If you know my story than you’re probably aware that I became interested in nutrition about 6 years ago. Learning about how food can impact our mental and physical health has been an eye-opening experience for me. Once you see it, you cannot un-see anymore.
The food we eat on a daily basis nourishes every cell in our body, it can help it perform better, and it allows us to be a better version of ourselves.
But food is not the only thing that matters in order for us to be healthy. Let me give you a few examples:
- The busy mom that has prepared a healthy and nutritious lunch, but eats it in a rush, or is constantly angry during mealtime because her children disobey.
- The “healthy” foodie that is obsessed with clean eats, that if she eats something that does not fit into her health food standards feels like a failure or already imagines how badly her body reacts to it.
- The sleep deprived career-driven woman, who is exhausted and constantly tired, even if she puts a lot of emphasis on her dietary choices.
- The person that is so driven, that is never happy with the status quo.
- The person suffering from anxiety, trying to mask their issues with a perfect diet, because it gives them a sense of control.
If you recognize yourself in any of these examples, don’t be too quick to judge yourself. I think we can all recognize ourselves in some of them to some extent.
In the past few months I have been thinking more and more about the holistic aspect of health, and what it truly means. I have been following some nutritionists and read a lot of research about how some foods can harm us and how others are great for us and we should eat them every day. I think that the fact that so much information is now easily available is great, and the more people become aware about how our daily food choices can influence our health, the better. But there is this big part missing in here. And this part is – how do you live your life. Do you wake up feeling rested, do you sleep well, do you feel grateful for what you have, is love your predominant emotion or is it something else?
In my studies to become a holistic nutritionist I covered a module on mind, body and spirit, which was focused on our emotional wellbeing. It was another eye-opening experience for me. I was always aware of how emotions and thoughts can influence us, but this module was so well structured in illustrating how our emotional and mental state physically affects us, that it changed me. It so happened that a few months after I completed this module I attended a workshop here in Luxembourg, called “Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you how you’re feeling”. Cindy, from Hypnobirthing.lu and her guest Markus Lehnert, hosted the workshop and it focused about how our emotions predispose our food choices. It provided the last missing pieces for me, and opened me up to a lot of internal work and healing, as well as to a greater self-awareness.
So, I want to briefly share with you what I have learned in the past few months, or the predominant topics that I have been engaged with. There is so much to write about all this, but let’s start with a simple list of a few other things we can do – besides eating healthy – in order to live a healthier, happier and more fulfilled life.
Lifestyle tips to live a healthy and happy life:
- Check your emotions: this is a big one. And here I don’t just mean to recognize you’re angry when you have been triggered. I mean to check in with yourself on a daily basis, and notice on what emotional frequency you are most of the days. You will find that you tend to have a similar mood and emotions every day, when they are not disturbed by momentary triggers that can either make you more happy, sad or angry. Pay attention to how you’re feeling when you wake up, when you eat, when you take a shower, and just before you go to bed. What is the predominant emotion you’re feeling? Is it content, apathy, sadness, or worry? Start to dig deeper to find out where this emotion is rooted. I have found that meditation is a great tool to access this information.
- Acknowledge your thoughts: We all have a thought pattern, and it has been shown that our external and internal dialogue can affect our blood pressure, heart and even the biochemistry of individual tissues. The average person has about 12,000 to 16,000 thoughts per day. But did you know that 95% of them are exactly the same thoughts as the day before? This is a powerful revelation! It means that if you have been conditioned to think in a particular way, this is still influencing you today. It takes a lot of effort to break this and to change your thought patterns; it is like changing a habit. The body and mind will resist it at first, as it wants to save energy. But you can change your thoughts, and with that you can change your life experience and your health. For me I have found two tools that help me with this:
- Practicing gratitude
Putting my thoughts on paper makes me acknowledge them and helps me become more aware of how I am thinking by default.
3. Prioritize self-care: Being gentle and kind to yourself sends a signal to your body that you love and respect it. You don’t abuse it; you’re listening to it. This can be translated into a fairly simple routine, such as going to bed early, and putting an emphasis on quality sleep. It can mean saying no to things that don’t serve you and help you grow. It can mean letting go of things, people and projects that are not aligned with who you are. Being kind and patient with yourself will automatically make you more kind and patient with others as well.
There are many more aspects of living a healthy life, but I will stop here for today. The message I want to share you from this post is to acknowledge that we are complex beings. You are not just what you eat. Eating a clean and healthy diet does not necessarily mean you’re a healthy person, even if it does help you get there. We should all be digging a bit deeper, and don’t be afraid to reveal what hides underneath. Self-exploration and observation are just as important to finding balance in life as being outgoing and fun.
What other aspects have you found to healthy living applied into your life? Share them in the comments below.