If regaining and sustaining health were simply about one’s food choices, it would be easy, right? A no-brainer. So why do so many of us struggle constantly to find that place of balance where we don’t have to fight ourselves constantly to feel really, really good both inside and out?
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Nutrition IS about food choices—make no mistake about that! What we eat does matter—its quality, source, cleanness, and balance of nutrients. But so does what time we eat, how much we eat, how we’re feeling when we eat, who we’re eating with, how we digest what we eat, how we use the energy we consume, and so on. This intimate interaction with our bodies is the foundation on which lasting, sustainable health rests.
But it’s also not the end of the story. How we take in, digest, and assimilate the other aspects of our lives is just as much part of the health equation. Managing stress, sifting and sorting communications, balancing work and play, learning, nurturing loving relationships, resting, growing and maturing as we age, expanding our scope of beliefs and patterns, and developing an ever-widening outlook—these are also vital functions of our broader nutritional context.
Everything we take in to our bodies and minds—food calories, sensory inputs, emotional signals, and the daily barrage of information—affects our overall expression of health.
Health, as you may recall, is another word for our integrity or wholeness. These “energy exchanges” either strengthen or weaken our total systems, depending on how well we are equipped metabolically to handle them.
In the body, for example, a routinely compromised GI tract will limit the nutrients that can be absorbed and assimilated to make and repair healthy cells and tissues. Repeating inflammatory habits like eating sweets and snacks nonstop throughout the day, or drinking 13 frappucinos instead of water, will gradually impair the gut’s healing and restorative functions. In this energy exchange, there are too many sugars entering the body and not enough minerals, proteins, good fats, green micronutrients, or vitamins to keep the gut and the whole system in a healthy balance. The body compensates as well as it can, but it’s always on overdrive, and at some point it just loses its ability to fight on. The entire system is weakened and begins to fail prematurely as disease conditions are able to run rampant.
We also need to have ways of balancing the other inputs into our lives that make up out total nutrition—what feeds and nourishes us in body, mind, and spirit.
This is where other strategies come into play to limit “toxic exposures” and imbalances. Small daily habits and patterns add up to entire lifetime. How we think, how we feel, and how we express our emotions are powerful forces—either medicine or poison. They shape the ways we interpret the world and participate in it. They define our inner and outer experience. Our brains and organs communicate constantly in such a way that the mind and emotions can shape the body as much as the body shapes them.
So knowing how to engage with others with confidence, empathy, inner calmness, appropriate boundaries, love, and care, supports a healthy, nourishing energy exchange that also builds the strength of the broader community. Likewise, feeding the mind with generative learning, life-affirming openness, meditative exercises, and positive challenges results in greater personal growth, opportunity, and knowledge. These practices come from an understanding of nutrition and Wholeness that goes far beyond food alone. It helps make the entire system healthier and awakens our innate wisdom.
We are what we take in from the world, what we absorb, what we assimilate, and what we add back into the world through our own transformation. This is the nutrition of living; best expressed when all of our systems are awake, engaged, and balanced.