A couple of years ago I came across some ideas about food choices that challenged everything I thought I knew about my body and the effects of what I put into it.
The idea of not drinking alcohol or caffeine and giving up gluten and dairy sounded ultra-healthy, but the thought of no cake or mojitos ever again? What a boring way to live, I thought.
Back then I judged making different food choices as an obsessive eating habit – a disorder even – where some foods were deemed ‘bad’ and others ‘good’.
The people I met who lived like this didn’t see it or describe it like that, but neither could they explain to me exactly how it made them feel in a way that I could understand. It goes without saying that it’s pretty challenging to experience what it’s like to be in someone else’s body.
If I really wanted to know and understand why anybody would eat that way out of choice, rather than necessity, I realised I would have to give it a go for myself.
I also noticed that people who’d made what I would have called ‘unconventional’ food choices, based on how different foods made their body feel, didn’t seem to be wallowing in a world of deprivation and self-pity.
In fact, they seemed more alive and fulfilled than most, and just getting on with their lives. It was me who was making a big deal about what they chose to eat, not them.
After suspiciously keeping my distance, eventually my curiosity got the better of me and I caved in. Giving up cake, champagne and ice cream had to have some benefits other than the obvious health ones, otherwise why bother with the effort? It was time to investigate.
I gently put to one side the cake, champagne and ice cream, in an experiment that I imagined would last a few weeks or months. Often I had a beer or glass of wine, bread, cheese or something else that I was attempting to temporarily abstain from in the name of my not very scientific experiment. But it didn’t seem to matter.
The less I ate of foods containing things like gluten, dairy and sugar, the lighter, cleaner and clearer my body and my mind felt.
It still amazes me that food can affect my body so much, because until recently I had never really considered the link between what I eat and how I feel, and even the quality of my thoughts.
But as I started making different choices about what to eat, I noticed that things began to change; the way I responded to situations was changing. Difficult conversations, although still difficult, became less intense. The internal emotional whirlwinds that I’d created (and blamed on others) took less time to dissipate. It felt like a fog I’d been living in – one that I couldn’t see even existed before – had started to lift.
The links between my body and my emotional and mental state have become much more obvious. When I eat lots of heavy food or too much food, I feel heavy, weighed down and foggy – like I’m operating on battery-saving mode.
It makes it easy for my mind to slip into a quicksand of circuitous and dull negative thinking and I start to feel lethargic and bored. Instead of focusing on what I can contribute to a situation and bring to others around me, I make it all about me and my life. My self-obsessed thoughts turn into a distraction and I forget about my responsibility to live fully and truly.
I still have ideas that pop into my head about my choices around food and how I ‘should’ be living. How come nearly the entire world eats gluten and dairy and drinks alcohol – surely it can’t be that ‘bad,’ if everyone does it? Isn’t it fussy and ungrateful to be choosy about what I’m eating?
But I’ve come to realise:
- It’s not about demonising food groups nor judging myself nor anybody else for what we choose to eat, but so much more simple: stop, feel, and choose from there – is this food really supporting and nourishing my body, and how do I feel after eating it?
- It’s not about shouting from the rooftops about how great I feel, but to just accept and allow what feels good by listening to my body
- There are no rules
Now what I choose to eat isn’t about rules, perfection or deprivation, but about learning to listen to my body and feeling the effects of what I put into it.
Every time I choose something – a food, drink, thought or emotion that doesn’t make me feel so good, I get to feel it – and I can choose differently next time, if I feel like it.
What has been amazing is that I rarely crave any of the stuff I used to. I’ve had a sweet tooth since I was a small child and used to love cakes and biscuits. But now I’d rather choose the stillness and solidness I can feel most of the time, over a sugary treat which makes me feel hyperactive and like I’m on drugs.
When I listen to my body like this, it totally removes the arduous ‘giving up’ of unhealthy foods, the battle against cravings, or strict regimes. Eating in a way that truly nourishes me becomes easy because my body just isn’t interested in foods that don’t make me feel good.
Eating to nourish my body, and how it feels afterwards, instead of just for the short-lived taste sensation, is a constant unfolding, with increasing clarity and an amazing revelation: I can choose the level of awareness that I want to feel in my body by choosing what I put into it, and it gets reflected back to me in all areas of my life.
