I know that this goes against conventional wisdom and I do want to highlight that food really does matter but you are so much more than just what you put in your mouth…
Actually, you are what you eat, drink, absorb, assimilate, breathe, think and believe.
Not only are you are more than what you eat in a physical sense, but also in mental and spiritual ways too.
Although nutrition is an incredibly powerful tool for boosting and supporting your wellbeing, its not quite as simple as that. In order to nourish your whole being you must attend to your mind, body and soul.
Claiming that you are what you eat is a serious oversimplification of what happens when you eat.
In physical terms, nutrition plays a crucial role, alongside, movement and the level of toxins you are exposed to. It’s important to remember that not all of what you eat will be absorbed and to be aware of how much you are actually absorbing. We want to support our bodies by enabling them to absorb all the nutrients, minerals, antioxidants, and a whole host of other compounds, that we can so its important that we support our digestive system in doing this.
How much nutrition is your body actually absorbing from the food you eat? Gut health plays an important role in absorption and it’s quite possible that even if you are eating all the required nutrients but the balance of bacteria and yeasts in your gut is out of whack that you are not absorbing the optimal level of nutrition.
It’s also important that our body can rid itself of toxins to prevent toxic overload and weight gain. Many toxins are lipophilic or fat-soluble meaning that they are stored in our fat cells. In theory, to prevent toxins circulating in our blood our body clings to fat in order to store toxins. We can help detoxification (and potentially weight-loss) by eating lots of crustaceous vegetables (like broccoli, cabbage and apparatus, to name but a few), leafy greens, selenium (found in brazil nuts), as well as amino acids and protein, found in nuts, root veggies, garlic and onions.
Of course, movement is another important factor, because it boosts your metabolism, helps to prevent insulin resistance and stimulates the lymphatic system. And let’s not forget that it also floods you with endorphins and serotonin (neurotransmitters that lessen pain, stress and provide a sense of happiness and euphoria - yay!), and has been shown to improve mental function, reduces anxiety, stabilise mood and support you to cope with stress (I highly recommend you check out the book Spark by John R. Ratey for more on the mental benefits of exercise).
Our physical environment is very important too, not just because we are constantly breathing in and absorbing toxins through our skin, but also because it is usually a big contributor to our mental, emotional and spiritual wellness.
Mentally + Spiritually
If the word ‘spiritual’ gives you the heebie-jeebies then please bare with me. When I refer our spiritual wellness, I’m talking about our beliefs, values and how in-touch we are with our purpose or you 'why'. Our beliefs are held in our subconscious mind, which is thought to control over 80% of our brain functions (at a conservative estimate). So I guess you could say our subconscious mind is pretty powerful.
Considering our thoughts are shaped by our beliefs and our thoughts dictate the majority of our conscious choices, decisions and actions, both our mentality and our beliefs play a pretty big role in contributing to our happiness. It’s when we start changing our beliefs that we can see real change in our mindset, happiness and health.
The reason I mention this is because there is a tendency to measure our success and worth by how well we eat, especially when we are trying to loose weight or 'get' healthy; to either congratulate or berate ourselves and label a day as either good or bad purely on how ‘clean’ we ate. Or to think that if you eat well it’s OK to neglect other areas of your health.
But whilst diet might have the most visible and measurable results it doesn’t necessarily make you any happier. Sure, it can boost your mood and whatnot but happiness doesn’t come from a green smoothie or raw chocolate (OK, so maybe it does come from chocolate! but you see my point?). It’s completely possible to eat like a health saint and still feel like crap or that your life is lacking something.
Never measure your worth by what is/isn't on your plate, or bypasses your plate completely for that matter.
Whilst I'm a nutrition nerd and always advocate healthy eating, it's often just an entry point to wellness. The results can be profound and encouraging but to really experience vibrant wellbeing we also need to address our mindset and beliefs.