In your quest for a healthy body, mind, and spirit, it’s okay to admit that you probably get a little overwhelmed sometimes. There are health facts coming at you from what seems like one million sources. It’s too much information!
If you’re trying to figure out the best way to feed your body so that you can feel your best, look your best, and stay fueled up to accomplish all the things, you’re probably trying to sort through a lot of suggestions and ideas. We’ve all been there.
But there’s good news! We have a real-life nutrition expert right here in the bulldog community, and she’s coming to the rescue with some solid health facts to get all of us back on track in our relationship with food. Meet Haley Halteman, a class leader based in our Boulder studio and a certified nutrition therapy practitioner.
One of the things that Haley is most interested in is the “Gut-Brain Connection.” Whether you know it or not, the link between these two very important parts of your body plays a huge role in the way that your body processes food — and ultimately, in the way your body looks. See? Health facts!
Time to get a little more scientific…
As Haley explains it, the gut and the brain are connected and communicate with each other through the nervous system. That connection is even responsible for those funny butterflies that you feel when you’re nervous or anxious! According to Haley, when our bodies undergo stress, they shift into the sympathetic nervous system, which is a fancy name for what you might know better as “fight or flight mode.” Being in fight or flight mode can give you those stomach butterflies, but it can also impact your digestion.
If your body is stressed out, it’s so worried about what to do next that it puts digestion on the back burner. In fight or flight mode, you’re not as able to process food effectively as you are when you’re cool as a cucumber. Instead, you might experience a range of tummy troubles (bloating, cramps, nausea, etc.) and your bod won’t be able to actually absorb the nutrients in the food you’re taking in. Food particles may cause inflammation and put your immune system on guard.
So what does all of this mean for feeling guilty about what you eat?
Here’s a news flash: just because you’re sitting down to eat a meal or snack, it doesn’t mean you’re out of fight or flight mode. Our human emotions make it much more complicated than that. Shifting into a parasympathetic state — basically, the opposite of fight or flight mode — requires you to change your thinking, too.
“Our thoughts are powerful!” Haley says. “Feeling shame and guilt while indulging will place your body under stress and impair digestion. It’s really a self-fulfilling prophecy — you feel awful for eating, and in turn, eating makes you feel awful.”
Much of the problem is that our larger society has started assigning “good” and “bad” labels to food. We’re made to feel guilty for indulging our cravings and often feel pressure to explain away snacks or meals that aren’t technically healthy. Don’t let the so-called health facts that you’re getting from all over the Internet get it twisted — according to our in-house nutrition expert, there’s no such thing as good food or bad food. All food may not be nutritionally beneficial, but there’s no need to make a moral judgement.
Making that kind of moral judgement and thinking about it while you eat is only going to make you feel physically sick, and it might also impair your weight loss efforts, since your body may struggle to digest efficiently.
“These negative feelings put our body under stress and create more harm than eating the actual food does,” Haley explains. “When we eat food we see as bad or evil, we give it power over us to feel shame and guilt. What our bodies aren’t designed to handle is constant negative self-talk.”
Bulldoggers, no one is suggesting that you eat ice cream for breakfast every day (though that does sound delicious). What we are saying is that it’s time to drop the guilt around eating your favorite treats. According to a recent study on behalf of Chomps and cited by the New York Post, nearly a third of the food that Americans eat makes them feel guilty. Friends, that’s gotta stop… especially now that we know how much these negative feelings can impact our health and weight.
Check your health facts. Stop feeling crummy about yourself when you eat something you thought was “bad.” You enjoy that treat! Why put your body into fight or flight mode over something so delicious?
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Featured image: Muhammad Ruqiyaddin/Unsplash