Do you listen to your body?

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As we approach autumn, what you eat will most likely change from lighter and sometimes cold, to richer, and mostly hot, food (although my husband can never understand why soup is off the menu in some cafés during the summer months).  Will you notice the difference in your body’s reaction to the change in food?

When you eat, your body reacts to the food, either positively or negatively.  Most of us carry on regardless and miss the signals that your body is sending.  Some of these signals can be the equivalent to a whisper (so easy to miss); others can be more like a shout (not so easy to miss but often ignored).

Examples of Good Signals:

  • You feel energised
  • You are sated, but not stuffed
  • Your mind is sharp
  • You get a good night’s sleep
  • You wake up easily

Examples of Not So Good Signals:

  • Your stomach growls
  • You feel pain – anything from mild indigestion to severe abdominal pain
  • You get a headache
  • You feel lightheaded
  • Your mind is fuzzy
  • You feel tired
  • You do not sleep well
  • You find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning

Think about your eating habits.  Are you grabbing something quick (and portable) as you head out the door in the morning?  Do you eat at your desk (you might not want to after reading this article)?  Does your office use a working lunch to cram more into the day?  Do you eat your evening meal in front of the TV?  We are so busy doing other stuff when we’re eating that we often miss the signals.

Of course, there are the basic signs of hunger (or lack of it): an empty feeling in your stomach, or feeling a bit shaky.  It’s important to find something to eat that is rich in nutrition; you shouldn’t be feeling hungry again for a few hours.  However, what happens when you eat what you eat?

Do you get heartburn/indigestion?

Your body is trying to tell you that you’ve eaten something that it can’t digest properly.  When you get these symptoms, do you take an antacid and forget about it once the discomfort has eased?  Or do you take note of what you ate, and watch out for the discomfort and then avoid eating it in the future if it happens again?

Take bread for example; bread comes in many forms, some fortified with vitamins and minerals (and pre-sliced), some made from four simple ingredients (flour, water, salt and yeast), and some from more ingredients but all with names we would recognise.  French and Italian bread is very different from bread in the UK (even some artisan breads).  You may react badly to some breads, but not all.  If that’s the case, try to establish what’s different.  You can then isolate the culprit, avoid the heartburn but still enjoy your bread (or toast if you’re anything like me).

Allergies

When your nose gets stuffy, your throat is sore, or your eyes get itchy or puffy, do you consider what you had when you were out for lunch/dinner over the weekend as a key source of your sneezing?  Is that pizza the cause of the problem?

Headaches

When a headache builds, do you take a painkiller and keep going, or do you think about the potential cause?  You could be dehydrated (if you haven’t drunk enough water during the previous day, and don’t drink through the night, a morning headache could just be dehydration); you could be short on nutrition, especially protein and fat, or you could be having caffeine withdrawal.  Do you drink a lot of coffee at work, but fewer cups at the weekend or when on holiday?

Something to Try

So… think about what you’re eating, when you’re eating and how you feel shortly thereafter.  Try this:

  • Only eat when you are hungry. On a scale of one to ten, where one is famished and ten is stuffed, you should start to eat at about a three/four and stop when you reach a six/seven.
  • When you are eating, pay attention to what’s going on in your mouth. Your mouth is where the digestion process starts, so give your stomach a break.  Chew your food; put your knife and fork down between bites (not load more on the fork for the next mouthful); savour what’s going on in your mouth.
  • If it doesn’t taste nice, don’t eat it. You may find, as your awareness of the tastes in your mouth improves, that you’ve been eating things that really taste quite nasty.
  • It’s ok to leave food on your plate.
  • After you’ve eaten, pay attention to how you are feeling. For example, can you see a connection between when you eat a banana and how you slept or worked out at the gym?  You can then adjust when and what you eat to maximise your workout, make sure your mind is sharp at work, and that you get the best night’s sleep you can.

Try it.  The more you do this, the more natural it will become, and you won’t even need to think about it.

If you have any questions please call me on 07912 951763, or email me on [email protected].