineered in such a manner that the hit of dopamine that you get from the taste of that particular combination is in itself addictive in the same way that gambling is addictive and other sorts of, you know, pleasure.

Creating sensations are addictive. So it's really a problem. I mean, capitalism has taken on food in the way that it's taken on everything else. And it's decided that the best way to create a market is to create addicts. And that's not the healthiest way for us to eat. And addictive behavior is a pretty good model for understanding the way a lot of us relate to our food.

Yucca: And it's not something that we can walk away from.

Are certain addictions that you can cold turkey. Walk away from the cold turkey, walking away from food. Isn't going to, isn't going to last for very long. However it ends.

Mark: try it.

Yucca: Yeah. Well, there's

it. And you end up with bulemia and And well, the word is escaping me. It begins with an

Mark: a

Yucca: a anorexia,

Yeah.

Mark: And binge eating and then starvation cycles. all of that is just so, so hard on the body and it can have this tremendous psychological impact in terms of shame and And guilt that leads to secrecy and terrible and distorted body images associated.

There are just so many different ways that this addiction provoking non-health encouraging a propaganda machine really hurts us in terms of our relationship with our bodies and with food.

Yucca: Yeah. And so that's bringing in another whole realm to that is the body image. And that has other elements as well in terms of our attitudes towards, Oh, we'll just get up and do some exercise or something like that. And often those messages are really not grounded in. In reality, they're often manipulated for advertising purposes or well-intended individuals who have it lucky in some way, projecting a judging upon others and placing value of the person based upon.

Appearance and body type and confusing things where it's things are a symptom of a deeper cause when we start to talk about things like obesity that. Placing blame on the persons as they have some moral failure because they have obesity or because they have this or that and ignoring the actual causes and all of this, these yucky destructive messages that just get sent and taught sometimes spoken out loud and often.

It's below the surface and just being communicated and taught to us and we're enforcing it ourselves, even if we don't agree with it throughout our whole society.

For sure. The. The ubiquity of this, the universality of it, and the perniciousness of it is something that none of us can walk away from because. Even when we try to think about how do we solve this stuff? The first thing that comes to mind is some product that somebody has tried to sell us, whether it's eat yogurt and you two will be, you know, a slim blonde yoga mom, like, like the ones that are always selling you yogurt

Or

become a vegan or become a carnivore or whatever. Yeah.

Mark: Yes. You know, some. Very over-simplified by my program, by my podcast, you know, all that kind of junk. And it's just very hard to get away from. It is there are tens of thousands of opinions of varying levels of credibility about what constitutes a healthy diet. The truth is that one size does not fit all. What we really need to be able to do is to listen to our own bodies. And we are not taught to do that. And in the case of some people like me, for example, I can't do it because I'm on medications that make it impossible for me to tell whether I'm hungry or not, until I am ravenous. And then I finally twigged to the fact, Oh yeah, I haven't eaten for 12 hours.

Yucca: Yeah. And th and there's many other situations where there are. Or hormonal imbalances where there's different forms of metabolic syndrome going on that get in the way of those natural signaling processes. That, that have been broken since childhood or even from when we were in the womb, because a lot of this we're discovering has much of the functioning of our bodies in relation to food and our metabolism is inherited epigenetically.

So the, what was the, what was happening with our mothers bodies and even with our grandmother's bodies, when they were pregnant, has a huge impact. So. The idea of listening to our bodies is I think really key, but that's another one of those messages that gets sent out there as it's just like the solution.

Oh, you should just listen to your body. Well, it's just, it's not as simple as that for many people that listening to your body is part of the process, but sometimes like you were saying, the body's not sending the signals or we haven't learned to speak the same language to be. To speak in a metaphor there.

Mark: Sure be clear. I mean, we're speaking in a very dyadic kind of way right now about the body and the mind and the body and the mind are the same thing. They're all an integrated system. And if we have very strong opinions or fears or phobias or complexes or beliefs about eating and food and what we should be doing, that's going to color the signal.

