Psychology of Food
The insights between the way we eat, the way we think and our bodies coherent subconscious reactions to having an impact to our over all well being.
How can Our gut help us make informed positive decisions as well as build awareness, plus an internal relationship with our body, to help us flourish in all sections of our mind.. The way we think, eat and act.
Ever heard of the saying think with your gut not your head? This saying is not wrong, and this is why. During my studies, I was lucky enough to stumble across an elective called “Psychology of Food”, a whole segment looking at the link between our over all wellness connected to the habits in what we eat, why we eat, and how we feel from consuming the things we do, further more how this connection has a big impact on our mental health.
Looking focally inward on how our body can tell us when somethings up, and that we may need to tweak a few things in our routines to sort them out! But how do we become aware of these indicators? When and why do we choose to ignore them?
This word in simpler words looks at the interaction between our gut function with our brain function, further more the food we consume, how we digest and the counteracting bodily/mental reaction around all these processes. The whole concept around this word looks at many varying links between how we fuel ourselves and further more our neurological thought processes.
It’s a funny thought to think that our gut can be sane or insane? Our primary insanity has a direct link with our stomach and intestines. Most psychiatric conditions are due to the intoxication of the bowel, connecting anxiety in relation to digestion and secretion, of what we put into our bodies. When we think of intoxication, this looks at binge eating or drinking, connecting to the word we all know and love “intoxicated” (or drunk AF). How do we feel once we have intoxicated ourselves with a toxifying substance, usually hung over, tired, run down, anxious, these toxicating substances are what leave our insides feeling low, so in turn so do we.
When we start to begin to feel ungrounded, stressed, anxious, depressed, or finding ourselves in an addictive nature, whether it be to drugs, sugar, alcohol, high saturated fat and salty foods, look at the impact with these ingredients, to further more make an unhealthy mixture in our mental and digestive capabilities.
How do we become aware that our body is trying to tell us something? We are all aware around our senses, how we feel when we wake up, “I have energy, I look tired today, I am sore today, my back is sore, I look and feel good”. These are look and feel observations that we make, and they are the same with our actual featured reactions, inclusive of;
our bowel movements
dryness or oiliness of our skin
dark circles around our eyes
white coating on our tongue
cracks in our tongue
increasing capability of picking up a cold
These all indicate some form of toxicity in the body.
ENS; Extremely Naughty Samantha? no, Enteric Nervous System! this is the nervous system in our gut, also known as our second brain, why is this? Well it has millions of more neurones than our central nervous system and has more serotonin receptors than the brain? Sound a little too wordy? In a nutshell our gut can tell us more about how we are mentally feeling than our own brain, we get our happy and sad feelings straight from our gut! The way in which our gut reacts and feels provides more of an outlook to how we respond to external influences, e.g our food, habits, stressful and happy times.
Our ENS, takes the information from our gut to our brain to tell it what’s going on, via a little guy called the Vagus nerve, talking all things digestion. This can trigger our nervousness and stress reaction to any given situation. This guy helps sends messages and has a huge impact on how we digest and secrete our food. So if it’s sending messages to the brain that it’s not happy with what it is secreting, further more our mood won’t be that happy, and neither with the digestive feel in our stomachs.
Now i’m not here to place judgement, I love a drink as much as the next person, I’ve had to learn the hard way. I avoided listening to my body and have ended up in hospital multiple times with the outcome of poor eating and lifestyle habits, resulting in poor mental health, illness and a vast array of gut issues, I would highly recommend never experiencing this, trust me it ain’t pretty. I fill you in a bit more soon. So now I know my limits of what, when and how much to fuel my body with “intoxicating” foods and beverages (Thank you Gin and Tonics).
Think about the times you have been nervous, you get that butterfly feeling in the base of your stomach, or if you see something sickly you feel as if you are going to be sick? How has your thought processes, current situations or anything that you have come in contact with provided a gut feel memory?
