In today's stressed-out, information overload society, it seems as though every article related to nutrition is some sort of piecemeal "Quick Tips" to lose weight or tackle some sort of ailment. Let's be realistic. We are not at a loss of knowledge for what constitutes healthy food choices. Our greatest challenge is one of human behavior and the ability to exercise self-control by making choices that honor our body. Most often, the problem does not lie in knowing what to do; it lies in actually DOING it! It is far more interesting and more important for us to start broaching the subject no one really talks about -- how do we care for our emotional health? What exactly is it that causes us to make the choices we do? What stands between us and our ability to make healthy choices we KNOW are in alignment with caring for ourselves?
I have always been the type to point a finger at the pink elephant in the room. While most people want to hide from it, my approach has always been to call it out, make friends with it and to get to know it inside and out. In my work, I like to shine a bright, glaring flashlight right on intangible triggers that spawn us into grabbing a cookie or a bag of potato chips instead of opting for a piece of fruit or fresh green juice. I like to call attention to that all-encompassing, sneaky, powerful voice and the underlying conversation taking place beyond our consciousness that drives us into actions we know are NOT moving in the direction of our goals.
When we shine a light on the darkness, we become empowered to disengage the bomb.
For the majority of the population, nutrition and food are far more than just functional. The choice of when and what to put in our mouths is often an emotional game. Food serves as love and nurturance in times of insecurity -- numbing in times of stress and pain, and punishment in times of self-abuse. What I have seen and experienced over the years is that unhealthy food choices or binge/starvation eating habits are a cry for help, for love, and spawn from feelings of fear, pain, boredom, and exhaustion wrapped tightly in a beautiful blanket of lack and insufficiency. That hand that reaches for the food is merely an extension of the heart longing to feel love, nurturance, support and safety. And because most of us were not taught how to acknowledge and be with these emotions -- or that it was even okay to have emotions -- instead of expressing our needs and feelings, we stuff something down our throats.
Our emotional life is one of the richest sources of our being. Emotional triggers, cravings and the corresponding conversations, are an incredible opportunity for healing. There is a voice inside crying out for attention. This is a chance to turn inward and give yourself the love and nurturance you really crave. Inside this space is important information and direction for guiding your life path. While it may be uncomfortable at first, it gets easier the more you sit with these feelings and honor yourself by acknowledging all that is really going on under the surface. This is the one of the foundational elements in my Cleanse and Nutrition Program. As we continue to make self-honoring nutrition choices and bring our hormones and energy into balance with the formulas, the voices that were so destructive and controlling before become powerless. It is a beautiful, healing process of personal empowerment and self-discovery.
The next time you find yourself in the middle of an insatiable craving, or are about to make a choice that is not in alignment with honoring your body, here are five possibilities to free yourself from the situation:
1. Free Form Writing
This may be one of the most powerful tools for all healing. Put pen to paper and let it rip. Give those feelings a voice and allow them to unleash anything and everything they have to say. This process is often very revealing. You might find yourself surprised by what comes forward! At some point, usually the energy of what comes through shifts and the words will start to take a positive spin. Ride the wave of positivity and allow it to saturate your being. When finished, shred the paper, take a drink of water, wash your hands, and be done with it.
Step away from whatever it is you are about to eat, take a deep breath to realize you are okay and then sit. Close your eyes, and just watch your breath, even if it is only for 5-10 rounds. Bring all your attention to your breath and to the sensations you are experiencing. Sit with whatever is coming forward and bring your awareness to the present moment. Remind yourself that you are safe and you are enough. Even if you return to the craving and the food, you have taken a powerful, courageous step in overcoming the craving.
3. Deconstruct the Craving
The moment you are reaching for the cookie jar, take a snapshot of what is happening in your inner and outer world. Ask yourself, "What is the story going through my mind right now? Is it true? Is it really true? What is the reality of what is going on in my physical world in this present moment? What is it I REALLY need? How can I satisfy my want/need with something in alignment with my goals? How can I nourish myself with something other than food?"
This is a fantastic exercise to wake up to what is happening under the surface, to understand your psyche, how it operates, and to find new ways to nurture yourself.
4. Shift the Energy
Often the emotion of a craving stems from fear. The beautiful thing is that fear and excitement are experienced in the body in the same way. Instead of focusing on the fear, change the conversation in your mind and rewrite the script to one of positivity and excitement. Literally GET EXCITED about whatever it is that fuels you. Create a movie in your head with the best possible outcome. Notice the change in your mind, in your body, and in your desires. Use this energy to fuel a positive action that takes you in the direction of your goals.
5. Reconnect With Nature
Go for a short walk, even just outside for one block. Breathe the fresh air, notice the trees, the flowers and the life around you. Take everything in and realize you are a part of this greater whole. Experience yourself as part of the greater picture and remember you are connected, supported, and loved.
Emotions are some of the most mysterious, and most powerful aspects of human nature. This is an area we want to become intimate with in order to experience the richness and fullness of our lives. Because they are intangible, change moment to moment and often don't make sense, they can be confusing. This confusion causes chaos in our minds as we identify with our feelings and as a result, place judgment upon ourselves.
If we can purify our bodies and minds of stress and toxicity, and develop the patience to be with our emotions, we become empowered to transform our experiences and to live a purposeful, meaningful life. Perhaps our deepest need is not to have five more tips for positive nutrition choices, but instead to open our hearts to our own inner beauty, and to create a new conversation that acknowledges the majesty of the human experience.