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SOUL food | Unique

This is the third post in the SOUL food series—you can find the first one at SOUL food | Seasonal and the second at SOUL food | Organic.

pixabay heartIntegrative Nutrition® upholds that we are all bio-individual: what is food for me might be poison for you; what nourishes me might toxify you. This is true not only for the food we put in our mouths but for all the primary foods that nourish us (or don’t), and that’s where “unique,” the U of SOUL food comes in.

Have you ever noticed that some people can’t function unless they sleep 10 hours a night while others thrive on 7–8 hours of sleep?

(Nope, I am not going there: if you get less than 7 and think you’re doing just fine, try getting 7 for several nights in a row before you come at me—science is on my side on this one. For a great exploration of the topic of sleep and how to get it, check out Dr. Michael Breus, “The Sleep Doctor,” on Healthy View Radio: banana peel tea, anyone?)

And this is true in most areas of our lives. Some people love HIIT workouts, others prefer gentle yoga—and both can be in excellent physical shape. Some adore the hustle and bustle of big cities, others prefer the quiet countryside. Some are jazzed by a fast-paced work environment with plenty of colleagues, others prefer to work alone from home. Some love worshiping in a community of faith, others prefer a solitary spiritual practice. Some love a relationship that involves a lot of physical touch, others prefer to hear words of acknowledgment. Etc.

It seems there is no “right” answer to how we “should” live: we are indeed unique.

But a lot of us look for the answers outside ourselves, and our parents, our colleagues, our friends, our children, the media, and even the government are all happy to tell us how to live. Gurus and experts abound. It’s easier to look outside ourselves because we are then spared the hard work of experimenting and finding our own answers, our own way of nourishing ourselves.

Many New Year’s resolutions fail precisely for these two reasons: first, we try to impose external standards on our unique lives, and second, we give ourselves insufficient time to make shifts in our primary food areas.

There is a danger in embracing our uniqueness a bit too much: we may begin to feel that not only our strengths but that our struggles are unique, and that can feel isolating. (In an odd way this reminds me of the meme “Introverts unite—separately in your own home.”)

I often find myself telling clients, “I want to say this as gently as I can: you are unique…and that doesn’t make you special!”

pixabay flowerPerhaps one way to view this paradox is that, although our journeys are all different, we share the same goal: to nourish ourselves to the highest degree possible so we can live our best lives, however we define that as unique individuals.

One exercise that helps us to start nourishing ourselves more mindfully in the area of primary foods is to notice how often we hear the words “I should” cross our lips (or even our thoughts). Whose “should” is it—does it come from listening to your own body’s requests, or is it coming from an external source?

And of course, the reverse is true, too: how often do we say or think the words “You should…” when we are talking to others? (And yes, as a health coach, it’s a fine line to walk, learning to say, “I wonder what would happen if you…” rather than “I think you should…!”)

If you’re interested in exploring and experimenting with your primary foods (no quick fixes here—I’m the question lady, not the answer lady), I invite you to schedule a free YOURstory consultation.