Eat Like a Pilgrim, Write Like a Pro

pil·grim [pil-grim, -gruhm] noun

1.  A person who journeys to a sacred place as an act of devotion.
2. A traveler or wanderer, especially in a foreign place.
3. An original settler in a region.
We should be adopting almost all of the Indian and pilgrim eating principles. Fresh water from streams, lean meats in the form of naturally fed game, poultry and fresh-caught fish from pure streams and a clean ocean. Fresh fruits and vegetables. Those were the days!” Diane Kress, R.D.

(To read my article featuring Kress’ insight, visit: Fabulous Fall Foods.)
As writers, we are pilgrims—people voyaging and settling into foreign places. And like many pilgrims throughout history, we work extremely hard. If we don’t fuel our bodies and brains with plentiful nutrients and sufficient amounts of energy, we can develop a slew of complications, from fuzzy thinking and memory lapses to headaches, insomnia and fatigue. For our sake and the sake of our careers, it’s best we keep such challenges in the fiction category… Don’t you think???


Choose fresh over processed. 
While we wouldn’t want to eat precisely like the pilgrims of Mayflower voyage fame, who survived on long-lasting foods like dried cow tongue, we can all benefit from eating more nutritious, whole foods. Studies have shown that the antioxidants in colorful fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains not only support your body’s defenses against infections and disease, they boost brain function.
Eat often.
Anyone who’s been on a lengthy voyage will tell you the importance of frequent meals or snacks. In order to maintain positive levels of glucose, which is your brain’s main fuel source, you must eat enough and at proper time intervals—typically every 2 to 4 hours. To ensure stable blood sugar, energy levels, appetite control and moods between meals, emphasize those natural foods.
Get Your Healthy Fats.
Although there’s still much we don’t know for certain about early Americans’ diets, we do know that they ate plenty of fish, nuts and seeds. A deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids, healthy fats we must get from food, can cause fatigue, depressive moods, memory problems and mood swings. Omega-3s play a vital role in brain function, so eat rich sources, such as salmon, mackerel, halibut, ground flaxseeds, walnuts and canola oil, often.

Practice Gratitude.
Most of us don’t have to hunt, gather or scrounge for our food. For that alone we should be grateful. Where did the food on your last plate come from? Who created, purchased or prepared it for you? If someone served you, did you look them in the eye to say “thanks?” Did you enjoy it or eat it mindlessly in front of the TV? Did you chew and eat slowly, observing the flavors and textures? Or did you gulp it down?
Research conducted by Robert Emmons, a pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­ogy at UC Davis and Editor-In-Chief of the Jour­nal of Pos­i­tive Psy­chol­ogy, showed that practicing gratitude can increase happiness levels by about 25 percent and improve physical health and sleep quality. What good are we as writers without positive moods, health or sleep?

A Healthy Brain-Boosting Day

Steel-cut oats, milk, fresh fruit & walnuts
Tea (rich in brain-boosting antioxidants)
Sliced apple with cheese or nut butter
Herb-crusted salmon
Fresh or steamed veggies
Whole grain roll
Air-popped, herb-seasoned popcorn (a hearty whole grain)
Homemade bean & vegetable chili
Cornbread, made with whole grain flour, topped with honey
Milk or wine (milk for protein, wine for antioxidants…and fun :))
Morning, noon & night:
Say “thank you.”
Ponder your blessings.
Jot them down in a gratitude journal.

Which pilgrim-style step are you willing to work on? Which have you mastered? What are you particularly grateful for today??

Leave a comment


  1. great post! you made so very good insightful points! 🙂

  2. Shannon Esposito

     /  November 5, 2011

    Great advice! I started juicing a few months ago and my kids love it, it’s a great way to get all those veggies in them every day. I think our biggest problem here in America is our lifestyle–we’re always on the run, multi-tasking and trying to be all to everyone. That leaves no time to hit the markets for organic food, cook meals at home or even enjoy the food we do eat.

    I heard a radio person interview people in England and ask them what they really thought of Americans….almost every one of them said we are overweight and only eat fast food. Is that really how we want the world to see us?

