(Before you read this, it might be a good idea to read my post about how the only “diet” you will ever need to follow is to listen to your body.)
Why is it so important to listen to your body?
I read a quote once that talked about how humans, as we are now, are simply overfed and under-nourished. As a whole, humans are deficient in many key nutrients and, as you would already know, the obesity epidemic is becoming more and more problematic every day.
I wholeheartedly believe that some of the world’s current obesity and health problems lie within the fact that we have forgotten how to listen to our bodies, or we choose not to. Fast food has replaced fresh, macronutrient dense food, because of convenience, price and – arguably – taste. Our tastebuds have adapted to processed junk foods that bring little nutritional value to our bodies to the point where foods as they come from nature are considered to be ‘bland’ or ‘boring’ by some people. Isn’t that ironic? The food that most closely resembles how it is in nature is deemed to be boring, inconvenient, expensive and second best to processed and potentially unhealthy foods.
Of course, learning to listen to your body is not all about simple-state versus processed foods. Most diets promote one food group over another and reduce (or completely remove) other food groups from the daily diet.
Take for example the low carb diet. Coming from a competitive bodybuilding background, there comes a time on most competition preps where the competitor is eating a low carb diet. There is nothing wrong with eating like that until it becomes dangerous or detrimental to your body.
I saw on my Facebook newsfeed that a competitor had a car crash during her prep – and that car crash was attributed by the competitor to be due to her “low carb brain” which reduced her response and reaction times. How is it right to put others’ lives in danger because of the way you choose to eat? Am I the only one slightly outraged by this? If you don’t want to listen to your body and what it needs; fine. But don’t endanger other people on your pursuit of ‘physical perfection’.
The reason I bring this up is because there is a reason why the body becomes slow and lethargic when carbs are kept to an absolute minimum – your body is craving energy from carbohydrate sources. By ignoring those true cravings, you are not responding to your body’s cry for those nutrients and ignoring the fact that you need to listen to your body. And the consequences may be detrimental to both you and other people.
This isn’t exclusively a problem with low carbohydrate diets. Some people appear to thrive on such diets. But not everyone does and despite advocators of this diet knowing this, it is still marketed as the best weight loss diet for all people regardless of height, weight, age, body composition, allergies, etc.
Literally all diets are marketed as the “magical solution” to all health and diet issues. It is no wonderful that probably about 90% of people are confused when it comes to their nutritional and eating habits – because they are surrounded by information that conflicts with all other information and don’t know which diet they should choose and follow. That’s why so many people (myself included) have bounced around from diet to diet, not knowing what to stick to, what works best and what works for our bodies. We do not know who to listen to – and while searching for this person, we forget to listen to ourselves.
This is why you need to listen to your body to ensure optimal health
Have you ever heard anyone say that they crave fruit? It’s so common in the competition world. There is a reason that people crave foods and, sure, some of them may be simple desire-based cravings, but a lot of cravings are the body’s way of telling you that it needs something. Maybe it’s a vitamin, mineral or something bigger like a whole food group.
So, if you are following the low carb diet and your body truly craves oats – eat the oats, if you’re eating raw food only and your body truly craves a cooked meal – eat it. If you’re following a competition prep diet and your body craves an apple – eat it. If you’re feeling lethargic and tired – change up your diet. If your current diet is resulting in daily binges – recognise that something needs to change and make the change.
Remember: when your body truly craves something, it is your body’s way of communicating a need to you. Learn to listen and respond to your true cravings (i.e. not hunger pangs, cravings for 30 slices of cake – real cravings only) and you may find that your eating habits become more balanced, your nutrient intake becomes richer and as a result you begin to feel and look healthier than every before.