Hello SOTGC community,
Over the past few installments, we’ve been exploring the story of my recent patient, “Alice,” and how deep listening helped pinpoint an effective treatment program for her weight issues and food addiction. Central to the process was a mind-body technique that helped bring all of Alice’s various personality aspects into integration for the purpose of healing.
What I’d like to focus on is how our minds and bodies are impacted profoundly by our emotions and our life experiences. Body memory can hold an experience in the energetic biofield and on a cellular level, in a way that causes the body to produce a specific physical response to a certain stimulus or trigger.
As a simple illustration, imagine biting into a cold lemon wedge. You will likely notice that your salivary glands instantly activate, even though the lemon is only in your mind.
Something similar takes place within our emotional wiring. Our thoughts, and the actions we take based on those thoughts, are often automatically triggered by our emotions. As we amplify our understanding of the mind-body connection, we discover opportunities to untether ourselves from automatic, compulsive reactivity, and to transform our behavior into that which can create a healthy state of being—physically, mentally and emotionally
We can retrain body response by focusing on reshaping our mental/emotional experience. A skilled facilitator employing guided imagery, breath work, and exercises to tap the imagination and expand one’s field of consciousness, all within a safe space, can achieve amazing body-based results that do not require pills or surgery.
Alice’s eating issues were quickly controlled using mind-body approaches. Now, she is not always hungry in response to anxiety-provoking situations. She does not find herself in the kitchen as often for attempts at self-soothing. Her restaurant bills have become smaller after only two weeks. Her waistline is shrinking. She is wearing brighter colors, smiling, becoming more open in both her body language and her tone of voice. There is a buoyant state of energy to her presence during our health-coaching sessions and office visits.
Through introducing the mind-body connection as part of her healing process, Alice has made rapid strides in improving her state of health. We’ve been able to lengthen the interval between her visits without any relapse.
Today, I invite you to participate in a mindful-eating exercise. Select one meal of your day in which to participate. You can consider this mindfulness exercise a small gift of downtime to yourself, perhaps one you’ve been craving all week.
After each bite, place the food item, or utensil back down onto your plate. Chew your bite of food thoroughly, paying attention to flavor, texture and anything else that you notice. Only pick up your food for the next bite when you have completely chewed and swallowed the previous one. Because mindful eating is a form of active meditation, it is not uncommon for insights and moments of profound awareness to come into the experience.
Mindful eating is a beautiful lifestyle medicine practice that provides a stress-management tool readily accessible in one’s daily routine and can assist in lowering the stress hormone cortisol. It also supports healthy digestion for maintaining pH levels, adequate nutrient absorption and balanced gut flora; and it opens the body to receiving a gentle, heart-centered, self-care habit. The practice of mindful eating delivers a message of patience, kindness, and love for the body to experience on a cellular level.
Next time, we’ll take a look at the nutritional issues behind food cravings, emotional eating and stress, and we’ll examine how functional medicine approaches can help identify and treat the cause.
Photo credit: www.drvutrandc.com