Things I Learned By Listening To My Body

This post comes from our Australia contributor, Miann Scanlan. Follow along with her on Instagram @freepeopleaustralia!

When did we get so caught up in trying to eat what the overwhelming surplus of conflicting health information says is right, that we stopped eating in a way that’s right for us?

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. But with so many fad “life style diets” and health trends, it’s no wonder we seem to be more in tune with what we’re told by the outside world rather than what our own bodies are trying to tell 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. To learn more on how to become more in tune with your body, read this.

Most of all, I believe yoga was the catalyst that helped me come in to my body and learn how to instinctively listen. There’s just something about connecting the mind to the body and the breath; learning how to become acquainted with and move into every corner of your body. I’ve spoken to many friends who have been on a similar yoga journey, and the truths their bodies have told them once they started to listen have been truly profound.

Here are a few things I learned from listening to my body. I want to emphasize again that we are all different, what I’ve been told by my body won’t necessarily be the same lessons you have to learn from yours. But that’s all part of the fun, loving all the twists and turns of the journey and finding joy within the beauty of the secrets that our amazing bodies reveal to us along the way.

listen to your body

Nuts make me really tired

It might be a bit of a no-brainer to many, but to me, this was my all-time favourite snack since I was a kid. Don’t even get me started on how much I love pepitas! I was in Bali for two months last year for a week long raw vegan yoga retreat. After the retreat, I fell back into a few of my regular habits which I thought were healthy, namely snacking on nuts. But I soon realized that each time I ate my beloved seeds and nuts, I was tired to the point of wanting to nap.

Turns out nuts take far more digestive energy to break down than fresh produce like the raw dishes I had been eating at the retreat. Foods that are dense in nature with high levels of omega 6 fats are strenuous on the digestive system. Now, I only have nuts and seeds to add some weight to a light salad.

listen to your body

Cacao isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

About two years after getting my diet pretty well in check, I jumped on the raw cacao band wagon and thought it was too good to be true! Chocolate vegan smoothies for breakfast? Yes please! But again, after assessing how I felt after adding cacao to my diet, something wasn’t quite right. I did some reading into the supposed superfood and found that for people with a sensitive stomach like mine or sensitivities to anxiety, cacao is just another nicely packaged marketing tool in the health industry.

While high in antioxidants and magnesium, the overall nutritional value of the food isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Many of the chemicals that cacao stimulates (serotonin, ananadamide, dopamine, and endorphins) all in the same manner over-stimulate the autonomic nervous system and adrenal gland, thrusting the body into a state of fight or flight, which for anyone who has dealt with anxiety knows…this is very undesirable.

listen to your body

Salty foods bring on sugar cravings

While I’m not too sure if there is any research to support this one, this is simply something I’ve noticed about my own patterns after I worked to cut out a lot of excess sodium and salty foods from my diet. Eventually I had just about eliminated adding regular table salt to everything and instead replaced it with fresh lemon. But on the odd occasion I found I was still craving salt, which was probably my body’s way of asking for the minerals, so I allowed myself pink Himalayan rock salt. However, not long after a meal I’d have a hankering for sugar! I’m still trying to get to the bottom of this one! If you have any clues let me know in the comments below.

I’m allergic to dairy

This has been the biggest and most profound discovery to date. Growing up chugging milk straight from the carton, feasting on cheese and creamy yogurt goodness, I was in denial for a few months before I started to accept and adapt to my allergy. My whole life I’ve had nothing but problems with my digestion. Doctors thought I had IBS or an E. Coli imbalance in my gut flora – I went through countless doctors, countless blood tests, and endless medications. Never had it occurred to anyone, including myself, that I was putting something in my body that it didn’t like. I decided to give it up for a month, and the changes in my energy, digestion, skin, weight etc were astounding!

Have there been times when you’ve listened to what your body has had to say? What did it tell you?

Find Miann at & instagram @miannscanlan and @freepeopleaustralia


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7 years ago

I’ve been doing yoga for quite a while now and it has helped me a lot to balance my body :)

xx Cecil //

7 years ago

Great post! I have the same issue when it comes to salt & sugar. Carrots have a bit of natural sodium in them which seems to reduce a salty craving. I could have brainwashed myself, but it really does seem to work! When it comes to sugar, I have been baking sweet potatoes & drizzling raw honey & cinnamon all over them. It adds extra sweetness to the sweet potato, and curbs a carb and sugar craving all at once. Hope this is somewhat helpful!

7 years ago

I had a similar experience when I discovered my lactose intolerance & whet allergy. I had grown up drinking a glass of milk every day (sooooo disgusting in retrospect!), but I had always suffered from “mystery nausea”. Every time I ate I would feel sick, even when I was very young, & I thought that was how everyone experienced digestion, because it had been that way my whole life. Then, when I was about 16, I decided to try eating vegan for a month or two, just to see if it was right for me. I was still randomly feeling sick but it was better than before. (it would be 4 more years before I finally figured out the wheat allergy.) When I started adding animal products back into my diet, I immediately knew dairy was the problem. I put milk in my cereal & got sick like I had the flu! It was kind of frightening to have a strong reaction like that to something I had eaten on a daily basis! Now I know yoghurt & kefir are the only dairy products that are safe for me. Wheat was a lot harder to figure out. I had to try tons of odd diets until I finally eliminated the right thing, got tested negative for celiac disease, gluten intolerance, & FINALLY discovered that it was wheat in particular that I was allergic too. If I had known to listen to my body I could have saved myself years of anguish.

