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Mind-body medicine

Mind-Body Connection, Part III: How Our Beliefs Affect the Food We Eat (Opinion)

Thursday, October 01, 2009 by: Alexander R. Lees
Tags: mind-body medicine, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) There`s an old adage: We are what we eat. But, what determines what we eat? All of us are given one body for life, and how we treat our body will affect everything we do until the day we die. Some people regard their body as a temple and treat it accordingly. Others never stop and think about how they treat their body and can end up abusing it. The majority of people make some attempt to maintain a healthy and fit body. What`s the difference that makes the difference for each one of us?

One of the factors that determines how we treat our bodies is our perceptual filters. All information coming into the brain is filtered; some information is allowed in and other information is kept out. Whether the information is allowed in or kept out is determined by a number of things. For example: our socioeconomic status, where we live, our skin colour, our gender, our culture or heritage, our religion, our education and our politics, to name but a few.

The world renowned environmentalist, Dr. David Suzuki in his article, "Our Perceptual Filters Shape the World," (August 27, 2008 - http://www.davidsuzuki.org/about_us/Dr_David...) states, "Even though we detect our surroundings in the same way through eyes, ears, nose, skin, and tongue, our brains actively filter that incoming information so that it `makes sense` according to our individual values and beliefs. This creates huge dissonance between fossil-fuel executives, environmentalists, and politicians when we discuss an issue like climate change."

Perceptual filters play a huge role in how we experience and live our lives. Perhaps one of the most rigid of all our filters is our beliefs, and we`re going to focus on our beliefs regarding food.

Dr. Mark R. Vogel, a clinical psychologist, professional chef and food writer states, "In essence, what we think about something influences how we feel about it. It doesn`t matter whether our thinking is right or wrong. What matters is our appraisal." In one of his articles (CyberChef Comment - December 9, 2003 - http://www.culturekiosque.com/chef/comment/d...) Dr. Vogel sites the following example.

His father had a belief that only iceberg lettuce was worth eating. Knowing this, Dr. Vogel served him a Caesar salad made with romaine lettuce. Even though his father wolfed it down with obvious pleasure and delight, he couldn`t help criticizing his son for using romaine lettuce. The point of this story is it was his father`s belief, not his taste buds, that dictated the preference.

To some, a foreign food is automatically considered unhealthy, distasteful or nutritionally inferior simply because it is "foreign." For many, their diet changes practically monthly, simply because they believe the information that accompanies the latest fad - be it low fat, high carb, low protein, high fat or so on. The point is all food contains one or more of the main elements necessary to maintain health: water, carbs, proteins and fats.

In Science Daily (August 22, 2006) Marieke Saher reports that even people with higher education can be just as susceptible to food fads and various superstitions regarding food, even though these beliefs directly contradict the available science. In other articles, Saher sites examples of the need to supply cause and effect, that is, which food must have caused that upset stomach, or pain in the leg, or lower back discomfort. In many of these cases, it was the belief about the particular food that had more to do with generating the symptoms, not the food itself.

Although emotions are generally not thought of as perceptual filters, they can and do act as filters. Consider the following example. Person A considers a statement made by another as humorous. The resulting behaviour, voice tone, facial expressions and body gestures will all reflect the emotional state.

Now, contrast this with someone who has different beliefs, and hearing the same statement, reacts in anger. Again, the behaviour, voice tone, facial expressions and body gestures all reflect anger and annoyance. Instead of patting Person A gently on the back or shoulder, the angered individual may well terminate the conversation with threats or leave the room.

An experiment done by one university showed the effects of the emotional state on how the body responds to cholesterol. Four actors were hired to play two couples who had been close friends for years. They were getting together to share a meal (pizza) and talk about fond memories. A blood sample was taken prior to the meal, and another sample after the meal. The blood (after the meal) was then tested for cholesterol. Granted, it was there, but later, when tested again, it had "disappeared." Something in the blood had broken it down.

The experiment was repeated, but this time each person was to act as if they were almost mortal enemies, and anger and resentment permeated the meal. The same amounts of pizza were then consumed by each person, complete with the same precisely measured amount of cheese. This time, the cholesterol did not dissipate within the blood sample. Remember, the only variable was the state of mind, yet the cholesterol (lipid) in the blood was measurably affected.

It becomes evident then that to really be healthy and do the best we can, we have to take into account beliefs and mental attitude concerning food.

Let`s suppose you are given a vehicle, and you are told it`s the only one you will ever have. In other words, this vehicle must last for the rest of your life, and other than a few replacement parts here and there, you best decide to look after it well. What kind of maintenance would you decide to do? How would you drive it, or otherwise use it? In a like and similar way, you will only have one body in this lifetime. The food you put in it is the fuel. Are you going to use the good stuff, or the quick and the cheap?

Your beliefs about why you eat what you eat (and the amount) as well as the quality of the water you drink, and the exercise you choose or shun, will all contribute to how well your body performs. It will also determine how long, and how well, your body serves you. Examining those same beliefs will help you to understand why you don`t have room for one more carrot, or a few more peas, but plenty of room for dessert.

The next article will provide a short review of all the "parts" making up our model of the world. This will provide for a better understanding of the fact we do not operate upon the world itself, but rather on our perception of it. We will also be introduced to the main "driver" that causes us to choose the foods we do, and also prevents us from exercising properly. Then we will learn how to change it so we can be healthier and happier.

References:
Behavioral Science
NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming)

Marieke Saher, Science Daily (August 22, 2006) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08...

Dr. Mark R. Vogel, CyberChef Comment (December 9, 2003)
http://www.culturekiosque.com/chef/comment/d...

Dr. David Suzuki, David Suzuki Foundation, Our perceptual filters shape the world (August 27, 2008)
http://www.davidsuzuki.org/about_us/Dr_David...



About the author

Alexander R. Lees, DCH, RCC has been in private practice for 22 years, as a counsellor and therapist. He is a Registered Clinical Counsellor, with a Doctorate in Clinical Hypnotherapy. As well, Dr. Lees is a Certified International Trainer of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and an expert in meridian tapping techniques (including EFT). Dr. Lees presents international seminars and workshops on a variety of topics related to the mind/body connection, EFT and NLP. Also, he is the author of Pathways Through Your Mindfield, EFT - What is it and how does it work? and co-author of Freedom At Your Fingertips. Please visit http://www.DrAlexLees.com where you will find information about NLP, EFT, the mind/body connection, as well as MP3s (including a free download) and lots of other good stuff. To read his personal story, which also lead him to becoming a psychotherapist, please have a look at http://www.dralexlees.com/about01.html Dr. Lees lives in beautiful White Rock, BC, Canada, with his wife Berit and their dog Ty.

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