Nutrition - It's more than what's on your plate.
Happy Monday beautiful readers! Have you ever started something new and feel like you are buzzing on the inside with excitement!? I have been feeling so inspired over the last few weeks as I've begun my health coaching training! When you are learning new things everyday about topics you are truly so passionate about it is hard not to feel almost giddy when new material becomes available. Who would have guess, I'd be chomping at the bit for more school work!?
I've had quite a few 'wow' moments over the past few weeks when learning about a new concept or idea that I 100% agree with! Some of these concepts are surrounding things I already do or believe they are just presented more in a more formalized way and I find myself saying 'wow I do that' and never even though about it that way. Other concepts are completely new, but make so much sense I immediately start incorporating them into my life.
One of these concepts is what I want to share with you today!
Being that this is a blog all about health and wellness one of my main focuses is on nutrition i.e. what you are eating and how you are fueling your body. But what if I told you nutrition involves way more than just what you eat? Have you ever considered that there are areas of life besides what is on your plate that are part of your over all nutritional health and maybe even more important that what is on your plate? I was recently presented with this concept and I could not agree with it more. The idea is that our nutrition is made up of primary and secondary foods.
Below is the Integrative Nutrition® Plate, which is a play on the USDA's MyPlate.
The idea behind the Integrative Nutrition® Plate is that while your plate should consist of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein along with lots of water and small portions of fats and oils there are outside factors that also nourish you. The food on your plate is your secondary food while what is around the plate are your primary foods. At IIN® we are taught that relationships, career, spirituality and physical activity all influence your overall nutrition and health and if anything are your primary source of nutrition.
If you are saying 'wow' right now, I don't blame you. This makes so much sense to me! The whole point of caring about what you eat is to live a happy and healthy life, but if one of these 4 factors are out of whack you're probably not loving life or you are struggling to eat healthy or get the results you are wishing for.
Your experiences, in addition to what is on your plate fuel your health. So let's take a closer look at those 4 categories:
If day in and day out you work at a job you do not love, that keeps your stress level super high you are less likely to feed yourself the way you should to support a healthy body. You will not be excited or receive any pleasure from the work you do. I know when I am stressed I default to emotional eating which, ends up making me feel worse, not better. Understanding that it's my stress that's causing me to want to eat a whole box of donuts allows me to address the trigger of the stress; rather than just eating my feelings and sabotaging my goals .
Now I am not saying, to go and quit your job just because it is stressful or you just do not love it. Rather I'd recommend you find ways to better manage the stress, while understanding you are likely eating poorly to compensate for the stressful day at work. Likewise, if you are working in a job you hate, but cannot change jobs at the moment, find ways to be grateful for that job.
Some ways to beat work related stress is to start meditating or practicing yoga. Maybe conversations can be had at work to help improve the atmosphere you work in, or maybe you need to work on your time management skills so are not feeling so overwhelmed. Many things can be done to improve your work life while reaping positive benefits for your health. Furthermore, even if working in an unsatisfying job, have gratitude that this job allows you to support yourself and/or family or that it gives you the freedom to live your desired lifestyle.
We spend so much of our life working, addressing any issues you have with your career are imperative your health.
I heard the theory the other day, that feeling connected is our (the human race's) deepest desire and to lose the feeling of connection is our deepest fear. It is what causes so much anxiety in our lives. By making your relationships a top priority in your life and focusing on having all interactions be positive, you will greatly reduce the anxiety you have in your life, which is rooted in the fear of lost connection.
With that said, relationships are vital to our emotional wellbeing. Anyone could tell you, a rough break up is not kind to your waistline. Likewise, if you are fighting with a friend or a family member cooking wholesome meals are probably not at the top of your to-do list. Take a look at all your close relationships. Do you feel loved and supported by those closest to you? Are you lonely? Is there turmoil that is taking its toll? Do you feel you've lost touch with old friends?
Speak up and tell your significant other if you feel you need something more from him/her; remember none of us are mind readers. Likewise, ask your partner if there is there something you could do to improve your relationship. Mend disagreements that have you unsettled. Reconnect with old friends that you've lost touch with. And if necessary cut ties and remove yourself from toxic relationships that do not serve you.
Remember that negativity is toxic to our lives; so look at everyone through the eyes of love because you cannot treat others unkindly and then expect to feel love in your life.
Do you have something you believe in? Spirituality, or mere the ability to go somewhere or do something that brings you a sense of peace can be a great support system; when going through any kind of transition or rough patch that life ultimately throws at us.
When I began meditating I found a sense of calm I had never felt before. It is a simple activity that supports me every day and allows me to be present. As an introvert, who spends a lot of time 'in my head,' this time I take every day to quite my mind is invaluable. The same can be said for any one of strong religious beliefs or for those of us that can find a calm, supportive state of mind when we are out in nature. The ability to be present and find a place of inner peace supports a healthy lifestyle in more ways than one. It helps combat stress and brings us the clarity we need when life gets muddy.
This last category speaks for its self. We all know the body needs movement and exercise daily. Now it does not have to be an hour-long intense work out 7 days a week; but getting yourself moving every day is crucial to keeping your body operating effectively for the long haul of life. Our muscles crave stretching and strengthening. Our lungs love a good cardio session every now and then. And our joints are much healthier when we keep them lubricated with movement. Exercise for many is also a stress reliever and for some can put them in a meditative state.
So let put this into perspective and relate it back to what is on your plate.
Working in a stressful or dissatisfying job means you are spending at least 40 hours a week unhappy. This unhappiness leads to emotional eating, skipped workouts, and high anxiety. You body may be in an almost constant stress response state; which means your body's self healing mechanism will not be working properly. As a result of a poor diet and a high stress state, you will get sick due to a low immune system and be plagued with numerous health issues.
On the other hand, on paper you could be an extremely healthy individual: eating all real foods, exercising daily, meditating both before bed and after waking, and working in a fulfilling career you love. However, if you're surrounded by toxic relationships and negativity there is no way for you to truly be healthy. Relationships are the cornerstone of our health so if you are lonely or in a negative place with someone closest to you, you'll have a hard time keeping the doctor away.
So you see, there are so many things that make up a healthy happy life, its not just about what is on your plate. You have to consider looking at the big picture!
So often we want to clean up our diets to look and feel better and we think all it takes is some exercise and more nutritious foods; which it certainly does. But, the concept of looking at the external factors that also nourish our wellbeing can help us identify areas in need of improvement. So take a look at what is on you plate as well as 'around' your plate; if you are looking to lose weight, improve your immune system, cut cravings, or just generally feel better and happier.
Are their outside influences that could use some improvement? How are your relationships, career, spirituality and physical fitness? Take a good look at your goals and when you stray from them. What caused you to stray? How can you make improvements so that it is easier to stick to your goals?