Digestion is better when you’re stress-free

As we enter the holiday season, I would love to give you the gift of a stress-free day. Since I don’t have a magic wand, alas, I would like to offer some truly simple techniques and suggestions that you can do anytime, anywhere. The trick is remembering to do them.

Be where you are.

Relax regularly.

Eat foods that nourish your body.

Attempt new ways of doing the same old thing.

Take time every day to move your body.

Have fun.

Enjoy what you do as you do it.

In other words, B.R.E.A.T.H.E.

Take in a slow deep breath. Better yet, uncross your legs, feet, arms, etc., feel yourself sitting or standing. Notice any tension or clenching — the jaw, butt, hands and feet are notorious for clenching, and just breathe into that space. You don’t have to “do” anything, or “fix” anything, just breathe.

The simple act of slowing down your breath lets your body know it is safe. You see, our bodies don’t know the difference between life-threatening stress and “I’m late for work and there’s traffic” stress. To the body, stress is stress. Above all else, the body must survive, right? If the body receives stress signals, it will go into fight-or-flight mode. It really doesn’t matter what the cause of that stress is. The body produces hormones and other chemicals to protect itself during stress.

When we breathe slowly and deeply, it signals the body to relax. When the body feels safe and relaxed, it functions better. Over time, if we live in a perpetual state of stress, our bodies simply cannot function properly. The act of digesting your food must happen in a calm, relaxed state. We literally cannot digest our food if we are stressed. Proper digestions sets up all the other systems in our body to do their job. Just taking those few seconds to breathe, and shift from stressed to relaxed, can have an enormously positive impact on your overall health.

So, while you are breathing, relaxing and taking good care of yourself, here is a delicious, nutritious and super simple recipe that can be part of your holiday feast, brought to a potluck gathering, or simply enjoyed whenever you want some nourishment.

Basic Butternut Squash Soup

Makes 8 servings

1/2 to 1 small onion, diced

2 small or 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds scooped and cubed

2 tablespoons butter, ghee or coconut oil

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth — homemade, ideally


In heavy-bottomed soup pot, melt butter.

Add onions and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally.

When onion is translucent, add butternut squash and broth.

Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until squash is tender, stirring occasionally.

With an immersion blender, blend until smooth.

Or pour in batches into a regular blender and pulse for a few seconds until smooth.

Add any seasonings you prefer — salt, pepper, etc.

Jeni Hall of Dublin is a board certified nutritional therapist practicing in the Monadnock region. Her mission is to empower you to heal your own body and keep it healthy. See www.jenihall.com, for more information.

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