I have a story for you today,
Camilla came into my office complaining of debilitating stomachaches. They had gotten so bad that she was limiting her food choices to a point of pure confusion and overwhelm.
Tears streamed down her cheeks as she explained the strife this pain and confusion was causing her every day.
There were a few notable patterns, but really, nothing that was conclusive. After all the usual tests, elimination diets, and doctor’s visits nothing had been working…
I love helping people heal their digestion. It is one of my specialties. Digestion is the most integral foundation of our health. I love the science of the blood tests, the deep healing and shifts that so often happen when we start eating foods that our unique bodies love.
But all too often there is something missing, something we overlook…
We now know that not only do the building blocks for health and vitality start in the digestive track – the break down, the absorption and the transportation – but most of our seratonin (the feel good neurotransmitter) is also produced in the gut (AKA: the second brain).
When your digestion is happy, you are happy – literally.
Many people come to me to improve and strengthen their digestion.Here is the thing, it is often soooo much more complicated than food.
When we consider the complexity of the human body, mind, and spirit, there are a few extra important things to consider.
We are whole beings, with physical, emotional and soul desires, needs, and essentials.
Treating the digestion as if it exists in a little bubble in our bellies is just not enough – we leave out too much of the equation.
Instead, let’s try broadening our experience of our digestion to a body-mind-spirit approach:
This is foundational to the work I teach, but also to the success of integrating all of YOU into your health and happiness.
- Learn what Digest Your Life actually means
- Understand the deeper patterns that most of us are repeating without even realizing it.
- Practice these specific mealtime tips to feel better inside and out.
- Find out how Camilla solved the issues with her digestion (and beyond).
Learn what your digestion (and health) REALLY wants:
Digest Your Life ~ Digest your Food.
Digest your life:
If you are like most of us, life is pretty intense. Whether it is intensely full, stressful, busy, joyful, sad, or overwhelming, most of us would admit that life keeps rolling at a pretty good pace these days.
A lot can happen in a day. A lot of connections, a lot of errands, a lot of tasks at the office, a lot of kid stuff, a lot of homework, and even a lot of conflict (inner and outer).
It takes an incredible amount of centering and anchoring to not get swept away in all the ups and downs of life.
Amidst this swift daily experience, most of us don’t have time (or desire) to digest everything that has happened. It can feel like too much. It we were to take the lid off of our jar of daily emotion and experience, it might explode. Yikes.
Instead, most of us have elaborate mechanisms to keep that lid on tight, no matter what the pressure is inside the jar.
Many of us hold tension, stress, strife, conflict, and old repressed feelings in our gut.
Did you ever get a stomachache at a stressful family dinner, an unpleasant work meeting or perhaps waiting to take an exam?
When we eat under these daily stressors, we are literally shutting down our physical digestions.
Processing your life helps you to process your food.
A few facts about body-mind-spirit digestion:
The stress hormone – adrenaline – has an elaborate mechanism of shutting down digestion. If you were being chased by a grizzly bear (one of the original purposes of adrenaline) you would not want your energy focused on your digestion. You would want every last ounce of attention and energy tuned into your survival, speed, and heightened awareness.
The problem is that most of us are not being chased by a grizzly bear so-to-speak, but the day-to-day stress of our culture mimics something hormonally similar. Many of us live in an adrenaline state right here in society. Many of us experience our biochemistry as if there really is a big old grizzly out there after us.
Our daily stress shuts down our digestions and creates many issues that cannot be fixed with just food. Stress affects our hunger, absorption, and elimination.
We can’t fix our day-to-day concerns or the fast pace of our society overnight, but we can integrate a few things to help.
Daily Practices To Try:
- Feel your feelings, digest your life, and give yourself some downtime.
I know you are too busy for downtime. We all are. Some days I feel too busy to take a shower, but I just know I’ve just gotta make it happen. For me it’s non-negotiable – both the shower and the downtime. Talk to a loved one you trust, write in a journal, or take a walk in the fall leaves after work. Do what you can to create a little space to digest your day.
- Create a peaceful environment in which to eat.
It may take longer, you may have to stop for a minute, get out of adrenaline mode, and slow down. Believe me, your body will thank you. When we are in a peaceful state of mind, not only do we enhance our peace of mind, but we also boost your metabolism and your assimilation.
Simply by sitting down, chewing our food more thoroughly, making eating more of a ritual, and slowing down we can do wonders for our stress, and our digestion.
- Speak your truth.
What we resist persists. This includes unexpressed emotions, feelings, and communications that are held in our bodies. What if we had the courage to speak up in all areas of our lives – our work, our family, our relationships? Imagine the personal empowerment and freedom we would experience.
Our truth is not about being right, our truth is about being authentic.
When we repress our truth, we hold it somewhere in our bodies. The most common place we hold unspoken truths – our digestion. So often when things go unsaid, we get stomach aches, we stuff our feelings with food, or our digestion shuts down all together. None of these are ideal for a life filled with vitality and joy.
The breath is the quickest way to calm down our bodies and minds. When we breathe mindfully (especially through our nose) we engage our parasympathetic nervous system – the calming side of our nervous system.
With just some slow nasal breathing we can get yourself out of fight or flight mode (remember the grizzly bear) and back into an optimal state for inner peace, good digestion, and of course, peace.
Studies have shown that when we slow down our breathing, we literally slow down our brain waves and our bodies and minds become more calm and relaxed.
Try this anytime of day, when you catch yourself in a stressful fight or flight moment, and also practice this at (or before) mealtime.
Slow inhale through the nose, slow exhale through the nose.
Camilla’s Success story:
Okay, let’s get back to Camilla for a moment. After quite a lot of personal investigation, food allergy testing, and experimenting, Camilla realized that yes, a few foods were bothering her system and she was able to eliminate them from her diet for the most part. That helped a little.
What was the most impactful for her was when she started learning to calm her body and mind down during stressful work days, when she was able to speak her truth to her family, friends and co-workers, and when she took the power back for herself in her own life.
She practiced slow and mindful eating (including lots of breathing). She practiced clearing out old repressed feelings and stagnant emotion through journaling, meditation and self-care, and she started putting herself first in her life.
This took some practice and some time, but each time she felt successful, her stomach pain would lessen and she started to get her life back.
Today, Camilla is free of stomachaches – as long as she doesn’t slip back into her old patterns. If this happens, her body instantly tells her, and she is now informed to amend the situation immediately.
About Sue Van Raes...
I'm a Nutritional therapist, food psychology expert and Lifestyle Coach.
My mission is to help heal the feminine through food, mind-body connection and pleasure. Learn more here.
In our work together we will dive into deep healing for the body and soul while I offer you practical, potent teachings that will open your heart to trust, your mind to possibility and your body to its organic wisdom.
I am chock full of resources for you including INSPIRING content and a wide range of support to help you find your way in all things food and body.
Feel free to read more about me and how I can help you HERE