I am about to launch my Power Up Reset “Real food detox” shortly for clients who want some specific guidance on how to eat real food that will nourish the body and help the body learn to detox on its own again. I decided I wanted to gift both my clients and readers some incredibly valuable lifestyle adjustments in the form of 8 weeks of challenges focusing on confronting the relationship we have with food and eating.

In these next 8 weeks we will be excavating the caverns of the attitudes we have surrounding the types of food we eat, the labels we assign to those foods, the choices we make and lifestyles we lead that affect our entire way of eating, our digestion, our moods and, inevitably, our health.

Lifestyle and attitude changes towards how we nurture our bodies, and, indeed, our souls can decrease stress, increase metabolism, and balance the body with surprisingly little effort.

Week 1

These days the world in which we live seems to be speeding up at alarming rates. In order to feel like we participate (and, in most cases, compete) we tend to stay “plugged in” at all times.  Email, Blackberry, iPhones, 24/7 news, Facebook, Twitter, you name it, in order to stay in touch we tend to to “check out” of the real world and that means eating in a hurry in front of the TV or computer without so much as a nod to the quality or quantity of what we are eating.

In our quest to be successful,  we rush around, eating in our cars or on the run, at our desks fitting food into our schedules as a necessary evil instead of a chance to deeply nourish ourselves.  Because Americans view success as constant activity, having to slow down to eat is often viewed as a secondary need.  We reach for easily eaten fast food, chips, candy, and soda rather than healthy food because “junk food” tends to be easily accessible but designed to be eaten on the run.

Because the brain is responsible for 30-40% of digestion and digestion begins in the mind, gravitating towards the mouth and esophagus, when we are not mindful of what we eat or how we are eating our digestion is impaired.

Even if we eat a healthy diet full of fresh organic foods, eating in an anxious or mindless state means digestion is impaired straight out of the gate.  The mind doesn’t get to tell the mouth to release salivary enzymes that begin the breakdown of carbohydrates, fat and protein which reduces stomach acid and blood flow to the small intestines.  This means that the body can’t assimilate the vitamins and minerals it needs.  It also can damage the gut lining leading to intestinal permeability (leaky gut).  It also leads to a stress response releasing adrenaline and cortisol causing inflammation and a decreased ability to handle blood sugar and even cause the detoxification process in the liver to be diminished.

When the body is stressed it activates the sympathetic nervous system which is great when you need to run away from a hungry lion, fight a bear or deal with a stressful job.  When the sympathetic nervous system is activated its sole function is to keep you alive.  Healthy digestion, fat burning and sugar handling, detoxification, and even reproduction is secondary to survival.

When the body is in a state of relaxation, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated which means digestion and assimilation of nourishment is at its full digestive force.

Your challenge in week 1 is to gift yourself the time it takes to nourish your body. Instead of looking at eating as something that takes time out of your schedule, this week, treat eating as being important enough to carve out time in your schedule. (This week is NOT about focusing on WHAT you eat.  Eat the way you normally eat just eat it in a more relaxed way!)

If you never eat breakfast, get up 10 minutes earlier and toss together a smoothie or fry a few pastured eggs in butter with some freshly squeezed strained orange juice.  If you normally eat breakfast, increase your time by 10 minutes and really savor your breakfast.

Take at least half an hour for lunch and step away from your desk while you eat.  If you have the luxury, try to increase lunch time to an hour, maybe even enjoying some “outside” time during that hour.

Eat while sitting down.  Don’t eat over the counter or worse, the sink.  Unplug while eating.  Turn off the TV and put on some soothing music, step away from the computer, put your phone on silent.  Disengage for the time it takes to eat a meal.

Do your attitudes towards food or eating affect your digestion?  How so?  How will you incorporate this week’s challenge into your schedule?