It is vital to learn to listen to your body to give it the nutrients it requires at every moment of your life. You learn to eat by listening to your body by respecting your cravings, sense of smell, taste, and satisfaction with your food. Repairing your body requires very different nutrients from those it uses for cleansing itself. Animal foods are generally building while plant foods are generally cleansing. You could never guess at any given moment what you need — leave it to your body.
Depending on the functions your body is performing, the season of the year, and the level of stress you are under, your body switches between different types of energy production: using glucose or fats. Only your body knows what it different nutrients it requires for different types of energy production. Only your body knows the amounts of protein, fat, and carbohydrates it needs at any given time.
There is a myth in nutritional circles that acidic is bad and alkaline is good. Truth is, you need a balance. Different foods have been classified to be ‘alkalizing’ (such as fruit and vegetables) or ‘acidifying’ (such as grains and meats). This simply is not true. Your body shifts from alkaline to acid states all the time depending on many factors: activity of your autonomic nervous system, the type of energy production at the time, your hormonal profile at the time, respiration, kidney function, many of which change according to daily cycle, season, weather and your activity. Depending on all those factors, an apple, which is considered to be an ‘alkalizing’ food, can make your body acid. Vice versa, a piece of meat, which is considered to be ‘acidifying’ can make your body alkaline. Only your body knows how to use foods at any given moment of your life; only your body has the inner intelligence to make these impossibly complex calculations.
Then there is the water and electrolyte balance in the body, shifting all the time depending on many factors. Our mainstream medicine pronounced salt to be ‘evil’ and recommends reducing its consumption. Processed salt (the contributor to hypertension) should not be consumed just as all processed foods should not be consumed. Natural unprocessed salt (such as Himalayan crystal salt or Celtic salt) contains more than 90 minerals and not only is good for us, it is essential for our bodies to maintain the right water/electrolyte balance. Then there is the myth that we need to drink lots of water every day, even different amounts in liters-per-day are prescribed in nutritional literature. Following that advice blindly can get you into a lot of trouble, if your body is low on electrolytes and needs salt instead of water. No matter how clever we think we are, we cannot calculate how much salt or water we should consume at any given time: only your body knows that, and it has excellent ways of telling you what it needs – thirst for water, desire for salt or any particular food, which may have the right mineral composition. Make no mistake, your body knows the nutrient composition of foods on this planet.
These are just a few factors to demonstrate to you that no laboratory, no clever doctor or scientist and no clever book can calculate for you what you should be eating at 8am, or 1pm, or 6pm or in between. Only your body has the unsurpassed intelligence to figure out what it needs at any given moment of your life, as your nutritional needs change all the time: every minute, every hour and every day.
How do we feed ourselves properly? The answer is to get back in touch with your body’s inner intelligence. If your body needs protein, fats, carbohydrates, some vitamin B12 and a little vitamin E, how would it let you know? Even if your body had a way of letting you know all this information, how would you go about providing this mix of nutrients? How are you to calculate all those factors and provide the right amounts? Our senses of smell, taste, desire for a particular food and a sense of satisfaction after eating it. So, when your body needs a particular mix of nutrients, it will give you a desire for a particular food, which contains just that right mix; this particular food will smell divine to you and taste wonderful, and you will feel satisfied after eating it. But in an hour or two, the needs of your body will change and you will have a desire for another food, which nutritionally will serve you correctly.
The desire for a particular food is completely normal and should not be resisted as long as it is for a healthy food. The desire for a food is the way your body tells you what it needs. So, when you get hungry to try to figure out which food you are craving. The answer should come immediately. Desire is your inner intelligence talking to you, letting you know what it nutritionally needs to keep you healthy and energetic. If you listen to your desire every time you eat, you will enjoy good digestion of that food. It will provide you with the nutrients your body needs at that moment because you have eaten it at the right time, just when your body asked for it.
