As a registered dietitian and a person who has studied and taught nutrition for 30 years, I have always thought of nourishing our bodies with just food and nutrients, until the recent science on epigenetics (how our environment effects our health). According to the Google dictionary, nourish means “provide with the food or other substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition” or “keep (a feeling or belief) in one’s mind, typically for a long time.” Other words associated with the word nourish include cherish, nurture, foster, sustain and hold, which I feel more reflect the true meaning of the word beyond food or physical substances.
A bag of Hot Cheetos is going to provide your body with carbohydrates, fat, sodium, and a large amount of chemicals, some of which are not considered to be nutrients, but does this really nourish your body from a physical chemical standpoint? Some might argue that the joy they get when they eat the Hot Cheetos outweighs the detriment to health, but is that true from an energetic standpoint? Do the ingredients cherish, nurture, or foster health in your body? Do you feel held or supported by the universe when you are eating a bag? Is it really joy you are feeling when you eat them or is this just another check out of our body or taste buds highjacked by a processed food industry formulating food to make you crave it even more?
While I started my life eating predominantly processed junk foods, I had a “diet” in my 30’s and early 40’s that was arguably incredibly healthy by most people’s standards, yet I still struggled with my weight or at least lived with a disordered eating fear. In fact, a recent study published in May 2019 showed that consuming ultra-processed food resulted in an increased food intake that included increased carbohydrate intake and weight gain*. However for myself, it wasn’t until I started nourishing my mind, body, and soul that I really was able to let go of my fears of gaining weight or becoming chronically ill (which I was certain I would from my 23 and Me gene report). It wasn’t until I realized I had pretty much abandoned my body very early on from emotional trauma and all the exercise and good food was not going to get me back in it, until I learned to be present and in my body.
Mind-body-spirit nourishment for me means a lifestyle that includes a clean diet, regular activity, a spiritual practice, and probably most importantly, self-compassion. It wasn’t until I stepped into my body that I could see how harsh and judgmental I had been to myself. This was interesting because I had a career of being compassionate towards everyone I had interacted with from a patient/ client standpoint, but I could not extend that compassion to myself. However, when I developed compassion for myself, it led me to self-love which made me want to take care of myself from a well-being standpoint vs. an “outer shell” perfectionism standpoint. The better I felt, internally and externally, the easier it was to make good decisions for myself in all areas of my life.
I can honestly say after almost 40 years of worrying about my weight and experiencing disordered eating habits, I truly eat what I want (but now I only want nourishing, healthy foods), and my weight does not change significantly. I exercise because it makes me feel good and only do things I want to do vs. the “shoulda’s” and the guilt. I meditate every morning, journal, and read soul nourishing books, and close my day with gratitude. I show up authentically and nourish my soul with people who see me as I really am, regardless of the outside package. I feel blessed and am thriving vs. surviving for the first time in my life. And I hope I can help you to do the same!!