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Do You Actually Listen To Your Body? (Here’s How)

by jenny sansouci on January 20, 2015

Tonight as I was attempting to run at a 15% incline on a treadmill at bootcamp class (yeah) and praying I didn’t lose my footing, I realized what I needed to blog about. The realization came from the dietary experiments I’ve been doing over the past couple of days (read – Too Low Carb Too Fast?).

Something I’ve been extremely, hyper-aware of lately is how every single food is making me feel. I’m usually pretty tuned in, but it’s more difficult to decipher sometimes when I’m just kinda eating whatever and not specifically tracking anything. When I’m on some type of plan or doing a nutritional experiment (I often am), it’s much more obvious.

One thing I learned way back in the day when I first started Health Coaching is that most people are completely out of sync with how food makes them feel. The first few health coaching clients I had would usually ask me, “should I be eating _____?” and I would respond, “well, how do you feel when you eat it?” Most of the time the answer was, “I’ve never really noticed, I just heard it was good for you.”

We’re taught what we are “supposed to eat” largely by advertising. We should eat cereal for breakfast because the cereal companies tell us that. We should drink more milk because the milk advertisements say it’s good for us. Right?

We’ve lost touch with our own bodies and how we actually FEEL when we eat certain foods, because we’ve been trained on how we should eat. Most of us don’t even realize that many of our health issues, or even just mild annoyances like feeling moody or low energy, can all be traced back to what we put into our mouth.

If you’re one of those people who is scratching your head saying, “hmm…I’m not exactly sure how certain foods make me feel,” you’re definitely not alone.

From all of my nutritional experimenting, I learn new things about myself and my body every day. It’s really extremely fascinating, and such a cool feeling when I can create meals based on how I know they will make me feel after I eat them, instead of just leaving it up to chance. Ahh, sweet freedom.

Everyone’s different and you’ll be able to make much more powerful choices when you can really FEEL what’s best for YOU, rather than believing other people, “official” dietary guidelines, clever marketing people, or even this blog. 🙂

So how do we get in touch with this? I’ll tell you the quickest way I know, which is one of the first things they taught me at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

It’s called the Breakfast Experiment.

Breakfast is one of the best times to experiment with how food makes you feel, because you haven’t eaten anything in probably 12 hours or so and whatever you eat should have a noticeable impact if you pay attention.

It’s very easy. For 1 week, you just eat a different breakfast every morning and record exactly how you feel for the next few hours.

You’ll want to pay attention to your moods, energy levels and physical reactions to each breakfast.

  • Does it give you immediate energy or does it make you tired?
  • How do you feel 30 mins later? 1 hour? 2 hours?
  • Do you feel moody or irritable after eating it, or energetic and in high spirits?
  • Do you feel groggy/brain fog, or mentally sharp and clear?
  • Do you feel intense cravings or hunger soon after eating, or do you remain full and satisfied until your next meal?
  • Do you feel like you want to take a nap within 1-2 hours after eating?
  • How does your digestion feel? Do you feel bloated after eating it?
  • Any other physical reactions you’re noticing?

Here are a few ideas you can play with, just to get really clear on your reaction to each food (feel free to create your own experiment, these are just ideas).

(As always I recommend to choose the highest quality foods possible whenever you can).

  • Cereal or oatmeal with your choice of milk
  • Eggs with sauteed greens and avocado
  • Toast with butter or nut butter
  • Fruit and yogurt
  • A breakfast sandwich
  • Bacon, chicken, or other meat
  • Leftovers from dinner the night before
  • Fruit only
  • Veggies only
  • Protein shake
  • An avocado sprinkled with salt
  • Muffin or bagel
  • Green Smoothie
  • Coffee, tea or water only – notice how soon you actually feel hunger
  • Bulletproof coffee

That’s about 2 weeks worth of breakfasts, so you get the idea. If you feel totally out of touch with your body as it relates to what you eat, I urge you to take on a breakfast experiment and record details about how you feel. You might be surprised!

At the very least, you’re going to learn something. Take it from me, life is so much cooler when you are in touch with how foods make you feel. When I realized that connection, it changed my life. You’ll have so much more freedom!!!

There’s no doubt about it — when armed with experimental information about your body, you become a more powerful human being, and you can now feel good more often. Win!

I’d love to hear from you guys — when was the first time YOU realized food had an impact on how you feel? How did it change your eating habits?

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Do you love health, nutrition and wellness? Check out the Institute for Integrative Nutrition!

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