Good Food is Only Half the Picture

Do you work hard to be conscientious about what you eat, but still don’t feel quite like yourself?

food half the picture

The food you eat is literally that which you take in from the outside world in. But that’s only half the picture. Nutrition includes both your food and your digestion.

Digestion is the gateway to the body: it’s how you take in and adapt the outer world to suit your needs and purposes.

The digestive tract is actually outside the body – did you know that?

It’s a tube that runs through your body. Think about it a minute: it’s one long tube with an opening at both ends. Sure there are variations along the way, and valves to keep things contained in the right place at the right time, but it’s all one big tunnel.

The food you eat, substances from the outside world, go into the tube. Your digestive organs release juices and such out to break down those morsels, only then do the bits you need get absorbed into the bloodstream. Into the body to be made into whatever substance you need.

 

The function of your digestion plays an active role in how well you’re nourished.

We tend to think of digestion as an automatic process over which we have no control. Not true.

Who you are, your emotions, your attitudes, your approach to life, even your personality will affect your digestion and how you assimilate food. There have been studies of identical twins, who’ve been raised the exact same way, and yet one is fat and the other thin. One thrives and the other is sickly.

Other factors go into how well you digest: stress levels, emotional state, where you are, who you’re with.

Think about it: Have you ever eaten something, let’s say an oatmeal muffin, one day and have been fine, and the next time you eat the same muffin, you sneeze your head off or get a belly ache?

Have you ever had a big fight with someone you love and not been able to eat even though you were hungry 10 minutes before?

Do you try really hard to be conscientious about food choices, calories and portions sizes, with little or no impact on your weight, your energy levels, your skin, or whatever your weak spot happens to be?

 

Digestion is an expression of your soul.

Your spirit holds the blueprint for your most vibrant manifestation: your highest potential. Your soul helps to guide you towards that potential through your intuition, symptoms, images, dreams sensations and feelings.

Your soul guides your body to become what it is meant to be, in order to best steer you towards who you are meant to become. On a physical level, this means building the container (you might even call it the temple), the body that will best suit your purpose. Hence, your soul helps direct your digestive tract to absorb certain nutrients.

 

Digestion is a reflection of how you take in and digest life.

The way you digest food contains the metaphors for how well you savour, absorb and release situations. It harbours clues to where you need to grow and expand and what you need to release.

Do you have a hard time stomaching a certain situation?

Did your father always tell you to stop your bellyaching?

When do you have a hard time assimilating circumstances?

Do you have a hard time letting go of crap you no longer need?

When you learn to understand your digestive processes and see that you play a conscious role in its functioning, you take a pro-active role in getting the most out of the food you eat. Which then sets you up for improved health across the board.

Digestion is one of the doorways to your relationship with Life.

 

Because digestion is how you access nourishment, it’s the best place to start when it comes to healing your body.

You can’t maintain and repair the container until you get full access to the raw materials it needs.

Kind of like the shipping and receiving of a major corporation. Once that department is running efficiently, the rest of the company has what it needs to build its product and grow.

Through enhanced digestion you’ll realize your pot belly’s not here to stay. Your smelly pits and acne aren’t requirements of perimenopause. Nor is exhaustion and indigestion a criteria for motherhood. Depression and anxiety aren’t states you have to live with.

Imagine:

  • Feeling at home in your body.
  • Having the energy to fully enjoy your life again.
  • Being present to your own needs, as well as to your kids.

I could write pages about this stuff. Instead I’ll leave you 3 simple fixes you can make to improve your digestion today and an invitation for more if you want it.

 

3 steps that will impact your ability to nourish yourself for life.

1. Sit and Savour.

Take a breath as you sit, this will engage your relaxation response. Give gratitude for what’s in front of you.

Enjoy the meal with all 5 of your senses: Give your body a chance to sensually and energetically tune into the food you’re eating for better assimilation.

2. Chew.

Other than making things easier to swallow, the movement of your jaw sends a muscular message down the tract, telling the other organs that it’s time to get ready to receive and digest some food.

3. Include fermented food in your meals.

Things like yogourt, kefir, miso, kimchi, sauerkraut and other fermented veggies.

These are your sources of probiotics, the micro-organisms that improve digestion and elimination, stimulate your immune system and provide you with certain nutrients, like B and K vitamins.

 

Better health is possible.

It starts with building the relationship to your body and taking an active interest in how it’s nourished.

Do you take your digestion for granted? What’s one thing that would improve in your life if your body made better use of the food you eat? When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

 

Are you ready to move beyond seeking the right food choices and deepen a relationship to your body and how it works?

I invite you to join a series called Spring into Celebrating You, in which I walk you through 3 rituals & explorations to (re)connect with that most fundamental relationship of who you are and how to feel at home within the needs of your body.

If there’s one place that you deserve to be comfortable, it’s at home in yourself.

