Development of New Eating ‘Instincts’

If we want to regain healthy eating ‘instincts’ we need first to develop a holistic understanding of the human being and the role of nutrition. This new knowledge – in combination with eating good quality food and establishment of healthier eating habits – will enable us to develop a new kind of sensitivity to the effects food has on our body. These new ‘instincts’ can no longer be equated to animal instincts because they are achieved with the help of our conscious collaboration – although they serve the same function of guidance in choice of the suitable food and drink as is the case with animals.

Introductory Reading:


How to Nurture Healthy Eating 'Instincts'

The reasons for the loss of the healthy eating instincts can be summarized in the following way: [1]We have separated from nature to a specific degree with the aim to develop the ability of thinking which is the basic precondition for human freedom. Now we can by the help of thinking understand the material world, the structure of our body and even the physical activities involved in the processes of nutrition, but the price for this is the loss of healthy eating and drinking instincts. While animals are still guided by instincts, we need to use our thinking if we want to properly nourish ourselves.

If we want to transform our inherited instincts we will for sure encounter many challenges and obstacles on this path towards healthy eating and drinking 'instincts'. On this path we need to make various changes in our attitude towards food and in our eating and drinking preferences as well. We can arrange activities which enable us to make appropriate changes in the four groups which reflect the four parts of the central nervous system with their specific functions.

1. Acquiring a Holistic Understanding of the Role of Nutrition

The huge amount of literature on nutrition available today demonstrates that we are striving to understand how food affects our body, to know what has positive or negative effects on our health. Such striving is a necessity of our times because there are many one-sided 'truths' about food. If we want to overcome the widespread confusion which exists in the realm of nutrition, then we need to develop a real understanding of how food affects every aspect of the human being – that is, we need to understand the fundamental principles of nutrition. Only by their help can we acquire a proper holistic understanding of the role of nutrition, which will enable us to make appropriate choices of foods and diets that are being offered to us. Otherwise we might – with the best intentions – choose things which can do more harm than good to us.

2. Providing the Body with the Good Quality Food

Even before we acquire more comprehensive understanding of nutrition, we can start to provide our bodies with the best food we can buy or produce. Our bodies are marvellous organisms, immensely complex, with a variety of systems and organs in constant mutual interactions. By eating good quality food we can ensure that our bodies get the essential nutrients they need, and that they are not burdened with substances they do not need. [2]

We can consider the transition from low quality to high quality food as a means of slow detoxification of the body. It does not require giving up our favourite dishes, because we can prepare them with better quality ingredients. Of course, for this we have to actually cook – without this ability (or, at least, the willingness to learn cooking) we cannot expect that we can make real positive changes in the realm of nutrition.

3. Establishing Healthy Eating Habits and Meal Rhythms

Our eating habits have to a large extent been influenced by the eating habits of those who surrounded us in our childhood. We cannot say they are really our own eating habits until we consciously decide which we want to keep or transform to fit our individual needs. Adults have the ability to educate themselves and change their eating habits if they decide to do so. It is hard work to overcome old habits, but if we are properly motivated and we persist in trying – in spite of often falling back into old habits – it is possible to change. The positive outcome is well worth all the effort.

In fact, the biggest change in eating habits can be the transition from bad quality food to good quality food. This is because junk food is really addictive! People may in this transition experience similar withdrawal symptoms as when someone stops taking the drugs. [3] The final aim of our striving is the establishment of a balanced diet with a great variety of grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, etc. If there is a tendency towards a one-sided diet of potato and meat – or any other extremely one-sided diet – the problematic foods can be slowly reduced until they become part of an overall more balanced diet. [4]

4. Developing New Sensitivity for the Effects of Food on Our Organism

If we practice the above approach for some time, we will start to become more sensitive to the effects of the food we eat. We might find ourselves in circumstances which 'force' us to eat food we have enjoyed in the past, but now find it really unpleasant. Or, we will become able to perceive the difference in the quality of food which we were not able to do in the past, for example, the difference between freshly milled flour and old flour. Or, our stomach becomes much more sensitive to the quality of the food it receives, thus becoming an additional 'organ of taste'. Such experiences will be proof that we are on the right path, for "good digestion is founded on the capacity to taste with the whole alimentary tract, and bad digestion results from an incapacity of the whole tract to carry out this function of tasting." [5]

These four different kinds of activities which are necessary for the development of new eating 'instincts' are, of course, spread over periods of time which can often overlap. But there is a sensible succession of New understandingGood quality New eating habitsNew sensitivity which creates fruitful ground for the nurturing of healthier eating 'instincts'. These instincts are not the same as animal instincts because they involve a learning process and the conscious acquisition of new eating habits. The final outcome is the development of the ability which enables us to sense what is healthy for our organism in a similar way as it works in the case of animal instincts. For that reason we can still call them 'instincts'.