Those that we get from our body about what we ought to be doing. Think about it for a minute. Think about humans as they evolved on the African Savannah, did they eat three meals a day? Probably not, they probably just kind of browse throughout the day as they found food sources and gathered them in some cases when they wanted to treat them with fire.

Yucca: We probably had large meals. After a big key, a big kill that went on for a long time. We had a lot of it. And then we had to wait till we got that next kill or that next animal that we were built to scavenge and steal from the more competent predators than us.

Mark: Sure. And in the meantime, we chewed grains and ate fruits and, you know, whatever else it was and tubers and whatever else we could find that were nutritious to us. So that's kind of what we were built for. And. The separation of productivity from the home into a workplace, which was one of the big innovations of industrial capitalism, forced meals to be compressed in time because we had to do work, right.

We had to do work to get money to survive. So now we have this kind of codified three meals during the day thing. And for a lot of people, that's not the healthy way to eat. They need to eat a snack in the middle of the morning, in the middle of the afternoon, they just, they need to keep some calories going all the time.

Yucca: Or actually the other direction as well. Some people find it very helpful to have more of a compressed eating window. So getting into the realm of, and of course this is. Neither of us are medical doctors. We can't be giving medical advice. But some people have found intermediate fasting to be very beneficial.

That's something that has worked really well for me personally, is actually cutting back the number of snacks and the the kind of fast sugars out of my diet and finding that makes a tremendous amount of. Difference in terms of feeling level, blood, sugar wise brain fog, all of those things, but some people, depending on it also depends on your life stage.

You know, are you pregnant at the time? Are you doing all kinds of things? And you know, what are the, what are you doing? Activity-wise what is your general macro balance? You know, it's not, it may not. B does the three meals or six meals or there's so many different directions to go with that.

Mark: Sure. Yeah. And once again, this goes to, you know, what exactly is the goal, right? to my mind, the goal is to be healthy. And to understand health, not in terms of a body type ideal in the conversation this morning, there was, you know, around dismissal of BMI as a legitimate measurement.

There are people that are stocky. There are people who are skinny. There are people, most of them over 40 who have bellies. I'm one of them. That is a natural thing that happens when your metabolism slows down and you start to accumulate calories. Cause you're not quite as fleet of foot as you used to be.

Yucca: Or if you just look at athletes that are going to have incredibly high BMI's, right. Because they've some of them and there's different types of athletes, but they may be, they may look really wirey and mean, but it's all muscle.

Mark: right. Right. Exactly. So they weigh a ton.

Yucca: Oh, yeah, that was the case for me before I had my kids, I was doing Olympic lifting. Which is by the way not, it was not in the Olympics, Olympic lifting as a type of lifting. And I was, I'm 5'5", and I was about 160 pounds. And you wouldn't have looked at, you wouldn't have seen that with me. If you looked at me, I would not look that way.

I was sitting in eights. Right. But my BMI was crazy because right. And that's,

Mark: It's just not a measurement. That makes much sense. It tries to apply a single standard to people who are all over the map, genetically and in terms of their frame size and their metabolism and their genetic background. So, and there are actually some indications that there are some racial components to this as well.

BMI measurements tend not to be as favorable for black people, for example And you know, this idea of making the generic person, a white person, probably a white male. You know, we see this

Yucca: a whole story with temperature, with room temperature for that, by the way.

Mark: Oh, is there.

Yucca: Yes that is based on the ideal room. Temperature is based on the comfort level of white middle-aged men and it doesn't work for most other people. It works for that. Group, but other people's like, now it doesn't work.

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: anyways, I.

Mark: We see this in science and in standard setting quite a bit. I mean, the good news is that at least there is some people talking about it now, so that hopefully we can evolve those behaviors, but. My, my fundamental point at bringing it up is to free yourself from expectations around the BMI.

The BMI is not a valid measurement in any sense. And even if your doctor is trying to sell it to you you know, push back, tell him, look, I have broad shoulders and big hips. I'm not going to fit your, you know, your entered for skinny people. Yeah.

