Did you know that you could be eating the healthiest food in the world and still be starving of the nutrients your body needs to function and stay healthy?
What? You mean all those lovely green vegetables and organic food aren’t doing me any good?
I’m afraid not. Not if you’re S-T-R-E-S-S-E-D!
Your nervous system has two switches: one is the stress response and the other is the relaxation response. For most of us, our stress response is switched on waaay too much. Mental, emotional, physical stressors like moving too fast through our days with too much to do, bad food choices, toxins, chemicals, hormones all over the place, crappy PMS, feelings of anxiety, jealousy, anger, resentment, frustration, all turn the stress response on. The stress response switch is automatic and we don’t have any control over it, our brain does.
The good news is that the bit we do have a little control over, if we choose to, is flipping the switch into relaxation response and deep breathing, gentle exercise, laughter, deep sleep and meditation all do the trick.
The important thing to know about this stress response is that it switches OFF your digestion. So if you sit down to eat and you’re distracted, worried, upset, angry or rushed you can bet that your digestion is switched off. That means you can shove some food down you but that food is just going to sit in your stomach going nowhere and will probably make you feel bloated and uncomfortable.
And if that isn't bad enough, because the brain got no pleasure from that rushed meal, it’s going to give you messages that you’re still hungry!! So you'll be reaching for food an hour after eating - and probably the wrong sort too.
It’s only when you relax, that blood flows back to your digestive system, your food gets broken down and all the nutrients, the vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function, get absorbed.
This whole system might seem odd but in evolutionary terms the stress response helped us get out of danger back in the day when we were cavemen. This meant running away fast, or fighting. By the brain’s reckoning, what you need in that moment is energy in your arms and legs for strong, fast action and energy for the brain to think fast. This is why blood is diverted away from our digestion, immune and reproductive systems to our brain, arms and legs. And it makes sense, right? Who needs to digest lunch, fight infection or make babies when there’s danger to be dealt with?
Fast forward to present day and this stress response still works in the same away. Except these days our stressors are deadlines at work, mouthy children, financial worries, traffic jams or commuter tubes or too much to do in too little time...and much more. And it can feel unrelenting.
If you’re after great health, of course I’m going to tell you to eat as well as you can but that is only half the equation. How you eat and who you are being when you eat is just as important to great energy and health.
So here are 3 things you can try this week:
Breathe deeply before you start eating, at least 3-5 times
Just eat, don’t get distracted by anything else. Focus on the food and engage your senses when you're eating: what can you see, smell and taste? This helps slow things down and gets you in the present moment.
Chew your food. Yep, that old chestnut works because when the jaw moves it signals to the stomach that food is on its way and gets the digestive juices flowing. It also makes you slow down and appreciate your food, which gives the brain the all important pleasure signal which leads to us being satiated sooner and therefore eating less.
If you’re interested in digging deeper into how to slow down, eat better, digest better and much more, speak to me by booking a free discovery or breathrough session here.
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Did you know you could be eating the healthiest food in the world and still be starving?