7 years ago

I didn’t know that about nuts…it makes sense though!
I do eat a good amount of cheese and yogurt, but I have switched to Soy Milk over the last year. I actually think it tastes better and it’s way creamier in pasta sauces and chai tea lattes. ;)
It’s amazing how little changes can affect the body so much… I know for me, doing yoga just once a week opens my mind up, and gives me energy. I think sometimes people think they have to make extreme changes in their diet to become healthier/skinnier/etc but just eliminating a few bad habits can make all the difference!


7 years ago

Very interesting perspective on some wellness. Yoga has certainly been instrumental for me learning to listen to my body, the way it moves, its abilities. Love this post!

Warm Regards,

7 years ago

I’m on a similar journey of learning to listen to and accept what my body tells me. I love nuts and seeds. This year, they have been my go-to snack, but recently I realized how ~off they can make me feel. Sometimes bloated, sometimes tired. I did some research and found that it might be their high phytic acid content that makes them so disagreeable with my body. To reduce that, I’ve been soaking my nuts and seeds in a solution of sea salt and pure water for several hours and then drying them out. Now, I feel like my body is more accepting of the nuts and seeds, and I haven’t had any issues. I recommend you do some research on the benefits of soaking nuts and seeds, and also sprouting. This might help with your problem.

Also, giving up dairy has been one of the hardest things for me to do (I love cheese), but it is undeniable that I am better off without it. I’ve really been loving kefir as an alternative to the pasteurized yogurt I used to eat so frequently.

I’d been out of touch with my body for so long, but I’m happy that it’s still alive (and well) and talking me through things. You are so right when you say, “The wisdom our bodies hold is truly profound.”

Dee |

7 years ago

Great insights! I had no idea that nuts took so much digestive energy. I’m allergic to dairy too, and it is a BUMMER!

7 years ago

Nice post! It’s crazy how, as you pointed out, there’s so much conflicting information and so many diet fads that come and go. It’s hard to know who to listen to – but listening to your body just makes sense.

Check out my post about maintaining healthy nutritional habits while on the road!

7 years ago

There are so many diet fads it is hard to get the real information. Personally, I haven’t noticed nuts taking away my energy but then again I haven’t paid much attention. Slowly adding and removing foods from your diet seems like the only way to feel the effects. Thanks for the great information.

7 years ago

This is a great post! I’ve always had dietary issues as well and have considered giving up dairy but always fail when it comes to cheese and ice cream…this may motivate me to really give it a shot this month though!


7 years ago

I love this! There are so many articles out there that I see everyday telling me what I need to eat, what new “superfood” should be in my diet, and what I should substitute for other items in my kitchen…
But I’ve found, like you, that there isn’t a black-and-white health formula for everyone, and when I listened to my body, I learned so much (and feel so much better!) For instance, I’ve tried going gluten free, but I’ve found that I have clearer skin if I eat organic, non-gmo wheat. And I tried a high-protein-and-grain-free thing, but I’ve discovered that I have way more energy and healthier digestion if I avoid meat.
It’s all about listening to those natural “cravings”!

<3 dani

7 years ago

I had the exact same problem with dairy!
Since I’ve switched to rice milk and cut out cheese I’ve felt so much better and stopped feeling nauseous before bed time. I think it’s so important to understand your body’s wants and needs but unfortunately not many people take the time to do so!

7 years ago

I always crave salty then sweet foods, it turns out I have adrenal fatigue. It was only thanks to a holistic doctor that I found out, maybe that explains the salt & sugar cravings for you too?

7 years ago

This is a terrific article and something i really need to commit some time too. Interestingly, its whenever i eat sweet foods i feel the need to have something salty!

7 years ago

I’m taking sea salt to help my adrenal exhaustion, and I get more cravings for sweets after, too. Adrenal/chronic fatigue makes you want all the sugar to get its energy back, but it’s a trap. Daily sea salt with my water is helping me absorb hydration and sleep better (I have anxiety and insomnia, so anything helps)

7 years ago

nuts should be soaked prior to eating. makes it easier to digest

7 years ago

i was just thinking about the same things today! i found out if i drink cacao later that 11am i can’t sleep well at night and i’m allergic to dairy too, but i was living on milk products since i know my mind cos i was told milk is healthy, yogurt is heathy and i just love cheese! i’m also alergic to gluten but i ate whole wheat breads and everything cos i thought that is good for my body and all but was just poisoning myself while i thought i’m nourishing myself. and i’m the same with sweet and salty, i can’t have one without the other