Yucca: I mean with, so like all of this, that there's context though, right? If Because we're certainly not saying ignore the health advice of the professionals that you're working with or what, you know, if you have the sense that honestly I'm carrying extra weight, it's not helping me.

Like, we're not saying just ignore that. Right. We're saying but Hey, step back and take a look at the. The expectations, which are create the assumptions, which are creating the societal expectations around that. Is that legitimate? Is it actually valid to say that you're, you should be looking like whatever the supermodel is and by the way, that changes over the decades in terms of what the ideal body type is anyways.

So, so again, we're not saying don't. Work on your health. Don't take these things, these biometrics in don't just completely ignore them but understand that they have a whole context.

Mark: Yes. And that it's a cultural context. It's not a scientific context. I mean, you talk about ideal body types. I mean, who were the big supermodels in the 1960s? They were people like Twiggy who, I mean, they call her Twiggy for a reason. I mean, he's built like a twig.

Yucca: Yeah. And if we do any, even the surface level research on her, we'll find out that there were, there was a lot of body image and health challenges that she was having.

Mark: and, you know, skip forward five decades and look at Kim Kardashians, The absolute diametric opposite in, in body shape in every way. So these ideas of these ideals. Are not things that we can measure ourselves by. They're not there. They're arbitrary standards. They evolve over time. There's no such thing as an inherent beauty standard and trying to shoehorn ourselves into those can be really harmful.

It can hurt yourself esteem. It can hurt your social relationships and it can hurt your health.

Yucca: Yeah. And for everyone too, we just gave some examples of women. We've been talking about a lot about women when it comes to the societal expectations, but it's everybody right. It we, haven't gotten to a point where we're talking about that very much with with men and boys and masculine presenting individuals but it's there as well.

And it's. And it's really toxic as well in terms of the messaging that we're sending everybody about that.

Mark: Oh, yeah. Yeah. I mean advertising for food stuffs for men, everybody is ripped with, you know, with six packs

Yucca: Yeah. And those photos they're wearing makeup, you can look up how to do, to contour your muscles, to make it look like you've got that. And then those pictures are usually touched up anyways, afterwards. I mean, it'd be unheard of for those pictures to not be touched up.

Mark: Yeah, because otherwise they would be unhuman monsters.

Yucca: And even on your Instagram and Tik TOK videos and all of that, those people are makeup and doctoring themselves up before they get on and make their video. Like, that's just the, it might feel more candid and real, but now this is their business. That's what they're doing to make money. And that's what a lot of this is the advertising around it.

It's the making money, but then it becomes part of our beliefs and our worldview. And then we're pushing it on everyone from every direction and on ourselves. Right.

Mark: So let's step back for a second and talk about the relationship with food in the household. Within, you know, family groups or, you know, groups of people who live together because that can be a source of a lot of stress for people

Yucca: tremendous amount. Yeah. And a lot of directions when people have different needs, but people also have very different beliefs. When we get into the realm of diet, that's a place where some of the beliefs around diets are. I mean, it becomes religious. Just like, there can be some really extreme beliefs and there's a tremendous amount of misinformation that gets spread and really poorly done science that gets blasted by the media.

So you can have this disagreement and uncomfortable relationships between people in the house and then people with very different needs as well, because although we're the same species within that. Humans can be very different. Even within very closely, genetically related humans. We can have different needs.

Mark: sure. Because you're among other things, your microbiome can be very different.

Yucca: Yes.

Mark: even living in the same household, even being all members of the same family, you know, genetically related to one another. If your microbiome in your gut has developed differently with different organisms that are processing your food, then you're going to need different food.

Yucca: Yeah, and that's a really fun new frontier in science right now is the microbiome is just amazing. A delightful, so that deserves its own topic and its own podcast. So, so there's that social interaction between the individuals there's also in terms of the talking about the level of. The kind of need for liberation.

There's a lot of pressure with, especially on young parents on, on, you know, mothers, fathers, other kinds of parents, but it's, but at least from where I see it a lot with the mothers about this virtue signaling and the Like this pressure to get it all right. And as long as you do it, right then everything's going to be perfect.