Chemical changes in the mind often enhance gastrointestinal issues as an affect of mental disturbance. Those with depression or anxiety can lead to issues such as IBS or leaky gut, or feel incapable to consume food properly, sound familiar? This further more usually has an affect on your sleeping, eating patterns, fatigue and over all has a massive impact on your immunity, finding yourself getting sick quite regularly.
Our gut has one of the highest forms of happy serotonin receptors, this is where we can start to place our pleasure centre in our gut, leading to addictive natures, through what we consume. Creating an imbalance between our Serotonin and our Dopamine, these are the only two things in which bring “Joy”.
Serotonin are our happy feelings, which can be found around;
bowel movements, “we all know the feeling”
nervousness and anxiety
sleep where it is converted into melatonin
Dopamine: which is our repetitive behaviour, encouraging us to get the high or the thrill we are needing to feel a moment of pleasure. Half of these receptors are in our brain and the other half are found in our bowel. This regulates our;
laughter and aggression
common to food, sex and recreational drugs all flood our brain with dopamine
When your dopamine levels are higher this is when our addictive nature tends to come out, leading to our logical thinking being over-rided, constantly chasing that euphoric feel in connection to a substance or routine. Whether it be taste from a sugary fatty good, alcoholic beverage, this is a synthetic high in relation to a natural high in the form of engaging in a high paced exercise, sport or sky diving!
When the pleasure of what we place our pleasures around starts to wear off but still needs what ever it is to have that fleeting moment of it, we can actually become incapable to feel pleasure, this term is also known as Anhedonia. This aspect is connected to why people gain weight, and explains why it become hard for people to wean themselves from an addictive state. Yet again the the food, mind, body connection. Adaptations in the brain are connected to underlying food cravings, which heighten anxiety, induced by a high fat diet.
How can you connect with your own story? Look at what you are eating, how you are feeling, and how your body is reacting, what you could do to make positive changes? Start making change!
I suffered with Gastritis at the beginning of last year, in the middle of the year and then once more at the beginning of this year, let me tell you it is not fun.. at all! The feeling is the equivalent of that razor blade feeling in your throat when you have a throat infection, but picture that in your stomach.
In a nutshell I stripped all the good bacteria from my insides and developed little tiny ulcers all through out my stomach.. yes was very fun! Landing myself in for the 2nd time in nearly 6 months, plus multiple visits to the medical centre, after simply trying to wait it out, my body gave way, I had next absolutely no energy, my gut, mind and body were done. There it is the amazing link, I was mentally, physically and nutritionally out of wack!
I suffer from reflux, this is spiked when my anxiety is heightened, which further more leads to binging and not being able to keep food down, which further more takes a lot of energy and good bacteria from your system. My old habits looked a little like this.. I was working close to 7 days a week, working after work, going to the gym or exercising in every spare moment, building poor eating habits, and let a few life obstacles shape my daily life, which further more lead to lots and lots of drinking, which further more heightened my anxiety, and stripped my stomach of the goodness it needed.
All i kept saying to myself was “How the hell can this be happening when I’m so healthy”! I was healthy in the aspect in which I ate, but health looks at the way we think, the way we move, the way we feel and the way we rest, going beyond just feeling ill! Finding myself in that hospital bed was actually my saving grace, my body got to that point where it physically couldn’t move, to be able to initiate positive change. I quit my gym membership, cut out alcohol, poor eating habits and completely and utterly for the first time in a very long time gave myself the well deserved physical and mental rest it needed.
I’ve now committed to exercises that my body can actually handle, make sure I give myself proper mental rest, know my limits around my lifestyle habits inclusive of what I can eat and drink (this goes askew now a then) this has been a lot of trial and error, but most of all I now intently listen to my body, I listen to my gut, and my following reactions. From listening to my gut feel aspect and staying attentive to my awareness, I have further more built healthy eating habits, and my mental state has never felt better.
If this resonates with you at all, it’s time to make some changes.. How can you build a commitment to yourself? As after all this is the most important one you can ever make! Listen to your gut.. what is it telling you?
If you struggling in building awareness and a connection to your body as well as your current habits, my programs are catered to making significant small mindset changes to further more improve over all wellbeing, follow the button below to contact me.