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Understanding the Mind-Body Connection

Over the last few months, I’ve made some major changes to the way I consume food. I’ve always been health conscious. I enjoyed the occasional burger and fries, pizza, fried chicken, but for the most part, I viewed my body as a vessel and food as fuel, and I was always very conscious of what it is I wanted to fuel my body with.

During quarantine, I found myself gravitating more and more towards plant-based influencers. This wasn’t surprising considering I was the kid who only wanted to eat pasta and potatoes. My favorite dish actually used to be white beans in tomato sauce. I would not touch meat or cheese. My mom used to trick me into eating steak by covering it in tomato sauce because she knew how much I loved tomatoes. Cheese was also forced on me with slices of tomato, Caprese style. My mom’s powers of manipulation were on point but the food I chose for myself was always pasta, potatoes and salad so going plant-based just felt natural.

It wasn’t easy at all. I had an adjustment period of a month where I was 90% plant-based while having the occasional fried chicken or pizza but eventually, I cut it all out.

There’s this idea that once you go plant-based, you’ll feel really good and light. For the most part, I did feel good and light but my stomach was very bloated. My body had gone from consuming minimal amounts of fibre a day to having fibre in every single meal and I felt it. The transition period is supposed to be a few weeks but my transition lasted months and I didn’t know why.

I had succumbed to a life where bloating was the norm for me until I got sick with Covid-19 and I was home-bound for 2 weeks. My symptoms were mild so I took this as an opportunity to sleep and eat whatever I wanted within the limits of a plant-based diet. Fruits for breakfast, salad and spaghetti every single day, hummus, ramen, and more pasta. I ate it all. All of a sudden, the bloating was gone. My body had finally adjusted! It was a glorious 2 weeks. Sleeping, eating non-stop and watching and reading whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I was living the life.

Then came the day for me to finally go back to work. That morning I woke up, to my shock, bloated. It was ever so slight, not the usual bloating I was used to seeing, but there it was. I thought, it must be the lack of sleep, the early wake-up and went about my day, eating all the same things I was eating when I was sick at home. The next day, even more bloated. I told myself it must be the sleep. On the third day, even with a full 9 hours of sleep, my body was back to the pre-covid bloating. Food and sleep aside, something wasn’t right, and I finally knew what it was.

All this time I was blaming the food, my high-fibre vegan diet but that wasn’t it. It was my state of mind. It was knowing I had to go and spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, in a place where I don’t feel like myself, a place that energetically didn’t align with me around people I’m not aligned with. I was unhappy and all these months, my body had been trying to talk to me but I just wasn’t getting the message.

I did always know that your state of mind does affect your body and definitely your gut but in my head, my state of mind outside the office, all the other 16 hours of the day, 8 of which I’m usually awake in, are pretty damn good. I thought I had a pretty good switch-off mechanism, and maybe mentally I had, but the emotions were still there, manifesting as a bloated belly.

You know it’s funny how our bodies are constantly trying to talk to us, to tell us something’s not right here and yet our brain, the dumbest organ in the body, constantly interferes with its reasoning and explanations. “It must be this… or it must be that…” Your brain is the fool in this play. Listen to your body. Listen to the little signals it’s constantly giving you, pings to help you better navigate life, to know when something is right for you and when it’s not. When you do start to listen, you will find that all the answers you ever needed, you already have.

 

– Zaina Nasser

A marketeer by profession, Zaina has spent her career building her understanding of humans and how to sell to them with the hopes of one day selling more than her marketing expertise but rather her life experience. Talented with words, writing has always been a side hobby with many pieces hidden in her notes app read only by those close to her. Zaina is now working on co-creating with the universe a life where writing can be more than just a hobby.