03 Jul The food that enables you to live your best life…
Many of us know and understand that what we eat plays a huge part in our overall wellbeing. Eating puts us in good stead to fight illness and disease and feel good emotionally and mentally. We fit into smaller clothes, we feel confident and energised and our digestion runs smoothly. But, what many don’t understand is that it is more than the food we eat that nourishes us. If anything, being healthy is more about what’s off the plate than what’s on it.
Today, we live in an instant society. We want quick fixes to everything and aren’t satisfied unless we get it. With the advancements on modern medicine, we expect that within hours of seeing a doctor that we are feeling better. This usually follows the swallowing of a pill, the smear of some cream or insertion of an IV. Sure, all these treatments are helpful, but in a way, we are bypassing the world’s most complex and intelligent computer – the human body. By simply honouring this amazing device that we live in, we can let it do the programing and take it’s advice, long before we wind up in the waiting room. This is also true to the quick fixes we seek in to how we feel about ourselves – both in our bodies and our minds. Through taking care of yourself, you can give your body the space it needs to activate one of the most amazing inbuilt healing systems we have ever seen. Through feeding ALL aspects of yourself well, you are much more likely to achieve your goals.
Considering the many goals I hear people rattle off daily – you want to be thinner NOW. You want more ab definition NOW. You want to be wedding ready NOW. You want to find the one NOW. You want to feel better and have better digestion NOW. With all these goals circling around us like pollen at spring time, it isn’t any wonder why we question the best way to eat. Over the years, I have watched friends and family (and myself) jump on this terrifying carnival ride called ‘dieting.’ Looking for the quick fix for how to look and feel great overnight. So we start snacking on snow peas, drinking shake based diets and ordering pre-cooked diet food online. Sound familiar? What I often see as people board these rides, is a huge high as the weight drops off. And then a huge crash when it piles back on after a short time. Of course, we know that finding a way to eat that lasts the test of time is the best way to approach this thing we call life. But not many can actually do it! Adopting these quick fix detoxes, fasting diets, juice cleanses and do forth is not sustainable long term. If anything, it leads to more anxiety and low self-esteem when you never reach that weight again, struggle to keep if off or feel the “mental clarity” like you once did. These diets do huge damage to your metabolism – often leaving you in worse shape than when you started.
You may have already worked out that this post isn’t going to tell you what food groups I recommend you stock your fridge with. But don’t click the exit button yet! The advice that is about to follow, is about some significant changes you can make that will work FOR and not against you in the long term. Since starting my Happiness Project and beginning my health coaching course, I have begun to understand the importance of nourishing other areas of our lives before we worry about what goes on our fork.
At IIN we are taught the importance of primary foods. These are the areas of your life which nourish you off the plate. Joshua Rosenthal (the founder and CEO of IIN) discusses how a nourishing life is built by a fulfilling career, loving relationships, an energising and rejuvenating exercise routine, and a spiritual practice that soothes and invigorates. The other primary foods areas (which I won’t cover today – more on that another time or read the links below to previous posts) are; creativity, finances, education, health, home cooking, home environment, social life, joy. Another huge factor that isn’t included specifically here which I think is pivotal is sleep.
We hunger for play, fun, touch, romance, intimacy, love, achievement, success, art, music, self-expression,leadership, excitement, adventure, and spirituality. All these elements are essential forms of nourishment.” – JOSHUA ROSENTHAL
The quality of the relationships we have in our life is a huge impact on our health. Numerous studies show, how feelings of loneliness or disconnection can result in health issues, long term or otherwise. This does not mean that single people will never be healthy, but must look to seek community elsewhere. On the contrary, for those surrounded by people or who have a partner, it is the quality of the relationships that also matter. If people lack positive relationships with partners, colleagues, family or friends, they are less likely to have a great relationship with food or themselves. As a result, their health suffers. Lissa Rankin (MD) discusses how building community and relationships has the most positive influence on our health. In a recent lecture given to IIN students, she shared studies of towns around the world who had some of the lowest reported health issues (cardiovascular, cancer, disease etc). These studies attributed their health successes not to what food that people ate (in one town, they ate deep fried meatballs), but the community and sense of belonging that they had built. It is the quality of the relationships in our life (not the quantity) that leads to improved health and wellbeing.
Working with a health coach:
A health coach can help you to address this key (and most important) area of your life. They can work alongside you to help you to improve the quality of your relationships with family, a spouse or partner, friends and community. A health coach can support you through the process of sifting out relationships that may not be in your best interest, improving and building upon those that are likely to be beneficial or seek out opportunities to form new connections within your workplace, community or local groups. Most importantly, this process will help you develop a relationship with the most important person in your life – yourself.
We spend a large chunk of our day within the workplace. So, it makes sense that if we aren’t happy and fulfilled between the hours of 9-5 (or otherwise, if you’re a shift worker) that the green juice we drink aint gonna hit the spot! How we feel going to work each morning and throughout the day is going to have a huge impact on our health. It may also explain why you inhale 45 biscuits at your work morning tea each week or grumble your way through the door each day. New research discovered how job satisfaction plays a significant role on a person’s health, especially their mental health. In a US study, it was discovered job satisfaction in the late 20s and 30s has a link to overall health in the early 40s and beyond. The study showed that those unhappy with their job reported higher levels of depression, sleep problems and excessive anxiety. I am sorry to tell you, but long term, no amount of kale can negate this kind of emotional tax on your system. This doesn’t mean you need to slam your computer lid shut and turn in your resignation at this moment. It is just important to consider whether you could make any changes to adjust your work days. This could be a change in attitude, a change in position, a change in career path. It is important that you are fulfilled in whatever you do for work. Loving what you do will put you in good stead to maintain many areas of your health.
