If you pay attention to the latest news from the field of nutrition, you’ll probably hear a lot of “don’ts,” as in: Don’t eat this, it’s bad for you! And with so many new foods, ingredients, chemicals, and environmental toxins being added to the “bad list,” it can be hard for a health-conscious eater to know what’s actually safe to consume. When we’re constantly being bombarded with warnings about dangerous foods, it’s no surprise that a lot of people are afraid that if they eat the wrong thing, they’ll get sick, or gain weight, or possibly even die. But while it’s good to know what we’re putting into our body and what will help us to feel our best, living in a constant state of fear can have some surprising, unintended consequences for our ability to receive nourishment from our food. In this insightful new video from IPEtv, Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, takes a look at the actual physiological processes that the body goes through when we’re afraid that our diet will hurt us. You’ll come away with some practical ideas for calling a truce with food so that you can be free to thrive!
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Here is a transcript of this week’s video:
Greetings, friends. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. Let’s talk about fear and how it impacts our nutrition.
So here’s the deal. When it comes to good health, people are often very aware of, “Hey, I want to improve things. So let me get rid of the toxins and the bad food, and if I eliminate those from my diet, I’m going to be healthier.” And it’s true. This is one of the most brilliant strategies for health: clean up your diet.
But here’s something that can use our attention in a big way when it comes to our health. And it’s fear.
Fear is like an anti-vitamin.
When it comes to food and nutrition, people often have a fear of getting fat. They have a fear of losing weight, not weight. They have a fear that, “I’m not going to have my perfect body.”
We have this fear that, “I’m not going to be able to control my appetite,” this fear that food is the enemy and, “Oh, my God. If I eat food, I’m going to keep eating and eating. And I’m going to get fat. And I’m going to get diseased. And I won’t be able to follow my perfect diet. And if I have all this body fat, nobody is going to love me.” And wow! We produce fear. And it overcomes the body. We manufacture it. And it, in turn, consumes us. So you create fear. We create fear. And it can get so big sometimes.
So let me explain to you how fear – unnecessary fear – depletes nutritional status. And it does so by keeping the body in a low-level stress response.
So when the brain senses fear, it signals physiology to prepare for fight or flight mode. So this automatically driven stress response is designed in a beautiful way to help us survive. You need fear. You need to understand, “I need to be afraid of big things that want to eat me. I need to be afraid of people who want to hurt me. I need to be afraid of situations that are indeed life threatening.” That’s what the stress response is for. It’s for life-threatening situations.
Now, during a stress response, depending on the intensity of that stress, digestion will go into partial or complete shutdown.
Assimilation will do the same. During stress, fear, anxiety, we will literally excrete nutrition. We’ll excrete vitamins and minerals. So ongoing and unnecessary fear is translated into stress in the body. And it robs our body from a nutritional standpoint.
So what I’m saying to you, my friends is, yeah, watch your food. Control your diet. Look at what you eat. But it’s as important to watch the thoughts that you think. We can no longer hide from the wisdom of life. The greater intelligence that designed us, it’s installed this hidden personal growth program. That’s the secret.
There’s a hidden personal growth program inside me and you so that when the mind is not serving us, when it’s manufacturing unnecessary fears – fear of food, fear of body fat, fear of nobody’s going to love me if I don’t look perfect or eat perfect, all that nonsense – that when we start to do that, the body signals us. It wisely lets us know through digestive upset, through heightened tension in my system. And it’s teaching us something.
So here’s the antidote: courage.
Now, courage is a little different maybe than you might think. Look up the root words of courage: coeur – heart, agi – Indo-European for fire. Courage means warmth of heart. So the more you bring your open heart, the more you bring your warmth into the places where you get afraid, the more we can melt that fear because when you start to bring your heart into your fears, you realize that it’s okay to love the world, to love your body, to love your life.
Yeah, it’s challenging. And it’s not always perfect. But you can bring love into it. And when we bring that love, when we bring that heart into our relationship with food, into our relationship with our body, something beautiful happens. The body drops into the physiologic relaxation response. Love relaxes us. And when love relaxes us, we step into the optimum state of digestion and assimilation and day-in, day-out calorie burning. Love can do that. That’s incredible, my friends.
And that is the magic of the world.