This month I want to try something new. Because being healthy isn’t only about what we eat, it is also very much how we live and how we integrate with the world around us, so I thought it’s about time that I start talking about all those other things that is connected to lifestyle and hopefully probe you into thinking a little more about how the way you live influences how you think, feel and the food choices you make.
The idea is to share one of the 7 Systems of Health each months, as according to the concept of Food & Spirit™ which I am integrating into my own work like a thread running through. Food & Spirit™ is an integration of physiology and psychology through food, eating and lifestyle woven into the 7 Aspects of Self. It becomes a colourful lens to view our entire life experience through, which in turn gives us opportunities to work on our health, happiness and wellbeing in a variety of ways.
I’m hoping to also infuse these monthly posts with some seasonal pictures as well as a couple of tips to take away at the end to help you nourish and balance what ever Aspect I’m talking about.
Let’s start off with the ROOT. This is the base, the foundation so to speak. So it feels only right to start here.
What do you think of when you hear the word ROOT?
For me it’s things like, root vegetables, the colour red, earth, and being physical. Within Food & Spirit™ other things that is considered belonging to the ROOT are also our sense of safety and survival. And our sense of belonging, our family and our community or tribe.
From a physical prospective, the hormone glands connected with the ROOT are the Adrenal Glands.
All our bodily structures are part of the ROOT – the foundation. The building blocks here are our skeleton, (joints, bone, muscles) but also the skin (a physical boundary), our genetic make up, i.e our DNA and of course our feet which are directly in contact with the ground.
The ROOT is our physical structure, our physical body. With structure comes boundaries. When we feel grounded we feel safe, connected to our family, friends and most likely “at home in our body”.
But when we don’t feel grounded or “Rooted”, we either feel unsafe in our environment, or perhaps even in our own bodies. Did you ever hear the saying “I feel comfortable in my own skin”? To me that means feeling safe and secure being who I am in the situation I’m in.
The feeling of not being “grounded” can manifest in many ways. If we are in constant “Fight or Flight” mode our adrenals are on constant overdrive, which means our immunity is lowered, because part of what the hormone Cortisol does it to lower the body’s immune response. The reason for this is that Cortisol is an effective anti-inflammatory modulator through being able to down regulate histamine response. Thing is, all these intricate, delicate systems have evolved to be quick responding and short lived. Because of survival(!)
Problem is that in our world today, most of our stress experiences are perceived ones, which in turn makes it easier for the stress to become chronic… You may even have experienced this for yourself, how a stressful event, (perceived by your mind) has eventually manifested as a physical symptom in your body.
I’m not going to go much deeper into the science of how Cortisol works in the body here, but I came recently came across this particularly well written article. If you want to go a bit deeper into understanding how our stress response works in our body, I strongly suggest you read it.
What about the ROOT when it comes to Food and Eating? As we all know, eating is an essential activity for our survival. If we stop eating we will eventually die. Food is the nourishment for our physical body and is a great way of physically anchoring ourselves into the present moment. Though, in my experience not many people do… Including myself on occasion!
When it comes to eating and survival, tuning into our signals of hunger is key. We have a built in signaling system which will tell us to eat when we are running out of fuel. However this delicate system can easily be overridden by our intellect. I’m sure you have done this, just like I have, many more times than I’d like to admit…
There are a whole range of “excuses” we tend to use for this one. Like “I’m too busy to eat” or “I’ll save myself for dinner later” (even though we may feel ravenous and almost faint…). The other side of the coin is that we are often so busy and in “our heads” that we don’t notice the initial more subtle signals of hunger our bodies are sending out.
If we don’t eat when we are truly hungry, what will eventually happen is that our blood sugar drops too low. In order for us not to pass out, if we don’t supply the body with more energy through eating, the liver will kick in and release glycogen to bring the blood sugar up. Cortisol is also involved here to help the body regulate the blood sugar levels and to ensure a steady supply. Thing is, if we are already living on the edge with daily stress (and stressors), chances are our adrenal glands are already working on high drive. Not a great idea to put further pressure on them by overriding our hunger signals then…
Thing is of course, it’s easier said than done to tune in to actually hear those signals when we are busy chasing our tail around the place! And it’s even harder to know what true physical hunger feels like if we have spent years dieting.
This month I invite you to take some time to nourish your ROOT Aspect of yourself. Here are three ways you can do it:
1.Food – Focus on eating red foods, root vegetables and protein
2. Eating – Focus on listening to your body’s hunger signals. What does it actually feel like in your body when you are hungry (especially way before you end up being ‘hangry’!)
3. Lifestyle – Connect with family and / or friends. Spend some time hanging out with people who are part of your ‘tribe’. It is truly nourishing to be around like minded people, those with whom we feel safe, supported and who gets us.
HOW ARE YOU GOING TO NOURISH YOUR ROOT THIS MONTH IN ORDER TO FEEL AMAZING?
Please share with me below! I’d love to hear 🙂