“Nausea, Heartburn, Upset Stomach, Diarrhea” as the ad for the pink, milky, liquid oozes across the screen. Can’t stomach your food? Swallow this for relief. But that’s it… just relief. Nothing being fixed, just covered up. Can you understand the importance of why having a healthy digestive pattern is so crucial? What we feed our body gives us immediate feedback as to why we are out of balance. Listen closely, your body tells you more than you may be aware.
Feeling like your food is going to go the wrong way is not comfortable; there is an energetic (meaning not outwardly physical that you can see with your eyes) blockage not allowing for your food to proceed in the digestive process. It wants to go up and out. Have you been eating too many damp foods? Dairy, too much cold and raw foods, iced drinks, sweets, and processed foods can all weaken our spleen, which is responsible for transforming and transporting our food/liquids (in conjunction with the stomach).
When our spleen is weak, it slows down and produces excess phlegm. The phlegm can also cause stagnation, turning into heat from lack of cooling fluids. That heat will start to flare upwards and give us acid reflux. Too many hot foods, such as alcohol, heavy seasoning/spices (think Italian and Mexican foods), high-fat foods, too much meat, and eating late at night will just add more heat to the internal brewing fire.
Upset Stomach, Diarrhea
Bloating is usually due to slow digestion; the sluggishness gets worse and transforms into gas, sometimes painful! Nothing seems to help and it’s now a viscous cycle that sometimes won’t calm down for a few days. Bowels are loose, painful, and urgent. Again, this can be caused by too many cold, hot, and inflammatory foods. Food can’t be transformed into a smooth poop, liquids and food aren’t settling in the stomach comfortably, and the only thing that feels good is lying in a ball, curled up in bed.
This pattern of discomfort can be broken! The recurring theme of life seems to be finding a balance between too much and too little. Life is like a game of Goldilocks; we all need our dose of ‘just right’.
But it’s emotional, too.
Eating is an intimate relationship; we are taking something from the outside and giving nourishment to our inner self. It’s an innate feature that we are born knowing how to do. Our body relies on food to fuel our physical AND mental being. Unhealthy relationships with ourselves can lead to unhealthy relationships with food; it can be our place of peace where we don’t feel judged, hurt, secluded, or anxious. We overthink, worry, and work too much (these also tax our spleen, making us crave sugar) and fall into a routine lacking self love.
It can be a bad spiral, finding it harder to get up than it is to just stay down. Eating in a stressful environment (in the car, working, arguing at the table), puts your body in a heightened mode, like fight-or-flight, and is more likely to hold onto what it’s being fed as a safety mechanism. It feels in a dangerous state and must hold onto what it can. Having a less stressful environment helps the body relax and be present to taste/feel/smell the food, which will allow the food to digest better. Nourishing the brain, muscles, and joints is more done more effectively when we are in a more homeostatic state.
Fix your gut (and mind)
Be honest with yourself… does your first meal of the day make you feel invigorating, ready to work, and balanced? Do you still have energy after 2pm? Would you be able to handle skipping a meal if you had to? Or would your headache and drowsiness keep you from functioning? These should not be your ‘normal’. We should be able to be function with sustained energy if we are getting proper nutrients to our body and mind. What’s the first step?
Eat nourishing foods.
Get rid of the idea that breakfast has certain foods assigned to it. Trust me, if you have vegetables as your first meal, the breakfast police won’t come knocking at your door and judge you. Food is food. The marketing industry has warped our heads thinking that we need eggs, bagels, sweets, and cereal right away. I beg to differ.
Listen to your body.
Too much heat in the morning, such as heartburn, random sweating, dry throat, red eyes, needs to be cooled down. Use foods like celery, millet, cilantro, mint, cucumbers, pears, apples, avocado, and lemons in the morning to calm the fire. If you experience cold signs, like diarrhea, cold hands/feet, forehead headaches, and bloating, try more warming foods. This would include, congee, quinoa, ginger, arugula, blueberries, cherries, walnuts, oats, green beans, and parsley. Having a hard time stomaching your food? Maybe there’s something more in your life that you’re having a hard time stomaching…
Eat more plants.
More plants mean more REAL food, more natural nutrients, and more healing benefits every time you eat. How many ingredients are on produce? NONE! Our ingredients should be our food, not chemicals. Every time a food is processed or touched, it loses more of it’s natural healing benefit. The closer to source our food is, the more benefits we attain from it. Let the plants overload your plate and push out the processed food; when you eat whole, you become whole.
I believe that we intuitively know what we need, all we have to do is sit and listen. If you are dealing with digestive issues, take a step back from yourself and notice the patterns that bring you back to unbalanced eating habits. Where are they stemming from? What can you do to correct them? Are you ready to let yourself heal from something that is holding back your mental clarity?
This may be a lot to digest, so pour yourself a cup of ginger tea and let it settle in.