On food

Ancient Stoics were very concern on how food and drink affected their lifes.

  • Avoiding refined processed foods
  • Eating only natural, chemical free or organic foods, as it’s believed that conventional store bought produce and dairy contain hormonal disrupting chemicals
  • Minimize consumption of foods that are wrapped or bottled in plastic containers (plastic fibers contain estrogen chemicals dangerous to human health)
  • Minimize alcohol consumption because alcohol compromises the liver’s ability to rid the body of toxins
  • Eat carbohydrates last during the evening meal in order to stabilize the level on insulin in the blood.
  • Cycle between high-fat and high-carbohydrate days in order to maximize the body’s energy utilization efficiency and capacity to burn fat during exercise

Musonous Rufus

“On diet he used to speak often and very earnestly, as of a matter important in itself and in its effects. For he thought that continuence in meats and drinks is the beginning and groundwork of temperance. Once, forsaking his usual line of argument, he spoke as follows :-

” ‘As we should prefer cheap fare to costly, and that which is easy to that which which is hard to procure, so also, that which is akin to man to that which is not so. Akin to us is that from plants, grains, and such other vegetable products as nourish him well; also what is derived from (other) animals – not slaughtered, but otherwise serviceable. Of these foods the most suitable are such as we may use at once without fire, for such are readiest to hand. Such are fruits in season, and some herbs, milk, cheese and honeycombs. Moreover such as need fire, and belong to the classes of grains or herbs, are not unsuitable, but are all, without exception, akin to man.’

“Eating of flesh-meat he declared to be brutal, and adapted to savage animals. It is heavier, he said, and hindering thought and intelligence; the vapour arising from it is turbid and darkens the soul, so that they who partake of it abundantly are seen to be slower of apprehension. As man is [at his best] most nearly related to the Gods of all beings on earth, so, also, his food should be most like that of the Gods. They, he said, are content with the steams that rise from earth and waters, and we shall take the food most like to theirs, if we take that which is lightest and purest.

“So our soul will also be pure and clear, and, being so, will be best and wisest, as Heracleitus judges when he says the clear soul is wisest and best. As it is, said Musonius, we are fed far worse than the irrational beings; for they, though they are driven fiercely by appetite as by a scourge, and pounce upon their food, still are devoid of cunning and contrivance in regard to their fare – being satisfied with what comes in their way, seeking only to be filled and nothing further. But we invent manifold arts and devices the more to sweeten the pleasure of food and to deceive the gullet. Nay to such a pitch of daintiness and greediness have we come, that some have composed treatises, as of music and medicine, so also of cookery, which greatly increase the pleasure in the gullet, but ruin the health. At any rate, you may see that those who are fastidious in the choice of foods are far more sickly in body – some even, like craving women, loathing customary foods, and having their stomachs ruined. Hence, as good-for-nothing steel continually needs sharpening, so their stomachs at table need the continual whet of some strong tasting food. . . . Hence too, it is our duty to eat for life, not for pleasure (only), at least if we are to follow the excellent saying of Socrates, that, while most men lived to eat, he ate to live. For, surely, no one, who aspires to the character of a virtuous man, will deign to resemble the many, and live for eating’s sake as they do, hunting from every quarter the pleasure which comes from food.

“Moreover, that God, who made mankind, provided them with meats and drinks for preservation, not for pleasure, will appear from this. When food is most especially performing its proper function in digestion and assimilation, then it gives no pleasure to the man at all – yet we are then fed by it and strengthened. Then we have no sensation of pleasure, and yet this time is longer than that in which we are eating. But if it were for pleasure that God contrived our food, we ought to derive pleasure from it throughout this longer time, and not merely at the passing moment of consumption. Yet, nevertheless, for that brief moment of enjoyment we make provision of ten thousand dainties ; we sail the sea to its furthest bounds; cooks are more sought after than husbandmen. Some lavish on dinners the price of estates, and that though their bodies derive no benefit from the costliness of the viands.

“Quite the contrary; it is those who use the cheapest food who are the strongest. For example, you may, for the most part, see slaves more sturdy than masters, country-folk than town-folk,poor than rich – more able to labour, sinking less at their work, seldomer ailing more easily enduring frost, heat, sleeplessness, and the like. Even if cheap food and dear strengthens the body alike, still we ought to choose the cheap; for this is more sober and more suited to a virtuous man; inasmuch as what is easy to procure is, for good men, more proper for food than what is hard – what is free from trouble than what gives trouble – what is ready than what is not ready. To sum up in a word the whole use of diet, I say that we ought to make its aim health and strength, for these are the only ends for which we should eat, and they require no large outlay.”