Did you know that your body is smarter than your brain?
I know it sucks to break out on the morning of an important day (or heck, any day) and I know it’s frustrating to no longer fit into your skinny jeans or feel like everything you try on looks terrible. (I’ve been there).
But what if the blemishes, the weight that won’t budge, the sugar cravings, and all those “bad things” were actually “good things”? What if they were your body’s SOS signal, that it’s time to wake up and figure out what the heck is really going on with your body?!
You see, your body is really like the most amazing supercomputer on the planet. You don’t have to think about breathing, you don’t have to flip a switch to make your heart pump, and you don’t have to remember to sneeze or cough… your body does all of those things, and then some, naturally. Effortlessly, even.
Your body’s sole purpose is to keep you alive by maintaining homeostasis, or the ideal conditions in your body. If it’s too cold, you body will shiver to keep you warm. When it’s too hot, it will sweat to cool you down. Nothing really happens spontaneously in the body. There is always a cause.
So, it only makes sense, then, that the blemish on your chin is not bad luck, the extra weight is not bad genes, and your heart burn isn’t coming from the fact that your stomach acid just likes to hang out in your esophagus. These things are happening for a reason. As with any machine, certain inputs produce certain outputs. And sadly, we are never taught how to interpret them and remedy them.
Your Body’s SOS Signals
Weight gain is typically the result of either A) eating the wrong foods or or B) being uber-stressed and unhappy about something (in this case, it doesn’t matter how well you eat, you are setting your body up to store fat). Contrary to what you may think, weight gain has nothing to do with “willpower,” “time,” or lack of exercise. And counting calories? Sorry, but that’s outdated science.
There is a huge misconception about what is actually healthy (diet coke and low fat cheese, for example, are not healthy, nor are they even better than regular coke and full-fat cheese). And what makes things even more complicated? Not only should your diet be unique based on your body type, it will also likely change over time. So what worked for you last year, may not work for you this year, and it is imperative that you ditch any dietary dogma, and simply learn how to listen to your body and feed it what it needs.
Inability to Lose Weight/ Hit a Weight Loss Plateau:
An inability to lose weight despite “dieting” often stems from the fact that there is a huge misconception surrounding what is actually healthy, and what is not (hint: “diet” food is never healthy). Hitting a plateau can be the sign of toxin overload. (Most Western doctors would likely call this quackery, but Eastern Medicine like Ayurveda, which may I add, has a few thousand years on western medicine, recognizes toxin overload as a very real and serious cause of imbalance and ill health).
Just by living on planet Earth, you will always be exposed to toxins: they are in our food, our water, our air, our beauty products, and more. The body usually does a good job of filtering them out and excreting them, but when it gets overloaded, toxins are stored in our fat…and if your body was to burn the fat, all those toxins would be released into your bloodstream and wreak havoc, so your body holds on to the toxins (and the fat) until they can safely be excreted. Doing a food cleanse (not some crazy juice or water fast) can help your body process and excrete the toxins naturally, allowing you to continue losing weight.
Gas / Bloating:
If you sometimes look down and it looks like you’re having an air-baby, you likely ate something that’s not good for your body OR your digestive flora is off-balance. There are two steps to fixing this: removing the food that causes the bloating and resetting your digestive tract and internal flora via cleanses and temporary supplementation, like probiotics, enzymes and/or herbs to repair the digestive lining.
NOTE: If you get gas from eating healthy things, like broccoli or beans, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are bad for your body, it means that your digestive system is off and needs to be reset, so it can digest them properly without gas or bloating.
A sure sign you are eating something you shouldn’t be, or that you need to find an effective method to manage your stress.
Consistent diarrhea can be traced back to a few different things: food allergies or sensitivities (in which case, you need to remove the food from your diet), parasites which absolutely must be treated (and these are way more common than you think… in fact, I had them!), “IBS” which tends to be triggered by specific (and often unrealized) food allergies and can typically be radically improved by changing the diet. See a gastroenterologist to determine if there is a a specific pathogen causing the problem, and keep an accurate food diary to see what sets it off, and also try an elimination diet.
