Notes from Webinar on "Forever Transforming Your Relationship with Food". As you may remember, they broke down the webinar into Five Keys. Each key can help us to understand our relationship with food as a great teacher.
Key #3: The Surprising Shift that can Make All the Difference.
This difference happens to be in the mind, and in our physiology. This shift is all about stress and relaxation physiology. These are the most powerful drivers of nutritional health, of our natural weight, our natural appetite, and a healthy relationship with food. Have you ever had the experience of being anxious & upset, and during this you ate a meal? Later you started to feel like your food was sitting in your stomach, or you felt digestive upset. When you are under stress, we experience the classic physiological stress response which is also called a 'sympathetic nervous system dominance'. When we are in that stress response our heart rate goes up, our blood pressure goes up, and all our metabolic energy is re-routed into survival. Blood rushes to your arms and legs for quick fighting or fleeing, blood rushes to your head for quick thinking, blood moves away from your digestive organs because your digestive organs take a lot of blood flow to do its job. Under stress your digestion shuts down, you have not appetite control, stress hormones such as insulin, corisol, adrenaline, nor-adrenaline increase and when the hormones are secreted in excess they signal the body to store weight & fat and not build muscle. This is the opposite of what everybody trying to lose weight wants. You could be eating the healthiest food in the universe, but if you are not under the optimum digestive state then you will not be getting the full nutritional value of your meal. The stress response excretes water soluble and fat soluble vitamins, micro and macro minerals, and kills off your healthy gut bacteria. it is important to put your body into relaxation physiology in order to heal any disease condition, any healthy symptom, and any eating challenge, because when it comes to a physiologic or metabolic issues the body does it's healing when it is in a physiologic relaxation response. This is also known as the para-sympathetic nervous system dominance. When does the body heal? The body heals when we are sleeping and when we are in relaxation.
Self- Created Stressors: There are self- created stressors and real stressors. Self created stressors are optional and you don’t really need them. What is a self-created stressor? When you wake up in the morning and you look in the mirror and you say to yourself: I hate my body fat, I am not enough, I need to look a certain way. As soon as you think those thoughts, you will put your body into a physiologic stress response. The scientific definition of stress is any Real or Imagined threat, and the body's response to that threat. You could be sitting in a room right not all relaxed and think about some trauma that happened to you 10 years ago and you could literally put yourself into a stress response. The thoughts you think, the mantras you repeat to yourself, the affirmations you say to yourself, if those words are unkind then you are self-creating stress, you are changing your body chemistry, you are producing more insulin and cortisol, and the hormones are going to signal your body to store weight, store fat, and not build muscle. You are going to de-regulate your appetite, you are going to tell your digestive system to not be functioning optimally, which means you can be eating healthy food but be excreting some of the best nutrients from that food simply because of self-created stress. Another self-created stressor is trying to constantly create the perfect body. I just need to lose 10 or 20 more pounds and I will be perfect. How many people get into that perfectionist mentality and live there for years, beating yourself up whenever you have an incident. We are human and sometimes we will overeat or binge eat, but when you kick yourself when you are down you are just creating stress on top of stress. We have some incredible power when it comes to beginning to manage and heal and transform our eating challenges. Some simple things we can do right now is to put ourselves in a relaxation response.
1. A simple thing you can do right now to change your physiology and to change how you metabolize a meal, is to breathe right before you eat. If you take 5 to 10 long slow deep breathes before any meal, it will create the breathing state of the Relaxation Response. Every emotional state has a corresponding brain wave pattern and breathe pattern. The breathing pattern of stress is infrequent, arrhythmic and shallow. The breathing pattern of relaxation is regular, rhythmic and deep. So when you adopt the breathing pattern of relaxation, even though you are stressed, you literally fool your central nervous system to send nervous system signals down the spinal nerves through the body, through the hormones, through various biochemical pathways and in less than ONE MINUTE you will change your state from Stress to Relaxation and achieve optimal metabolism. This all happens from slowing down your breathing before eating and it is FREE.
2. The second simple thing you can do right now to change your physiology and to change how you metabolize a meal is to slow down when you eat food. About 85% of people say that they are a fast eater. The act of eating fast is considered by your body as a stressor. You can be the most relaxed person in the world, but if you eat your food fast your body goes into stress. Why? Because the way your physiology is designed, your body needs time to digest, assimilate, calorie burn, and access the nutrient profile of a meal. Dieticians told us about 30 years ago that the brain needs approximately 20 minutes to understand that it is full. This means that your nervous system has to scan the body, has to scan the meal, and there is a complex feedback loop between your brain and your gut about what is going on. So when you slow down with food, you give your physiology what it needs which is time to understand what is happening and that gives you a powerful natural appetite regulation. The Cephalic Phase (the Head Phase) of the digestive response is a fancy term for taste, pleasure, aroma, satisfaction and the visuals of the meal. When we miss the Head Phase of digestion, scientists state that 40-60% of your metabolic power at any meal (your ability to digest, assimilate, and calorie burn that meal) comes from the Head Phase of the meal. Your tasting of the meal, your experience of the meal, the pleasure you get from the meal, how nourished you are by the meal is all in the Head Phase. That accounts for 40-60% of your metabolic power. The reverse is that if you are not taking the time to get taste, pleasure, aroma, and satisfaction of a meal, you are metabolizing that meal with 40-60% less efficiency. As you relax, you improve your metabolism.
3. The third simple thing you can do right now to change your physiology and to change how you metabolize a meal, is to receive pleasure from that meal. Pleasure is a metabolizer, pleasure is a metabolic enhancer, and pleasure is not some frivolous thing. All organisms on planet earth, whether they are bacteria, lizards, lions, or humans, they are programmed at the most primitive level of their nervous system to seek pleasure and avoid pain. When you are eating food, you are seeking the pleasure of food and avoiding the pain of hunger and starvation. The relaxation response is the optimum state of digestion, assimilation, calorie burning, and your best appetite regulation. When you feel pleasure, no matter how stressed you are, you put your body into the relaxation response. Pleasure catalyzes the relaxation response. When you are experiencing a meal and getting pleasure from it, that pleasure helps you relax. So if you are going to eat a piece of cake, it behooves you to eat it in a state of pleasure because then you are putting yourself into the optimum state of digestion, assimilation, calorie burning, and appetite regulation. If you say to yourself: “OMG I should not eat this cake, it is going to make me fat”, then you make yourself all stressed out and eat the cake too fast and you don’t get pleasure from it. If you don’t taste the cake, then the brain will say “hmmm, I thought I was eating this delicious cake but I don’t remember the taste or pleasure of it. So guess what the brain does, it sends a new HUNGER message triggering a craving for another piece of cake in order to receive the satisfaction it was seeking. In a stressed state, we are desensitized to pleasure primarily from cortisol The bottom line is: a. slow down, b. relax, c. breathe, d. receive pleasure.