Creating Wonder and Intrigue From The Simple: A True Nature Approach to Healing
Albert Einstein explained his genius when he famously said, "I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious." I offer this idea as the basis for working with the "mundane" parts of healing that most of us resist.
At True Nature, an important step in the healing process involves determining and beginning to live by your Metabolic Type®. While everyone enjoys the results that eventually manifest from this process, not everyone will enjoy the process itself, and it's important to be set for success. So, let's talk about the roadblocks and the solutions...
EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENT and FOOD ADDICTION
The realities of emotional attachment and food addiction are possibly some of the hardest to address and certainly some of the most common in the world of nutritional healing. Food impacts us enormously in every single way, from its nutritive value, to its cooperation with (or disruption of) digestion & assimilation, to its optimization or diminishment of every function in the body and everything we do in our daily lives, to its ability to trap us in emotional containment.
Certain foods, due to their unique biochemical properties have an addictive quality, such as sugar, starch & caffeine. Many others, unique to each person, carry the emotional/comfort-based properties that are less compulsive but may contribute to unhelpful subconscious choices.
A study conducted at the University of Michigan revealed that 92% (out of 518 participants) have addictive-like behaviors with food, and around 10% have full-blown addictions (1).
Even when we believe we are making “healthy” choices, this may or may not be true based upon the very individual needs that are defined in the process of Metabolic Typing®. A food that will make you healthy, thin, and energetic could make me unhealthy, fat, and lethargic. A food that lowers my cholesterol could raise your cholesterol, and so on.
It is quite common for someone with health concerns when first conversing with me to say “I eat very healthy, that’s not the problem”. Yet that “healthy” food clearly did not resolve the health concerns that motivated that person to speak to consult with me.
“Hot” emotions are a root cause of attachment to food. The definition of “hot” is intense, including sadness/withdrawal. When we respond in life to challenging situations with deep attachment to our feelings, we are led to actions in response to those feelings. Every belief we hold in life leads to a thought, then to a feeling, and then to behavior.
If a belief we hold causes an intense emotional response to a life event, we are likely to move right into a behavioral response that “comforts” that intense emotional reaction (or so we think). While drugs, alcohol, shopping and many other addictive outlets can also be the responses that occur, food addiction hovers around #4 or #5 of the top 10 addictions every year in the US. Significantly, even “healthy” foods can be utilized this way, as many people create their own definitions of healthy and also then use “healthy” as justification and basis for an their addictive response. As an example of this, one of the most common things I hear from clients is that meat and fat are "bad" for everyone and cause heart disease, and that a "plant-based" diet is always recommended. These justifications for a media-based diet recommendation are often based upon ideas that this optimizes weight and energy. A recent experience with a client, in fact, is that as a protein type, when she dropped broccoli and certain dark greens from her diet and increased her proteins and fats, she quickly dropped 5 pounds and experienced much higher energy! She would agree that the idea of the daily inclusion of those foods was a bit of an addiction prior to understanding her Type and the individual needs she had.
Outside of dysfunctional beliefs and addictions, there is just sheer temptation, coupled with the need to enjoy something...this is normal, human and to be expected. So long as we are in-tune enough to know whether a food causes an unhealthy reaction, we are in good stead to allow occasional treats. Some very interesting studies have shown that preventing temptation is the key. Rather than trying to exert self-control, the ticket is to remove the temptation from your surroundings: "This study also found that simply experiencing temptations led people to feel depleted. Depletion in turn mediated the link between temptations and goal attainment, such that people who experienced increased temptations felt more depleted and thus less likely to achieve their goals (2)."
THE DAILY PRACTICE
In our work with Metabolic Typing®, one of the most important practices we begin with is to record our food intake every day, along with our body/mind responses to that food. If we are eating properly for our unqiue metabolic requirements with correct balances in macro and micronutrients, we will begin to experience improvements in energy, appetite control, mental clarity, emotional well-being, and overall satisfaction. The needs to snack and to consume sugars and stimulants begin to clear, and the body and mind are more energized and satiated. I have yet to meet a client dedicated to watching and listening who did not realize these truths…
But, I am certain it won’t surprise you that many people express immediate resistance to this process, or express it right about the time things are going to shift and get interesting!
Thoughts that most typically invade and derail this important practice are:
“I don’t need to do this, I know how I feel”
“I don’t have time for this”
“I don’t know how I feel”
“This isn’t scientific, there should be an app for this”
“I can’t be perfect”
“I don’t want to have to think about what I’m eating”
"I already eat 'healthy'"
"I can't have a social life this way" (This is a big one. Another study has shown that factors such as alcohol consumption and others' behavior with foods will influence one's personality to affect choices and outcome (3). The strength of one's beliefs and convictions is very important in response to these influences.)
Yet, one of the most important overall outcomes of using your Metabolic Type® nutrition and healing your health concerns is the long-term development of true self-awareness and intuition. The application of Metabolic Typing over the past 40 years with hundreds of thousands of users has revealed that the body is constantly communicating to us in an unending stream of information about how well we do, or don't do, at providing it with what it needs for optimal energy production. The MT process puts you in direct communications with your own body's wisdom. This process was designed to create exactly that! Without a highly intuitive experience with oneself and one’s nutrition, there is a lifetime of placing one’s well-being in the hands of others - on the flip-side, with high intuition and awareness, there is a knowing and an intelligence about what is needed that overrides the need for most interventions. Many people initially think that Metabolic Typing® is "just another diet", but it is not. It is actually a lifestyle, one that is fed by deep intuition and knowing. The format is simply a map - the individual is the territory.
So, what does it take to achieve this daily practice that is still, yet moving?