    • Thanks for your insight, Shannon! So glad to hear that you’ve instilled a passion for wellness in your wee ones.

      You’re so right regarding the world’s perception of us. We’re also seen as extremists—feast or famine…continually “super sizing” and gorging ourselves or obsessively, excessively dieting. Neither is healthy. It’s all about balance…learning to trust our bodies, eating primarily nutritious foods and keeping it all in perspective.

      Stay happy, healthy and well. 🙂

  3. Love your last one! Big gratitude practitioner myself…

  4. All good advice. I like how you tied it in to writing. Do you think you could do that with exercise? I could use the motivation! I also like the part about gratitiude. I need to remember to be more grateful for what I have.

  5. Glad this resonated with you, Emma! I do plan to address exercise…Thanks for motivating *me* to do so soon. 😉

  6. I love how you tied the journey of writing and healthy eating together. It definitely makes a difference to our mood, stamina, creativity, etc to eat a nourishing diet. And it’s not just the food but the love with which we consume it. Great points! One of my favorite cookbooks is Nourishing Traditions. It doesn’t emphasize lean meats as much as it does whole foods and foods that people have eaten traditionally in different cultures.

  7. lynnkelleyauthor

     /  November 7, 2011

    Thanks for the reminder about healthy eating. I’d rather eat raw fruits, veggies, and nuts over processed foods any day. I heard that about practicing gratitude before. It’s so true.

    The word “pilgrim” always reminds me of John Wayne!

  8. Catherine Johnson

     /  November 8, 2011

    That herb-crusted salmon sounds divine. And I had salmon last night. I sometimes put pesto on mine, not so healthy ay? 🙂

    This is really good advice especially for NaNoers. I remember eating very poorly after having my first child and I am sure it led to mild depression. It was a vicious circle of sleep deprivation making me crave carbs and chocolate and anything fast to eat. I wish I’d have realised the implications at the time.

  9. Many of us learn the importance of positive nutrition the hard way… Sorry you had to endure that.

    Regarding pesto, it’s actually pretty nutritious. The olive oil, herbs and nuts provide healthy fats and antioxidants. A bit rich, sure, but still healthy. And TASTY, which also matters. 😉 Stay well!

  10. Great post! It’s amazing to me how many people load up on sugars and energy drinks. There’s plenty of energy to be found in natural foods, and once a person weens their body from the artificial boosters they will have more energy than before.

    • Thanks, Mark. Means a lot coming from a wellness-concious individual such as you. I encourage people to eat more nutritious foods rather than focus on restriction… Gradually, they taste better and provide that energy you mentioned. Makes for a breezy, healthy lifestyle.

  11. Good advice, August.

    I grew up with a strict 3 meals a day routine and never anything in between. It took me a long time to understand that my mood and blood sugar were connected. When I look back I wonder how many times I got in trouble just because my sugar dipped (and I got in trouble, er, from time to time).

    I’ll go for one of those pilgrim steps, all I have to do is make my mind up … milk or WINE … milk or WINE … decisions, decisions 🙂


    • Have you decided??? *hanging in suspense* Wait. Does “cheers” mean you went the fun route??

      I’m with you. We should blame all of our trouble-making on blood sugar decline… Okay, some of it. 😉

      Thanks for another smile-inducing comment, Nigel! Helps keep the grumps at bay.

  12. Nice August!….& zooping(Anna original) back to your Gratitude entry… I just returned from an hour walk. On the way back, stopped by grocery store and purchased chicken & potatoes(hooking that up for my hubby and myself in a few). This is my first long walk since beginning an intense immune therapy…I am grateful that I made it back home without fatigue overwhelming me, and grateful for meeting a complete stranger in Alsace, (a Guadeloupian woman with two children), one who speaks English and German and who completely lit up my day and I hers……Thank you for liking one of my posts, August, thank you for the tips concerning healthy meals…thank you for such a delicious name that magnetized me to click on your blog to check you out….You go girl!!! (smiles)

    • Congrats on your continued healing! Your gracious attitude is commendable and likely contributes to your physical wellness.

      Thanks for your note! Lit up MY day. 😉

  1. Grumpy to Gracious « August McLaughlin's Blog

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