I find a lot of times, patients (including myself) start to lose their mind-body connection when it comes to food. With science supporting the addictive potential of processed foods such as soda and chips, we are starting to not only lose our ability to realize when we are full, but also the ability to realize the impact food is having on our body.
Let me start by my own experience. I used to love coffee. The taste, the smell and the social experience surrounded by drinking coffee. Now, I’m by no means a coffee expert, but I did know that it woke me up when I was tired, tasted great and was a great way to connect with friends. When I was in naturopathic medical school, we were told how sensitive people can be to coffee. It can irritate the gastric lining causing heartburn, cause diarrhea/indigestion, cause anxiety and in the long-term, make your body even more exhausted than when you began drinking coffee. I shrugged this off because I never felt different from coffee other than being awake and a bit wired. So that meant I wasn’t sensitive to it ……right?
Later that year, I decided to go on a detox program where you eliminate foods that commonly cause sensitivities in the North American population. Such foods were (but not limited to) dairy, wheat, coffee, refined sugar, and eggs. This process gives your body time to heal and repair. After you’re supposed to introduce each food you’ve eliminated one-by-one, like a science experiment and see how you feel with the food compared to how you’ve been feeling on the detox diet. What I found out astonished me. I remember sitting in class when I was reintroducing coffee and feeling an INTENSE bout of anxiety for no apparent reason. Midterms were over, I had no real life stress at that time, my grades were good, and I wasn’t even THINKING about anything stressful. The only thing that I had done was go to a coffee shop and order a big cup of dark coffee. I knew the coffee gave me some digestive issues, but now that I had a baseline of calmness (from not drinking coffee on the diet) to compare to, and I realized the affect it had on my body. And it wasn’t just that time; every instance after that where I drank coffee, it became more evident the effects it had on me. What I realized was that we can’t expect to hear what our bodies are saying if we aren’t actively listening. A debilitating stomach ache shouldn’t be what it takes for someone to take a second glance at what they ate. Especially in our fast-paced world where lunch is eaten at your desk in 15 minutes and where a lot of processed snacks actually impair our ability to know when we’re full, being introspective about food is key. Taking time to do a detox, or just being more cognizant of how your body is feeling from the foods you eat can go a long way.
Are there any foods you had a similar experience with? How do you tune into your body? Let’s support each other in the comments below.
Dr. Rahim Kanji
Dr. Rahim Kanji is a Naturopathic Doctor practicing in Toronto, Canada. He has a passion for evidence-based natural medicine, specifically empowering his patients to make nutritional changes which create dramatic impacts to their health. For more information, visit his website at www.rahimkanjind.com.