Through colonization, foods were introduced to native diets that had a negative effect on overall health and well being. In fact, the whole way of looking at food is different through a Euro-American perspective.
A spiritual connection
In Native cultures, food is closely tied to spirituality. Our ancestors lived in harmony with nature and ate local diets of protein, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. They hunted, fished, gathered, and prepared food seasonally. They were active and fit, and were able to withstand and thrive within the elements of nature. Our ancestors believed eating food made from nature gives the best energy.
The benefits of an ancestral diet
By re-adopting an ancestral diet, and avoiding processed foods and alcohol, you strengthen the spiritual tie to Mother Earth. After adapting to an Ancestral diet, your body will be stronger and more responsive to your physical fitness goals. By ridding of the unnatural preservatives and additives from your diet, your body and mind will be in harmony.
What’s in an ancestral diet?
Ancestral foods are usually single, whole ingredient items such as fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. They are usually nutrient-dense, dairy-free and lack additives and preservatives. Ancestral foods are those that can be harvested from the earth, fished or hunted.
How to start
Starting any new diet can be challenging. Since an ancestral diet is very different than a typical American diet, it may be even harder. You can always start small by incorporating ancestral foods gradually. The more natural foods you eat, the less you will crave processed and highly sugared foods.
- Look for local, organic, non-GMO, seasonal, and environmentally sustainable foods when possible (foods and drinks that need little or no labeling, minimal packaging and have very few ingredients)
- Learn to grow a garden. The more you do to prepare your own food, the more connected you are to the land.
- Make your own meals at home; you’ll always know what’s in them.
- Invite a friend for an ancestral meal. Eating together is an opportunity to celebrate ancestral ties and support each other to create healthy new eating habits.
Special Thanks: Derek Chang graduated with a Bachelors degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Utah. Go Utes! He was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. He aspires to become a physician-entrepreneur to find and create new ways of improving overall patient health. He enjoys skiing, hiking, camping, reading books, meeting new people, and learning anything new.
Many articles in this section were adapted from WeRNative.org, a website for Native Youth by Native Youth