Food and Mood: How to Heal Through Nutrition

Healthy eating womanIn my years of working with clients on their health and wellness goals I have found that it is hardly ever about “the food” and all in how the person FEELS about the food.

What do I mean by this? Think about how inextricably linked we are with food. We put it into our bodies several times a day for the several decades we are alive. We use food to feel good, to celebrate, to bond us to others, to nourish us on physical and emotional levels, we create with it and it is tied into almost every tradition we practice. We have memories about food and almost every parent has used food to bribe, soothe, appease or calm a child.

By the media and health publications we are told which foods are “super foods”, which foods to avoid, foods that are toxic and need to be detoxed from our system. We have been so brainwashed about food no wonder no one knows what to eat anymore!

What I often see in coaching clients on health and wellness goals and with most of our culture is that we are looking for something external, some prescribed diet or regimen that will bring us into perfect health. There is none.

What works for you to lose weight and/or feel your best may not work for the next person. This is because we are all unique systems with differing physiological and emotional needs. But more importantly, our relationship to what we put into our bodies is going to vastly differ from one person to the next.

The stories we tell ourselves whether a food is “good” or “bad” is going to differ from person to person. We need to heal our relationships with our food. We need to write new stories (i.e. change our mental programming) in order to heal those relationships. Then we will achieve optimal health and well being.

For example, the person who wants to lose weight (i.e. reduce his/her physical mass) has been told in many different ways and for years that in order to lose weight he should “eat less and move more”. Ok, fine. Eating until one is satiated and not stuffed is great and feels good.

Moving one's body and being outside in fresh air and sunshine is great and feels good. However, a very real example, and maybe this has been the case in your own life, you want to lose weight so you diet, eat more salads, run, even though you despise running and your body just wants to swim or dance.

When we eat that salad, the entire time we are thinking to ourselves, “I hate this salad. I would rather eat a cheeseburger. But I can't because I'm overweight and need to lose weight. Ugh.” or “I should run after work tonight but I hate running. It hurts my joints and is jarring.

I would rather just walk and take in the scenery but I should run. It's good cardio.” These are the stories we tell ourselves. Our negative programming and we buy into it, all the while hating that salad and running. To break it down, when we eat a salad and wish the whole time that we weren't and are hating every moment of it, we send cortisol, the stress hormone, flooding through our system. It tells us to stop, runaway, flee, fight that salad!

Yet we stay there and eat our damn salad. We begrudgingly surrender. On an emotional level, our hearts say “Veggies are good but I don't want to eat them as punishment.” Our thoughts, our old programming, says “You must in order to lose weight” THIS IS NOT TRUE!

I have a process that is simple to use, will make anyone feel great and works to achieve optimal health physically, mentally and emotionally. It will literally heal your relationship with food. It goes like this:

With every meal or snack:
1) Sit down. Center yourself in front of your food. Get quiet. Close your eyes. Breathe in deeply. Smell your food. Really smell it. Place one hand a few inches from your food or hold it in your hands. (If you are in public and feel uncomfortable, you can simply imagine that you are doing this.)

2) Say (either silently or aloud) “Thank you. I am grateful for this food and for all the people and animals that were a part of bringing it to me now.” (This is my wording. You can use whatever wording that feels good to you. Just make sure to say “thank you” and “I am grateful...”!

3) Proceed to eat your food, whatever it may be, slowly with gratitude.

4) After you finish your meal/snack, mentally acknowledge the gratitude you have for what your just put into your body. For all of the people, plants and animals that were a part of nourishing you. Thank yourself for choosing to nourish and heal.

If you do this process with every meal, I can promise that your relationship with food will change. You will begin to appreciate how every food nourishes you on some level. You will have gratitude for the people who farmed your food and/or the animal that died to bring you your meal.

Food will no longer be “good” or “bad”, “right” or “wrong”. It will become energy. It will become interconnectedness. It will become love and healing. This process may be gradual but it will happen.

You will begin to heal your relationship with food. You will naturally begin to heal on all levels as now you are more grateful and loving to yourself. In time, your old negative programming will have changed and you will use food to nourish, heal and love all aspects of yourself.

Article by Brie Brehm (Achieve your goals with one on one coaching with Brie in the Members Area)

Brie attended San Diego State University and earned a Bachelors degree in Psychology, Minor in Sociology and a Masters degree in Social Work. After traveling and teaching in Tanzania, Africa, she returned to the States and worked as a psychotherapist and medical social worker at an out-patient psychiatric hospital for nearly five years. During that time, Brie explored various avenues of healing and became a certified clinical nutritionist, yoga teacher and Reiki Master (i.e. energy healing). Brie then went on to begin her private practice at a holistic wellness center where she focused on health and healing, rather than disease and illness. She also served as a Board of Directors member for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and ran the community outreach program. After relocating to Austin, Texas from her native San Diego, California, Brie has recently become a mother and coaches clients all over the world in how to live their best life. She also is a writer of self-improvement and wellness articles and is writing her first book on motherhood.