With such a broad range of options it’s hard to take March seriously as National Nutrition Month.
On March 1st we can rejoice for Peanut Butter Lovers Day. The 8th is Be Nasty Day, St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th…and on March 22nd you can channel your inner couch potato for National Goof Off Day!
I’m curious, who decides these unique topics are worthy of a holiday? Why does ice cream get recognition for a whole month, but knitting is only honored for a day? There’s a process here somewhere that I’m not sure I understand.
I’m not suggesting that it’s a bad idea to become aware of what we’re feeding our bodies in March. However, declaring nutrition a national observance for a predetermined 31 days comes very close to hammering the head of one of my pet peeves. One size does not fit all when it comes to what’s good for you and what isn’t.
Specifically when it comes to nutrition, adopting a diet because it adheres to your friend’s political beliefs, or choosing to feed your body from a set of rules presented in a NY Times Best Seller offers as much value to your ongoing personal health as hashtags offer the art of written communication.
The number of people participating in a given activity does is not a valid barometer for usefulness.
As a yoga teacher, I work with many unique bodies, all of which have varied and individual problems. My knowledge base is endlessly evolving as I encounter new examples of how similar we all are at a soul level and how different we are everywhere else.
Even in the month of March, buying into someone else’s idea of what your wellness should look like, or taste like, may not be in your best interest. As we enter National Nutrition Month, consider disregarding the posters, webinars and Facebook ads that are going to be coming your way on this topic.
Not all, but many of these, will be outlining a set of trendy rules and guidelines that you need to follow to turn the corner into a new and healthy lifestyle. It’s too time consuming and there’s little ROI (return on investment) on the time invested, to ferret out the few that will have tidbits of value.
If you are really feeling compelled to match the color of your food to the color of your shoes every day, go for it, but there is an alternative: learn to listen. Our bodies know what they need for optimum efficiency and health, and will they let us know.
The pinch in your right knee is your body telling you nicely it’s time to back the weight off on your squats.
When you don’t listen, you body communicates louder with a strain in your meniscus. The will of your body is very strong. If you refuse to listen to its efforts to educate you, your body will eventually sideline you with a debilitating injury.
The problem with understanding what is for us is not that we don’t know—the problem is that we don’t listen.
The same process holds true when it comes to nourishing our bodies. For example, your body knows when it’s full, but how many times have you disregarded that knowledge and eaten anyway?
Initially, your body will add a few pounds, make you uncomfortable and try to nudge you into changing habits. If you refuse to listen to its efforts to educate you, it will eventually oblige you with a variety of potential diseases including diabetes, joint problems, high blood pressure, etc.
If your body is suffering a nutritional imbalance, it will send you signs.
Dry hair, brittle nails, sluggishness, rashes, upset stomach, high cholesterol, high glucose and headaches are a sampling of the many ways your body communicates that it needs adjustments in its nutritional intake. You feel awful after eating too much chocolate and drinking the extra glass of wine.
Listening to that feeling is difficult and ignoring or denying it is easy.
Once you accept the responsibility of listening, the next step is to follow through with the investigation to determine the causes and appropriate adjustments. Sometimes this can be as simple as eliminating the food you’re sensitive to. At other times you will need to do some research and possibly partner with a pro to determine what might be missing from your eating routine.
We’re attracted to popular diet ideas that offer short-term and superficial changes such as losing a few pounds, or joining a particular community of people. However, our health isn’t a short-term concern and it shouldn’t be a group effort.
If National Nutrition Month helps motivate a few people to clean up their eating habits it may be worth the bumper stickers, but optimizing health and creating lasting results requires tuning in and paying attention to what our individual bodies already know.
When March is over, the need to take a mindful approach to nutrition doesn’t end. However, our most important effort will still be learning to listen.
Kim Shand is a nationally-renowned yoga expert, on-air personality, and founder of Rethink Yoga. She travels nationally on a mission to inspire people to take control of their health, how they think, and how they age, through yoga. She motivates her students to find their power, their joy and to be “All In. All the Time.” Follow Kim on Facebook, on Twitter and on YouTube.
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Ed: Jennifer Townsend & Brianna Bemel