Working with a health coach:
A health coach is a supportive teammate who can work with you to find something you could do all day every day. No, they aren’t a career advisor. They are someone who can listen to you and guide you to follow your intuition on how to improve on or strengthen your attitude or functionality in your current workplace or find a career path that is better suited to your strengths and interests. Once you bounce out of bed to head to a job that you love, you will be much more likely to make better health choices and show your body the respect that it needs and deserves.
It’s no big surprise that moving our body leads to better health. Being active has been shown to have many health benefits, both physically and mentally. It may even help you live longer. Studies show that exercise has been shown to; improve your mood and decrease feelings of depression, anxiety and stress, can aid weight loss, improve bone and muscle health, improves energy levels, reduces risk of chronic disease, improve brain health, improve sleep, reduce pain and lead to a better sex life (hello!). While there are many benefits of exercise, in my time, I have seen it implemented all wrong. People either don’t do enough or do wayyyyyyy too much! Taxing your body can be just as bad (if not worse) than if you do nothing at all. My general rule of thumb is to train based on your energy level. I.e. if you are running on the sniff of an oily rag and have had poor sleep, not enough food, are stressed or overstretched in any aspect of your life – then it is probably not a good idea to murder yourself with HIIT, a 5km+ run or a heavy weights session. Be responsive to how you are feeling and how your life is going. What is the value of killer workouts in conjunction with lots of junk food because you are too exhausted to sustain a healthy eating regime? My advice: Move each day but prioritse sleep and emotional/mental well being above anything.
Working with a health coach:
A health coach is a great person to assist you to assess your exercise regime. They can work alongside you to build exercise back into your life, or perhaps tone it down a little. A health coach can work with you to create a balanced approach which takes into account your lifestyle, goals, stress levels and sleep patterns. Remember, a health coach isn’t a personal trainer – but they are a great support and motivator to help you find something that can work for you long term.
Expressions of spirituality have been shown to have a huge impact on our overall health. Research has shown that those who dedicate time to a religion or spiritual practice and use this spirituality to cope with life, experience many benefits to their health and well being. VeryWellMind.com shares the positive influences that spirituality has on our health, including; less hypertension, less stress (even during difficult times), reports of more positive feelings, less depression, overall greater psychological well being and a superior ability to handle stress. A balanced mind will lead to better choices on and off the plate. Getting in touch with your spiritual side doesn’t have to always mean attending church or retreats. It can involve meditation, yoga, mindfulness, reflection, journaling, reading books or time in nature. Finding time in your day to calm your mind, think outside yourself or develop kindness, compassion and perspective of the world is an excellent way to improve your connection with a greater sense of purpose.
Working with a health coach:
A health coach can work with you to analyse and explore your current spiritual practices. No, they aren’t there to convert you to any religion or urge you to join a cult! They are there to help you find what works for you. This could range from reconnecting with your religion, to suggesting great yoga studios or discussing local walking tracks. A health coach will explore how much time is currently allocated to spiritual practice and give you practical advice and tools for how to build it into your day so that it can be beneficial and tailored to your goals.
Osho (an Indian Spiritual Leader) teaches that the body needs physical food. Ahtough, a robust, fulfilling life is the real fuel for happiness and balance.
When it comes to primary foods and how to nourish ourselves on and off the plate, there is no secret formula – each person is unique. What I hope you took away from this post is that the food we put in our mouth is secondary to what we are doing in our day to day lives to keep ourselves well. When these areas of our lives are balanced, we are more likely to eat better, maintain good habits and get the most benefit out of the food that we eat. Ensuring a balance of primary foods amplifies your experience at life and opens you up to experience great things. Making such changes to your health can be intimidating. Don’t go it alone. Open up to those close to you and work through these key areas with the support of another.
It is the role of a health coach to provide you with support to be healthy and do the things you love to avoid issues with food! They help you bridge the gap between food and personal development. I can’t wait to work alongside people to assist them to make meaningful changes.
Until then, let’s work together now… How much does your life nourish you at the moment? How satisfied are you with how things are panning out?
To take action today, have a think about the 4 key areas I have discussed today and complete the following exercise:
- Rank yourself 1-5 in how you are nourishing yourself in each of these primary food areas
- As evidence, list the things you are doing currently to nourish yourself in these areas (your ranking may change following this)
- List max 3 practical things you can do to start nourishing yourself in these areas.
- Keep this somewhere where you can see it and be reminded of your goals daily. If you like: share your reflection with me in the below comments, in private or on my social media (accountability improves your likelihood of success).
My reflection is below as an example (Note: I have been working on these areas for a while so I may have scored myself higher than you . This is also reflective of me THIS WEEK and can change depending on what is going on for me)
References, resources and bibliography
Poor Job Satisfaction and your Health: https://psychcentral.com/news/2016/08/23/poor-job-satisfaction-can-harm-health-before-age-40/108956.html
IIN Health Coaching Course Materials
A Healthcare Call to Action – Lecture given by Lissa Rankin. IIN Course Materials
10 benefits of exercise: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-benefits-of-exercise
How Spirituality can benefit mental and physical health: https://www.verywellmind.com/how-spirituality-can-benefit-mental-and-physical-health-3144807