I think most people are more sensitive to certain foods than they may think. Symptoms of sensitivity are so common that people think they’re normal. For example: sleepiness after a meal, stomach bloating, acne, headaches, joint paint, the list goes on. So why not test yourself? What’s there to lose (other than some extra weight)?
Here’s what you do: develop a an awareness of your body then analyze the way food and exercise affects you. It has taken me about three years to finally figure out what works for me but it really wasn’t too hard. With a little patience and dedication, you can figure it out.
This experimenting DOES NOT include counting calories or using a scale. Ever. If you need to quantify your improvements, wrap a tape measure around your body parts every couple of months and record it. This experimenting is only about the INGREDIENTS in your food.
And finally, be patient with yourself. Indulge on the weekends and behave during the week. Get a schedule going so it doesn’t feel like such a burden. You need a lifestyle change not a diet.
For me, it all started with my mom. Eight years ago she had our whole family checked for gluten-intolerance. Low and behold, every one of us four kids has a gluten sensitivity (not an allergy which is much more severe). Five years after that, when I realized I still wasn’t operating at optimal health, I continued my experimenting. I saw a nutritionist and played around on my own. This diet will no doubt change as I get older and (hopefully) healthier but, for now, this is what works for me:
- No gluten – It made me constantly lethargic and bloated. It gave my siblings severe stomach cramps, acne, and persistent headaches. For more info, check out this page.
- No cow dairy/lactose – It made me bloated, nauseas, and congested. I probably shouldn’t be eating any dairy but I LOVE cheese so I try to stick to goat, sheep, and buffalo which has less of an effect.
- No red meat – It made me achy and congested, almost like I had the flu. Since I have detoxed this from my system for two years, I can now eat grass-fed beef in moderation.
- No refined sugar – It caused me to get some kind of illness every six weeks or so as well as the crash I would inevitably feel an hour after the snack. Unfortunately, dessert is my favorite meal so I try to limit myself to my small vices. My nightly dinner is two gluten free cookies, some dried apricots, and a square of chocolate. 🙂
- LOTS of vegetables – Vegetables are like gold to your immune system. Most important are dark, leafy greens but pretty much every vegetable gives your body a boost. I try to eat at least two servings of raw veggies and at least two servings or lightly steamed, sautéed, or roasted veggies. The more you cook them, the less nutrients they hold. <This applies to all food. Bare in mind a “serving” could be a handful of spinach in your smoothie or scrambled eggs. Or 2 servings could be just a whole honking’ plate of veggies.
- Less fruit – Most fruit is high in sugar and spikes your insulin the same way refined sugar does but it contains a bunch of other valuable nutrients. Try to eat more veggies than fruit but definitely grab that apple if you’re looking for a quick snack.
- More healthy fats – Americans are bombarded with the “dangers of fat” but, in fact, most of us aren’t getting enough. Bad fat is what makes people fat and can be found in non-organic meat, fast food, margarine, etc. Good fat is what keeps people healthy and actually helps them lose weight. It can be found in seeds and nuts, organic fish, avocados, coconut, real butter, olive oil (at low heat only), etc.
A Few other rules:
- No microwaves! The high intensity and type of heat alters the genetic make-up of the food. Microwaved food is devoid of almost all nutrients the food previously held.
- Avoid plastic – I have recently converted to glass food storage containers and stainless steel water bottles. There has been a greater awareness of BPA’s lately but there are lots of other chemicals in plastic that affect your food, especially when heated.
- Stainless steel cookware – Non-stick cookware is loaded with chemicals that change the way our bodies digest food. Unfortunately, safe pots and pans are pretty expensive so I keep a lookout at Goodwill and am saving up for a big, beautiful cooking set one of these days.
- Take a vacation day – Once a week I treat myself to very unhealthy take-out. I direct all my cravings during the week to that one meal and man do I chow down. It’s so incredibly delicious for the half hour I’m eating it but then I remember why I choose to eat healthy every other day. I always feel like crap after my vacation meal. Eating it once a week reminds me why I spend lots of money and time keeping my body healthy.
For more help, check out my Beginner’s Guide to Healthy Grocery Shopping.
Please let me know if you have any questions. I’m more than happy to answer them!