Life in the Recovery Room

How to heal, grow, and prosper in challenging times.

Nutrition for Your Mind and Body

Self-care requires that we consider "nutrition" to be more than what we eat.

When I hear the word “nutrition,” I automatically think of food for the body and giving my body the proper nutrition to function at its best. However, in the realm of self care, nutrition is also necessary for the mind and even the spirit. The nutrients are different, but the concept is the same. So let’s continue with some food for thought.

When we eat to live, we are honoring our earthly vessels. We are listening to our bodies and providing them with the sustenance needed to support our lifestyles. We learn to do this effectively either by trial and error or following a specific eating plan, always leaving room for a little indulgence every now and then. Feeding the body is not about deprivation. It is caring for ourselves in a way that promotes and fosters balance.

Remember the saying “You are what you eat”? Well, there is some truth there. There are foods that are good for us and there are foods that aren’t so good for us in the short and long term. We know what they are, but sometimes we defy or conveniently forget what we know. When we live to eat we are playing a dangerous game. When we use food to “fix” us, It serves as a defense mechanism against feeling our feelings. These are the times we eat “at” the world, him, her, them, it; it doesn’t matter who, what or why. “Using” food is simply an avoidance technique that sets up a field of landmines and triggers a false sense of being OK. What does matter is that this is one of the easiest ways to sabotage our overall health and wellbeing. The only one that hurts is us. What we consume literally affects how we feel, think and believe.

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Worry, stress, untreated trauma, and low self esteem can become all- consuming, sapping our mental energy and leaving us in emotional quicksand. In this state we cannot possibly live a life; we can just go through the motions. All our feelings are not facts; they are just feelings. The feelings that we nurture mold, and perhaps warp, our perception of ourselves and those around us. Those that we act on become who we are and how we are perceived by others and function in the world.  

We are the product of what we think. According to SuccessConsciousness.com, our brains average 2500 to 3,300 thoughts per hour. The thoughts that pull our focus are what become foremost in our minds. No doubt, there’s certainly a lot to choose from.

The good news is that we get to choose which thoughts we allow to “rent space” in our minds and consciousness.  Allowing negative thoughts about ourselves and/or others to occupy our time can have serious consequences on our body and spirit. Remember what the Door Mouse said? It was “Feed your head.” We must care enough about ourselves to choose wisely! 

With what will you feed your mind today? A good book, learning something new, a film you’ve wanted to see, relaxation techniques, doing your best at work, loving thoughts of friends and family are all on the menu of possibility. 

Later this month we’ll talk about feeding the spirit. Until then, be good to yourself my friend.

James Huysman, PsyD, LCSW, is a leading authority on caregiver burnout, compassion fatigue and related addictions. Aside from his blog here, he writes a behavioral health column for Florida MD.

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