What food you put in your body is probably the single most important decision you make every day. A lot of us have that down and always make very healthy choices. Or so we think…
Unfortunately, what’s a healthy choice for me may not be a healthy choice for you. Everyone reacts differently to certain foods. For the most part you can’t go wrong with lean protein, vegetables and berries. Those foods seem to be tolerated very well by the majority of people. Once you veer off that list it gets a little bit more complicated.
Foods like grains, eggs, nuts, certain fruits, legumes and dairy can all have negative effects on people’s digestive systems. When your digestion gets messed up so does everything else.
So what I suggest is that for a week or so you simply keep a food journal. Write down what you ate and then make note of how you felt during the 60-90 minutes following that meal. What you discover may surprise you.
I’ll use myself as an example.
I love sweet potatoes, but when I really cued in on everything I was eating and recorded it all with notes I realized that sweet potatoes make me feel a lot worse than white, red or Yukon gold potatoes.
Quinoa gives me an instant headache.
Oatmeal just makes me feel blah and I have no energy.
Nothing makes me feel better than red meat. I feel incredible after eating it and have zero digestion issues.
Eggs are one of my favorite foods yet if I eat them too much I get a similar (though nowhere near as severe) feeling that I get from eating oatmeal. One tip for egg lovers is to make sure you don’t eat them every day and to always change the way you cook them (hard boiled, fried, scrambled, etc.).
I love nuts and nut butters, but unfortunately I have adverse reactions to many of these. Some cause digestive issues, others cause my throat to get scratchy.
Same with apples. The only apple I can eat is a Pink Lady. If I eat other types of apples my throat gets itchy and slightly swollen and my stomach just doesn’t feel right.
Many of these reactions aren’t the end of the world so I continue to eat these foods (eggs, nuts and apples; never really quinoa or oats anymore) occasionally just because I enjoy them so much. You don’t have to give up every single pleasure in your life.
The point of this little exercise is to identify what causes adverse reactions in your body. If you eat something and it causes your nose to run, as do certain foods I eat, that means you’re not meant to eat that food. If a food doesn’t agree with you, sure you can deal with excess mucus production for a little while or a scratchy throat, but just imagine how much better you would feel if you eliminated all the foods you can’t tolerate. You’d be unstoppable because you’d be operating at 100% and firing on all cylinders.
You see, any time your body has to react to an outside stressor like that you’re taking vital energy away that could be used more efficiently elsewhere, like recovering from workouts, etc.
So take the time and do this for a week. Then cut out the foods that are causing you problems and note how much better you feel. Some may make such a big difference that you’ll vow to never eat them again. Others may be your favorites and even though they cause some minor problems you’ll allow yourself to have them for a treat on occasion.
It’s up to you but I think it’s very important to at least know what is causing you problems.
If you really wanna take it up a notch do a full blown elimination diet and get rid of all foods that are known to cause allergies or inflammation then gradually add them back in one at a time.
It’s a short time to sacrifice considering you’ve got the rest of your life ahead of you. And every one of those days could be a lot better if cut out the stuff that’s making you feel like crap.
Don’t be fooled into thinking this is too simple to make a huge difference. This could be a lot more significant than changing your training split or improving your squat technique. Digestive health is crucially important to how you look, feel and perform.
Don’t ignore it.