Trust Your Gut (or, what you can learn from the flu)

I haven’t eaten a vegetable in a week. Yes, you read that right. Or, more accurately I tried. I ate a salad on Saturday. It did not go well. But if you can learn from my mistakes it will be worth the pain.The truth is I’ve had the flu. Or some such nasty bug. ‘Tis the season after all, and I just can’t be left out of a good bug. Yup, I caught it, but good, and I tried like the dickens to stick to my healthy eating ideals. But I’ll tell you what, sometimes our ideas and ideals just don’t match up to reality. And when we try to grip on to them with all our might, it could actually be the opposite of healthy. So it turns out that what my body wants this week is the opposite of what my mind thinks I should have. White things. Bland things. Overprocessed starchy things that are largely fiber free. Broths I haven’t eaten in years. Go figure. A lowdown moment was also a learning moment for me this week as I had to slow waaaaaay down and really tune in to what my body was asking of me. Sleep. No yoga. Clearly, no vegetables (oh, colorful things, how I miss you!).

While I haven’t relished this particular bit of teaching, I do hope you’ll take it to heart. Intuition, “gut instinct” and the like are usually more right-on than we give them credit for. The thinking logical brain just isn’t always right, however much it may like to be in control. If we can tune in to our gut instinct and deep down needs we might find a little more ease with day to day decisions and the challenging issue of self care. And maybe that internal sensor will be there for the long haul, not just during the flu.

In the meantime, as I said ‘tis the season for colds and flus, and if you’re laid low, here’s a little advice for dealing.

1. Take it slow.

When you’re sick it’s easy to feel like you’re losing time. You’ll lose more time if you tire yourself out and don’t recover, so chillax friend.

2. Eat intuitively

The things you can eat right now may not be the things you think are healthy with your conscious, educated brain. Listen to your gut instead. It really does know what’s best.

3. Think Restorative

It may feel like too much to go for a run or ‘jump up and down on your mat’ as I heard one person describe the physical practice of yoga. But you can keep your body and breath free and open by doing a few simple restorative type poses. Lay on the floor with your feet together and knees out to the side. If your knees are off the ground, you may need the support of pillows. Stay there and breath some deep belly breaths. If you have a block, place it the long way across your shoulder blades (on the middle height) where your bra strap would be (guys, you know where this is too!). Stretch your feet out in front of you. Keep your hands near your sides or stretch your arms straight overhead and rest them on the floor. You may need another block on the lowest height under your head (or a small pillow). Breath some deep, smooth belly breaths. Make the inhales and exhales the same length for a calming effect.


4. Order Takeout (or get someone to bring something home for you)

Yes, home cooked organic food is important, but not stressing yourself out at this time is important too. If you can get to a place that makes great prepared soups, stews and the like (a Whole Foods or smaller store with healthy offerings), go for it. Or just order the most nourishing, gentle thing you can get your hands on from your local non-organic gluten-filled place and give thanks before you eat it for the nourishment it provides. Takeout eaten with gratitude and ease may be better than a home-cooked ‘stress supper!’