Once upon a time food was thought of as a means to come together in happy spirits for celebration and festivities. It has the power to comfort us in times of need. But today it is way more common that thoughts of food, provoke thoughts of fear. With the rapid rise in food intolerance issues and an obesity crisis that has us fearing fat, and constantly judging our body shape it is no surprise that many are seeing food as the enemy.
But how can this be good? What damage are we really doing with this belief?
Truth is, it’s not food that is our enemy but in fact our selves. The most toxic poison to our bodily system is our mind, and it is causing physiological responses in the body and yes, many of the very problems that we’re trying so desperately to avoid.
Lets take a look at a few scenarios….
Food intolerances are right royal pain in the butt. They cause us physical discomfort, and the distress of working out what to buy, what is safe to eat and just how much will be okay before an overload will wreak havoc on our insides. The common symptoms of an inflamed irritable bowel are bloating, wind and abdominal pain that causes either diarrhoea or constipation and can be a day after day occurrence that seems to have no end. It is certainly no surprise that the very thought of food has us freaking out.. We either go into stress response around meal times, don’t end up with a well balanced diet or sometimes we avoid meal times all together just to overt the pain.
Even when we have our food intolerances figured out and are proceeding well with our FODMAP eating plan, we have still conditioned our minds by categorising foods into good and bad and are living with a subconscious mind set and worry around mealtimes.
Here’s how it plays out in the body.
The very thought of eating ( now the stressor), weather conscious or sub-conscious, psychologically triggers a physiological stress response in the body. Blood pools away from our mid section and into our arms and legs for fight or flight, the release of chemicals heightens our pain receptors, thus causing ‘Digestive Shutdown’ and physical digestive distress.
So we are worried about eating and causing pain, trigger the stress response which flicks the digestion switch to off, and then we end up with the exact problems we were hoping to avoid. Do this to the body often enough when its time to eat, and its no wonder the inflammation won’t seem to subside even when we are trying to consume low FODMAP foods.
Sadly, it works the same for those that are worried about gaining weight or have been battling to try and shed the excess. In this scenario, not only do we have a fear of gaining weight, but a lot of toxic nutritional beliefs around food and weather or not it is doing us any good or responsible for the extra kilos. So again we see food as the enemy, and often look for quick alternatives, that don’t suffice and increase the problem.
Eating less food or skipping meals, can interfere with the bodies natural rhythm, deregulates appetite, and not only will the body become hungry as it screams out in search of lacking nutrients, this often results in us binge eating and over eating at a time of day when calorie burning is less efficient. Also, when the body feels starved of food and good nutrients it will naturally store weight for its survival. We then add to the toxic mindset, psychologically triggering a stress response with thoughts of self hate around our body image. Living in, this day in day out chronic stress response, around food and what we look like, reeking havoc on our metabolism. The chemical release during fight or flight raises the levels of cortisol and insulin and results in us either storing more weight, or being unable to lose it and again we contribute to the very problems that we are trying to avoid.
Even when we are doing our very best to eat healthy diets, the results of causing digestive shutdown has our diminished metabolism not doing its job and instead, excreting nutrients out at an excessive rate, not building muscle, killing off good bacteria and depleting our immunity, causing inflammation and storing weight.
So I bet by now you are wondering, how do we effectively flick the digestion switch back on?
Is it possible to not change so much of the meal itself, but change who we are today as eaters?
Well, a Nutritional psychology coach can help empower you to do just that.
Mind Body Nutrition, focuses on building a healthy eating psychology that personally empowers people to reach their goals from a place of wholeness. Relieving the body from a chronic state of stress, to achieve the optimal state of digestion, assimilation and calorie burning…..
When we see food as an enjoyable experience, that is good for our health, vitality and soul, we switch on the parasympathetic stress response (relaxation) in the body.
This is achieved by giving our body all the correct messages, to provoke all the right responses.
Most importantly, make time for food. Breathe and eat slowly. Fast eating, tells the body there is panic, confuses the signals between the gut and the brain, switches on the stress response and off digestion.
Enjoy your food. Sight, taste, smell, texture, good company and the right environment.
All of our senses have the ability to impact our experience with food and how our body reacts during mealtimes.
However, it is time to realise that we as a society could benefit as a whole and help diminish these fears immensely by becoming more aware of the problems, and seeing them as collective issues. In creating positive change to public dining experiences for the food intolerant individual and alleviating the social pressures around weight and body image, we support humanity and evolve from these challenges. From this view, it is clear to see that the war we are battling is one against ourselves and each other.
But by assuring pleasure and relaxation around food, we turn the key that switches on a healthy digestion, a happy mind and a fully functioning metabolism.
Because we do ourselves the biggest favour when we see ‘food’ as our very best friend, and use the power of the mind……as our healer.