And your family, if you all eat the perfect diet and you all eat together every time and you eat this food and that food and the, then everything's going to be great. And I'm not saying that we shouldn't strive to be really healthy, right. And to be, have a really. Nutrient rich environmentally responsible diet, but the expectations there that get that we put on ourselves I think it can be really counterproductive that they can, we can really end up hurting ourselves more in that strive for protection for perfection.

Then the, this, the strive for balance.

Mark: Yeah. I mean, I think that's a general rule. it's not just a rule in to our relationship with food and you know, how we feel that we're supposed to be parenting the whole idea of absolute standards that are supposed to solve all problems and which, if you deviate from them, there's something, you know, some level of failure that is associated that's just for one thing, it's not pagan, it's very authoritarian.

It's very sort of religious and kind of. It's a moral code about moral success and moral failure. And that's really not. What we're about. What we're about is living lives that are healthy and virtuous and empowered. And by virtuous, I mean adhering to virtues, things like integrity and kindness, right?

Not obedience to an arbitrary set of rules and to the degree that we are imprisoned by arbitrary sets of rules. We're not liberated. So it's important for us to be asking these questions, you know, when my in-laws lean on me about, you know, some way that we eat in my household am I going to succumb to that?

Or am I going to push back and say, this is what's working for us? And that's the important thing

Yucca: Yes. So this is an area where I think that actually there's the potential for. A lot of empowerment and joy, and that's certainly how and in our household, there is a lot of joy around the food. And it's a place where we really find a lot of our connection with the rest of the biosphere. It's a place where that's really As we were talking about at the beginning, that we all are connected to everyone else through the food web. And this is, that's a place of celebration for us.

Mark: Okay. Yeah, I can really see that. And I feel that myself, I mean, I'm grateful when I eat and and I don't feel guilty about it, even if what I'm eating is kind of crappy because sometimes I eat stuff that's crappy. I mean, I think pretty much everybody does once in a while. I don't feel guilty about that because I've seen what happens when chimpanzees find a beehive. You know, they go nuts. They eat every last possible molecule of sugar that can be had out of that experience. And that's fine for them because they're not going to find another beehive for another six months. It's not hurting them to go on a sugar binge that one time, because it's a moderated presence in their overall diet.

Yucca: But the challenge for us is that we are now in an environment that is different than our evolutionary context. And. This the well wonderful framework for understanding this is ancestral health. That's something that I've found very empowering and might be something that people would be interested in looking into, but as looking at, okay, let's look at humans, the animal, and let's try and understand us in terms of.

How did we evolve and understanding that evolution does not stop evolution has continued. There are changes that have happened in only the last few generations. There are changes that have happened in only the last few hundred generations that have significant differences. But there is a really strong mismatch between the ways that we live today.

It's like we live in captivity in so many ways in terms of our Light cycles. We've talked about this a lot before on the podcast, in terms of the light, but also in terms of the food and the availability of the food that we have, that now, at least for those of us in the industrial world, that we basically have access to anything that we want any time, but our bodies are programmed to want specific, you know, we really want to eat all of those berries.

Because those berries are only available for a short period of time and that's great. We get that food, but then we would have these long periods where we wouldn't have access to that. So it's okay that we would binge on the berries, just like you were saying with the chimps and the honey. And then also when we get into the exercise component, we evolved within a context in which we had to move around. We were very active. And, but so the desire to lay down underneath that tree or in today's context, hang out on the couch or in front of the screen, that makes sense contextually. But today we're in a very different environment. So, so there has to be some, we need to make some systemic changes or conscious choices around trying to help ourselves be more balanced with what we know. What we know the little that we know, cause there's so much more to learn about ourselves our past, but to match that natural cycle with our, with what we're doing in our industrial world.

Mark: Right because our impulses are often wrong. Our impulses are often too, you know, piling tons of sugar and fat and salt because it made total sense in the wild. It made total sense for us to pile those in because they were rare and they were valuable and it was really good to get them. But now we have sugar and salt and fat surrounding us 24 hours a day and available with a phone call.

