Goodmorning Sweet Friends! I know it’s been a while since I’ve written a little post on here, and my hope and intention is always to post more often, but life has been ‘BOOMIN’, which is wonderful and great, but I would still love to get more content this direction because I know how powerful this information can be for so many of you who are working to heal your relationship with food and your body.
So let’s dive right in, shall we?
This is a crazy time. CoronaVirus-19 has most people harbored indoors (while simultaneously practicing social distancing), all businesses are either closed or are taking specialized precautions to ensure the health and safety of all it’s employees, toilet paper and hand sanitizers are either non-existent, or are running off the shelves, and everybody is in a panic! There’s so much I’m going to dive into here because there are some core thoughts I’d love to share about this very uncertain time.
STRESSING OUT OVER WHAT YOU CAN’T CONTROL DOESN'T HELP YOU OR YOUR BODY!
Our bodies are crazy sensitive and feel everything we feel, like 100-fold over. And when any perceived stressor threatens the homeostatic nature of our body (body balance), we begin to feel the implications on our body and how we interpret the world around us. Here’s a quick low-down of how stress affects the body. So a foreign stressor introduces itself to the body, and our brain begins communication with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The HPA axis then signals the pituitary gland (located at the base of the brain) and the adrenal glands (above the kidneys) to produce cortisol (our stress hormone), which increases the availability of energy needed to the body to manage the stressor. But see, our bodies’ can’t identify the difference between a self-inflicted invader or an environmental invader. Typically, our body will send cortisol to fight off foreign invaders that try to attack our body and our immune system (AKA-our bodies’ are always trying to protect us, not harm us), but sometimes our stressors are self-inflicted and our body will still respond the same way by trying to help protect us.
So let’s talk about the BIG elephant in the room, CoronaVirus, or really any foreign invader that threatens our immune system. Yes, there are precautions that we can and should take (ie: practice social distancing, washing your hands, etc). But there is no sense in causing a higher degree of stress response on your body. That just begins to weaken your immune system more, and cause greater degrees of anxiety. So I say all this to (a) educate and inform you and (b) give you practical and helpful tools to help manage stress responses in this time.
Techniques to Help Manage Stress:
Focus on Your Breathing & Identify:
5 things you can SEE
4 things you can TOUCH
3 things you can HEAR
2 things you can SMELL
1 thing you can TASTE
Focus on your breath, and BREATHE IN (through your nose) for 4 counts,
HOLD for 4 counts, and BREATHE OUT for 6 counts. (Repeat 3-4 times).
Journaling & Reflective Thoughts:
One of my favorite journaling prompts allows us to defuse our thoughts and reground us into the present moment-ASK YOURSELF these questions:
What am I feeling?
Where do I feel it in my body?
If it could talk what would it say?
What might this be trying to teach me?
What do I need right now?
What small step can I take to meet this need?
FOOD RULES NEED TO BE BROKEN & YOU DON’T HAVE TO MAINTAIN MOVEMENT TO EARN YOUR FOOD OR YOUR WORTHINESS!
Now onto a passionate response I have towards our current relationships with food and our bodies. In this time, many of us make a single weekly grocery trip, try to stock up on the things we need, and hope we don’t have to go back out for anything we may have missed. But also, in our diet culture obsessed, ‘clean’ eating, wellness culture, people feel guilt and shame in regards to how they’re making food choices, and the lack of movement that they’re getting during this pandemic. This comes from a compensatory mindset, meaning, ‘we think we have to earn what we eat, and if we’re not moving, we’re doing something wrong and/or we are wrong, bad or lazy.’
This is all EXTREMELY misguided.
First off, no food actually holds significant value.
Food is JUST Food.
It’s just energy. Yes, our bodies’ need it, now and always, but no food will “heal you”’ in this time, and no food will inherently harm you in this time. There are many foods that I have seen being commonly demonized, due to being pre-packaged, higher calorie, or more ‘taboo’. But what’s funny is these foods are actually the foods that will help our bodies’ survive because they actually meet your body's nutritional needs. Higher calorie doesn’t mean ‘bad’. Let me break it down for you, higher calorie merely means more energy, which your body needs, especially when experiencing a stress response (See above). Your body doesn’t discriminate. Once food goes in, our bodies’ begin breaking it down into its chemical makeup, and utilizing those molecules to feed the bodies cells, allowing it to continue to function. This body trust. This is something I preach all day, every day, because it’s what we are all looking to regain and maintain. I may not see all that my body does for me, but I can promise you, it’s a heck of a lot, and there’s no point in continuing to wage war on my body, in this time or any time, really.
Next, onto physical activity. Don’t get me wrong, moving my body feels fabulous and wonderful, and I adore all that my body is, and all it can do for me, but it doesn’t need to be my primary concern right now. Our bodies’ are already going through a lot of internal chaos, and I know I’m choosing to look at this time as an opportunity to acknowledge my need for emotional and physical rest, and work to redirect my attention onto other ways of becoming more in tune to my emotional and physical needs.
Ways to become more in-tune with your body (outside of physical movement):
Meditation: Try meditating and sitting with your thoughts for 3-5 minutes. Let any thoughts that distract you from the present moment pass you by and bring your attention back to your body and your breath;
Journaling about my body and all that it does and is doing for me in this moment and every moment;
Give Yourself a Hug and acknowledge your body for all that it is (this will also evoke feelings of self-love and self-compassion through the act of physical touch).
To sum it all up, in this unknown time, it can seem super easy to direct our attention onto what ‘I feel’ like I’m losing out on (which again, is just a feeling, and acknowledging that feelings are fleeting and can change instantaneously is extremely grounding). BUT your worthiness doesn’t come from how you’re eating, how you’re moving, or how little or much you’re doing in this time, rather it comes from the acknowledgement that no matter how little or much you are doing, in this moment and every moment, is ENOUGH.
You have been enough and will always be enough, in this moment, and in every moment.
With Love Always,
Tess M Patterson MS RD LD