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Kathy Freston On Conscious Eating & Her Famous Cleanse

Since there has been a lot of talk about the cleanse portion of my new book, I thought I might emphasize that one key component of the cleanse is eating consciously. Sitting down to eat is an elemental part of every day, and what we choose to put on our plate has repercussions not only for our physical well being, but also for our spiritual well being. Conscious eating means simply this: remaining awake and aware of how food gets to our plate -- and then choosing what we eat according to our values. Personally, I don't want to partake in cruelty, and from what I've seen in undercover video clips or read from the accounts of slaughterhouse workers, eating meat is supporting cruelty. I talk a lot about this concept in some of my earlier posts, for example here.

I know "right" or "wrong" are heavy terms and that most things that someone places some moral label on are far more subjective; there is a lot of grey area and the path of consciousness and health is one that is constantly evolving. We all have different histories and we all move at different speeds. But there are some simple challenges we come upon every day, at least three times a day. What to eat? Do I just reach for what I want without a care as to how it got to me, or do I push myself to go beyond the concerns of just "me". With every choice, there is an animal somewhere who will experience the fallout. These are no longer times for magical thinking; what happens in the world is a result of what we do or don't do. We have an affect. We are creating the conditions as we go. If there is fear and pain and suffering in the world, at least one of the places we can make a difference is at our kitchen table.

Doing the cleanse delivers one to a fresh start. It's like a vacation, a reprieve, from our old and tired ways. It is an opportunity to kick start a momentum of consciousness and healing. We can see what it feels like to live on a plant-based diet for 21 days. And if we like what we feel, we can let the momentum we've started deliver us to a whole new level of living. Or it can just be a simple detox, a way to let your body rid itself of all the stored up junk it has had to process throughout the years. I'm not saying it's easy (for me, giving up coffee -- albeit temporarily - is hell), but it's worth it.

I also want to stress that conscious eating -- although it's capturing many people's imagination right at the moment -- is just one of the pillars of wellness, and that the cleanse is just one aspect of conscious eating. Although conscious eating is, I believe, a key component of what I'm calling quantum wellness (wellness in all aspects of our lives -- physically, mentally, spiritually), it's not the only component, and for some people it's not even the most important component. I believe that wellness also entails balance in our lives -- for things like exercise, rest and relaxation and fun, service, and so on -- as well as other key elements of being a whole human being, like exercise and spiritual integrity, which can be from within one of the world's great religions or from within no religion (the growing number of people who are deeply spiritual, but not religious in the more conventional sense).

Gandhi called his life an "experiment in truth." That captures the idea, I think, of both quantum wellness and of the idea of "eating consciously." We need not be perfect, but we can lean into the shift.

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Kathy Freston is a New York Times best-selling author with a focus on healthy living and conscious eating.
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