Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be challenging at the best of times. From those late night chocolate cravings to skipping a gym sesh because your sister’s friend’s mother’s grandpa’s brother’s grandson’s uncle’s fish died, and yes, it was tragic. But when unexpected circumstances arise it can be extremely difficult to stay on the wagon. Felicity’s smoothie experience this week was far more dramatic than mine. In this post we identify and explain the link between our emotions and how we eat and digest food.
What a difference a week makes!
Felicity – Last week I was thinking green smoothies were the elixir of life – this week, ahhh…. not so much. Here’s what happened in week 3 for me:
My lovely 94 year old Nana passed away and within 6 hours of hearing the news I had come down with a cold (the mind-body connection in action right there!) and alongside that, my desire for green smoothies completely evaporated. In fact, complete aversion ensued – I was struggling to get them down, found them way too cold, and didn’t enjoy the taste at all.
As much as I love to complete a challenge, naturopaths are taught to respect the wisdom and innate intelligence of the body. Struggling with sinus congestion and battling a virus, my body didn’t want to eat much at all – the only thing I could possibly get excited about was warm, nourishing soup. So the smoothies got shafted and my Cavolo Nero got chopped up and made into vegetable soup instead.
So what was it about getting sick that can explain my aversion to lovely healthy green smoothies?
Here’s my take on it: the process of digesting and assimilating foods into nutrients requires a heap of energy from the body. Blood is diverted away from the brain and limbs toward the stomach to help digestion. That’s why this process is often referred to as “rest and digest”. It’s why we can feel a bit mentally sluggish after eating and also why the Europeans often have siesta after their 3 course lunches!
When the body is sick, the immune system is focused on fighting infection, and diverting large amounts of energy to digestion is not a priority. Both animals and children tend to fast when sick and have little desire for food, instead choosing fluids. Cats will sometimes nibble on a blade of grass. This is also why warm cooked foods have been traditionally used to help recovery from illness. Cooking a food breaks it down and begins the process of digestion, making less work for the body, which can then focus on getting well.
I’m hoping week 4 and recovery from this cold with bring renewed enthusiasm for green smoothies!
Bianca’s week three experience –
We are past halfway, on the homeward stretch now and I feel brilliant!
At the start of the week I felt sick as a result of a big weekend and about 6 hours sleep in total. My body was beginning to resent me and my voice became very husky (manly husky, not sexy husky). I decided to up my smoothie intake for a couple days (two smoothies a day) to try and build my immune system up and I have since fought off the bug and the femininity in my voice is slowly returning.
I have not been craving chocolate as much. I could easily demolish a good 3-4 rows of Milky Bar a night and if I’m feeling down, let’s make it 6 rows. Chocolate is certainly my weakness. However I have found after dinner I am ready for bed and am not tempted for sweetness. The smoothies are really hitting the spot.
My favourite ingredient this week is the superfood chia seeds which are high in antioxidants, fiber, calcium, iron, potassium and protein. Also chia seeds absorb up to 10-12 times their weight in water. Adding chia seeds meant that my smoothies were thicker, had more substance and kept me full for longer.
Recipe of the week
1 Cup Spinach
1 Cup Bok Choy
1 Cup Coconut Milk
1 Cup water
1T Chia Seeds
We are almost at the finish line now. Hopefully our bodies have recovered after this challenging week so we can keep up the momentum to finish the challenge.
Both our experiences this week remind us of the importance of listening to our bodies and changing our diets to provide them with what they need most in any given moment. Felicity needed the warmth and comfort of vegetable soup in a time of both emotional and physical distress and so the green smoothie challenge went out the window. Bianca (myself) needed to rebuild after a heavy weekend and so upped the ante and did double the amount of green smoothie, amping up my nutrients and assisting my liver to do the vital job of detoxification. Tuning in to what the body really needs in any given moment (instead of what the mind says we need e.g. usually sugar, chocolate or some other short-lived food high) is one of the most important steps in learning to truly nourish and care for our bodies and ourselves.