The more I listen deeply to my body, the more it shares with me, and the steadier I feel. It’s amazing to feel how this has affected all areas of my life, far beyond how my body feels: from knowing what needs to be said in any given situation, to feeling clearer, having more trust in myself and knowing of what to do next, with far less need from anything outside of me.
The effects of what we choose to put into our bodies is profound.
By Bryony, UK
My Body’s Reaction to Gluten, Dairy and Sugar
The Body Knows
When it comes to food – let your body speak
There is no greater feeling than when we choose to eat a food that nourishes. The body speaks volumes of appreciation with each mouth full!
For me it has been a consistent letting go of the rules of what was deemed healthy. Actually I was quite stubborn and became thinner and thinner but also weaker instead of feeling the solidness I knew that was there’, now with seeing the rules for what they truly are, a distraction and an avoidance of the power i have and am, ‘I can choose the level of awareness that I want to feel in my body by choosing what I put into it, and it gets reflected back to me in all areas of my life.’
and yet for most people eating is such an unconscious action, and as a consequence it really is feeding our unconsciousness.
Making supportive food choices because my body flourishes versus depriving myself on a diet or because I “should” not eat something comes from two different places. The first an act of self care and the second trying to live up to a belief of what is good for me.
Love this simple answer Jenny – choosing food that makes us expand so we can feel more and be more of who we already are.
The effects of food are massive on our bodies I agree, I find my relationship with food is constantly changing – even though I know food is for nutrition I constantly use it for relief or taste or desire or eat too much – there’s a never ending array of choices when it comes to abusing food – but there’s only one choice that is super precise and detailed when it comes to listening to our bodies and being deeply caring when it comes to what we choose to put in them.
Yes Bryony, food effects us very visually so, but also to note that there is much in this world; like our movements, thoughts and actions that lead to bad health, meaning feeling a lack of vitality, not truly feeling content and or a lovelessness. Why don’t we see that as bad health actually? What has made us think that health is just physical?
It shows us that we have switched our radar out to be aware of what energetically is going on in and around us, that we have only made life about physical health number 1.
‘It still amazes me that food can affect my body so much, because until recently I had never really considered the link between what I eat and how I feel, and even the quality of my thoughts.’ We are never encouraged to think about this as children when educated about food, food groups and the health of food. More predominantly, we are taught about weight gain, but little else. Yet, eating is one of the most common things we do, aside from moving and sleeping. It makes sense to look at the subtleties of how it affects us.
It interesting to observe within us the thoughts that come up, such as ‘I am going to miss out’, ‘my life will be boring’ when we begin to consider listening to our bodies or consider a way of living that is more supportive to our health and well-being. But do we consider that theses are thoughts fuelled by an addiction to certain foods or lifestyles and not a true response to the inspiration we are feeling from our body or Soul? And do we consider why we have such a strong reaction to the potential to care for our body and being? Our relationship with our body has become distant to the point where we consider ‘abuse’ as normal and ‘loving’ as strange and questionable. Yet we crave for more and seek for more. That ‘more’ is the love we are and through a loving relationship with our body we will realise that living in connection to our love is what we are truly missing out on.
Great blog Bryony, reading your blog has brought to my realisation how I used to feel, and I remember I would often feel foggy in my mind, since changing my diet my head is so much clearer these days and I feel so much more vital in my body, this is definitely something for me to appreciate, the making of self loving choices.
Our bodies are such an extraordinary balancing mechanism… They can be so delicately and lovingly tuned with what we eat
That is a new concept to consider, that our bodies can be so delicately and lovingly tuned with what we eat – and how we eat I am going to add, as sometimes if I am honest, I can rush eating my food because I went too long without… which no longer feels nourishing!
It is amazing the tricks that the mind plays with us. I knew for 20 years that gluten did not agree with me but put off doing anything about it because I was caught in believing that it would be so hard to give up when in actual fact I felt better within 24 hours and this supported me to take more loving care with my diet and I rarely had any cravings for all the things that I thought I would miss. The connection between the gut and the mind is only now being explored more in mental health but in my experience it is crucial to be aware of how we choose to take care of ourselves and the dietary choices we feel impulsed to make for our overall wellbeing.
I couldn’t agree more Helen when I gave up gluten and dairy my body recovered very quickly from all kinds of health issues. In fact, considering how ill I was I didn’t expect any miracles but that’s what I got. Even when the tests do not show an intolerance to gluten or a dairy allergy the body can still be struggling with these food products.
