The 7 Sources of Health can connect you to healthy and mindful nutrition and make the practice of healthy eating more of a lifestyle and less of a diet.
Research shows that people who know their “WHY” or life purpose are likely to live 7 years longer than those who do not know their life purpose. They also spend less time in the hospital, have a stronger immune system, have a lower risk of many chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure and stroke. And for older adults who develop Alzheimer’s, those with an established WHY have a slower decline. One healthcare leader in our research said, “I set an example for the people I manage or lead. Nourishing my body in a way that will allow me to be a more effective leader will benefit them. And, perhaps they can see my healthy eating at and do the same for themselves.”
This leader found meaning because he needed to be healthy to do his job effectively and he believes his healthy habits might impact his employees eating. The symbolism for him is eating these healthy foods in the presence of his employees in the cafeteria and at meetings.
Your physical body, a foundational source of your health, includes attention to movement, sleep, and eating. Each of these activities determines the quality of your health. And, they are all interrelated. The quality and quantity of what you eat impacts your movement and sleep. Likewise, your sleep impacts your movement and eating. Your movement impacts your eating and sleeping habits.
For example, you might find that increasing the amount of anti-inflammatory foods and spices such as tumeric in your diet will increase your energy levels. Your increased energy levels will inspire you to be more active and therefore, improve your quality of sleep. It’s all interrelated!
Your mind, a foundational source of your health, includes your thoughts and sensations. Research has shown that meditation, one key self-care skill, is to the mind, as sleep is to the body, a time to replenish and renew. Mind self-care skills can improve stress management, decrease anxiety, depression, pain sensation, high blood pressure, high blood glucose, and can manage obesity. Mind self-care skills calm brain waves, increase brain activity, brain size, blood flow, neuroplasticity, cognitive flexibility, and executive functioning. Mindfulness can also stimulate the immune system and balance hormone production. As we discussed earlier, eating mindfully help control weight and improves digestion.
Your creativity, a foundational source of your health, includes what is vital or essential to you as a human being. Research has shown that self-care skills such as drawing improve self-esteem, increase awareness and can help overcome the effects of trauma. Creativity self-care skills can result in improved well-being, a decrease in healthcare costs and stronger immune system resulting in fewer illnesses.
Food preparation is a wonderful place to embrace creativity. Plant-based foods like grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables are colorful, flavorful, and easy to experiment with. Consider adding healing spices such as cinnamon, cayenne, turmeric and ginger for extra sensory-delight.
Your emotions, a foundational source of your health, include your feelings, intuition, and reactions. Brain structures involved in positive emotions like compassion are more plastic – subject to changes brought about through environmental input. Emotional self-care skills increase happiness, resilience, social skills, kindness, optimism, and sleep. These skills also make the practitioner more likely to exercise regularly, be a better manager, make better decisions, and be more productive.
When you become more aware of your relationship with food, you may notice an increase in positive feelings and overall intuition.
Involvement in community benefits us and the entire community. Community self-care skills promote deeper social interaction, enhanced meaning and purpose, and a more active lifestyle. Practicing community self-care skills are linked to lower risk for cancer recurrence, higher survival rates among heart attack survivors, lower blood pressure, and better immune responses. Low community connection is worse for you than smoking, high blood pressure, or obesity.
Food is a social activity. Consider having a community dinner once a week or hosting a pot-luck. Finding a friend or community to partner with in your quest to eat healthier is a great way to increase bonding and success in your new lifestyle.
Immediate environment has a significant impact on health, influences mood, impacts behavior and, depending on the built environment can encourage or discourage social interaction. Home and work environment can also impact stress levels. Elevated workplace or environmental noise can cause hearing impairment, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, and sleep disturbance.
Consider eating in a location that is peaceful and separated from where you do your work (AKA, not eating at your desk). Additionally, the foods we choose to eat (local, organic, grass-fed) have a direct impact on our environment.