Have you ever had a morning where you have woken up feeling sluggish, bloated, or sick? or a day when you haven’t drunk enough water and you end up with a headache and feel tired and irritable? These symptoms are your bodies way of trying to tell you something is wrong, in the same way that craving certain foods can tell you what vitamins, minerals and nutrients your body is lacking. We have forgotten how to eat to nourish our body.
For example, when you don’t drink enough water it effects every organ in your body, your mood, your skin, slows brain function and your metabolism, and stops your kidneys from being able to remove waste and toxins from your body correctly. Your body is made up of over 60% water, it needs that water for you to survive!
In the same way, if you eat processed foods, junk food, refined sugar, prepackaged meals, or anything full of chemicals and e-numbers but not enough fresh, natural foods. Not only are you depriving your body of the nutrients it needs to fuel itself, renew your cells and keep you healthy, but with all the chemicals and toxins found in manufactured food nowadays, you are essentially feeding your body poisons too. If you aren’t nourishing your body, how can you expect it to heal?
I like to think of it as a two way relationship. If you look after your body, it will look after you… after all, its the only place you have to live!
Eat to Nourish your body
So just to be clear, this isn’t the part where I start telling you what you should or shouldn’t eat, or that there is a particular diet you ‘need’ to be following. I don’t believe in labels.
Every body is different, only YOU know what is best for yours, and what makes you feel good.
For me personally, over the last few years I have intuitively lent towards a mostly plant based diet. Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, pulses, I still eat a good natural yogurt but avoid most other dairy products, if I fancy a bit of meat or fish I eat it, and (apart from the occasional rye baguette) I mostly avoid bread as well as pasta and rice. I have always had a sweet tooth, but I started to bake my own ‘healthier’ sweet treats so I know what goes in them, choose dark chocolate, and shy away from shop bought chocolate bars. Because that’s what works for me.
If there is one thing I have learnt from this illness and the last four years that I am grateful for, it is that I am so much more in tune with my body. I’m aware of the slightest change in how I’m feeling, and how different foods affect me. I have cut out what makes me feel worse, and included in my diet more of what makes me feel good.
Funnily enough I recently read up, via a homeopathy for disease book, on the recommended diet for ME and Chronic illness. What I have worked out myself intuitively is pretty much the diet that is recommended.
I think when your body is dealing with so much inflammation and pain already, anything you can do to reduce the work it has to do, not adding in more problems and toxins for it to deal with, the more it will thank you.
How do you listen to your body
So what exactly do I mean by listening to your body? When I say listen to your body, I think the simplest way I can describe it is to learn to look for and recognise the symptoms and triggers your body gives you when it isn’t happy.
And I’ve found the more you learn to look for and recognise these markers and symptoms, the easier and earlier you are able to spot them and the more in tune you become.
If this is something you want to try for yourself one of the easiest ways to start out is by keeping a simple food diary (just have a notebook handy to list all the foods you eat each day). The effects of what you eat will usually start to materialise a couple of hours or the day after. If something doesn’t feel right to you; you feel sick, get stomach cramps or bloating, headaches, or any other out of the ordinary symptoms, look at what you consumed over the last 24hours. The food that was different to usual, is often the culprit.
If you can pin point what you think the cause is, try cut that food out for a few weeks and see if you feel any improvement, or how you feel without them. If your mood and energy levels improve, you feel less sluggish or there is a lessening in any other symptoms you had, then it is likely your body is telling you to eat less of that food.
I’ll admit it’s all a bit of experimentation to begin with. But if you can improve your health I believe it can be worth the effort.
You don’t have to cut things out of your diet entirely if you really don’t want to. If you find that a food you love is actually whats causing you discomfort, just have it a little less often. At the end of the day only you can decide whats right for you. If the side effects are worth the pleasure you get from eating something that tasted delicious I definitely wont tell you what to do… and everything in moderation, right?