WHAT MEDIEVAL MONKS CAN TEACH US ABOUT DIET

The say that those who do not learn the lessons of the past are bound to repeat its mistakes. So, here’s a lesson from ten centuries ago.
Researchers examined 100 skeletons from the 11th to the 16th centuries from three abbeys in the vicinity of London. They compared them to the remains of 200 secular Londoners of similar ages. What they found was that the monks had higher rates of thickening bone and certain patterns of ossification that are hallmarks of severe obesity.
They also showed higher rates of arthritis and other joint-related problems. Using written records of menus and food shopping lists to calculate the average monk’s diet, it is estimated that they consumed a staggering 6,000 calories a day.
So, why were so many of these individuals obese when there was almost no signs of obesity in the general population at that time? Historians who studied the lifestyle of medieval monks found that they heavily relied on food as their source of pleasure. The abbeys were highly political places with few amusements allowed. As a result, food was one of the few pleasures permitted in the abbeys. They did not exercise, interact with nature, partake in new activities, work in enriched environments, or share love and compassion. In reality, they didn’t do any of the things that are essential for endorphin release and our well-being.
There are lessons to be learned from reviewing the past and relating that to present day circumstances. People today who are separated from others and from nature by technology, who do not work in enriched environments or partake in new activities, are just as dependent upon food as the monks were ten centuries ago. We would do well to compare and consider the effects of relying on food as our sole source of satisfaction.
Solution:
We need to become less dependent on food for our sense of self-gratification. We can do this by regularly engaging in new activities: Take a class in pottery, painting, economics, a foreign language. Return to nature. Nature is never depressed. One can go into a natural setting as an observer – remain detached and leave quickly, or become a part of nature through interaction – touching. Social Integration. The more ways you are integrated into society, the more endorphins get released, making you less for dependent. Contact: Call or write to several people each day. Pick up the phone, call a friend and tell them how much you care about them, how much you appreciate them. Volunteer work: Join a group – neighborhood organizations; give comfort to those in a home for the aged. Religious connection: People who have religious connections that are fulfilling also have a health advantage. Sharing: Long-term committed relationships, whether platonic or sexual, reduce by 50% the risk of premature death and disability. Making Friends: Have someone – other than your mate – who is genuinely interested in you… who will empathize with you … and listen to you and your troubles anytime. Support Group: This is the most important one of all in this category. Get together with others at work, in your neighborhood, at church, in class; others who may be struggling with their weight as you are. Diversify: It’s important not to focus on only one or two areas of intent. All of us need variety in our lives, so that if one interest area becomes stressful or goes sour, there will be others that are doing well and can take up the slack.

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