“Stillness is what creates love. Movement is what creates life. To be still and still moving-that is everything.” - Do Hyun Choe
In our very busy and distracted culture, stillness and movement appear to be incompatible opposites, yet they are not. Also in our culture, “hot” emotion is ever-encouraged. In other traditions around the world, quiet contemplation with detachment and “right action” are taught and developed in human beings. Imagine what this type of practice could do, not only for your physical/nutritional health, but for your whole body/mind health! Imagine being free of intense reactions and the prison of containment; imagine the dynamic and unexpected discoveries that could come from being open and simply observant without expectation; imagine having beliefs that support such a flow in your life. All of this stems from a daily, consistent awareness-building of what is right for you individually. Your body and mind respond with direct positive feedback to receiving just what they need.
THE STEPS IN DAILY PRACTICE
Let’s talk about the steps that lead to successful daily practice. These apply not only to record-keeping in your healing process, but to absolutely anything you want to achieve. These are time-tested and carry the True Nature stamp of approval!
Let the “boring” become the reason to be curious. As Elizabeth Gilbert says, 90% of what’s interesting is boring. She also says, “Most of my writing life consists of nothing more than unglamorous, disciplined labor. I sit at my desk and I work like a farmer,” (Elizabeth wrote the blockbuster novel that became the blockbuster movie Eat, Pray, Love). Many Eastern traditions speak also of the value of the routine… As Buddha stated, "Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” If you find something boring, it is a judgment. If you want to be creative and experience magic, there will be many hours of simply being with the next step, the next clue, and the constant commitment to curiosity. Olympic athlete Mikaela Shiffrin believes that one of the reasons she reached the top is that she was one of the only athletes who loved the drills - inside and out, over and over. When other people wanted something more exciting/“hotter”, she craved the repetition and learning from the daily practice. For us, in practice with MT, it's in the "boring" daily repetition of correlating one's mental, emotional, and physical reactions to what one eats that the body's communications are understood and body-food intuition is developed.
- Love the process and know that it loves you. If either or both of these components is missing, the ability to work with the small details and clues will fail. A life of curiosity and awareness is enough in and of itself, but again, our “hot” culture strives for PASSION, all of the time! Gilbert says "passion can seem intimidating, out of reach at times ... but curiosity is a milder, quieter, more welcoming, and more democratic entity." One of the most common mistakes is to decide to “give in” to a process but not really love every bit of it in that still, unconditional kind of way. A second very common mistake is to start a process willing to love it but fail to realize that it loves you too! This is the sexy-ness of working "like a farmer" with discipline... the territory loves us back when we give it our love. It is both exciting and a revelation to begin to understand one's own "body language" and what it is telling you about the relation of what you eat to your performance, in every aspect of your life. This develops from embracing the details of the daily process. I
Observe your emotions and responses but do not define your experience by them. Emotions often have direct relationships with what we eat and why we choose to eat it. If we invest ourselves in those emotions being the manifestation of "reality", they rule us. Emotions come and they go, as they always have. Let them come and go but do not let them define what is good for you to eat. Let your body's energy and clarity provide that direction.
“Emotional pain makes me the opposite of a deep person; it renders my life narrow and thin and isolated. My suffering takes this whole thrilling and gigantic universe and shrinks it down to the size of my own unhappy head.” - Elizabeth Gilbert
Have a safe place to write. Stream-of-consciousness journaling is an incredibly powerful tool for processing emotion that is, but may not be helpful or in alignment with your intentions. We must never shame nor judge our emotions, but rather find that lovely balance between accepting them and not allowing them to rule the roost. Simply give yourself permission to write for 10-15 minutes, unfiltered and unscripted, releasing what surfaces. 9 times out of 10, you will find that the emotions dissipate and no longer have the same stronghold. If you have any fear at all of someone discovering your journal, tear up/destroy your writing - there is no need to save it for posterity, it's just an outlet. Remember that frustration is the process, not an impediment - it’s how we handle what matters. In The Book of Joy, the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu speak about the fact that human fetal stem cells do not develop without stress and opposition, stating: "Without stress and opposition, complex life like ours would never have developed. We would not have come into being." The process of coming to terms with our conscious and unconscious beliefs about food and our health is no different from any other critical part of our lives that grows with development of awareness - there will be tensions and stresses about it, all of which will serve us if we give it attention.
Make a depiction of “perfection” on paper that suits you and how you feel contained by it, then destroy it. Take it out to the street and RUN OVER IT with your car (!), or flush it down the toilet, or burn it. Seriously, none of this is about perfection, it’s about observation. “Devotional discipline” replaces perfection with a beautiful, enduring possibility.
Healing is not linear, it is organic. When we expect a linear response to what we do, there will be disappointment. An example of linear thinking with nutrition is that the meal we consumed yesterday produces exactly the same response today - but healing often takes us backwards and sideways. It takes time and many experiments to achieve organic healing. Harvard University researchers defined the "curiosity quotient", an information processing style that leads to higher levels of knowledge over time. It's the equivalent of the "IQ" in curiosity terms. This has been studied time and time again, and the results are the same... practice investigating, practice detachment from expectations, stay curious about the smallest of things, and you will eventually "know" in a brand new way. This is True Nature healing.
1) Schulte EM, Avena NM, Gearhardt AN, “Which foods may be addictive? The roles of processing, fat content, and glycemic load”, PLoS One, February 2015
2) Marina Milyavskaya, Michael Inzlicht, "What's So Great About Self-Control? Examining the Importance of Effortful Self-Control and Temptation in Predicting Real-Life Depletion and Goal Attainment", Sage Journals, January 2017
3) W Hofmann, RF Baumeister, G Foerster, KD Vohs, "Everyday Tempations; An Experience Sampling Study of Desire, Conflict, and Self-Control", J Pers Soc Psychol, June 2012