Put Your Mind on a Diet

Bill Abbate

Have you ever thought about how much our mind and stomach are alike? An author and editor of several magazines early in the last century brought this concept to light. It is an interesting line of thought and one which deserves further consideration.

"The mind is like the stomach. It is not how much you put into it that counts, but how much it digests." Albert J. Nock (1870-1945)

The function of the brain and the stomach

I have always found it amazing how our body functions, especially when it comes to food. To think we can put delicious things into our mouth, digest and extract the nutrients, and eliminate the waste has so many parallels in life.

In fact, all living things have a similar process down to the level of the cell. This is also true for most organizations in the world. The production of every business or organization requires taking in raw materials (which could be in the form of information), digesting them to produce something beneficial, and constantly eliminating the waste.

One such organization that consumes enormous amounts of material (our tax dollars) is our government and its politics. Talk about producing waste! What could be so wasteful and continue to exist other than government and politics?

Back to the subject at hand, our stomach and mind. In addition to food, every person takes in a considerable amount of information each day. As with food, a large portion of this information is" digested" and later eliminated. The only difference is instead of going through the stomach, the brain must undergo sleep. Sleep, an almost magical process, sorts, stores, and eliminates information much as the digestive system does for food.

What you put in determines what you get out

Are you familiar with the acronym GIGO? It is said to have been invented by George Fuechsel, an early IBM programmer, and first appeared in a newspaper article in 1957.

GIGO is short for "garbage in, garbage out." Our digestive system and brain work the same way, do they not? You can put garbage in your mouth in the form of highly processed and junk foods, vegetables with pesticides, meat loaded with antibiotics, many types of bad carbohydrates, and some dairy products, which can lead to all sorts of health issues. With so many things we shouldn't eat, it is a wonder there is anything left that is safe!

Of course, when we eat healthy foods, our body functions far better and has a better chance of staving off diseases and illnesses.

"The mind is more vulnerable than the stomach, because it can be poisoned without feeling immediate pain." Helen Clark MacInnes (1907-1985)

Is our mind not precisely the same as our stomach? When we feed it information that stimulates our curiosity, it makes us want to learn and nourishes our minds. This provides us with a healthier, more efficient, and effective ability to think.

But what do many of us do when it comes to using our brains? We spend hours on social media and in front of the television. Each of these is little more than chewing gum for the brain. Want proof? How much do you remember from the hours spent watching TV or using a computer tablet a week ago? How about a month ago? What did you gain from it? What are you building or accumulating that is useful? Not a lot? Most of it was likely nothing more than garbage.

Yet if you spend time reading books about subjects that interest you, writing to stimulate your thinking, or talking with others about topics of interest, what happens? Do you not accumulate useable and potentially valuable knowledge and wisdom? Do you not improve your ability to think, analyze, plan, change, and so forth?

I recall numerous books that significantly impacted my life, but I can't recall receiving such value from watching television! I recall some amazingly insightful learning experiences from certain people in my life, yet I never received such value from spending hours on social media.

As I get older, I find things like writing and journaling give me far more insight into life than any form of entertainment. Writing makes me think about a subject more deeply. It leads me to study and research things that interest me and stimulate my thinking.

While I knew writing was beneficial when I was younger, it has become an extremely important part of my life as I age. It helps keep my thinking sharp, gives me life, and will allow me to leave a legacy for generations to come! What could be more fulfilling than that?

Final thoughts

While we put our stomachs on a diet for our health, few think about the diet needed to feed our minds for our mental health. Why is that? Could it be because our mind is always on, constantly consuming information while we are awake? Maybe we take it for granted?

In my quest to gain a greater perspective on the subject of how our minds and stomachs are similar, I would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave any comments, opinions, or perspectives you have below.

I leave you with a thought from one of the most intelligent men to have ever lived:

"If you feed your mind as often as you feed your stomach, then you'll never have to worry about feeding your stomach or a roof over your head or clothes on your back." Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA
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