Written by Allison Walton
In Maslow's hierarchy of needs, food is a basic physiological need -- along with water, warmth and rest. Every organ in our body requires sustenance and proper nourishment to keep things running smoothly and performing their jobs efficiently; including digestion, hormone regulation, blood sugar balance, energy, mood, sleep and so forth. If we're doing things right, then our blood sugar levels will be balanced, which therefore will support hormonal balance, increased energy, improved mood, cognitive support…and hopefully less cravings for sugar-laden things at the end of the day. That said, we're also human and sometimes breakfast gets skipped altogether, lunch is consumed in a hurry, and dessert becomes dinner. And so we try again tomorrow, but tomorrow doesn't seem as easy. Usually (and mostly because dessert was dinner), we're overcome with symptoms of lethargy, brain fog, more intensified sugar cravings and less than ideal sleep. Such a vicious cycle. But if we pay attention to and listen to those nudges, as uncomfortable as they might be, then that will help us to get back on track as we continue to refine our approach in a more mindful way -- without tipping the iceberg and going overboard, but also being sure to not restrict or deprive.
That said, we are a society with a voracious appetite for the latest wellness fads and trends, climbing on to the bandwagon of shiny new objects that claim to make us feel our best. And by that, I don't mean you specifically, but as a society at large, mostly due to what we're fed across social media, TV, magazines and the like. It's very easy to get lost in the shuffle and attach ourselves to the next best thing, losing sight of our unique and individual needs. We've allowed for dietary labels to define and pigeonhole us, fearing what might happen if we tell our loved ones that we've given up cheese. Often, today's concept of wellbeing can feel extremely complex and unattainable. Finding balance can feel like a whirlwind of highs and lows, woes and a lot of "try, try agains," leaving us to wonder if feeling good and well in our own bodies is actually possible (it is). Mostly, it's the mind that gets in the way, but that's a topic for another time and place. All this to say that with proper attention, commitment and some good old fashioned tender loving care (and yes, patience), balance is indeed possible.
Just like any physical practice, it's important to notice what works for our bodies and what doesn't. Handstands and long distance running may be ideal for some, while legs against the wall and brisk walks outside suit others just fine. In taking that same approach towards diet, some thrive on animal-based proteins and carbohydrates while others function best on a plant-heavy diet and healthy fats. While optimal health looks and feels different for all, one of the most important ways that we can find balance and become more in tune with our individual needs is by paying attention to the foods and ingredients that we choose to put into our bodies. The practice itself simply begins by noticing what's on our plate., and why. Are the choices attributed to a long, stressful day and quick solve comfort, or are the choices based on what our body needs to maintain balance and feel well? Over time, if we continue to consume foods that don't provide us with the nourishment that we need to thrive (or alternatively, if we completely deprive), then eventually we will create an imbalance in the body that may lead to short or long-term illness or dis-ease. We must find that sweet spot in our routine and remove the labels of what is "good" or "bad" or fed to us as what is "healthy" and instead find what works best for our own bodies.
Interested in diving in further? Allison will be hosting a special two-hour workshop at the studio on Saturday, January 6th. This workshop won't be about convincing you to follow a specific cookie-cutter diet or asking you to cut out specific things because they "aren't good for you." In this workshop, we will respect your individual dietary preferences and needs, providing you with greater knowledge and information on various nutrition topics so that you can being to experiment with and implement them into your current lifestyle to achieve balance and wellbeing. Be sure to reserve your spot here.
A few of Allison's favorite grounding winter recipes, to get you in the mindset: