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Healing with Food: Part 1

Your Personal Contribution

          The Center for Disease Control reported that in 2012, half of all people had one or more chronic diseases.  These illnesses are disabling and largely “incurable,” meaning doctors cannot cure them.  Some people may even feel blamed for becoming sick when doctors challenge their smoking, drinking too much, or not exercising. 

Yet the truth is, even where there is no cure, healing is always possible. 

To heal, good nutrition is essential. The body will fix itself when it has adequate building blocks. However, nutritious food choices are not enough; we can only be nourished by what we digest and assimilate—and that requires attention to our state of mind.  Being excited (eustress) or upset (distress) interferes with assimilation.  All stress shuts down digestive processes, and the nutritional cost may be as high as losing 40% of the nutrients we ingest. Stress has no place at the table.

Thus, the first step in using food for healing is to be able to leave “flight or fight” or excitement behind, leaving the body in “rest and digest mode,” a state of physical and psychological safety.

Strategies to Rest and Digest

1.        Take five to ten deep, slow, diaphragmatic breaths before your first mouthful–becoming conscious of your intention to eat and heal.

2.        Slow your eating.  The body requires at least twenty minutes to recognize that it has eaten at all.

3.        Eat with family or good friends and keep the conversations uplifting.

4.        Make the atmosphere feel good.  Be aware of background sights and sounds.  Music may be preferable to the news.

5.        Avoid multitasking.  Instead, taste and smell your food.  Chew it.  Feel it.  Enjoy it.  Think of pleasure as a nutrient!

“Each Patient Carries his doctor inside him.”   Norman Cousins
Anatomy of an Illness