As someone experiencing an eating disorder, food can be seen as the enemy. But, seriously, what did food ever do to us to become this feared foe?
From the day we are born, food is so very important. It is the nourishment required by every cell in our developing bodies. Without this ally, our bodies will soon whither. Why then, do those of us finding ourselves in the grip of any form of an eating disorder, turn on our friend, casting it aside? Because somewhere deep inside there lives a yearning to combat something which is not going right for us. As I will indicate in this, and other blogs…the definition for your ‘yearning’ may well be different to what mine was, and others in the same position. What I have come to understand though, that each of these ‘yearnings’ will more than likely have the similar traits of ‘fear’ and ‘control’.
Where a body finds itself carrying these two crippling characteristics, a food related disorder certainly has the opportunity to take hold.
This blog is not going to explore this notion – I reference it in the hope of motivating you to return to establishing a connected, healthy relationship with food. Without this alliance, healing is not going to eventuate, and the ‘one’ most unhappy regarding this is the very system you inhabit – your body!
So if I am not going to discuss fear and control, what am I going to do? I am going to endeavour to encourage you to review your relationship with food…
This wonderful system, ‘the body’, is a power house of interconnected dynamics which work feverishly in unison, on our behalf, to maintain optimum health so we can enjoy a fabulous life. We do not have to think about what is going on beneath the layers of our skin – which holds us all together. Our only job is to ensure we provide this system of multiple dynamics with the sustenance it requires to deliver us with what we deserve – life…
In essence, we actually are the controller of this outcome. What we decide to supply ourselves with daily, will determine just how well our body responds. So when it begins to call out via pain, headaches, sadness or any other form of messaging, we owe it our ears to listen!
Anorexia Nervosa is one of those messengers. Yes, there are reasons why this eating disorder has developed, and this needs to be addressed, BUT, in addressing whatever you have discovered as contributions, we must combine our healing work with acquiring and applying knowledge regarding the value of food.
What, then, does this powerful contributor to our healing do for us? The following; food
1. Is the produce consumed that contains nutrients which keep the body healthy
2. Provides energy to do the activities we wish to do
3. Helps to maintain the bodies temperature at 37 degrees
4. Gives the body the substances, (nutrients), it requires to build new tissues and help the body grow
5. Provides the body with nutrients which heal cuts and wounds
6. Protects against the development of diseases
7. Helps regulate all the body processes that happen day and night without us having to think about it
8. Is required in balance so our bodies receive the range of nutrition necessary for optimum health
With a list like this, how can we ignore its importance? There is another word which always pops up when discussing the role of food – Nutrients. Nutrients are complex chemical substances. They cannot be seen, we learn about them through education. Nutrients were designed for your body, so that when digested they collectively work together to maintain all body processes. Without adequate supplies of all nutrients the body will fail, it will become ill and disease will be the result.
There exists an extremely wide range of nutrients. Thankfully, in order to understand this area, they are grouped into categories.
There are 6 main categories:
Additionally, a daily intake of fibre is extremely important.
Carbohydrates, proteins and fats belong to the macronutrient category, while vitamins and minerals belong to the micronutrient category. Macronutrients make up the bulk of our diets. Micronutrients are generally consumed in smaller amounts, but are just as important in their role within our bodies.
The body uses nutrients and fibre to complete the processes outlined below:
1. Ingestion – eating/drinking process
2. Digestion – the process of breaking down food to release nutrients into the digestive system
3. Absorption – the process where nutrients pass into the blood and lymph fluids for use
4. Metabolism – where nutrients are used in chemical processes for the purpose of growth, energy, warmth and repair
5. Excretion – the process of removing the ‘leftovers’ from the body!
Are you realising why food is our valued ally? One last note for this blog – whether healing, or not, the type of food is also to be considered. Nutrient-dense foods, ie foods containing a wide range of nutrients in large quantities, need to be included. Variety is encouraged, and, as unadulterated as possible ie chemical free! But this is the topic for another blog!
For those of you who are intending to, or have, completed ‘Anorexia Unlocked: Nutrition’ you will come across some of this information there. It certainly does not hurt to reinforce it here!
The next time you sit down to eat, have a good look at the food you are about to ingest – thank it for nourishing you. Give it your time and attention when consuming it – enjoy the flavours, textures, aromas, even the colours! When finished, ask, “Have I supported you body in being able to now undertake all of those important processes for me?” Listen to the reply. If you are experiencing an eating disorder, I am guessing not…
This is in your hands…open your arms, embrace this wonderful resource, revel in learning about what it does for you…and when ready, nourish your body as it was intended to be…