One of the awesome things about adopting a Paleo-esque diet is how you learn to listen to your body. Before I started Paleo, I really didn’t have much of a sense of how different foods affected my energy levels, mood, and digestion. Of course, if I ate a whole pizza my stomach would complain a bit, and there were several times when after a meal with tofu (which I can no longer eat) I found myself lying on the bed in the fetal position because of the pain in my gut, but in general I was a happy-go-lucky eater. I tried to eat healthy: keeping to whole grains, lots of protein, some fruits, low-fat dairy, etc., and was none the wiser.
Flash forward almost 9 months later, and it’s amazing how much BETTER I understand my body. Within minutes (or at least hours) of eating something that contains suspect elements (hidden sugars, HFCS, soy, gluten, vegetable oils, dairy, etc.), my body lets me know. Indigestion, a pain in the gut, an acute loss of mental focus and energy – these are the signals that I’ve learned to listen to. I no longer need a label to tell me what’s in food – I can pretty much determine if something doesn’t work for me on my own.
Once we learn to listen, our bodies are pretty amazing at telling us what they need. They will let us know when we are full (as long as we have good leptin sensitivity), and will even send us food cravings when we are vitamin deficient! [Note: This isn’t the same thing as caving in to that pasta/cereal/grain craving. If you didn’t know, grains actually contain opioids (also found in: opium, morphine, etc.) – meaning they are literally addictive. No wonder giving up that bowl of cereal in the morning is so hard!]
Knowledge is Power
Some might argue in this case that ignorance is bliss (#leavemetomydonuts!), but I would disagree. I want to know what foods are doing to my body. I want to be able to maximize my energy and health. I want to do right by me. And if I choose to eat foods that contain sugar/dairy/etc., that’s fine (#noguiltwithfood). But I want to know what I’m getting in to.
Plus, it makes it that much better when you find those foods that are truly a treat, taste amazing, and leave you feeling pretty darn good afterwards. (See: choco-coconut cookies, banana-nut bread, whole-fat ice cream, dark chocolate, etc.) The idea, as always, is to make a healthy lifestyle work for you.
Have you developed a “spidey-sense” for which foods don’t work for you? What are some of the best digestion-friendly treats you’ve found during your journey to health?
-Stay healthy everybody.