What's up with eating?


What's up with eating?


I don't know about you, but I've always enjoyed eating, especially the things that I know that are not good for me. What's funny is we all know what is healthy for us and what can do harm.


My father was a baker and he believed sugar was a food and you needed it. I certainly couldn't argue about how good his pastries and cookies were and totally enjoyed them. Did I mention I weighed 230lbs in eighth grade? Fortunately, I was very active and athletic and involved in sports, primarily, basketball, football and baseball.


Did you ever go through a period in life, or maybe you're there now, when clothes didn't fit right? They were getting snug. I always thought that was because the clothes were just washed and dried. Oh how easy it is to deceive ourselves! I also despised getting clothes in the HUSKIE section. I complained to my mom about how I was feeling and wanted to lose weight. I don't recall any diet programs back then like we have now. Going through my health coach training they shared with us there were over a 100 diets. No wonder we're so confused on diets. Anyway, I went to a doctor and he placed me on some type of pill that he said would help me lose weight. I had no idea what they were and I lost 30lbs in a month. Good health plan, right?! But it felt good to be thinner. I looked better and received a lot of compliments. I can't say I ate better but probably less.


This was a brief history of where I started in my health journey. I am far from being perfect but now I'm much more consistent. As you know by reading my history, both of my parents passed away from heart attacks about two weeks apart. I've been diagnosed with coronary heart disease and had two stents placed in my heart over 15 years ago.


I have discovered so much in my journey as a health coach and from the Health Coach Institute that has currently impacted my health. Here is a small taste (pun intended) of what has made a difference for me.


Have you or are you now eating on the run, sitting behind your computer in your cubicle at work rushing to meet deadlines, pounding down so-called food? Or going through a drive thru grabbing a bite to eat as you drive to your next appointment? Sitting in meetings eating your meal or chomping on snacky type stuff?


We all know this is not a healthy way to eat. Eating under this kind of stress creates digestion issues, it messes with your metabolism; you become more tired. You feel that crash around 3pm. Do you start pounding down more coffee? I did.


Many of you are aware of the autonomic nervous system which is responsible for our digestive system. It has two parts: the parasympathetic and sympathetic. The parasympathetic helps digest our food and aids in healing. It also increases our metabolism which means when we're more relaxed can burn more fat. The sympathetic is known as the fight or flight response. This creates a stress response and our digestion slows or shuts down. This is certainly needed in emergency situations. Eating shouldn't be an emergency situation. However, most of our day is lived under stressful situations: driving, getting kids to school, meeting deadlines, errands, house projects, politics, covid. Now I'm stressed!


Proverbs 14:30 "A sound heart is life to the body"


So with all this stress in our lives we then produce a hormone called cortisol. Basically, this hormone is then released and builds up fat in our body. You may notice the fat around your belly. For us with heart issues or other heart concerns that can lead to heart problems, you don't want this.


What has been helpful for me, in regards to eating is the mindset I'm in. I could spend a lot of time on what to do but prefer to have an ongoing conversation with you to truly understand your needs. What each of us needs to do is get into a relaxed state of mind when we eat. It does not take much time but you will feel the benefits. I want to leave you with one technique that was taught in my coaching program that was impactful. But like in all things, it takes practice, consistency and time. It makes a huge difference if you have an accountability person.


This exercise is, 5-5-7 Breath. All you need to do, prior to your meal, or even if you need to eat in your car, wherever you are, take a few minutes to do this so your body gets in the parasympathetic response. You'll inhale for five, hold for five and exhale for seven. Exhaling is a little longer. Do this before every time you eat any place you're at. Take at least five of these breaths before you begin to eat. Take a breath before your next bite. Put your fork down and breathe.

Pay attention to how you are feeling. You will be improving your health and your heart. If I were coaching you, we would be practicing this until it became part of you. What's so great about this, you can do it in every situation of your life to relieve the stress.


Proverbs 14:30 "A sound heart is life to the body"


Your heart, your life. Claim it!


Rhett Rettinger

Certified Health Coach