During lockdown, I read Bill Bryson’s novel, The Body. As we went head first into a pandemic, I dedicated my evenings and weekends to this book. It was a stark revelation to be reminded of how in awe we should be of the muscles, bones and hormones that hold us together and look after us. As our minds race and whir, we can be completely oblivious to how our body is just getting on with what it needs to be doing, without hesitation.
One particular thing I’m reminded of daily, whether it’s during meditation (because yes, I do that regularly now, it’s like medicine) or scrolling through Instagram, is how little we give our belly the benefit of the doubt.
It’s difficult to truly envisage how many organs are sitting inside us, working away in the dark. Wrapped in muscle, protected by a skeleton and taking in air and digesting food, all the time, every day.
It sounds odd but when I’m giving myself a hard time for having a slight paunch one day or feeling bloated after a meal, and someone else has to tell me to just leave my body alone while it gets on with vital work, I can feel quite emotional. They say our gut is the second brain and I often consider this connection – being self-conscious about our belly is reflective of the harsh judgment we place upon ourselves overall.
This year, we’ve all had to get used to seeing ourselves a lot more. Whether it’s our appearance on zoom calls or feeling everything wobble as we walk from the bedroom to the living room for the millionth time. I’m writing this all whilst still strongly advocating a healthy, well-balanced diet and lifestyle, absolutely. I just really want to hone in on the ‘balanced’ part because it’s ok that sometimes our bodies gently expand and contract like a plant in the sun.
Another novel I want to reference is Ruby Tandoh’s, Eat Up! Ruby reminded us all that food is never just fuel; it can mean so much more to us and we can develop funny relationships with it and in turn, our bodies. It’s always going to be hard. But try to capture the amount of love and care that goes into growing food, cooking a meal or choosing your favourite packet of crisps and remember to pass that love onto your belly whilst it’s breaking down enzymes and absorbing nutrients, to take care of its number one: you.