You are not eating your vegetables. When things start backing up, you most likely are not eating enough fiber-rich foods or drinking enough water. You ideally want to be doing number two at least once a day, if not twice or thrice even (generally no more than that though). Supplementation with probiotics can be helpful, but replacing a portion of animal products (which are devoid of any fiber) with plant-based foods (which contain tons of fiber) should be the first plan of action. Get into the habit to eating fruit or vegetables at every meal, and drinking plenty of water (at least 2 liters) throughout the day. Chronic constipation can lead to a host of other problems, from breakouts to auto-immune issues down the line, so take care of this, stat. Eastern medicine tends to favor the opinion that disease starts in the digestive tract.
Emotional / Stress-Eating:
Food may be involved, but there is no food remedy for this one. The only way to stop emotional or stress eating is to deal with the emotions and stress that are causing it head on. You don’t necessarily need a shrink (although they can be helpful!), however you do need a different perspective and a more effective way for dealing with your thoughts, feelings, and external stressors (which will ALWAYS be there). The number one book I recommend to my clients for dealing with stress: Loving What Is by Byron Katie. Your life will never be the same.
Forget creams and lotions, acne is most effectively treated in the kitchen. Consistent breakouts are a sure sign you are eating inflammatory foods. Now, of course there are some topical things that can cause breakouts, like makeup, but you can usually tell when your breakout is coming from the inside or the outside. Those painful red bumps are coming from your diet. Topical medications may temporarily clear up the problem, but if you are continually eating foods that cause the breakouts, you are going to continually break out!
The only way to get rid of acne, then, is to change your diet. This one is truly a personal topic for me, as I suffered from acne for years, and actually being able to see the very real (and seemingly instantaneous) changes that my diet had on my skin is what initially sparked my insatiable thirst for nutritional knowledge and led me to ultimately becoming a Health Coach!
You are doing things (smoking, drinking, sun-bathing, poor diet, etc.) that are breaking down your collagen faster than your body can produce it. There are specific foods you can eat that help the body produce more collagen, but remember, you also have to cut out (or at least minimize) activities that rapidly break down collagen and age you.
Cravings of any type are a sure SOS. Sugar cravings can come from a lack of specific nutrients or foods in the diet or stress/emotional eating. Adding in foods that offset the deficiency and dealing with the stress are the most effective way to get over sugar. And yes, it may sound far fetched, but you can completely get off of refined sugar, and not even miss it.
Need a coffee (or two or three) just to get through your day? If caffeine is the only thing keeping you awake, than you are taxing your adrenals and need to step off the coffee hamster wheel ASAP. You are relying on it to give you energy, but the funny thing is, it is the culprit that is zapping it! It can take up to two weeks, but you can actually wean yourself off without headaches or withdrawal symptoms.
Our bodies were meant to be awake when it’s light out. If you are feeling sluggish and tired throughout the day, and you are sleeping decently, then it’s possible you’re eating something that is zapping your energy. The only way to get your energy back, is to figure out what food it is via an elimination diet, and then remove the energy-zapping food from your diet for good.
If your body is sending out an SOS, and you would like more support and detailed guidance on remedying it, I’d be honored to help you. I address all of these issues in my healthy eating program, called SVELTE.*(These are general guidelines and not meant to replace medical advice.)
Maria Marlowe is a holistic nutrition and wellness coach who uses real food to help her clients improve their health, weight, and skin. She offers a healthy eating meal plan that teaches you how to batch cook, as well as one to clear up acne. She has ongoing group workshops both in NYC and online, and writes healthy and delicious plant-based recipes for her popular blog. She is also the author of the #1 New Release on Amazon, The Real Food Grocery Guide, the most practical guide to selecting the healthiest foods, without going broke, which has been praised by Dr. Oz and InStyle magazines. You can find her on instagram @mariamarlowe.