Before delving into the relationships between food & the mind and food & the body, we will briefly examine our mind.body connection. Or should I say DISconnection?*
Back in the days of the cavemen and cavewomen, humankind’s biggest concerns were to survive from one day to the next. Due to the scarcity of food, we only ate when we were hungry or when there was food to be had. When it was dark, we would sleep. Modern developments have made absent many of the issues that our ancestors dealt with, like scarcity of food, light, and warmth. Although our world has changed dramatically, I do not believe we have changed that much psychologically. We still act on instincts and have carnal desires. However, in today’s society, our desire to survive is no longer the issue. Instead, we focus on attaining pleasure. Unfortunately, that shift from survival to pleasure is the root of the growing disconnect between the mind and body.
Now you may think, is it a crime to want to be happy? It is not a “crime” until you start to hurt yourself. In modern day, we have instant access to almost anything that we want and are often so overstimulated that it is easy to be caught up in attaining gratification and ignore our bodies’ needs. Additionally, we have become so ego-centric that what we think is right for our body, not our common sense or intelligence, makes our decisions for us. Our desire for pleasure is very complicated but ultimately, it leads to our seeking euphoria-usually a false sense of it. This false sense of happiness often coincides with a complete disregard for what the body really needs.
There are one-off cases of pursuing instant gratification but many times, our desire manifests itself into habits. I’m sure you have heard the saying, “Humans are creatures of habits.” And that is because habits are developed around repeated experiences that provide us the feeling of pleasure-what we are all ultimately seeking. Habits become so ingrained into our lives that sometimes we do not even recognize them as habits, but as the norm. This ill-recognition is one of the main indicators of the mind.body DISconnection.
Now, you may think that this post contains many broad statements about the general population and does not apply to you. You are right to think that because habits range from the very minor to the extreme. The indications of extreme are addictions like alcoholism, obesity, and drug abuse. But I am adamant when I say that everybody has a habit that has caused them to ignore their body at one point or another-including you. How many times have you stayed up later to catch a TV show that you ALWAYS watch when your body is telling you that you are tired and need sleep? Have you ever gone back to the buffet line one too many times only to feel nausea and stomach pain later? You may think that missing a little sleep to catch that TV show is not a big deal, but it is safe to say that this was not the only time you ignored your body. Constantly disregarding the body is dangerous. It may be hard to believe, but the body actually knows what we need better than ourselves. Before we examine our bodies’ relationship with external factors, we need to restore this relationship within ourselves.
Amid the hustle and bustle of our lives, it is easy to get lost in our thoughts and be clouded from what our bodies need. I encourage everyone to live quietly the upcoming week, or even just the next few days. Take off those iPod buds on your commute to work and listen to your body. Before you reach for that second helping at dinner, think, “Does my body really need this or is it just a habit for me to have a second helping?” Recognizing the disconnect is a huge accomplishment unto itself. It is the first step in restoring the mind.body connection.
Until next time, listen and learn.
*The mind.body connection is a very extensive both biologically and psychologically. I have only chosen to cover one aspect that serves to support my idea of the harmful disconnection between the mind and body.