So it. It's different. And the same as you say is true with exercise where our impulse to be slothful and conserve calories totally makes sense for an organism.

Yucca: Our ancestors alive. That's why we're here today.

Mark: Sure. Why would you burn calories? Extreme for random reasons, like running on a treadmill? When. Then you just have to go out and find more calories, but in a context where all the calories are there all the time, then it totally makes sense to need to get some exercise as well. So, so this brings us down to the individual, to the personal and station this morning, I found very moving because it really was, didn't take very long before everybody so sort of started. You know, talking about their own personal situation with food and the feelings, you know, these are not mild feelings.

These are intense feelings around relationship to hunger relationship to diet. And then it goes directly to the whole question of body image again, because. In our culture, we have come to conflate eating with how you appear and how you appear with how much you're loved with your value, with how much you loved.

And for one thing, that's, it's just a toxic formula. It's a completely poisonous formula because people should be valued, not for what they look like, but for their inherent worth. But I think that it's. A really useful thing for us to be looking individually at what do I think about food is my need for food annoying.

Do I find myself irritated by my constant need to eat? I know I feel that sometimes it's like, Oh God, the food thing again, it's just relentless. It never ends.

Yucca: If I could just do the bar right. And for as much as I think about food and all of that, I would just be happy if I could just have like my little food bar and all I had to do was eat at once a day and then I was done

Mark: Uh huh. Yeah, because, cause we're busy, we're over busy in, you know, in industrialized cultures. There's a tremendous pressure on us to produce and food, especially healthy food is time consuming. And energy consuming. I mean, if you actually want to prepare something that's healthy from fresh ingredients, then it's going to take you awhile and that's time and energy being taken away from other stuff.

And it's yes. And it's particularly hard when you're already hungry. But if you're like me and you can't really tell when you're hungry until you're starving, then the urgency of getting some food right now becomes really high. And then it's even harder to make healthy choices.

Yucca: Yeah. And then there are our folks for which food has all of these emotional connections in terms of it's the, you know, they have, that's the way that their parent expressed. Their affection and love is that they would make the pancakes or go out for ice cream or or the food is become a way of an emotional coping mechanism.

Right? You're feeling a little sad. You're feeling a little down, you're feeling anxious and there's that food. And especially when it's the hyper palatable food then it creates this dependency. We also have.

Mark: when we were talking about this before we started to record that that when you eat food, that is really pleasurable, that really pushes your. Sugar fat, salt buttons. You get a spike of dopamine, the pleasure, neuro receptor, a neurotransmitter. And that is exactly the same thing that happens when a gambler pulls the handle on a slot machine.

It is that momentary The you take the action and then you get the spike of dopamine and then you want another spike of dopamine and another spike of dopamine. And it becomes very hard to differentiate between I'm hungry and I'm conducting this addictive behavior because we're built to be addicted to food.

That's a natural thing, right? I mean, our bodies were designed. To have an affinity for going after calories because otherwise we'd be dead.

Yucca: presumably there, there were some of relatives of our ancestors that were programmed differently and now they're not here. Right. So, yeah. Now. Food though, you know, we've been talking about a lot of the challenges around food, but there's also so much opportunity for the deep connection with our household, with ourselves, with the, if you're the garden or the little pots of herbs that you have in your tiny little window or whatever it is for forming these really strong powerful. Connections and really strong senses and experiences. So there's a lot of potential for working with food. Very intentionally in ritual. We've touched on it a few times before about certain smells or tastes and having that move you into a certain state. There's so much potential there.

Mark: for sure. Yeah, because this is a, it's a root level human function, right. It's not option. Yes

Yucca: not even just human but animal, but yeah.

Mark: Yes. The it's not optional. It's not however much we might wish it was going to be optional. It's not right. And so it becomes something that we need to be embraced that we need to embrace as a part of our animal selves.

One of the things about we pagans is that we do understand that we're animals. We're not telling ourselves that we're some other thing that you know, was created in a separate category with a different moral structure than the rest of life on earth.