Learn more about this basket full of essential garden tools right here.

 

Know anyone else who works hard to get the best out of their food? Send them this post using any (or all!) of the social share buttons below.

Stop Reading my Blog! Listen to your Body instead.

I mean it.

If you’re coming here for the nothing but facts. If you’ve been Googling your issue for hours and want just one more opinion rather than listening to your body. If you need to add one more layer to the house of cards of conflicting information you’ve already built, then stop right here.

I’m fed up with women coming to me with a laundry list of products they’ve found online, wanting me to figure out how to fit them all into their day. I get annoyed when they’ve come armed with the potential downside to every possible solution I might offer. It makes my skin crawl to hear a woman tell me how she’s blindly following her doctor’s (or her naturopath’s or Dr. Oz’s) advice with no understanding of what it’s doing for her, or to her.

But I get it.

I’ve felt absolutely frozen with indecision after doing similar research, like a tightrope walker over a ravine, fearing any step I make could be the wrong one. I’ve wanted someone to just come along and tell me what to do.

Listen to your body instead.This isn’t all about health either. Even buying a car or a decent pair of hiking boots can snowball into an overwhelming task in light of too many facts.

The mind-boggling amount of knowledge you can learn online has made self-education incredibly accessible to anyone with computer access. It can turn into a bad case of google-itis. The beauty of so much knowledge comes into play when you use it for your empowerment. The web somehow nourishes your sense of safety while giving you the facts you need to make an informed decision.

Fact of the matter is, it’s still your decision. Beyond all the textbooks and averages and generalisations – some of which you may fall into, for sure – you are an individual person, with quirks, anomalies, opinions and feelings of your own.

 

When was the last time, however, that you checked in with the one expert who matters most? YOU.

YOU need to be comfortable with your choice.

YOU need to be the one who feels it’s the best solution for you. The decision has to come from the inside.

In the end, you’re the one who has to live with the decision: you’re the one who must take the medication, pop 12 supplements throughout the day, drive the car or wear the shoes.

The credo on my homepage states,

“Give a woman a diet, you may improve her body for now. Teach a woman to listen to her body, you’ll improve her health for life.”

 

Tea wisdom

Wisdom from my cup of tea: “When we practice listening we become intuitive.”

Here’s the secret to how to listen to your body.

As part of a series called Spring into Celebrating YOU, the first step is all about building a relationship with yourself. Like you would when getting to know a new man or the funky lady next door, or the woman who just joined your networking group, you sit down and have a conversation, only this time, it’s with your body.

As much as I tout the benefits of listening to your body, it’s not something that was innate or immediately obvious to me.

I’m the first one to admit that I spend far too much time in my head, letting the stressful tailspin of thoughts get the better of me. I still call on my homeopath to talk me off the ledge of anxiety with a dose of objectivity. I still lie on my acupressurist’s table and let her ask my body the questions I avoid.

More and more, I remember that the answer is right here with me. All I have to do is ask and listen to my body for the answers.

This is all part of my campaign to get you more fully engaged with who you are, celebrate you, so you can get back to feeling at home in yourself.

I want to make this easy for you.

Included in the series is an audio to walk you through the basics of tuning into your body and hearing the advice of your personal health coach. (Find all the details about the series here.)

With this one true ally on your side, you’ll never have to get lost in a forest of too much information again.

Tell us your experience of something you’ve learned when you listened deeply to yourself. Or that time you kicked yourself for not heeding your inner wisdom. When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

Share these insights with anyone else you know with google-itis, by using any (or all!) of these social share buttons.

Where to Start Improving your Health

I’ve got the Do-Re-Mi song stuck in my head. I’d been asking myself where to start in upping my own eating habits, when I heard Julie Andrews’ voice:

“Let’s start at the very beginning/ It’s a very good place to start…”

The first thing my clients are required to do is keep a food diary for a few days. (Before you run and hide, grant me a moment to explain.)

You might think I’m doing this to derive all sorts of details about what you eat. Things like how many calories you consume in a day, how many grams of the right nutrients, how many servings of kale. If you’ve hung out here long enough, you know that’s not how I roll.

You might think I’m doing this to judge you on how “good” or “bad” your diet is. To peer into your life and see that you ate bag of cookies instead of supper one night. (I’ve had clients admit that they clean up their act when filling it out because someone’s going to be looking at it.)

Nuh uh.

Here’s my secret: I don’t look too closely at your food diary.

What?!? All that tracking and noting for nothing? Absolutely not. And don’t get me wrong, I do look closely in order to show you where to start.

You don’t fill out the food diary for me, you fill it out for you.

The purpose of the food diary is to bring AWARENESS to your habits. It gives a concrete idea of what you’re doing so you’ll have a reference point from which you can modify and to gauge your success.

The food diary shows you where to start.

