Listening to your Body

Sometimes the internet can be incredibly overwhelming. There is an abundance of nutritional information out there, not to mention various health advice and sources telling us what we should and shouldn’t be doing. Every week it seems, there is some new fad diet or juice cleanse out to improve your ‘wellbeing”. While the internet does enable us to explore areas of health and access various sources of information rapidly, it also has its downfalls.

If you are like me, and  have an interest in healthy living – then the internet can be an incredibly complex minefield. One day we are reading that coconut oil is the superfood that all humans must consume regularly, and a week later, something else states that consuming coconut oil is actually not good for internal organs and systems. Sound complicated? That’s because it is. With the health industry growing rapidly every single day, there are multiple ‘influential’ people telling us which particular way of eating is best for our health. 

If I am honest, sometimes the more I read… the more confused I get about what information to trust. What techniques will work and what will cause my body more damage than good? Is consuming dairy bad for my insides? Will eating raw kale give me gas? Raw food in general? Is a vegan diet actually healthy? 

To be frank… this issue effects all of us. Whether or not you have an interest in healthy living, the constant talk of ‘how to eat’ and ‘how to live’ surrounds us. But the truth is, and what I have now learnt (and will continue to learn)… is that no one knows what will work for you. There are most definitely sources and facts out there that can give you guidance, however no one knows what will work for you – BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT YOU.

Lately, I have realised just how much I was relying on these online sources to tell me what to do and how to live. I think its become ingrained within girls of our age to think this way. If someone else lives a vegan diet and thrives, then maybe I will too. If someone who counts their macros and gyms 3 times a day is happy, then maybe I will be too. 

Speaking from experience, (in the past), I have suffered through uncomfortable symptoms and body changes – all to ensure I was following the advice of an expert. I developed orthorexia when my drive for healthy living, manifested into a rigid routine and deep-seated fear of food. Sure… everyone will experience these diet changes on different scales, but the point of this post is to realise how extreme this can be, and to raise awareness for how these processes work.

In order to try and figure out what works best for me, I have been working on self-development, and learning to listen to my body. Instead of consistently being frustrated by the challenges and changes that our bodies experience, I now attempt to identify what my body is trying to communicate to me.

These are the techniques I have been using to reconnect with my body and its messages, and I hope that they can help you to indeed – find what works for you.

Listening to your Body

 

Take time to slow down

When we let our minds race around at a million miles an hour EVERYDAY, we experience an inability to hear and recognise what is going on within our bodies. Same goes for consistently being on the move; an inability to realise if we are sore, tired, angry or frustrated. I’m sure you know the feeling – and then it’s too late, arriving home in a shitty mood but unsure why… all because we haven’t taken a moment to breath.

Becoming aware of your bodies messages and signals after eating food, is much easier when you take the time to stop. Pay attention to your signals before, during, and after you eat/exercise. This can often be done by avoiding social media or other activities at meal times, reading a book, and doing breathing exercises.

Keep a food diary

For someone who has had orthorexic tendencies, I was originally against the idea of keeping track of everything I eat/how much exercise I do. Sounds like calorie counting to me… and although its not, making numbers and calories the image of my food, was not something I wanted to delve back into the habit of.

However, when trying to determine what works best for our bodies, I have found it super helpful to keep a note of the food items consumed/exercise done etc. Sometimes it takes a while, even overnight, for our body’s signals and reactions to present themselves, so take the time and make a record – and by doing so, you will notice patterns. 

Be open to trying new things

Anyone who knows me well, will know that I struggle with breaking routines. However, as I said earlier – our body’s signals and changes take time to develop, and we need to give these opportunity in order to uncover what’s really going on. Take a trial and error approach to trying new things, and giving your body time to attempt something new, experience the changes, and make or realise changes – is part of being human.

Remember, our bodies are machines driven by our thoughts and feelings; when we approach new lifestyle plans with a negative mentality, our experiences are affected by our brain and thoughts. Give new things time to develop, give new options the opportunity to occur, and give something new a go!

Get in touch with internal responses to what you’re consuming

How do you feel straight after you drink a coffee? How do you feel after consuming bread? Ask yourself whether after eating – you feel energised, perhaps angry, have an elevated heart rate, the jitters, or need to go to the toilet with an upset stomach. Pay attention to each food and how it makes you feel, both internally, and in our energy output. Obviously it goes without saying, but you should avoid foods, that you know affect your body in negative ways.

To be honest – this is something that I initially struggled with, and after keeping a food diary – I have realised that it does become easier the more often I do it. Sit for five after eating, and record things on your phone to keep an easy and quick record of whats going on.

Avoid the fads and the hype

I love instagram, and I love the internet. The idea that I can not only advance my knowledge about healthy lifestyles further, but also potentially advance my relationship with food… mean that both are great resources we should be utilising. However, there is always going to be some new nutritional information coming out, or some new diet fad that we all must try.

What we must remember however, is that these fads will fade away in time, and what works for someone one week, often won’t work in a months time. As I said earlier, our bodies take time to change and adapt – so when people who are experimenting with their diet publicly announce that something new is working for them, it may not last very long at all.

I guess my point is: to remember that your body is yours, and it is truly incredible. There is no need to try an live in a way that satisfies someones else needs, if it doesn’t satisfy yours. The same goes for your diet choices – and we cannot live in a way that someone else advocates, if its detrimental to our individual health.

If that means eating meat and a variety of foods, then good on you. If it means thriving off a plant based diet, then thats totally awesome too. It might be as simple as eating more protein in the morning rather than at night – because thats just how YOU work best. Whether its paleo, vegan, IIFYM, keto… whatever the fuck you want to call it, just remember that its about balance.

An individual balance. That is yours.

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