Find out what your body is really telling you
The food we eat can be the most healing medicine, or the worst poison. But how do you know if a food is good for you or bad for you?
That’s a loaded question, huh? We all know the very obvious ones. For example we know that fruits and veggies are good, and candy and soda are bad. I could safely say that any and all processed foods fall in the “bad” category. Did you know that there are over 600,000 processed foods on the market today? Over 80 percent of them have added sugar and that sugar might have any one of 56 different names! We keep buying these foods and eating them. And we keep feeling “not so great.”
So, OK, let’s say you eat very little to no processed foods and you still don’t feel great. Maybe your sleep is inadequate, or you’re grumpy a lot, or your joints ache and are stiff, or you just don’t have a lot of energy or those darned pounds just won’t budge. While it is true, that we want the symptom to go away, I think it is even more important to understand why we have a symptom in the first place.
There are some simple things you can do to see if, in fact, the foods you eat are helping your body or hurting it.
1. Keep a food journal. No judgement here, just write down what you eat and drink and when.
2. About an hour or so after you finish eating (doesn’t matter if it’s a meal or a snack), pay attention to how you feel. Add these observations to your food journal.
Are you you happily satiated, or are you hungry again?
Do you feel full and satisfied, or full but still want more?
Are you focusing on the task in front of you or are you thinking of food?
How is your energy? Is it good and steady, or do you feel shaky or jittery? Or maybe you feel like you could take a nap?
What about your mental focus? Are you able to concentrate? Feel generally good? Or maybe you feel a little sluggish, or it’s hard to focus. Do you notice your mood is generally good or are you irritable, anxious, or angry?
All of these are ways to check in with yourself. If you keep a food journal you can see, without a doubt, how the foods you eat affect your life.
For example, say you eat eggs and bacon for breakfast and you feel satiated and energized until lunch. Then at lunch, you have a sandwich with a bag of chips. You notice a little while later that you are feeling hungry, a little sleepy, and you’re having a hard time focusing.
What was in that sandwich? What were the ingredients in that bag of chips? This is what you want to pay attention to.
What do you do if you suspect that a certain food is causing you grief?
3. Eliminate that food from your diet completely for two to three weeks. Then reintroduce it in generous amount for one day. Don’t eat it again for three days afterwards. You will know, within those three days if that food is helping you or hurting you.
Why keep it out so long, then add it back, then keep it out again? Well, the proteins in that food can take up to 14-plus days to be completely removed from the body. When it is eaten again after that time, it can take up to 72 hours for there to be a negative response within the body. If you don’t give your body the time it needs to eliminate it completely and then respond (however it may) when you re-introduce it, you can’t know for sure if it was that food or something else that caused the negative response.
Your food journal and paying attention to the signals that your body gives you will take you far in finding the best foods for you.
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.