Two of the above How to Nurture Healthy Eating '‘Instincts' already contain practical instructions for improvement of our diet. They present two basic conditions for the development of new eating 'instincts'. The first condition is to provide our body with good quality food. Only good quality food can refine our body to such a degree to be capable to sense what is healthy to eat and what is not.

See HOLISTIC FOOD 'PYRAMID' to find out which food is regarded as good quality food.

The second condition is to establish overall healthier eating habits and rhythms. This may vary from person to person or from one eating community to another. But without an effort to improve our existing eating habits we cannot hope to make any progress in regard to the capacity to feel which foods do us good and which harm us.

In this task they play a special role the seven grains. In comparison to potato, [8] grains have a balancing effect on the cerebral hemispheres, for they equally simulate both frontal lobe (coloured blue on the picture) and sensory lobes (coloured green). Grains are therefore a good source of nourishing substances for our thinking and perceiving by means of various senses – but only if they are consumed whole, unrefined. Thus the grains have an extremely important role if we aim to regain healthy eating 'instincts' in the co-operation of our activities of thinking and perceiving. [9]

But if a person uses just one or two most popular grains, then he or she is more prone to develop one-sided eating habits. The consumption of a great variety of grains makes everyone's diet much more balanced.

For the list of grains see WHOLE GRAINS

There is also a difference if we eat only one or a few most favoured grains or if we have on our menu all seven grains. The consumption of various grains improves our menu and at the same time contributes to more balanced diet. Even better results can be achieved if we develop the habit of consuming grains in accordance with the rhythm of the week. If you wonder about the reasons for doing this, then you can read (if you are registered) the explanation given in BALANCING WITH SEVEN GRAINS.

For practical instructions see WEEKLY RHYTMHM OF SEVEN GRAINS

WARNING: You always have to put the above practical dietary instructions inside the framework of GENERAL NUTRITIONAL GUIDELINES with the aim to know their limits when looking for a solution of a specific nutritional problem. You also need to be familiar with THE ROLE OF NUTRITIONAL GUIDELINES with the aim to avoid any one-sided conclusions.


  1. This is the summary of more detailed explanations of the reasons behind the LOSS OF HEALTHY EATING INSTINCTS given on the advanced level of the website.
  2. The question of price here is secondary. If there is a lack of money, it is much better to eat simple dishes made from good quality simple ingredients such as rice, lentils, and vegetables, than exotic, very elaborate dishes made from low quality ingredients. Besides, one needs less quantities of good quality food than of bad quality food to get nourished. Just look at the size of overloaded trolleys at supermarkets for the evidence!
  3. A very good summary of the addictive nature of junk food, based on scientific evidence, can be found in The End of Overeating by David A. Kessler (Penguin Books, 2009). In FOOD vs STIMULANTS you can find another explanation as to why junk food is so attractive.
  4. The topic of how to change eating habits is very extensive. Only a few basic characteristics are given here. But these characteristics can be very helpful in understanding (and if necessary adapting) similar advice available in other nutritional literature.
  5. Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, 28.03.1920; Spiritual Science and Medicine,
  6. The effect of potato consumption on the cerebral hemispheres is explained in the LOSS OF HEALTHY EATING INSTINCTS in the advanced level of the website.
  7. One could raise an argument against grains because of the fact that many people today have difficulties with the consumption of grains which can range from intolerance to an allergy. In FOOD AS 'POISON' there is an explanation of the relationship between food and the human organism which enable the emergence of food intolerances and allergies. But this still does not explain all the reasons behind the great extent of such problems in our times. In ORGANIC vs CONVENTIONAL FOOD you will find another very important reason for this modern trend, the use of artificial fertilizers and their negative impact on the quality of plant protein. This can be seen in the case of celiac disease where the human organism is not capable of properly digesting gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.

Development of New Eating ‘Instincts’
By Brane Žilavec, February 2016