When people come to know that I do not include gluten, dairy and sugar in my diet many of them still say things like – ‘surely just a little wouldn’t hurt you and everything in moderation’. But without hesitation, I look lovingly at them and reply – why would I risk having 2-3 days of my body feeling miserable, simply for a few seconds of a “taste sensation” in my mouth? I can see them processing this and then they usually nod in agreement and nothing more is said.
I never thought I would be able to give up gluten, dairy and refined sugar. But when I started to love, care and cherish my body, it was a very natural thing to then discard food that was not truly nourishing my body. Also, from listening to my body, I was able to be super honest about my food choices and I now let my body guide me as to what to eat and when to eat. It is not about following a diet regime or rules, it is about deeply listening to our body and our body is our best food guide.
The picture we have of what is healthy and what is not healthy is shaped by the influence of others in our lives. Those others include a massive, multi-billion dollar food and entertainment industry. To really ask ourself what suits our own body we have to acknowledge the influences on our thoughts and building a relationship with the body’s feedback loop instead.
I agree Lucy, listening to our body is super empowering and if we all did this, our lives would change drastically in an amazing way and also our food industries would naturally change too.
“From Eating for Taste to Eating to Nourish” – this line alone reveals so much Bryony. Whether eating for taste or to nourish lies in the depth of connection we have with our own body. When i lose connection to myself, i can eat for taste, pizazz and appeal, and equally when i am connected and eat or have foods to nourish, but then later and whilst connected to my body eat “for taste” maybe at a client dinner/lunch at a hotel or cafe for example, then i find that i lose my taste for that food on the menu, or eat it and afterwards taste the emptiness of the lack of nourishment in the cuisine however fancy it looks/presents.
“Now what I choose to eat isn’t about rules, perfection or deprivation, but about learning to listen to my body and feeling the effects of what I put into it.” This makes so much sense but most of us are not taught or encouraged to listen to our bodies and naturally our bodies suffer, often for our whole lives. We might think that we can’t do without the food we have always eaten, but you have shown we can. It is only our mind that tries to convince us otherwise.
Having trust in our selves and our confidence levels are very much connected to the quality in how we care for our body. This is a science that we all need to consider, that possibly much can be addressed in how we are on an emotional and mental level by how and what we choose to eat.
Yes, absolutely Leigh, brilliant sharing. Our choice of food affects us in more ways than we think. There is a science to this for sure, from what we choose, how we prepare our food, to how we eat, the quantity and also our level of appreciation and quality of conversation while we eat are all part of this science.
“Every time I choose something – a food, drink, thought or emotion that doesn’t make me feel so good, I get to feel it – and I can choose differently next time, if I feel like it.”
The above sentence is very significant, it is not just food that we allow to enter our body. The quality of our thoughts, the emotions we choose also affect our body. The reality is they either bring us out of the fog, or bury us into the fog we don’t even realise we are in.
It is amazing how much food can affect the body, with just a few added ingredients that can make all the difference to how one is in a whole day with family, friends or at work. And I have found that there is always a constant refinement of the foods I can eat each day, as each day is different and what works for one day may not work for another, so there are no rules, just the language and communications of my body.
“The less I ate of foods containing things like gluten, dairy and sugar, the lighter, cleaner and clearer my body and my mind felt.” Can you imagine what an effect it would have on society if everyone was to give up gluten, dairy and sugar – we would have a much more aware, productive, energetic healthy and loving society! One day it will become painfully obvious the harm that these foods do to the body.
For many it is already painfully obvious with such health issues as: Sinus, Asthma, Bloating, Iritable Bowel Syndrome, Digestive Issues, Lung Diseases, Stomach ulcers etc, etc. We all know exactly what affects each of us. The question is what stops us from actively embracing what we know will support our bodies?
Yes, I know what it has been like in my body but what would it be like if, as a family, then as a community, and potentially as a world we experimented with how we felt without those food as part of our lives? This is not about deprivation, or forcing ourselves not to eat something, it is about clocking why we eat what we eat and responding rather than ignoring.
“It felt like a fog I’d been living in – one that I couldn’t see even existed before – had started to lift.” This is a very accurate description of how I became aware of the effect on my whole body of what I put in my mouth.
This whole blog is amazing and offers such realistic life changing insight.
