Do You Know Your Body’s Likes and Dislikes?

By Debra L. Butterfield © 2012

Have you ever caught yourself saying, “Doctor, just give me a pill that’ll make this go away”? I have. More than once. Unfortunately, this give-me-a-pill mentality plagues today’s society, to which the rising occurrences of prescription medication addiction attest. The fact is we rely, perhaps a bit too much, on doctors for the answers to our health problems and expect them to prescribe the best drug for getting better.

But often getting better isn’t that simple. I can help my doctor and myself by knowing my body—when it’s up and when it’s down, what it likes and doesn’t like, and why. An important consideration in these observations is the food I eat. Unless you experience the typical symptoms of food allergies,
doctors rarely consider whether the foods you eat cause your illness, or in the case of chronic illness, aggravate its symptoms. I’ve had doctors react with skepticism when I told them certain foods make me sick. But I know what I put into my body and what happens afterward; they don’t.

Over ten years ago when I started suffering headaches on a regular basis at the same time every day, my chiropractor suggested it might be food related—the soy protein powder I was mixing with milk every morning for my breakfast. He suggested I quit the soy drink for five days, and then try it again. In those five days the headaches went away. I haven’t had a soy protein drink since then. He also recommended I keep a food diary.

The food diary allowed me to determine what foods, soy-based or otherwise, were causing my migraines. Years later when a new problem reared its head I determined I was lactose intolerant. In fact, after I stopped using milk, I improved so rapidly I knew immediately milk was the offender. Yes, I miss eating ice cream, but no, I don’t miss the nausea, stomach cramps and diarrhea that came with it.

Keeping a food diary is simple. Note the foods you eat and drink, and the time of day you had them. Also note your symptoms and the time of day experienced. Once a week review your diary and look for patterns. Are you eating starches every day? Beverages with artificial sweeteners? Do you feel achy at the same time every day? Are you depressed part of the day, but fine the rest? If you see an item that may be aggravating your symptoms, go without it for at least five days and then try it again. If you feel better while not eating or drinking the offending item and then experience worsening symptoms after trying it again, it is very likely this food aggravates your illness. If after 30 days nothing stands out then at least you have determined that foods aren’t causing/aggravating your situation.

If food isn’t an issue, consider looking at your stress levels and environment. Ask yourself things like “are my symptoms worse at work, but fine at home?” Or vice versa? Pay attention to how you’re feeling, where and when. Each piece of the puzzle helps build the big picture of your overall health and may point to factors that are adversely impacting your health.

Don’t rely on only your doctor to make you feel better. You live with your body 24/7. Discover it. Learn from it. And give it every possible advantage you can to perform to the best of its ability.

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