COMPANION

Diet and Nutrition

The Alexander Technique does not advocate a certain diet. However, it can be inferred from Alexander’s writings that he was in favour of wholesome and nourishing food, and against foods which could adversely affect use and functioning.

F. M. Alexander

F. M. Alexander used the example of people’s addiction to certain food as proof that people are still controlled by sensory experiences rather than reasoning:

The fact that civilized human beings will take wine or sugar or drugs, when conscious that it is gradually undermining health and character, is proof positive of the domination of the physical over the mental self, exactly as in the Stone Age.[1]

He also discusses the addiction some people have to sugar, and the potential damage done to a child if a mother adds sugar to milk in order to induce the child to drink it. This is not only damaging in itself but creates later bad habits:

Children are not taught to cultivate a taste for wholesome, nourishing foods, but are tempted, and their incipient habits pandered to, by such additions as the sugar I have more particularly cited.[2]

As he believed in the unity of the functioning of the organism, he held that such a bad diet would affect the use of the whole:

Apropos of this point, I remember hearing a question put to my friend, Dr Clubbe of Sydney, by a London specialist, who asked what, in Dr Clubbe’s opinion, was the primary cause of the derangement of the natural working of a child’s muscular mechanism and respiratory system. The answer was given without hesitation, “Toxic poisoning as a result of artificial feeding.” The logic of this answer will be readily appreciated by the layman, when he considers the interdependence of every part of the system, for in this case the nerve centres connected with the sensory apparatus of the digestive organs control also the respiratory processes. As a consequence, when these centres are dulled in their action as a result of toxic poisoning, there is a loss of activity in the processes of respiration, with consequent maladjustments of those parts of the muscular mechanism more nearly concerned, and so the whole machine is thrown out of gear.[3]

Alexander himself was conscious and careful about what he ate; by all accounts he ate varied and food of good quality. ‘. . .  [B]oth McDonagh and FM advocated that people should eat fruit and vegetables of the very best quality.’[4]

Later Writings

  • Macrobiotics in Motion by Betsy Polatin introduces macrobiotic and the Alexander Technique, and otherwise contains sequences of movements to be used for the purpose of relaxing or purification.[5]
  • ‘Loose Weight and Look Younger  – The Alexander Technique Way’ by Harry Gorst and Jorgen Haahr consists of two parts, the first being a diet plan. The second part explains how the body works, the nine ages of woman, how to notice and alter postures which affects one’s slim appearance, and how to get more exercise in everyday activity. It does not introduce the Technique but recommends it.[6]
  • ‘On the Alexander Technique and mindful eating’ by Shirley Wade Linton is on applying the Technique to mindful eating, in particular for people with disordered eating.[7]
  • Cooking Up edited by Carolyn Nicholls is written by the students of The Brighton Alexander Technique College; it contains recipes with puns and humoristic references to the Alexander Technique.[8]
References

[1] Mans Supreme Inheritance by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 1996), p. 42.
[2] Mans Supreme Inheritance by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 1996), p. 69.
[3] Mans Supreme Inheritance by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 1996), p. 69–70.
[4] Personally Speaking by Walter Carrington, Seán Carey, (Mouritz, 2001 [1986]), p. 76.
[5] Macrobiotics in Motion by Betsy Polatin (Japan Publications, 1987).
[6] ‘Loose Weight and Look Younger  – The Alexander Technique Way’ by Harry Gorst and Jorgen Haahr (Gorst Publishing, 1997), booklet.
[7] ‘On the Alexander Technique and mindful eating’ by Shirley Wade Linton in STATNews vol. 6, no. 25 edited by Ann James (STAT, May 2008), p. 16.
[8] Cooking Up edited by Carolyn Nicholls (Blurb, 2015).