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.

 

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Wants, Needs and the Necessity of Both

loveactually12

Love Actually

You know that scene in Love Actually, when Mia puts Alan Rickman’s character on the spot by asking if he’ll buy her something while he’s out Christmas shopping with his wife? Then he calls and asks if she needs anything, and she says, “I don’t want what I need, I want something I want.”?

I’ve been thinking about those two words lately. Now that I’ve made a shift in my ability to receive, it’s time to figure out what I want.

“What do you want for Christmas?” That question can make my mind reel with a veritable catalogue of all the clothes, boots, dishes, CDs, trip opportunities, etc. I’d love to have…with a side order of greed guilt so strong that I reply with a “not much” kind of shrug.

If someone instead asks if I need anything, it feels kind of boring: wool socks, a new blender, that book I was planning to read for work.

Same thing happens on a greater scale outside of Christmas presents.

I find it much easier to ask for something that serves some obvious or practical “purpose”, than something that would just make me feel good. Even if it’s boring.

With the Solstice coming this week, I’ve been diving deep to evaluate what it is I really want from life, and what I’m willing to leave behind with the dark. What is it I need in order to move forward into my intentions for 2014?

Want implies a lack – the old expression “I want for nothing” means I don’t lack anything.

Need says that I can’t live without it.

Want & Need

Is one of these concepts better than the other? Is one more important?

The educators at my sons’ daycare used to correct the children whenever they said “I want”, in favour of “I would like”. Perhaps it somehow sounds more polite, less demanding to say, “I would like a cookie” rather than “I want a cookie”.

But, “I would like” insinuates there’s a condition.

I would like a cookie, when I finish my vegetables.
I would like a cookie if there are any left.
I would like a cookie if you think I’m worth it.

It never sat well with me. It always felt as if the children were being discouraged from having any desires.

In the Dance of Life, Desire is a step forward.

It’s how we improve our health, our quality of life, our environment, our relationships.

Desire is how we evolve.

Need takes our desires and lines them up with our values.

I may want a new Mustang convertible. A Prius or a Smart car would fulfill my need to make enviro-friendly the new cool.

I want a bigger house, or at least one that has bigger rooms, and real closets. What I need is to give gratitude for the fact that we have a cozy little place that keeps us all safe.

I want my business to improve, though I need the growth to happen in a way that doesn’t make me lose my ground.

I want those red high-heeled boots I saw in a Manhattan shop last year, but I need a pair of lined, waterproof boots with a sturdy sole. Then again, having those designer boots would fulfill a need to open my heart to more pleasure in my life. 😉

And if I never express my wants, how can I ever expect to get what I need?

Next time, I’ll lay down my intentions for the coming year: a public acknowledgment of what I desire for my business in 2014 – you can all hold me to it!

Now, tell me in the comments below, what do you want for Christmas? How would it fulfill your needs?

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Taking vs Receiving, a Lesson in the True Source of Giving

This post is about gifts, only because I’m writing it in December. Fact is, you could substitute money, praise, pleasure (sexual & otherwise), health, or any other concept you value. Each one is simply a form of positive energy, an expression of Love.

How many times have you heard/read variations on the idea that you will only get as much love (money, praise, etc.) as you give?

Have you ever considered the opposite? That you can only give as much as you allow yourself to receive?

Seems counter-intuitive, the idea of not being able to receive. Yet, some days I feel like the poster child for this one.

I have a hard time receiving:

  • A compliment;
  • An act of kindness;
  • An unsolicited gift, or one that’s more than I expected;
  • Any positive expression that goes above & beyond what I’m used to.

I have this way of deflecting positive energy with a retort, a complaint or a dismissal – “I have circles under my eyes, my hair’s a mess today”; “When you washed the dishes, you forgot to wipe the counters”; “I don’t really need another blue sweater”…

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Turns out, the more closed I remain to receiving, the tighter my fists get around my ability to give. In my house, I have a reputation of being somewhat of a Scrooge at this time of year.

The other day, my husband, our son & I went downtown for some Christmas shopping. Normally, shopping’s not my thing. I can get stingy when it comes to buying things for others, and I most often talk myself out of any item I want/need for myself. To dispel the discomfort, I usually plow through stores and get out as fast as I can.

You see, I’ve been programmed to be more comfortable with the concept of Give & Take. And, when I’m honest with myself, that’s what I do, I take.

Taking is an active, deliberate action. It’s based in the head. And it means I’m in control.

I picture it as holding out my hands or reaching with them. Sure, most times (though not all), I’m taking something that’s been proffered. But then it remains out there, at arm’s length.

When I reciprocate, or try to, from this perspective, it’s nothing but an exercise in tit-for-tat. There are no reserves for extras. Or, it sets me up for resentment when I overextend on the giving side. It’s also the place where obligation comes in, especially during the holiday season, when I’m being stretched to give in so many directions.

