The Importance of an Integral Life Practice pt 3 of 6: Body (b)

The Importance of an Integral Life Practice pt 3 of 6: Body (b)

The Importance of an Integral Life Practice pt 3 of 6: Body (b)

 If you didn't catch the previous post in this series, looking at the importance of exercise, youcan read it here: The Importance of an Integral Life Practice pt 2 of 6: Body (a).

Diet from an Integral Life Practice (ILP) point of view is deceptively simple. There doesn't need to be any difficult calorie counting, any weighing and measuring of food (beyond your recipe) and there certainly doesn't need to be any guilt, success or failure thrown in for spice.

All we have to do is make sure we are paying attention to our other ILP core practices, which will help to develop our minds, bodies and spiritual awareness while facing aspects of our shadow. All that will take care of the part of us that 'fails' at diets. All we need to do for this section is focus on what we are eating and where it comes from. We have to be aware that NO diet anywhere will be a)100% right for you and b) 100% wrong for you. 

If you are already as far as reading my blog and looking at this post, then you will already have a degree of consciousness that wants to consciously improve. The hard bit has been done, now time for the refinements.

I would hope that most of you would understand the basic difference of foods that are good for us i.e. foods in their natural state, organically and locally grown, freshly prepared etc; to foods that are bad for us i.e. highly processed, highly refined (grains, sugars), chemically preserved, preprepared, long shelf life, non-organic, hydrogenated, lots of flavourings/colourings/preservatives, high salt, high sugar and so on.

In fact recent research has categorically shown that organic food is significantly more nutritious than non-organic. See the recent study done on this here. And these days it doesn't cost that much more if you use local sources, box schemes and do as much grow your own as you can. There are lots of ways to grow healthy nutritious additions to your diet with relatively little space and a little ingenuity. Try these idea from Vertical Veg and the BBC Gardeners Site. At home I have a window full of herbs and will regularly sprout seeds for using as a topping on any dish to increase its nutrition. You can learn more about that from the Sprout People or from Living Food of St Ives.

So what is this miraculous plan for eating? Well it can all be represented in this simple diagram:

ILP diet diagram ben calder

And its (almost) as easy as that: Eat Above the Line!

If you are not sure what constitutes good or bad in fats, carbs and proteins, then you can make a little of your Mind module some learning about what they are. Or even more simply, you can look in the examples I gave above and if you are still not sure then comment on the blog with your questions or email me through the site. 

There is only one more refinement we are going to make to this diet and that is about proportions. To make the balance of what you eat correct for you as an individual will take some playing about with. And that is how it should be seen as playing, experimenting, using your beginners mind to be curious about how things do and don't work for you. You have to get to know how your body likes to be fuelled. Some of us are better carb fuelled, some are better protein/fat fuelled and in each case we are talking about Eating Above the Line so the quality and nature of the food shouldn't be the question, just the proportion.

As a basis to start from use this simple formula. Divide your food plate in half and divide one half in to half again (quarters). Fill the big half with vegetables, fill each of the quarters with protein/fat and carbs (starchy veg, potatoes, brown rice, whole grains like quinoa, millet, amaranth etc). Its that easy.

ILP diet plate normal ben calder 

There is one additional refinement that you can put into this plate if you are looking to reduce or lose weight.

For this you have to know if you are better fuelled by Carbs or Proteins and Fats. And by that I mean which one leaves you feeling satisfied but energised for at least 4-5hrs without needing to snack. Simple way to check, if you have a high protein breakfast, do you feel sluggish, dull and too full (you more likely need the carbs) or satisfied and productive without any need to snack before lunch (protein is your key). Reverse that to check. If you have a carby cereal breakfast, do you feel hungry within an hour or two and need to snack to get to lunch (protein is your friend) or do you feel satisfied and productive and no need to snack till lunch (carbs are your fuel)?

Once you know this you can then adjust the plate ratios for weight loss. All you Protein fuellers, cut your carbs in half and add more protein/fat like this:

ILP diet plate protein rich ben calder 

And for those of you who are better running on Carbs, reduce your protein and increase the amount of whole grains and starchy veg you have like this:

ILP diet plate carb rich ben calder

So there you have it, the ILP diet with a few simple refinements and some clear advice about quality. Within those bounds you can just about eat anything and you shouldn't go far wrong. Remember this diet does not take into account any allergies or intolerances you may have. If you are not sure then I suggest you get your self allergy tested  to take out anything that could be causing your body extra stress. If there are things you know are a problem, keep them out of the diet, after all you are in control of what you put in your mouth. The quality and source of the food is vital, so if I didn't make that clear enough earlier on Go Organic! That's all veg, fruit, dairy and meat. Stick to wild fish from responsible sources and stay away from Pacific Ocean fish at all costs.

Please feel free to leave any comments and questions about this post, please feel free to leave them below. 

The next in this series will be along soon and will look at the importance of the Mind module in Integral Life Practice. Subscribe to the blog to get a notification for when this is posted.

Finally I would like to highlight that a fair degree of the material in this series is taken from the development of Integral Life Practice done by Ken Wilber and Terry Pattern. You can see more of their work here and get ahead on what's next at

Stay healthy

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