To get anywhere, you need to know where you’re headed, but you also need to know your starting point. Want to drive to Toronto? Are you leaving from Montreal or Chicago?

Want to lose 20lbs? How much do you weigh now?

Sleep better? What’s it like this week?

Run a marathon? How far can you go today?

Create better eating habits or calm symptoms? What are you putting into your body already?

You now have a realistic picture of where you are and I have a reference point for where to start your guidelines and program.

A food diary goes deeper than what you eat.

where to start improving you

Along with the food, you also keep track of when you eat and how you eat it.

Things like hunger before or bloating after. Things like your mood around mealtimes and through the day. Your energy, your sense of joy, your ability to focus. Did any symptoms flare up…or calm down?

What else did you do during the day? How do these eating habits differ from when you were a kid or a student or a budding professional?

You see, it’s through the food diary that your story starts to emerge. Even in the way you fill it out (or not), you leave clues to

    • your relationship to food
    • your relationship to eating
  • your relationship to your body and its care

Keeping a food diary unlocks one of the doors through which you can listen to your body.

Whenever I track my eating habits, I notice that I hardly in a day. (Excuse me while I take a sip of water.)

I had one client notice how little she eats. By that knowledge alone, we solved the mystery of her mood swings and opened the inquiry on all the ways she’s not nourishing herself.

Another client realized how well she eats. She quickly understood that we had to then explore her “underlying struggles with food (and life)” for the source of her extra pounds.

Another saw how her digestive pain stemmed from the stresses of a toxic relationship as much as (if not more than) from the gluten.

All different. All more complex than following any diet rules or shoulds. If you want to improve any part of your life, you’ve got to know who you are, how you work and what works for you.

Only then can you know where to start moving forward.

So go on, I dare you: keep track of your eating habits for most of a week and see what you discover about yourself. I even made you this handy PDF to print out and get you going.

Do you think you eat well? Think there’s room for improvement? Let us know in the comments…then come back after a week of observation and tell us if you still feel the same way. When you share your piece, you open the possibilities for others.

Give your friends the gift of this first step by using any (or all!) of the pretty green buttons.

Nourish your Body as a Gift to your Soul

Today we get to the last piece of the self-care as spiritual puzzle. (But by no means the last you’ll hear of the subject from me!)

Your body.

We might be living in a time when eating and exercise verge on religious obsession, but taking care of the body as spiritual? Really?

Yes, really. Let me explain.

First I’ll reiterate: You’re a spiritual being having a human experience. The body is simply the vessel that enables that experience of life on Earth to happen.

Your body is your hostess.

The relationship you have with a hostess can determine the quality and length of your visit anywhere. Treat your hostess with kindness and gratitude, she’ll bend over backwards to make your stay pleasant. From the other perspective, if she fulfills your desires and makes you comfortable, your stay will be effortless.

Perhaps an over-simple metaphor, but you get the picture.

This is why I firmly believe – and continually teach clients – that listening to your body really is the key to healing whatever ails you.

Talking over this concept with my friend Dana the other night, she worded it so perfectly – and in a way I’d not considered: Maintaining health is a reciprocal trust between my body and myself.

Think about that for a minute.

Do I trust my body?

Does my body trust me? Not an easy one to ponder.

Do I betray my body? Or, if I’m more honest, HOW do I betray my body?

But doesn’t my body betray me as well?

Actually not.

Your body isn’t betraying you when it erupts in pain, discomfort, anxiety attacks, etc. She’s telling you plainly that you haven’t treated her right and she’s not happy about it. Maybe she’s trying to tell you something that you can’t, or refuse, to hear, so the pain has to get bigger and louder. You know, like: “Mom. Mom. Mom! Mo-o-om! MOOOOM!!!”

I’ll even go a step further and say that your soul’s not happy and expresses her displeasure through your body. Because the body provides the means for your spirit to function daily, any messages it has for you will be sent via that medium.

bosy last voice of soul

Dana posted this on Facebook the day after our chat.

This isn’t an airy-fairy concept that requires years of meditation training. Your soul speaks to you constantly in a language you understand: sensations, tension, energy levels, seemingly random thoughts and images.

Building trust is a conversation. A two-way street.

A relationship. It’s taken years to establish the one you’re currently in with your body.

Whatever the relationship: hostess, child, friend, lover, it takes time to understand who the other is.

As you get to know a child or a new lover, you gradually pick up and understand the little signals they send. You become attuned to the non-verbal cues, facial expressions and mood changes that let you know how they feel, and what they want. Your own body works the same way.

When you get right down to it, self-care is an expression of self-love. And it’s the means by which you build the relationship with your Self.

The deeper and closer the relationship, the better you’ll understand the subtle nudges and cues she gives you. Then she won’t need to cry so loudly to get your attention.

Care for yourself as you would for any loved one.

