I remember when I was an evangelistic raw vegan, devouring spinach and cabbage juice, green smoothies and raw seedy salads and feeling...well, to be honest I felt lousy and jealous of my burger eating beer drinking buddies who enjoyed perfect health and seemed to get stronger and stronger with every bit of cheese or salami they inhaled.
They all actually joked that I was the "healthiest" but the most fragile and claimed I just needed to eat a steak and have a few beers. Funnily enough, they were pretty much right. I had become so bloody obsessed with raw food, and avoiding any substance that might possibly have been contaminated by pesticide or GMO produce that I had forgotten to enjoy socialising and the joy of sharing food. In fact I was so uptight about food I was stressed and forgetting to enjoy life. During this time in my life, I was complaining a lot, especially about any of my loved ones who were not on the same “health” program as me!
Once I had this epiphany I began to look around at my friends and colleagues, I noticed the ones who ate to eat and drank what they wanted appeared robust without a care in the world, they were incredibly positive and never seemed to get sick or even catch a cold. I became fascinated by this and decided to give it a crack, to be "normal" and eat and drink with the masses and just enjoy it. I soon realized the impact of the stress I had caused myself, and what an impact obsessive healthy eating had caused me. I started to notice many colleagues would bang on about their latest cleanse and detox and how hard their latest holiday in some exotic location was because of the lack of whole live food. Actually it sounded ridiculous when someone lucky enough to visit the Maldives or Seychelles complained that there was only fish on the menu and it was probably radioactive or contaminated with heavy metals. I then realized the importance of mind nutrition. Basically, what is the point of eating super healthy if your mind is swamped with stress and negativity? Why even go on a diet to lose weight if you are not going to meditate on why you got the fat in the first place.
Let’s use weight loss as an example. Many people change their diet to lose weight. While we can swap butter for cottage cheese and apple cider vinegar or oil, the weight will eventually pile back on if we do not feed our mind and get a grip on our own perspective on weight. For example depression is often linked to weight gain. Whether you overeat because you are depressed and want to cope with the depression or are depressed because you’re overeating, the connection between the two is undeniable. This belief has been a major foundation in our MBS (Mind Body Spirit) REBOOT, which I highly recommend!
It could be a very mechanistic thing, too. Stress affects the mind, and the body too. Mental, and physical stress causes increased cortisol, circulating levels of inflammatory cytokines (throughout the body and the brain), impaired glucose tolerance, and accumulation of visceral fat. Resistin, a hormone that increases insulin resistance and diabetes, also increases possibly causing depression.
Basically, if we do not provide our mind and spirit with nutrition we will not get to the bottom of our health issues or live a healthy life, and alleviate or find coping mechanisms for our stress. Once we combat the mind nutrition and identify the causative factors we can then work with mind power training, mindfulness, meditation and nutrition to get the results we so desire. This concept is always a good reminder for me, as unless we acknowledge the mind and the whole body in nutrition and natural medicine we will not be able to effectively treat the whole and heal the person effectively.
I use to look at people eating junk food and feel pity for them, I felt righteous and “healthier” I have since learnt this is an ego trap, and clearly a very unhealthy perspective. My lesson here, don't judge the guy with a big smile, laughing and eating a big greasy bowl of fries- he's probably not judging you, he could be a damned sight happier and more positive too.
Stress and negative thoughts lead to increased cortisol, circulating levels of inflammatory cytokines (throughout the body and the brain), impaired glucose tolerance, and accumulation of visceral fat. Resistin, a hormone that increases insulin resistance and diabetes, also increases through stress, depression and negative thoughts.
One of the greatest experiments we did as nutrition students, was to eat a diet of processed food for a week, while practicing positive affirmations, meditations and Chi Gung (energy work) every day. We were amazed, we felt incredible, and we soon learnt the power of the mind. Look at dogs, they live on canned food, or dry dog biscuits (which is god knows what) and are the happiest species on earth!
I am not saying go forth, live on take away pizza and commercial burgers or dog food, meditate, think happy thoughts and you will be fine… However, I am reinforcing that cleaning up just our diet is not enough. It is important to provide our mind and spirit with nutrition too.