I must admit, I have shied away from talking about food since I started this blog. Food is a touchy subject for a lot of people. It’s a common question to ask patients, and they routinely withhold the foods that they indulge in or just can’t live without. But rarely, do you get the truth from them in the beginning stages of treatment. Food choices are one of those things that is divulged only after having an ongoing rapport, where the patient feels like they can be totally honest with you.
And why is that? What is it that attaches so much guilt to the foods that we eat? The roots of food guilt go back to the ways that we view foods – as ‘good’ and ‘bad’. But just attaching these two seemingly benign labels to foods that we eat, and in turn, nourish our bodies, we may be doing more harm than good. According to Emily Hart, LVN, she states,
“Contrary to popular belief, digestion begins in the brain and not the mouth. The sheer power of your thoughts, directed towards the foods you choose to consume, activate salivation and enzyme production in your mouth.
So, if our thoughts are powerful enough to activate the digestion process then could they also influence the way in which my body receives the food. Anger, fear, and stress are harmful emotions that cause biochemical changes and challenge the body’s efforts to maintain a balanced internal environment. When we allow poor quality thoughts to permeate our thinking, it triggers an area of the brain called the amygdala ( the brain’s central regulator of fear) which is directly linked to the stomach.” (http://nutritionvolition.com/the-mind-body-connection/)
So if the emotional state can directly affect digestion, then we need to do away with the guilt that we may associate with the foods that we eat. It is more about if a particular food supports digestion and will leave you feeling energized, or if the food slows down your digestion and makes you feel heavy and lethargic. This is an important concept to look at when making food choices. If you can make the commitment to yourself that you want to feel good – no matter what you eat, then the guilt can begin to disassociate itself from your food choices.
In Chinese Medicine, the digestion is at the center of all functions of the body. Without a strong digestive system, the body cannot break down the food that you eat to send the nutrients to where they need to go, and all the waste material to where it needs to go. Imagine a car, being sent to the junkyard. The stomach is the junkyard. The spleen takes apart the car, and sends the pieces that can be reused to other mechanics (to make energy and blood), and the pieces that can’t are discarded (sent to the small intestine to begin the filtration processes towards elimination). If either the spleen, or the stomach functions are impaired, there will be either a back up of food in the stomach – causing congestion and stagnation, and/or a buildup of unwanted parts that can turn into stagnation and dampness.
In Chinese Medicine, movement is key. Things should not stay sitting in the digestion. Worry, the emotion that is associated with spleen has the effect of knotting the body’s energy. So if a person is worried if they will be caught eating a food that they shouldn’t be, this can directly affect the digestion of the food. If this is a pattern that a person tends to fall into, their digestion will begin to look a lot like the cars stacked on top of each other above. There are certainly viable parts from these cars that can be salvaged, but now there are too many cars to even begin the task of taking them apart.
So the key to remember when making food choices is to feel good when you eat. Feel good not only physically, but mentally too!
#digestion #happybelly #foodchoices