Diet, exercise, and writing

The idea that food and activity level effect our writing is not new. I recently read Julia Cameron’s The Writing Diet, which addresses how to eat well and feed our cravings with words, not foods that trigger binging, lethargy, and self-doubt. Joyce Carol Oates, in The Faith of A Writer wrote at some length about the impressive history of writers who find inspiration when on long reflective walks or heart-stirring runs.
My experience has crystallized this idea into what looks to me now like obvious truth. I am most inspired and productive when I adhere to the aryuvedic principles that I’ve found work for me, when my yoga practice is regular and engaged, and when I’m walking or running most days.
Food can be an immense comfort for a stuck writer, a source of celebration for a job well done. We crave the same richness in our diet that we crave in our words. We want the thing that appeals to the senses to such a degree that it engages us entirely.
The trouble is, traditional “rich” foods have a short lasting satisfaction, make us too tired to keep writing and are usually not so good for our overall health. This is where the ayurvedic principles of diversity and intention come in.
Eating foods that span the range of the six qualities and six tastes of food and that are chosen for your personal energy needs leads to long lasting satisfaction and greater creative stamina. This flies in the face of the idea that a person should avoid certain “trigger foods” and argues that a craving for chips or chocolate or ice cream is indicative of a greater sensory deprivation that can be addressed by adding spices to your diet and eating so called trigger foods in small, wisely chosen amounts daily, such as a square of dark chocolate, a couple of slices of candied ginger, and the right amounts of good fats throughout the day. These cravings are also indicative of a larger kind of deprivation in which in the course of our busy lives, we often eat food that is bland and nutrient-deficient, which will eventually make us ravenous even when it’s not calories that we lack.
Poor personal food choices and lack of exercise scatter and stall my creative energies more than anything else. Building good habits around this and forgiving my shortcomings in this is something that I’ve been actively working on for some years now. The thing I find most difficult is not multi-tasking while eating. I know that the experience of the food, the texture, the flavor, and all the subtly is part of the nourishment we crave. Yet, I have trouble slowing down to do just this one thing.
I’ll keep refining these habits for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is that when I eat better and exercise, I write more and more often. I’ll begin by forcing myself to sit down at the table to eat dinner tonight and then again breakfast tomorrow morning, which I usually eat while putting on my shoes for work. ☺


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