08 Dec Vitalism, Recipes and Wellness Culture
A few years ago I made a decision to develop and teach a body of work called vitalism.
“Vitalism? What’s that? I’ve never heard of it.”
I had someone tell me, “Don’t blog about vitalism ’cause no one is looking for it. Blog about recipes, all moms want recipes.” Sigh…recipes are just not my zone of genius. I love my mommy food bloggers — they do it so well. But if I did a recipe blog it would be limited to copies of other people’s best recipes.
It’s hard to teach something that’s relatively unheard of and yet may be one of the most powerful ideas that a parent can understand.
It’s hard to teach something no one is Googling. It’s hard to compete with snickerdoodles.
Dr. Heidi’s Little Schoolhouse
More than a cook, I’ve always been a teacher. When I was little I loved to set up a schoolhouse and “teach” my friends. l had a large green chalkboard where I scribbled lessons. I’d spend hours arranging books and educating my stuffed animals. Years later, I was a teacher’s assistant in college, a lab instructor, a researcher in grad school and then graduate-level faculty.
I love teaching because of the process involved. My mind has always broken down material, organized it and, most importantly, made it relevant. I adore organizing ideas. You could say I have a recipe for family health, and the main ingredient is vitalism.
Why? It matters. I know in my gut, heart and head that if moms had a philosophy of parenting founded on vitalism, the world would be a healthier and more connected place.
And vitalism is an idea whose time has come. Actually, it already came, since it was germinated in the time of Aristotle.
Today’s Simple Lesson:
vitalism, noun: The philosophical doctrine that the phenomena of life cannot be explained in purely mechanical terms because there is something immaterial which distinguishes living from inanimate matter.
In human language, this means that life (as in your body is alive) has a vital intelligence running it. The vitalistic recipe relies on the magic of the intelligence within. Yes, it’s ethereal, but in the same way that food cooked with love tastes better than food cooked with anger, there is an intangible quality present. Wellness can’t be reduced to a list of steps everyone can follow.
Vitalism is the opposite of mechanism. Mechanism views living things as machines and asserts that life can be reduced to physics and chemistry. It does not recognize the vital force that animates living organisms. Our bodies aren’t machines—although most of our culture and health care treats them as such. The mechanistic recipe says you can make a healthy kid by inserting salad.
Why is vitalism important to me and my kids?
A parent who has awareness of the vital intelligence in themselves and their child is never parenting in a vacuum. You are supported by the unseen intelligence within the universe. When you understand that there is inherent wisdom in your child’s body to turn to and listen to, you can take care of your child in the middle of the night without calling on a consulting nurse, the Internet, or your partner.
You can trust this silent power in commonly encountered situations.
Fever, for instance, demonstrates the intelligence of the body responding and equilibrating. Everyone knows to wash dirty dishes in hot water, not cold. So does your body. When you listen to the fever instead of shutting it down, you’re allowing the expression of that vital intelligence.
Another example of trusting the vital messages from you child’s body is in giving them a day off from school when they feel a bit “off” but not overcome by the flu.
Listening to, instead of measuring, their illness empowers your child to pay attention to what goes on inside their own body.
View your child as a miracle, not a machine. Vitalistic parenting holds a bigger vision. It empowers you and your child to be co-collaborators with the doctor within.
Now you know what vitalism is.
Vitalism is elemental. Crucial. The missing piece. Philosophical. Inspirational. Not common in the vernacular…yet. If I have anything to do with it, vitalism will join the hallowed company of paleo, gluten- free and organic — newly relevant, timeless and a key ingredient of today’s culture. A culture of wellness that is…
The recipe for a healthy family includes listening and talking. Sign up here and get more tips for family wellness you can share. Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of Parents as Genetic Engineers!
Want to know my story? Check out the About section to learn more about the education and life experiences that inspired me to start a health revolution.