As we start a new year, it is a traditional time to do a nutrition reset or detox & cleanse. These practices often have the impression of cutting out or avoiding some foods and a certain level of denial or deprivation lingers while doing them. It can leaving a little ‘wanting’ and raiding the fridge or treat drawer.
As I have been doing my own form of detox this January, I have trialled a different way of seeing this tradition with a view to keeping me on track, keeping me committed to the intention I set myself. I have been focussed on nourishing my mind, body and soul, rather than just a hard focus on what I am putting in my mouth to eat.
Nourishing your mind
I believe this is the key to any diet success or failure. Our minds and thoughts are powerful computers guiding and influencing our bodies; if we can keep control of our mind, we can remain in charge of our actions. The purest and simplest way of managing our mind, is through mindfulness and being aware of our thoughts and feelings.
We have 50,000 thoughts a day; is what you are saying to yourself nourishing your mind? Are your thoughts positive, affirmative, confident? Are they championing you, complimenting you and cheering you on to achieve your goal? Are they compassionate and care? I would hazard a guess, that if you are struggling to find success, then your thoughts are often negative, challenging, demoralising and possibly even hateful.
If you find you are on the fast track down the black hole with the thoughts in your head, then finding a way to stop the train, break the cycle is to use a form of meditation, which is just active mindfulness. You don’t have to sit cross legged, or hold your fingers in a special way; you can sit, stand, walk or run where meditation is just the art of breathing, focusing on your breath and letting your thoughts continue flowing through your mind without you getting hooked on them. If you can let them go, you will find a sense of calm in your mind and in that space, you will often find a new resolve, an inspiration or a creative way to complete your intentions and positive thoughts can break through.
If you have never done meditation before, then you can try a few different techniques. Dr Chatterjee (author of the 4 Pillars & The Stress Solution) explains how powerful 345 breathing can be. Take a deep breath in for the count of 3, hold for 4 and let it out for 5. Do this a few times and you will feel your body relax. Focusing on counting, refocusses your mind and resets your thought patterns. you can then use this opportunity to focus on nourishing your mind with new thoughts.
I have had wonderful results with my clients on using the Mindful Minute, a guided body scan which lasts about 2 minutes. Click here for Mindful Minute details or here for a video Mindful Minute Video
So the next time you find yourself in a negative loop in your mind, or if you are on a reset diet / cleanse or detox, while you are telling yourself all sorts of stories about how stupid / fat / horrible you are or how you deserve that cookie or that chocolate bar, try breathing and then refocussing on nourishing your mind with abundant thoughts and how amazing you are.
Nourishing your Body
You can nourish your body with eating good, healthy, wholesome food, however, if you are doing this on the run, focussed on what’s going on your social media feed, working or watching TV, your brain is not preparing your body to accept the food. It is concentrating on something else. So you may be fuelling your body with the right foods, but not necessarily benefiting from all the nourishment you can.
There is a wonderful Chinese Proverb, ‘Walk when walking, eat when eating’. To truly nourish your body, pay attention to your food and how you eat. By doing this, your brain engages and fires up your metabolism and your digestive system ensuring that you get the most out of all your food and are fully nourished.
To take this concept further and really engage in eating, you can practice mindful eating and using 54321 sensory awareness. As you sit down to eat, appreciate and give thanks for your food by finding 5 different tastes or flavours, 4 different smells, 3 sensations or feelings as you eat, 2 interesting things you can see and find one thing you can hear.
This practice will also slow down your eating, allow your digestive systems to work properly and leave you fuller for longer as your brain has recognised you are fully nourished with food.
Nourishing your soul
Stress plays a huge part in our weight loss and weight gain. Stress in short doses is vital for survival and can be very useful when harnessed properly (ie. when meeting a deadline at work), however, hugely detrimental to our mental and physical health over prolonged periods of time.
We often become stressed when we find we have no time to ourselves; we are constantly chasing our tail or someone else’s. Finding time to nourish our own souls, even for as little as 10 minutes a day can reduce stress significantly and also play down any resentment we may harbour to others or things causing us stress.
A very simple way to nourish our soul is to connect with ourselves and natures. Forest Bathing and Ocean or Water Therapy is becoming more and more well known and can be grounding as well as calming, reducing stress and therefore cortisol levels and re-instating your digestive system and metabolism as a priority. As with the mindful eating, you can use a similar sensory awareness technique to appreciate your surroundings, ideally outside in nature. I have a client who is a teacher, who I prescribed 10 minutes in her lunch break to sit on a bench behind the school to do some soul nourishment. She had to recognise 5 things she could see, find 4 things to touch and sense, 3 things to hear, 2 to smell and 1 to taste (even if that morning’s cup of tea).
This 10 minutes of soul nourishment was her medicine.
So if you are 10 days in to your new healthy living, reset, detox or cleanse and you are finding it tough, a struggle or not working, perhaps ask yourself if nourishment is your missing ingredient.
AS always I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Please do contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.