Feed your body as you would your dearest friend. Talk to her like you would to your child. Indulge her as if she were the most precious lover. Show her appreciation as you would the most gracious hostess.

What I’m trying to say is, put your love into action. Changes don’t happen in the body unless you embody them. (Duh!)

How do I hear what my body and soul are saying?

All you have to do is listen.

Whenever I’m unhappy with any aspect of my life, I distill whatever the issue until I find the need underneath. Usually, it ends up being some variation of

I want to be heard. I want to be loved. I want to be appreciated. All pathways to my core need for connection.

These same themes came up as I sifted through a particular issue I’ve been having lately around work. Talking to Dana the other night, I was reminded yet again to find these qualities in myself, rather than seek them elsewhere. That’s when it hit me:

My body wants to be heard.
My body wants to be loved
My body wants to be appreciated.

Turns out, that’s what my body was trying to say when I was curled up with gallbladder pain earlier this year. When my moods are off the wall, when my energy’s dipped beyond reason.

Ultimately, it’s my inner self, my soul, that needs to be loved, heard and appreciated. What better way than to offer her the most beautiful, healthy home I can?

Fortunately, even if you can’t quite hear the voice of your soul yet, there are some pretty common ways to get you started on the road to nourishing your body more…and building that trust!

Eat a good breakfast. I’ve always known it to be critical to the day, but I’ve recently recommitted to eating a proper breakfast and it’s made a huge difference to my day. (I’ll be elaborating this one in my next blog!)

Limit sugar, cut out poor quality fats, eat more veggies. Yeah, yeah, you know the drill…this is not news.

Practice loving movement. Yoga, running, zumba, kick-boxing,…whatever. Find a physical activity that lights you up and makes your cells dance.

MOST IMPORTANTLY…

Eat what you love and love what you eat. How can you create a loving relationship if you have to pinch your nose while you’re doing it? The best way to derive nourishment from the food you feed your body is to embrace it with your whole being, so your body can embrace it in return, and put the nutrients to their best use.

The challenge now is to DO it!

Embody healthy changes by putting them into action!

If you’re ready to hear more deeply what your body’s saying: I would LOVE to help. Breaking the ice on that conversation is what I do best. Drop me a line, and we’ll talk about it!

Before you go, pop into the comments and tell me one thing you do that makes your body feel nourished and loved. When you share your thoughts, you open the possibilities for others.

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Celebrating the Mother in You: Action Required

 

Doesn’t matter the exact nature of a relationship you have with others, we women act as caregivers in so many capacities: children, godchildren, grandchildren, students, clients, husbands, friends,… Even our parents require our care & assistance at a certain point.

We give of ourselves lovingly, completely, unconditionally.

We give body, mind and spirit.

This weekend will be Mother’s Day around the world – a day when everyone we care for is encouraged to honour and cherish us for a change.

As much as I love the school-made gifts & flowers & meals & sappy cards, part of me harbours this niggling knot of annoyance that I don’t get showered with this much attention & appreciation every day. Heck, there are days when any sign of acknowledgment would be nice.

Left unchecked, that annoyance can mutate into resentment if I’m not careful. It can be the leak that drains me to the point of exhaustion. It really serves as a little red flag that reminds me to step back and reassess my motivations.

  • Am I caring for others out of guilt or obligation?
  • Am I catering to unrealistic, outdated, unhealthy expectations?
  • Am I fulfilling a belief that my worth lies in my capacity to give?

OR

  • Am I actually looking after others as an unconditional expression of love?
  • Do I give out of a strong inner desire to be of service?
  • Am I simply spreading the surplus of my own overflowing cup?

And really, that’s the key question: Am I giving from a full cup?

Because, as mothers, as caregivers, the one person we tend to neglect in all that giving is ourselves. While making sure that everyone’s fed, rested and diverted, how many times do you stop and ask yourself if you need a snack? A nap? An hour to sit down with a juicy bodice ripper or the latest episode of Sherlock?

Who rubs your feet?
Hugs you when you’ve had a bad day?
Brings home a California roll just because it’s your favourite?

I can’t tell you how much time I spend trying to convince my clients to cook food that will nourish them, that they’ll enjoy. I have clients who basically come to let out their woes because they can’t let their girlfriends see any weakness.

I spend part of every session on some variation of selling a woman on the idea that she needs, deserves – that her health depends on – letting herself come first.

And so, whether you have children or not, I invite you, urge you, implore you, on Mother’s Day, to do one thing that moves you out of your comfort zone on this front. Ask someone for something that would make you feel {delicious, special, honoured, energized, sexy} good.

Because you deserve it!

Now here’s the Action part: Stop into the comments and tell me what it is you want, and then come back next week to let us all know how you felt having it delivered.

Happy (Mother’s) Caring Woman’s Day!

xo
Cathy

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