How do we know what is right for our body?
Have you ever heard the phrase: “Eat and drink what you feel is right for your body”?
At first I had no idea what that meant! How do I feel what food or drink is right for my body, and how do I know what food or drink is right for my body?
I suspect most people are unclear about the effect certain foods and drinks have on them, and therefore what food or drink is okay and what is not. Some may feel a tummy ache after eating, for example, or have a headache or a stuffed nose or feel bloated, but do they relate that to a food they have just eaten or a drink they have just drunk?
So, where do we start with knowing the effect some foods and drinks have on our body?
Some people might google it; some might visit a nutritionist, a naturopath or GP and may be tested for food sensitivities or allergies. But most people will not do that, simply because it does not occur to them that some foods or drinks may not be right for them, even though they may experience some symptoms and reach for the Quick-Eze or Losec! I know I experienced symptoms, but before my study with [Universal Medicine], http://www.unimedliving.com/food I almost never related these symptoms to something I had consumed.
So, how can you know what is right for your body?
For me, the first step was to connect with my body, so I could hear the messages it was giving me (constantly) about what food or drink was right for me. But what does that mean, and how do you connect to – or tune into -– your body? To me, ‘connect with my body’ means being present, consciously so, i.e. keeping my thoughts about what is happening in my body. To support this conscious presence, I choose to eat and drink sitting down, whenever possible, with my food on a plate in front of me, and nothing around to distract me (such as TV, newspaper, music).
Then, I take a moment to bring my awareness to my body, such as my feet on the floor, my hands, and the length of my spine, and to my posture and how am I holding my body, especially my shoulders... if my mind wanders off while doing this, I simply choose to bring it back to my body and what I am doing. I find it helps to become aware of my breath coming in and going out through my nose, to make that breath very gentle, (Gentle Breath Meditation) and to feel the movement of my body as I breathe.
The second step, once connected and present, is to eat or drink slowly, with awareness, i.e. I keep feeling my body and I keep my thoughts on what and how I am eating and drinking. Again, if my mind wanders off, or I become distracted, I gently come back to focusing on the food I am eating, or what I am drinking, and any sensations I can feel in my body, especially my stomach. I find that if my thoughts are racing ahead of me and are not on what I am eating or drinking I eat faster, without even being aware of what I am eating, let alone enjoying my food! Similarly, if I am engaged in conversations I can eat much more than I need. Being aware and connecting to my body before the first mouthful helps avoid these tendencies, and helps me notice when a change occurs more quickly.
The third step is to observe how my body feels after I have eaten or drunk something: Immediately afterwards, 10 minutes later, one hour later, three hours later, that evening … even the next day, as I noticed that sometimes my body needed a bit more time to show the effects of what I had consumed.
Here are some of the things on my checklist:
•Does my tummy feel bloated or achy?
•Does my head feel heavy or my nose stuffed up?
•Do I feel tired or energized?
•If energized, how long does that feeling last?
•If tired, what do I do to overcome this?
•Do I want a nap?
•Do I get nausea, heartburn, reflux, diarrhoea or constipation after eating certain foods or drinking certain drinks?
•Does my mood change, e.g. a feeling of euphoria or feeling ‘down’ or irritated?
•If so, how long does that particular mood last?
•Do I want more food or drink after eating or drinking, even if I have eaten or drunk a lot?
•Am I feeling really full?
•Am I still hungry?
•Am I craving something sweet?
Slowly, day by day, I began to feel how certain foods and drink affected my body. I especially noticed the effect of eating dairy, gluten, sweet food and drinks on my body, mood and mind.
When I ate gluten I often felt very bloated and tired afterwards and sometimes had a (minor or severe) stomach ache. When I ate dairy I found I often had a blocked nose or sinus. Whenever I drank something sweet, such as an apple juice or flavoured soda water, or ate chocolate or cake, I always wanted more and would keep eating until I couldn’t physically eat anymore! However, our bodies are all different, so a food or drink that does not suit me may be okay for you, and vice versa.
If you are not sure, you could eliminate one food or drink and see if that makes a difference. If not, eliminate another food or drink etc., etc. until you develop an understanding of what is right for your body and what is not. I find the key is to stay connected to my whole body and to trust the messages from my body, rather than think with my head.
Over the last few years, I have come to know more and more what is right for my body and have been taking notice of the messages it has been giving me. As a result, I have slowly made changes in my diet, and when I do so I can really feel the difference in my moods and my body. I feel vital and alive when I stick to what I know is right and true for my body.
I now have a solid foundation to keep refining my food and drink choices, directed by my body's messages.