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Registered Holistic Nutritionist
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Past hurts and traumas have very real effects on our health. Health disciplines across the board, from holistic healers, to acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine to modern mainstream medicine, all understand this connection.
Jon Gabriel, author of The Gabriel Method, who weighed 409 lbs at his heaviest, explains about emotional obesity. Emotional obesity is caused by traumatic events that cause our bodies to hold on to weight as a form of protection. Jon uses a number of techniques to overcome past trauma including visualization and doing a rewrite of past traumatic experiences. Remember when we talked about how diets don’t work and how cravings for junk food aren’t really your fault? When former life saving adaptations have become maladaptive and health damaging, this is part of the emotional obesity mechanism.
Pediatrician, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris describes ACE’s (or Adverse Childhood Experiences) and toxic stress as childhood traumas that occurred before the age of 18 which have lifelong negative health effects. Some of these childhood traumas include: physical, emotional and sexual abuse, physical or emotional neglect, parental mental illness, substance abuse, incarceration, parental separation or divorce and domestic violence. These ACE’s alter brain development, immune system development, hormonal systems and the way our DNA is read and transcribed. 17,500 adults studied, showed that the greater the number of ACE’s they suffered as children, the greater the negative health effects in their lives. Some of these negative health effects included greater susceptibility to: heart disease, hepatitis, depression, suicidal thoughts and cancer.
Research has shown that another adaptation is at work when it comes to trauma. Traumas suffered by our parents and grandparents may be genetically passed down to us. Information about traumatic situations can be passed down from generation to generation so that successive generations can more easily adapt to their environment. The trouble is, if our parents or grandparents lived through a war, and they pass that adaptation down to us, we may be living our lives as if we are constantly under attack and constantly in danger.
Fortunately there are methods available to us for healing past traumas. These methods include mental health care, nutrition, holistic interventions and in some cases medication. Many of mental health techniques for healing center around the idea of changing our beliefs about the past situations. Some ways that we can change past beliefs are by doing visualizations and rewrites as Jon Gabriel describes. Positive affirmations (thoughts) to replace the negative thoughts should be done regularly. EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and Faster EFT are techniques we can learn to do ourselves and involve tapping on acupressure points while bringing up emotionally traumatic events, feeling the emotions of them, releasing and letting them go. Questioning away negative thoughts and feelings, as in Byron Katie’s The Work, is also an effective method. In this method we learn to question our stories we create about our life events and to see the positive in every situation we have gone through. Relaxation techniques such as meditation and focusing on gratitude are helpful techniques we have already discussed.
Tags: Abuse, ACE's, Adverse Childhood Experiences, Dieting, EFT, Emotional Health, Emotional Obesity, Faster EFT, Gratitude Journal, Mental Health, Neglect, Nutrition, Relaxation, The Gabriel Method, The Work, Visualization, Weight Gain, Weight Loss
Just as our physical diet is made up of what we eat and drink, we also have a mental diet. Our mental diet is information we take in through our senses (things we hear, things we see), and interpret in our minds. Our mental diet also includes the things that we tell ourselves about those things that we perceive and how they relate to us. In short, our mental diet is what we choose to feed our minds.
The outside influences of our mental diet include, family, friends, coworkers and those people around us that touch our lives. Just stop and take a moment to think about the people who are a part of our lives. Are they a positive influence on us? What sort of things do they talk about? Do they gossip? Are they judgmental of us or others? How do we feel after interaction with them? Do they leave us feeling uplifted and hopeful? Or do they leave us feeling deflated and depressed? Just like junk food, if the influence of others leaves us feeling low, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to limit the time spent under those influences.
Outside influences also include media such as television, movies, video games, magazines, newspapers, the internet and social media. Just as there are many temptations for junk food in our physical diet, there are unlimited sources of mental junk food as well. Much of the aforementioned media fits into that category. Most of what we hear of and see in the media is paid for by large corporations with massive advertising budgets. Their goal? To make us feel inadequate and lacking so we will want what their selling. That doesn’t make for a healthy mental diet.
The external influences are not the most important part of our mental diet. The things that we tell ourselves about these influences, the perceptions we form and how they relate to us is the most important part of our mental diet. We tend to become what we believe so watching our internal dialogue is an important practice. Are our thoughts loving and kind toward ourselves and others? Are our thoughts mean and judgmental? Do we spend a lot of time blaming and complaining or do we spend time thinking of positive solutions? Are the thoughts we’re thinking bringing us happiness? Are our thoughts bringing us closer to our goals?
So how do we create a healthy mental diet for ourselves? For starters we can limit the unhealthy external influences. But what we really need to focus on is improving our internal dialogue. Below is a list of things that can help us improve our mental diet from the inside out.
|Get good sleep||Focus on positive thoughts||Good whole food nutrition||Recite positive affirmations
|Visualization||Meditation – becoming an observer of our thoughts||Heal the gut (gut-brain connection)||Exercise
|Get out in nature||Spend time with positive influences||Set goals and take positive action||Give, and be kind to others|
|Take responsibility and not blaming||Write a gratitude journal||Live minimally- doing and having less||Speak well of ourselves and others|