Yucca: Where we used to be animals, but we're not anymore because we somehow ascended to beyond them or higher than them or something like that.

Mark: We're no longer animals because we invented steel and guns. Yeah that, that's not really a pagan understanding of what we are as beings. Now, what I want to say to our listeners is there is no whatever your body is like. It's not wrong. There is no moral failure in. Having a body, a particular way.

Your body is fine. No matter what it is now, you may have health considerations that lead you to want to make changes. That's fine. That's great. You can work with your medical provider and you know, anybody else to help you to do that, but there is no moral failure in the way you are right now.

You're fine. And that's. That's a hard piece of work for a lot of folks, a lot of folks really need to work around that message for a long time, do ritual around it, meditate on it, work on it in therapy, because when you free yourself of that expectation about what your body is supposed to be like, and I'm not saying that I've done this entirely, but I feel like I'm enough free of it that I can kind of see what it would look like. Then your relationship to food transforms because it's not about serving your moral failure or serving your moral success. It's about doing what's best for you. As a living, being a living organism, the stakes are a lot lower because it's not about your self-esteem, it's not about your value.

Yucca: It comes easier to think clearly around it when it no longer is about your value as it is it as an entity. Yeah.

Mark: yes. Your value as a person. So I mean, I wanted to spell that out really super clearly, because it's so important. It's just, it's a really big deal kind of thing. You know, in the same way that when we talk about sexuality, I want to tell people, you know, whatever it is you're into. There is no such thing as a fought crime. You, you are allowed to desire, whatever you want to desire. Even if what you want to desire is illegal. You're allowed to desire it. In some cases, you're not allowed to do it. And those are two different things, but it doesn't make you a bad person to like a particular thing. Doesn't make you a bad person to have a particular kind of body.

Yucca: Or to eat a particular thing or to not eat a particular thing or to eat the thing that you think that you don't want to eat for whatever reasons when you slip up a little bit. Right. That might be, yes. That might be Contrary to your goals, your health goals overall, or your environmental goals or whatever it is, but it doesn't make you bad or you a failure or you, whatever.

Mark: Right. And making changes in dietary choices for health reasons. It's not like it's not like, virginity where it's like you blow it once and it's gone forever, which I don't even

Yucca: I, yeah. I think that's a weird concept anyway, is

Mark: I do. I do too,

Yucca: very heteronormative and yeah.

Mark: Absolutely. It's more like sobriety. You fall off the wagon, you get back on the wagon, it's it.

You know, and if you're conforming to whatever those guidelines are, the you're trying to meet 80% of the time. You're doing great. You know, it's not an all or nothing proposition and you don't need to construct every time you don't conform to whatever regime you're trying to. To implement as a failure, it's not a failure, it's just a choice he made.

And now he can make a different choice,

Yucca: Yeah, it comes back to that idea of how useful is guilt, right? It's if you're beating yourself up over and over, you know, what is it achieving? What guilt is there to do now? It's just making you feel bad.

Mark: Yeah. Yeah. And we're against feeling bad. That's that is a characteristic of our religion that we need to say over and over again, this life is the life that we get and we want people to be happy. That doesn't mean you're going to be happy all the time. I had a loss this week, my cat died and I feel really sad about that.

But We want people to be able to live lives of contentment and occasional joy and effectiveness and autonomy and agency in the world and getting into right relationship with food is one of the ways that we do that for ourselves at a really deep level.

Yucca: Well, this was fantastic, Mark. Lot of food for thought so to say,

Mark: I'm wearing my food for thought. T-shirt that's the name of my food bank.

Yucca: Oh really? Oh, that's great.

Mark: Yeah. The, yeah, this has been a really great conversation and I really appreciate having it with you. we will put various resources in the notes and welcome your feedback. this is You know, these kinds of topics are really pretty juicy and chewy for us.

And we're, we welcome more of them to talk about. So, you can reach us at thewonderpodcastqueues@tgmail.com. So the wonder podcast, all one word, and then Q s@gmail.com. And we look forward to hearing from

Yucca: All right. Thanks Mark.

Mark: Thanks, Yucca.

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