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Friday, May 23, 2014

What Foods Are Eating You?

photo by mst7022 - CC BY 2.0
Eating is something we do every day and sometimes even take for granted. Some of us also have spoiled our taste buds and are so set in our ways that we find it hard, impossible or unnecessary to modify our diets. It is usually for that reason that we don't attribute a new, sick feeling to something we have always eaten in the past. It is possible to get new sensitivities to old foods. I am living proof! Cue lactose intolerance, gluten sensitivity, and soy allergy. Really, body?! I can still eat gluten, but I turn into a raging bitch for about three days. Different foods have an effect on our moods, but that is a different post entirely.

We are all unique with unique bodies and internal plumbing. What is good for you, may not be good for your neighbor. What was good for you yesterday may not be what will be good for you tomorrow. Maybe you have been feeling mucky lately and not sure why. Maybe you feel good, but are not against the idea that it is possible for you to feel even better.  Whatever the case, here are some simple things you can do to figure out how to be gentler on your tummy...

1. Keep a Food Diary. 
This is the first and most important step. Writing down what you ate, when you ate it, and notes next to certain foods that were sweet, artificially sweetened, fatty, fried and such.

photo by epsos .deCC BY 2.0
45-70 minutes after you eat, gauge how you feel. Some things you eat in the evening, may even affect you the next day. (Ice cream for dessert makes my next morning a blast, literally). Write down whether the meal made you feel irritable, sleepy, thirsty, energetic, gassy, crampy, head foggy, etc. 

2. Cut Something Out For a While
Whether it be dairy, meat, eggs or gluten, pick one thing to be free of for about 3-4 weeks at a time. I recommend starting with the animal products. Try going dairy-less or meat-less first and mark it down in your food diary. If you want to slowly omit several things at one time, that is your prerogative.

Aside from animal products and gluten, there are other things to consider. Depending on your symptoms, (if any) check out the FODMAPs method. FODMAPS stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides and Polyols. These are small carbohydrate chemicals that are fermented by the normal bacteria living in your gut. The thing is, this fermentation process can cause gas, bloating, cramps and the poops! Oh lordy lord lord, the poops!

Foods that contain these types of sugars are:
  • Fructose
  • Broccoli, Artichokes and Asparagus
  • Apples, Peaches and Pears
  • Chickpeas
  • Dairy / Lactose
*Note: Eggs are considered lactose. If you are lactose intolerant, it is very common for eggs to also give you the same reaction.

3. Eat Smaller Meals More Often
Don't bombard your tummy. It may be a good idea to NOT mix many things that you are planning to cut out in one sitting, or one day. For example, if you are cutting out eggs, having a breakfast of grilled cheese and ham washed down with chocolate milk won't help you nail down who the culprit is if you felt whack after eating it.

Instead, opting for smaller, less "cluttered" meals gives your digestive system and intestines a break, and you more room to interpret and investigate.

4.  Avoid GMO's
Foods that have been genetically modified are beginning to disagree with a lot of people. Genetically modified foods also use more herbicides and pesticides, or produce their own naturally. The top genetically modified organisms are cotton, corn, soy, sugar beets, alfalfa, zucchini, yellow squashpapaya, and aspartame, which is made from genetically modified bacteria and linked to certain cancers and stomach issues. Remember corn includes other products made from corn such as corn starch, canola oil, corn syrup. Sugar (unless specifically labeled cane or palm) is made from sugar beets.

Non organic meateggs, milk and cheese also contain GMO's as genetically modified corn and feed are given to farm animals. There is a higher rate of lethargy, sickness and death among animals that are fed GMO grains over non-GMO. Non organic milk also contains anti-biotics and growth hormones unless otherwise noted on the label. You are what you eat, and you are what your food eats! Try to get organic meat, dairy, and eggs whenever possible. If you are worried about cost, eating less animal products and processed foods during the week puts more money in the budget for higher quality ingredients. I basically live on the reduced produce section of my local supermarkets. For 10 bucks I eat good all week.

Check ingredient labels thoroughly for all of the aforementioned ingredients. Corn, Soy and Sugar are in MANY processed foods in boxes and cans especially. If your food contains these things, but the label does not specifically say No-GMOs or contain the Non-GMO Project label, then it contains conventional animal products and produce that has been genetically modified from its original state and chemical makeup.

photo from drleonardcoldwell.com / GMO FACTS

Get organic whenever possible to reduce your intake of foreign substances. Pesticides and herbicides are beginning to be found in human bodies, as well as in the blood of unborn fetus' and the breast milk of nursing mothers. Conventional fruits and vegetables are treated with these chemicals. This includes fruits and vegetables that are in canned, frozen and package.


5. Relax!
Bharadvaja's Twist - Yoga Journal
Stress has a profound affect on our body from weight gain, to weight loss. From high blood pressure to hair loss. Its all over the place, and just bad juju. Get your meditation and yoga on. There are some Yoga poses that actually have some positive effects on your digestive system, so it definitely won't hurt (as long as you aren't trying some crazy advanced contortionist stuff, that is!)

So there you have it. Isolating certain foods, and playing detective with what I ate and how it made me feel are helping me better understand my body and it's needs. After all, the point of all living things on this planet is to THRIVE. If we are uncomfortable, irritable, gassy, or running to the bathroomy, we are not functioning to the best of our abilities!

PLEASE NOTE: I am in no means a Doctor. I am a regular person eating my way to good health and sharing things that have worked for me. If you have bad symptoms, and aren't sure if they are an intolerance, or wonder if you have an actual food allergy, it is always wise to contact your primary care physician and look into it.

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