The wisdom our bodies hold is truly profound. They respond to every little thing going on in our lives and talk to us about everything from what nutrients it needs, to what road to go down for that big decision we have to make. The problem is that we continually silence them by ignoring them for the sake of convenience or because we don’t understand what they’re saying.
What we think our bodies are asking of us is often confused by the overwhelming surplus of conflicting health information, including health trends, which can be dangerous if we don’t first listen to our bodies. Because of this, it’s easy to get so caught up in trying to eat right that we stop eating in a way that’s right for us. Over the course of the past two years I decided to stop pretending that I knew what was best for me and instead asked my body to guide me. Learning to communicate with your body can be one of the most effective tools for your health and your happiness.
Ever heard the expression “trust your gut”? There’s a lot more to the saying than mere colloquialism. That gut feeling, whether for intuitive purposes or what to eat, is what we need to tap into, because the organs in our bodies shed a lot of light on what nutrients they might be depleted in or what the gut is rejecting – if we know how to listen.
When you’re reaching for that coffee to give you a lift in the afternoon, that’s your body trying to get your attention. Are you getting enough rest? Are you eating slow release energy foods? When your head is pounding, your body is in fact asking you to drink more water or not abuse it with alcohol, but we confuse this with being asked to pop an aspirin. When you feel like you need to sleep after eating, that’s your body telling you to it’s been overloaded with the wrong types of food for you at the time. The longer you go on ignoring and masking the signals of your body, the quieter they become until you reach the point where your body does not communicate with you at all.
Adopting these two practices into your daily routine will help you start to bridge the gap that may exist between your mind and your body.
Extend your craving response time
Being in a society where time is literally money, our attention is often focused on the task at hand and responding to what our body is really asking is trumped by convenience or routine. Next time you feel a craving, take a moment to come in to the body and ask what it really wants before making a knee jerk reaction like reaching for something to temporarily scratch the itch.
When you have a feeling, wait about 10 minutes before responding. This will give you ample time to gauge the craving, perhaps even let it pass and meditate on what it really is that you want or need. Practice being still, breathing, and taking note of what your body is trying to tell you.
Do a post-meal body scan
About fifteen minutes after eating, do a body scan and make note of what you feel. Allowing time for what you have ingested to well and truly enter the stomach and work it’s way through the system is the perfect time to assess and decipher the physical signals our bodies are sending us about what it’s beginning to digest.
How do you feel after eating? Are you tired and lethargic? Maybe there’s a heaviness or nausea in your belly. You might have eaten a big plate of food but still fifteen minutes later feel ravenous and hungry. You could be craving high fat, sugary sweets after eating a lot of salt. Record these physical feelings in a notebook citing what you ate (without letting the ego step in and cast judgment).
Not only will you have a record of what your body does and doesn’t like, but you’ll be better able to respond to future cravings and urges to nourish the body in a way it really wants – because the messages our bodies send are in direct alignment with what it needs to nourish and thrive.
Personally, I finally worked out that nuts make me tired, so instead of snacking on them throughout the day to get me between meals, I swapped them for a banana which gives me natural energy. I also became accustomed to that energy rush after drinking a big juice full of goodness in the mornings, so I gave up coffee and no longer need it.
When is a time you have truly listened and tapped into what your body is telling you?