Why is Mindful Nutrition Important?
Food choices can be triggering for many people, especially when you are trying to be your best. A healthy outlook on nutrition comes easier as you learn to stay present with each choice, and a mindfulness practice helps you do just that. In the last unit, we learned about the enteric nervous system and the role it plays in our decision-making process. The foods that we choose literally help inform the way our gut, often known as our second brain, and the brain in our skull communicate. When you choose fast or processed foods instead of whole foods, over time your thought processes will feel foggy and your healthy response to everyday stress will decrease. Your intestinal tract does much more than just digest food. It is responsible for 95% of your serotonin production, the feel good neurochemical that helps regulate your sleep and mood, and inhibits pain. When we eat healthy, whole, and organic foods we have more good bacteria in our gut and protect our body against the build up of toxic inflammation. The less inflammation we have in our bodies, the more freely we are able to think, move and perform. Stress is not always bad, in healthy amounts, it serves as a motivating factor in life. As high performers we want to have the tools to use to build our tolerance to everyday stress so that it motivates and informs us without over-activating our sympathetic nervous system and sending us into fight or flight. Our food choices make a difference in that process. When we make choices to “eat the rainbow” and stay hydrated, drinking at least half of your bodyweight in ounces every day, you will help align your gut brain axis for optimal performance. The more you sink into your mindfulness practice, the more present you will become with each choice you make and those choices become habits over time.
A High Performance Zen lifestyle though is not an all or nothing approach. A mindful approach to nutrition is also a balanced and moderate approach that doesn’t create shame or guilt around the choices you make. When you are present in your body and mind, your choices will align over time with your deepest sense of well being. Trust that one choice at a time. Healthy choices are not canceled out by indulgence here and there. Life is meant to be enjoyed and often socializing and connecting with people you love revolves around meals. So if you indulge, enjoy the moment, be present and take note and find gratitude not just for what you enjoy, but why you are enjoying it.
I hope you are starting to see how your mind connects to your body. The stronger that connection becomes, the more flow you will find in your life and the better you will be able to perform and feel every day. If at any time you are struggling with these concepts or feel you need help in this or any other area of your well-being, please reach out. I am always here for you to help support you on the path to High Performance Zen.
TASK: Write a Journal Entry.
Do you trust your gut? Why or why not?