This weekend, I tried a new tactic.  I promised myself to go shopping with an attitude of trust, letting things unfold as they would.

I opened my arms to the day.

It was all pretty relaxing, and then our last stop was a little treat for me: checking out the new shop one of my favourite designers just opened in town.

The boys found some armchairs while I browsed and the clerk handed my son some pictures to colour, so I took the opportunity to try on a few things (maybe add some items to my own Christmas wish list). I felt like my son in the Lego section of a toy store, even picking out more than I usually would, just because they were so settled. I resisted the urge to rush through it.

I went out to model each item – pulled a runway pose or two just for the heck of it. The more fun I had, the more my husband’s face lit up. And the more pleasure he took in watching me, the happier it made me, until finally he asked which one I wanted…today.

I had to duck my head and nip back to the dressing room. It was what I wanted deep down, offered so generously, and it freaked me out.

Alone in the change room, I was able to make a choice as I calmed the tears of overwhelm.

Receiving is passive. It involves the Heart, and taking in the offered gift with open arms.

Receiving leaves me feeling vulnerable. And yet, receiving causes me to relax, expand and inevitably move outward again. I’m able to give from the Heart – offering of myself from a full cup. No pressure. No obligation.

I almost blew the moment by making a stink about the designer shopping bag my husband handed me – I get quite militant about using our own bags – but shut myself up in time.

What I learned so beautifully from what seems like an everyday event, is that when I receive a gift, I allow the other person the pleasure of giving to me. When I deflect what’s been offered, it’s like a rejection. It is a rejection.

Giving & receiving is a dance.

The natural flow of life.

Like the tides. Like the flow of blood through the heart.

It’s a spiritual practice of praying for what you need and meditating to hear the response.

An infinity symbol, continuously returning to the centre.

Perhaps I’ve already got one Christmas present this year: the resolve to ask for what I want, and the courage to receive what I get.

That, and pretty new dress. 😉

So tell me, what will you open your Heart to receive this Holiday season?

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Make Every Meal a Sensual Experience

Eating lunch at Whole Foods the other day, a group of university girls sat at the next table playing cards. One of them pulled out a chocolate bar and proceeded to facetiously read the instructions on “How to Enjoy” said chocolate. It started with yogic breaths, then engaged all 5 senses in order to get a full experience out of one square of chocolate.

They giggled, and some of them shyly tried to follow the steps. I stopped and sat back from my own meal.

There I was, scarfing down my quinoa and broccoli salad, thinking about the airport shuttle I needed to catch in half an hour. I noticed that I wasn’t even using the one sense I’d expect to when eating.

I love food and I love eating. I love eating good food. My favourites usually involve a full sensual experience:

The crisp, tart, juicy bite of a freshly picked apple in the orchard, bees buzzing, sun filtering through the branches.

The way a dollop of beet-chile sorbet ironically heats up a bowl of avocado & cucumber gazpacho with both colour and spice.

The aromatic marriage in any stew or curry that elevates the whole to be sublimely greater than the sum of its parts.

 

If you’re anything like me, you expect a lot from your food:

  • Make you happy
  • Make you thinner
  • Keep you full for hours or at least keep your cravings at bay
  • Help you celebrate your wins
  • Comfort you when you lose
  • Give you more energy
  • Reduce your inflammation
  • Heal your pain

 

Before you can expect food to do anything for you, you need to open yourself to your food and to the experience of eating.

Fully.

With all 5 senses.

With your entire Being.

Without the joy, the pleasure, the love, then everything we put into our mouths becomes nothing more than a parcel of nutrients and calories. Another thing to count. Another item to add to the overflowing To Do list.

Reduced this way, good food and nourishing yourself becomes a burden.

Maybe it’s not such a far-fetched idea after all, to need directions on how to eat a chocolate bar. Perhaps we would do well to have such instructions on all our food labels. A reminder to slow down and enjoy the food, not just consume it.

 

Rather than daily values and percentages on product labels, I propose that Health Canada, in reviewing its principles for the new food guide in 2018, tell you to

  • take a moment to breathe as you sit down;
  • appreciate the time and effort it took to grow the food you see, prepare the meal in front of you;
  • take the time to smell and savour your food;
  • admire the colours and composition – my son’s into Master Chef and other cooking shows, so he’s all about the plating;
  • hear the crunch, feel the creaminess;
  • open yourself to the possibilities of what each mouthful has to offer you, for your health, for your pleasure; what sweetness does this meal evoke in your life?
  • tune in to what your body needs, and recognise when you have received it.

I propose that by paying attention to your deep wants and your true needs, your body will guide you to the right balance every time.

When was the last time you enjoyed a meal with your whole being? I’d love to hear all about it. When you share in the comments, you open the possibility for others.

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