Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Week 18

Be still and listen, listen carefully.

This is actually the hardest challenge yet, so please take it very seriously.  Walking alone along a beach reminds me of this challenge, thus the photo taken on a beach in Florida.  Hearing the waves crashing on shore and the seagulls calling and the wind whistling awakens my senses and I listen, listen carefully.  Do the same this week with your body.  So much is going on inside of you and so many clues are being given to you, but you must learn to listen to them.  How is your body functioning?  Do you have any aches and pains?  When?  Where?  How often?

Not all aches and pains are related to diet, of course.  But even those that come from other sources can be relieved or exacerbated by the foods we eat.

Listen this week very carefully to your body.  At first, this may seem impossible to you, but as you still your thoughts and scan your body - taking in all the clues being given to you, you will soon be in tune and able to respond to your body's nutritional needs.

There are many nuances associated with this challenge - let me describe a few.

1.  Be quiet and still and notice how you feel.  God gave us a wonderful system of nerves to tell us when we are out of balance or when something is wrong.  You must stop and listen and use these clues to help you heal.

2.  Be aware of how you feel throughout the day.  Be especially aware of how you feel before and after meals.  Learn to key into the clues your body is giving you about the foods that you are eating.  Just as Renee has now seen that she gets headaches from sugar, and Jennifer knows she gets a migraine if she eats something with hidden MSG, you too pay attention.  You may not have this level of sensitivity yet, but try to notice how you feel after eating a meal of 100% good quality foods and then after eating a meal of man-made foods, either at home or out.  Keep in mind that some effects are immediate, such as a stomachache, and some may not hit you for a day or two, such as an infection.

3.  Don't be quick to take something to appease an ache or pain.  In today's world, we have learned to go for quick fixes and to ignore what our body is telling us.  If you are really tired, then rest.  Don't grab some food containing caffeine or sugar.  If you have a headache, don't take an aspirin type medication, drink water and try to determine why you have the headache.  If you have a stomachache, don't grab an antacid or other remedy.  See if you can link what you are eating with when you experience discomfort or pain.  See if you can start to notice the negative effects of man-made foods in your diet on how you feel.  This is so important for you to begin to know how to heal yourself with your food.  If you live with the ache or pain, and then try to decide what sounds good to eat, your body will begin to tell you.  If you have a stomachache, pizza is probably not going to sound very good to you.  If you have a migraine headache, eating out is probably not going to sound very good to you.  If you are having allergy problems, a heavy meal of meat and potatoes is probably not going to sound very good.

4.  If you are addicted to some food(s), this is a good time to identify your addictions: sugar, caffeine, junk food of some sort which contains addictive substances perhaps.  It is extremely hard to know what good nutrients your body is craving if you are addicted to foods/additives that control you.  If you cannot give up something easily for a week without severe cravings and withdrawal symptoms, then you are addicted.  Be still and identify what foods are controlling you - this is the first step to mastering and overcoming them.

5.  Most importantly, don't get discouraged.  The first step is listening.  It can take a long, long time to establish the cause and effect relationships since the effects of your diet can be immediate but usually are not.  We will continue to discuss over time how to better understand what your body is telling you that you need, but for this week, start with the first baby step of listening and awareness.

6.  Listen and be aware, but don't dwell on your aches and pains.  This is not helpful for healing.  Once you have become still and evaluated how you feel, get moving and active doing something again.  Let this awareness help you change what you are eating, not make you grumble or sink into depression.  If you are trapped in that scenario, give it to God.  Ask Him in prayer to take that attitude from you and to help you make the necessary diet changes that you need. "Cast all your anxiety on Him (God) because He cares for you." 1Peter 5:7

Advanced challenge for those who have already learned to pay attention to the signals their bodies are giving them:

This can become SO fun.  When cooking or preparing food, don't blindly follow recipes.  Stock up your pantry with spices and herbs and adjust your usage based on how you feel.  Learn to listen to your insight.  Use your sense of smell to help you determine what spices to add and how much of each.

Also adjust your meals based on how you or someone in your family feels.  For example, when you feeling like you are coming down with a cold, dairy products typically don't sound good - probably because dairy causes more mucus.  However, healing chicken soup is soothing and satisfying.  If you are feeling bloated from hormones, light cool foods like fresh fruits and salads may sound good.

You may desire a lot of fruit one day, and something with a lot of basil and garlic another day.  Do you crave a banana or an apple?  Perhaps a bowl of rice and beans, or a hamburger, or an omelette sounds good.  Listen and adjust.  Then pay attention to how you feel after eating your selection.  The more you practice, the more aware you will become of what your body needs to stay healthy, and the more fun you will have cooking and preparing your meals.
"Be still and know that I am God.."  Psalm 46:10

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