Nutrition for Body & Soul

In the realm of nutrition there exists a fundamental polarity between the physical aspects of nutrition and our relationship to the food. On the one hand we have the needs of our body, which we experience as thirst and hunger, and about which we have knowledge due to the discoveries of modern science. On the other hand we have our own ideas about food and nutrition, and personal food preferences. The aim of a holistic approach to nutrition is to enable each individual to achieve a harmonious union between the often conflicting objective needs of our body for proper nutrients and our subjective relationship to the food.

Introductory Reading:


Nourishment for Our Enjoyment and Bodily Needs

From the description of the TWOFOLD HUMAN BEING we can understand that the puzzling questions of nutrition which human beings are confronted with to an extreme degree in modern times cannot be properly solved without recognition of the polarity between physical man and man of soul and spirit.

In accordance with the twofold nature of the human being we must distinguish between the needs of the physical body for food substances and energy, and the intrinsic human need for the pleasurable sensations and feelings of well-being stimulated by eating and drinking. The task of a holistic approach to nutrition is to provide sustenance for both needs in a balanced manner. Only through harmonisation of these polar needs can we hope to achieve healthy eating habits.

There is more than enough evidence that people today are still far from achieving such balance. On one side we have people who are predominantly interested in enjoying food without much consideration about the effect on their body. This type of person enjoys eating their favoured foods, in spite of all existing evidence about the harmful effects of specific foods. For example, they will enjoy eating ordinary cakes in spite of warnings by nutritionists that "generally, there are no cakes that can be considered to be good for you from a health point of view." [1] Such people are not really interested to know about how food affects their own organism.

On the other side there are people who are very much concerned about how to consume only healthy foods. This type of person will eat something just because they have been presented with scientific evidence about the health benefits of a particular food. They might regularly drink wheatgrass juice because it provides chlorophyll, amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes, and not because they really like its taste. Such people are inclined to take food supplements because they want to get more calcium, or B-vitamins, and similar; but there is no pleasure involved when consuming pills!

There can be many other manifestations of such one-sided standpoints. The main point is that nobody is completely wrong or completely right. Here we encounter one of the most common problems in relation to nutrition – that is, generalisations of one-sided truths. The intake of food stimulates many activities and processes which are highly complex and multifaceted. Unfortunately people tend to focus on one or just a few aspects of nutrition, leaving aside or ignoring those which do not fit in with their views. Without being aware of the complexity of the human organism and the multitude of inner processes set in motion by eating and drinking, we can never arrive at more than one-sided truths. This causes people to become proponents of various 'ultimate' dietary rules without any ability or even attempt to understand other people with contrary standpoints.

However, the explanations given by spiritual science can serve as peacemakers among the vast number of nutritional schools and diets based on one or few specific aspects or nutrition, for they can enable us to gradually develop an understanding of why there are such confusing variations and contradictions within the field of nutrition. This is possible because "spiritual science does not give rules, but only wants to explain how things really are. It does not stand for this or that kind of diet – what it actually does is to enable people to understand any form of diet. Then each may arrange his life as he wills, according to these great laws of existence." [2]

Getting familiar with the fundamental principles of nutrition is the first step necessary for expanding our knowledge of nutrition. Only with the help of these principles can we avoid the danger of getting lost in a vast amount of detail. And only with the knowledge of these principles we can hope to find "the right balance between what a person enjoys and what is good for him." [3]


Our ultimate goal towards which we need to strive is to shape our own diets in such a manner that they will be good for our bodies – demonstrated in their physical wellbeing – and at the same time that we will still enjoy eating. This balancing can be achieved only with the help of a holistic approach to nutrition, including the basic understanding of fundamental principles of nutrition. In other words, the objective dietary needs of the physical body can be catered for in accordance with our nutritional insights, and accompanied with our feelings of pleasure.

There are many ways of balancing, depending on one's nature or personal one-sidedness. For example, you may see your body as a highly sophisticated machine and food as the source of essential nutrients which it needs to keep running. If so, then you can benefit by becoming more aware of the smell and taste of food, its shapes and colours, texture and temperature. Be aware that we are actually nourished through our senses and feelings of sympathy for what we are doing!

However, if you are a person who sees food only as a source of pleasure and comfort, then you may benefit by trying to learn more about the anatomy of the human body and how food works inside us after we have swallowed it. We need to understand that various types of food have very specific effects on the metabolic processes which are set into motion by food intake. It is of utmost importance that you become familiar with what kinds of food do and do not promote healthy metabolic processes.

In both cases the aim is to expand awareness about the effects of food. Neither the rational not the sensual attitude to food should be dominant to such a degree that people cause harm to themselves. We should always strive for a more holistic approach to nutrition, for true knowledge based on individual insight has a power to bring healing to our own being.

See DEVELOPMENT OF NEW EATING 'INSTINCTS' for basic guidelines for the transformation of existing eating habits.


  1. Food that Harm, Foods that Heal, Reader's Digest, London, 1996
  2. Rudolf Steiner, source unknown
  3. Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, 10.11.1908; The Being of Man and His Future Evolution, Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1981