Food Meets Mind As Medicine To Heal: Greekalicious Maria Benardis
Greekalicious and its knowledgeable founder, Maria Benardis, have now arrived and settled in New York City to share the knowledge of ancient Greek wisdom and healing with food.
To heal the body and soul the ancient Greeks viewed their kitchens as pharmacies to provide sustenance. Maria Benardis, the award-winning author, health coach, teacher, and chef is founder of Greekalicious, Sydney, Australia’s first organic Greek cooking school. Benardis teaches in cooking workshops and events how to cook with love to promote healthy living, healing, and prosperity.
Food can Truly Heal
With the Greek philosophy that cooking and eating is a spiritual experience, Benardis shares in her workshop these ancient Greek wisdoms. The lovely chef promotes the Greek beliefs of using the mind along with herbs, therapies and other whole foods to build harmony in one’s life-force energy in order to regenerate the soul, spirit, body and prevent disease. Benardis aims to provide the tools and knowledge for all to live a full content and healthier life.
We could all benefit from learning the dietary routines of the ancient Greeks, where their very methods of cooking were directly connected to healing, harmony, pleasure and happiness,” Benardis continues “Cooking is not about measurements and precision; it’s about connecting to the ingredients and using your senses as a guidance system.”
Speaking with Benardis
When speaking with Maria it becomes evident that her goal is to help others learn to heal and bring happiness to their body and self through her knowledge as a chef.
“Greekalicious is all about food cooked with the senses, love and harmony. By using the mind, herbs and other whole foods to build harmony in our life-force energy, it is possible to prevent disease and regenerate the soul, spirit and body.”
Carol Ruth Weber: How did you begin your love of cooking?
Maria Benardis: My love of cooking started on the small Island of Psara in Greece at about the age of three. I lived there with my Grandmother until 11-years old, before going back to Australia. There were no modern day luxuries like electricity. We planted everything. That was my first connection to nature and sharing food. We would barter with the neighbors. Something inside resonated with me and I felt such happiness that I knew that this is what I wanted to do.
CRW: When did you learn about the healing effects of the Greek diet and how did you come to establish Greekalicious?
MB: Almost by force and frustration. I became very ill in my 20’s, when I found myself spending years in hospitals with cysts that were turning into cancer. When something even more serious happened involving my lung I finally just said enough! It clicked inside that the medical field has failed me. That is when I decided to seek out what my ancient ancestors did to live to 100 without decease. I started reading Greek literature and ancient healers books and found Hypocrites and Aristotle and all of the great masters. I found the wisdom in them on how to heal myself. I use myself on how the wisdoms healed me.
I learned the way I was cooking had to be changed as well as the type of eating. I also learned to use a lot of therapies on myself for calmness and healing to supplement the food and to heal my mind. I felt like my body was getting better. I had a difficult childhood and I knew I had to clear my emotions as well in order to have peace so that my body could heal. It was not serving me to blame others. I documented my dreams and through my dreams was the constant theme of abuse and I knew I had to forgive and let go. When I did that my body began healing quicker.
I went back to doctors after a couple of years and all of the health problems had disappeared. I told my doctor what I had done and she was skeptical. I realized that doctors are not trained in nutrition.
CRW: How have you personally seen your ancient Greek practice of eating and preparing food change lives?
MB: A girl spoke to me during a cooking class stating “I don’t know what happened today, but in my heart something opened that I now know what to do to change my life.” I saw a release happening in her, that she was letting go of something. I know that I have made a difference that has improved someone’s life. CRW: Do you have tips to help people in constant pain?
MB: Self-care is self-love! There is a lot involved and a lot of things to do in order to heal. All of this will ultimately lead to peace in order to lead a healthful and wonderful life. Ancient Greece applied all of these things in order to attain the wisdom for the life we have today.
I have a five step approach of five areas of practice.
1. You need to look at food being eaten to reduce inflammation in the body. With no inflammation the body can heal. Use willow bark tea for inflammation and peppermint for bloating. Apple cider vinegar, turmeric, chili peppers and clove will all reduce pain. You can incorporate in cooking or in capsule form. Have as much vegetables and fruits for anti-inflammatory. Meat products and alcohol will cause the body to flare up in pain. I also recommend omega oils or flax seed oils.
2. Physical contact. Use a good cream such as arnica pain to rub on for pain. Massage, physical therapy, acupuncture. The physical approach to help pain is very important.
3. Look at different therapies to heal thyself. Therapies were used in ancient Greece to change one’s energy and mind. Hydro therapy has been used since ancient Greece to alleviate pain. Aroma therapy uses different types of oil for different types of pain. An Epsom salt bath therapy will draw out toxins and help body to heal. Add baking soda to the bath for bubbling effect. The ancient Greeks took natural salt baths.
Music and color therapy. Music reduces stress and helps with taking mind away from pain. Color can change the entire mood and energy from a person. Introduce green for relaxation. Also look to change the décor color to make life more peaceful. Color is very important in cooking as well. Red foods are anti cancerous and good for the heart.
4. Think good thoughts! I prepare a set of affirmations to recite every day so throughout the day we are programming our minds to help the body heal. Meditation is all about being still, listening to the body and calming the mind. Prayer is about hope and faith that all will be okay. It includes asking the universe for help with healing, love, etc. Meditation is about listening for the answers and prayer is about asking for the answers. It is through the listening that the body will tell you what it needs.
5. Hypocrites believed that exercise along with the right amount of foods and good thoughts will provide the recipe for good health and happiness. The exercise depends on each person on what they can incorporate into their lives. Exercise is good for reducing stress and anxiety.
“I try to put a positive spin on even negative life occurrences.” The amazing Benardis continued to explain, “Healing is so much more than just food and surgery. You must learn to help a person emotionally in order for them to heal.”
Benardis expounds “In healing I compare people to trees. In Autumn we shed leaves so in fall we need to shed anything that no longer serves you. In winter the trees are naked and they are showing us their inner beauty. Winter time is when we should be looking within at our soul and reassessing what we are doing and focusing on what we can do for our inside,” continuing “Springtime we are now bringing our new self out as the leaves bloom. Summertime we bring our full self out to radiate our full outer beauty to the world.”
The inside and out beautiful Benardis proves that not all healing comes from visiting a doctor and modern medicine. It is important to understand that what one puts in them should provide nourishment to not only heal ills but also to create peace and harmony to mend the body. As Greek philosopher Hippocrates stated “Foolish the doctor who despises knowledge acquired by the ancients.”