Image supplied by Kate Heaslip Photography
When I was growing up, in fact until I had children of my own, I knew very little about the human body and almost less about my own.  There is probably a combination of reasons why: disinterest; lack of guidance; not being in the school curriculum; and of course being preoccupied with social life, dancing and drama (I wanted to be an actor/performer when I was younger).

Background – I knew nothing!

When Matthew was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) he was 4 weeks old and like most people I knew NOTHING about CF.  Naively I thought that CF had something to do with some sort of physical disability similar to that of Cerebral Palsy.  We walked into the first appointment where various members of the hospital team went over the basics of what CF was, the mechanics of it, how to manage it, what to look out for…. You get the drift!

Overwhelm to action!

I was totally overwhelmed.  I knew little about the human body and my overwhelm was intensified by the immense grief I was going through. It made me realise if a person has little idea about the mechanics of their own bodies, how can they make informed decisions?  It starts with us right?!

As the years went on I learnt more and learnt to listen to my own body.  Did you know your body talks to you?  It does! And if you listen carefully and pay attention it can tell you a whole heap about how you really are!

Matthew was 3 and Joshua was 4 months old when I started to study Naturopathy.  Talk about a learning curve.  For the first time I had some sort of grasp on what a liver was and how it worked.  How the different organs and systems in our body worked together synergistically.  I learnt that when there is a symptom, there is a reason – an underlying cause for that symptom.  AND in many instances, if you look hard enough, you have the ability to work out what the problem is or where it comes from at least.

I realised that those symptoms can be early warning signs, or red flags, to potential chronic illness/ailments down the track.  I discovered that if we paid attention, we can help ourselves by modifying our behaviour/s and avoid possible future pain and suffering.

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Teaching the kids!

This is when I was able to help my boys help themselves and start to become accountable for their own actions.  After all, many symptoms are the natural consequences to our behaviours.

Matthew needs enzymes in the form of tablets to help him digest his food.  When he fails to take any enzymes or enough enzymes this results in malnourishment and digestive discomfort.  He doesn’t absorb the food/nutrients and ends up with significant pain and potentially hours on the toilet.  This was just one lesson that I taught him early on.  When he had pains in his tummy, we would look back at what he had eaten and if he had had appropriate enzyme supplementation.  A process of elimination if you like.

This was done in a range of different ways with the boys and I still do it now.  I do it with myself.  I know if I’ve had cow’s milk, I get cramps and bloating and feel awful.  I also know that if I drink alcohol in consecutive days that I am prone to depressive feelings, sadness and lethargy.  Marty knows that if he has bananas his heart plays up and having cheese makes him wheezy.  Josh knows that too much bread upsets his tummy.  We have choices about how to deal with this in the future.  We can ignore it or we can pay attention and take action.

What about you?

When you have aches and pains, have you ever paid attention to the foods that you have eaten or the experiences you have had in a 24-48 hour period or longer?  Do you listen to the signs and symptoms of your body and what it is really telling you?  Take it from me, practice is necessary.

I have kept a food/activity diary in combination with a symptom/behaviour diary in the past to help me identify what my body is really telling me.  That is just one tool to help.  If this is a new concept or you don’t feel you are in tune enough, a great way to get help would be with a professional such as a naturopath, integrative health coach or a dietitian amongst other therapists. I too can help you start to introduce this concept and practice into the home. To book a time to chat CLICK HERE!

I would love to know your thoughts on this topic!  Is this something that you practice with your family? Perhaps this is new to you?  Join in the conversation in Parents and Carers Connect to let me know or feel free to comment below.

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