Sadly, people’s desire for food has been hijacked by addictive and taste-altering chemicals in processed foods, like MSG. Processed ‘foods’ are specifically engineered with chemicals to make them addictive. Listening to your body is only applicable with cravings for whole foods. You must stop eating processed foods for your subtle sense taste and desire for natural food to return.
The Sense of Smell
The sense of smell gives you a lot of information about food: is it safe to eat, is it full of chemicals or bacteria, is it fresh or moldy, and most importantly, does it meet your body’s nutritional needs? Smell everything before putting it in your mouth. If it is the right food for you at the moment, it will smell very appealing. If it is not the right food, it will smell unappetizing or repulsive. Listen to your sense of smell.
Many people have a damaged sense of smell due to use of synthetic perfumes. All man-made scents, such as laundry detergents, home cleaning products, air fresheners and perfumes block the smell receptors in your nose and subject you to cancer-causing chemicals called phthalates. Your nose has a set number of olfactory receptors. Once a chemical blocks them you cannot smell it anymore. Laundry detergents use very powerful perfumes in order to disguise the unpleasant smell of chemicals in the detergent. Chemicals are even used in unscented products to cover up the bad smell. People who use them regularly are unable to smell them anymore because these people are exposed to this smell all the time from their clothes, towels, and bedding. These people cannot smell their food properly either, as their laundry detergent permanently occupy the smell receptors in their nose. Restore your sense of smell by getting rid all smelly perfumed chemicals. Replace your laundry detergent with a nonscented natural one. Do not use any perfumes, scented personal care products or air fresheners. Your sense of smell will return.
The Sense of Taste
If food is not pleasurable, then it is the wrong food for you at the moment no matter how healthy it is supposed to be! Listen to your sense of taste and respect it, as it is a major channel of communication of your body’s innate intelligence.
Consumption of processed foods will dull your taste buds. Chemicals in these foods are not only toxic, but can alter your perception of taste for a long time. It is imperative to stop consuming processed and fast foods in order to restore your normal sense of taste. Excessive consumption of processed foods will destroy your desire for the more subtle flavors in natural foods. Many nutritional deficiencies can alter your taste buds (e.g. zinc deficiency causes you to lose sense of taste). As you start consuming a natural wholesome diet your sense of taste will return. Toxins in your mouth can also alter your perception of taste. Brush your teeth once a week with cold pressed olive oil (or any other cold pressed oil) instead of toothpaste. This Ayurvedic procedure called ‘oil pulling’ will detoxify the mouth. It is best to have mercury fillings removed, as they can alter your sense of taste.
The Sense of Satisfaction
If you have eaten a meal appropriate for your body’s nutritional needs at the time, you will feel satisfied. There will be no cravings for something else, only a nice comfortable feeling of satisfaction.
It is important not to overeat, so you don’t feel ‘stuffed’. If you tune into your sense of pleasure from food, then you will not overeat because you would stop eating as soon as the food stops being pleasurable. ‘Pleasure on’ and ‘pleasure off’ are signals your body gives as to what it needs. Your sense of pleasure will keep you eating as long as your body still needs the nutrients from that particular food. The food will stop giving you pleasure when you’ve had enough.
Cravings for sweet foods are common amongst people with unstable blood sugar levels who eat a lot of sugar, flour, and processed foods. It takes time to normalize blood sugar. The most effective way to deal with it is to increase your fat consumption, particularly animal fats. Consume plenty of animal fats with your meals.
As the natural foods on this planet have been designed, your inner body intelligence knows their composition and knows what foods to choose for particular needs. All we have to do is treat this intelligence with respect. Use your senses of smell, taste, desire for food and satisfaction from eating it to guide you in your decisions when to eat, what foods to eat, and in what combinations. And remember, you are unique, so what suits your friend or partner may not suit you at all.
Have any of these tips helped you eat better? Anything I left out that you’d like to add? Please tell me your story by leaving a comment below.