A Well Fed Life: How the Food We Eat isn’t the Only Thing that Nourishes Us

How well fed are you Emotionally, Physically, Spiritually and Creatively? Are you "eating" too much or too little in these areas?

How well fed are you Emotionally, Physically, Spiritually and Creatively? Are you “eating” too much or too little in these areas?

Something I’ve noticed about myself, but also in the women I work with is that the way we do one thing, is the way we do everything. The problem with this is that it can lead us to live very unbalanced lives. To give an example of this, with me, when it comes to making a decision, I’m either spontaneous and impulsive about it or I move at an exhaustingly slow pace. It doesn’t matter if it’s a really big decision or something minute. There’s no middle ground with me. It has always been the same way with food, relationships and even in my approach to work. It leaves me feeling perennially exhausted and unaccomplished all at the same time. My behaviors tend to leave me virtually starved or completely stuffed.

With food, up until the last 3 years, I vacillated between eating crazy clean or crazy unhealthily. I couldn’t’ seem to mix the two into any sort of balance. In college, I either drank heavily or not at all. When I jump into a new project or hobby, I’m either completely enamored and will bury myself in it without coming up for air for days at a time or I grow quickly bored and drop the project as soon as it began. With people, I either like them instantly or I will keep them at an arm’s distance.

The women I work with have similar traits of doing everything in life the same way (though they may not necessarily bounce back and forth the way I describe above). They overeat, they overwork, they overcommit themselves. They give everything they have to their friends and family. They never say no. They are physically, emotionally and spiritually stuffed. Or alternatively, they are constantly dieting, avoiding being noticed at work, lonely in their personal lives and uninspired creatively. They are physically, emotionally and spiritually starved.

None of us can live like this forever.

Everything we do in life “feeds” us in some way. Feeding ourselves with physical food is one way we are nourished but it’s not the only way. Our souls are nourished or malnourished by our daily actions and interactions. Work, creative pursuits, exercise, joy, social life, relationships, finances, spirituality and health are just a few of the different areas that we can go overboard on (and feel “stuffed”) or completely ignore (and be “starved”).  You may be “stuffed” in some areas but “starved” in others.

When we spend too much time working and not enough time connecting with others socially, we may find our health started to be affected by it. We’re stressed, exhausted and feeling disconnected. When we overeat physically, we may retaliate by depriving ourselves in another way – maybe you don’t allow yourself physical touch, or you spend too much time on social media and you come away feeling both stuffed and utterly ravenous despite your intake of food.

Our goal should be a well fed life – not too much, not too little. Just right. Our hunger in these areas should be satisfied, but we don’t want to feel gluttonous or famished.

I know if you look at your own life, before I go any further into this, you can see the effect your daily choices and actions have on your health and well being. You already have an idea of how stuffed or starved you are. If you are really perceptive and good about self-care, then you are probably one of few who feel sated (and good for you!)!

I divide the areas we feed ourselves in into 4 categories:  Physical, Emotional, Spiritual and Creative. Below are a few examples of the things in our lives that might fall into these categories and also how it will show up in your life if you are “stuffed”, “starved” or “sated”.

This list obviously doesn’t include everything and some of the items I list in one category could certainly be cross posted in another (but for the sake of brevity and clarity I’m going to avoid that). If there is something big in your life that I didn’t list here, where do you think it fits in?

4 Core Areas we need to Nourish to feel Sated

Physical 

Examples:  food (how we eat, how much we eat and quality of what we eat), massage, human touch, sex, exercise/sports, play, movement, rest.

Emotional

Examples:  social life, relationships, alone time, spending time with people you feel safe with and having outlets to express yourself, dealing with personal responsibilities, travel, connecting on social media.

Spiritual

Examples:  prayer, meditation, journaling, yoga, tai chi, volunteer work, spending time in nature, sense of purpose.

Creative

Examples:  work, cooking, art, dance, music, writing, imagination, beauty, decorating, gift giving, attending art / creative performances.

How it shows up in if we’re “eating” too much or too little in any category

Okay, so those are the 4 categories. If you are indulging too much in any one area or not enough, you will find you feel “off” and this is how it may show up:

Symptoms of being Stuffed – feeling lazy, lethargic, bored, apathetic, uninspired, tired, spent, pulled in too many directions, feeling distracted, feeling empty, overtaxed, unappreciated, indulgent.

Symptoms of being Starved -hungry for something but not sure what, excess nervous energy, depression, anxiety, sad, lonely, unfocused, agitated, tense, disconnected, feeling alone, loss of purpose.

Symptoms of being “Sated” – feeling light, energetic, at ease, happy, calm, grounded, sure of oneself, focused, comfortable, optimistic, confident, balanced, joie de vivre, satisfied, content, relaxed, at peace.

You may find that when your life is heavily weighted in one area, that you are more likely to feel some of these symptoms more than others. For example, if I’m lacking (or “starved”) in the “Physical” realm – not getting enough movement/exercise, spending too much time sedentary, being sloppy with my eating, I can guarantee that I’ll start to feel anxious, agitated and have excess nervous energy. As far as the other symptoms under starved, I don’t feel those ones so much. You may be different than me! Everyone manifests this stuff a little bit differently! For another example, let’s use the “Emotional” category. If I’ve been “stuffing” myself emotionally – maybe going to a lot of social events and tending to a lot of personal obligations, I tend to feel overtaxed, pulled in too many directions and distracted. You may find that the symptoms that show up for you when you’re stuffed emotionally, aren’t the same symptoms that show up when you are stuffed spiritually. Don’t read too much into this – I think it’s fluid!

Ultimately, your health and wellness is deeply connected to how well you are nourished – physically and emotionally – soulfully. You’ll notice that if you start aiming for more balance in each of these categories, that some of your recurring health concerns seem to be less of a problem – we all sleep better and have more energy when we are taking good care of ourselves. Even emotional eating becomes a much smaller issue when you feel supported, nourished and balanced.

The most important takeaway from this is that it’s important to pay attention to how you are spending your time, who with, and if you are getting enough nourishment physically, emotionally, spiritually and creatively. If you know when you are not getting enough in an area, you can make plans to change that – and that can go a long way in how you feel on a day to day basis.

Writing this post has made me realize that I’m really feeling starved in the creative realm. Yes, I do a lot of writing for work and I certainly do a lot of cooking – but neither have been serving a creative purpose lately (the writing is all business and the cooking is mostly for nutrition). So, now it’s up to me to go out and change that!

How well fed are you? Which area (Physical, Emotional, Spiritual or Creative) seems to have the biggest pull in your life right now? And how well is your hunger satisfied in that area? What do you think you need to do differently?

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