I know myself if I eat the wrong thing I can feel mentally all over the place – I am starting to realise that something in my mouth that may taste delicious for a few seconds is never ever worth the negative after affects.
It is interesting how we can either eat to support ourselves in life, or dull ourselves with heavy or stimulating foods to shut down to what we are feeling.
Thank you Bryony. You raised many valid practical ways to apply with food. Eat well feel well. My experience has been until you clock what feels good in the body will you go for that feeling again. Otherwise it’s chasing a picture or an ideal that does not ever hold. So, “accept and allow what feels good by listening to my body.”
It is always great to feel the impact food has on our bodies, ‘The less I ate of foods containing things like gluten, dairy and sugar, the lighter, cleaner and clearer my body and my mind felt.’
“The idea of not drinking alcohol or caffeine and giving up gluten and dairy sounded ultra-healthy, but the thought of no cake or mojitos ever again? What a boring way to live, I thought” – !!!! I had the same thoughts too Bryony… until of course I tasted the effect and inebriation of true self-love, where there is nothing to ever feel missed out on but instead everything else to enjoy : )
Great blog Bryony – I have changed my eating habits over the past few years and am still amazed how quickly the body reacts to things that don’t serve it now. If I get caught up with my mind thinking about food, or my eyes ‘loving’ the look of something and fall for the trick, my body soon let’s me know it is far from okay with it if it is eaten.
Sugar makes me feel racy, gluten bloats me in almost an instant and even a hint of dairy fills up the sinuses.
It is staggering how much different foods effect our mood, levels of energy and general sense of well being. If someone had told me 5 years ago that I wouldn’t be able to eat some of the foods that no longer support me back then because they make me feel ill I really wouldn’t have believed them. It is only through my own experience, feeling the impact on my body and being playful with what I eat that I have come to understand which foods truly support me.
I have recently had a great lesson as to the importance I had been placing on taste and it took losing it for two weeks for the lesson to unfold. In the beginning I was rather shocked at the loss of taste and also by my determination to be able to taste something, anything. But after a couple of days I surrendered to what was happening and realised I was being offered a wonderful opportunity to be very honest about what I was eating and why. By the time my taste started to return I had become more focused on the long-term nourishment of my food rather than a few seconds of pleasure in my mouth. I love this life lessons that we are constantly being presented with.
At times I look at and crave certain foods however when I eat them I always feel the effects afterwards and this is what supports me to not want them again.
What we put into our bodies does get reflected back to us in other areas of our lives, and can affect our work performance, the quality of our relationships, how we feel about ourselves and the thoughts we entertain. When we do not live with that constant dullness or tiredness life takes on a whole new meaning.
You make a great observation here about how the quality of what we eat affects our thoughts – and I have certainly experienced this first hand. Food drops us – and the more I refine my diet – the more I feel it when I eat something that is not supportive. Headaches, racyness – you name it.
More and more I realise this link between food and the kind of thoughts we have. It is really a no brainer to follow the body’s calling for changes in diet. It so clearly tells us , when we choose to connect the discomfort or unease in us to our eating patterns, that it doesn’t find certain foods supportive anymore, yet we can get messages from our head, in other words thoughts, to go and buy, or eat these very foods. I can feel this inner conflict sometimes but if I really settle in my body and let go of all tension, (coming back to breathing my own breath if needs be) the truth will out.
It is interesting to contemplate eating to nourish ourselves and eating to allow for more awareness and expansion to occur in our bodies.
What I can see from this piece of writing, is how when there is judgement there is also stagnation, so much so in fact that it can become very easy to confine oneself into a kind of box of limited understanding of the world, which has only a certain and perhaps authorised set of criteria for what is right and for what is wrong. But what is beautiful here to read is how with just a little bit of playful experimentation these boxes can be dissolved and thus your mind can be set free to realise your own understandings which may not be part of the predetermined picture, but feel wonderful in your body all the same.
What you say about eating too much food, even if it is ‘super healthy’, and how it affects your thoughts, movements and vitality is so important for me to really feel in to. I have a super healthy diet and I take great care in what I put into my body and when I do. But, with that can come an arrogance or a sense of “well, I’m eating super healthy, so therefore it doesn’t matter how much I eat” or…”since I am eating so well and healthily” then I’ll have a reward of eating lots of it!” So, I really appreciate your blog and also rally appreciate that there is always a next level of refinement.
If people realized how profoundly food affects us, supermarkets would have a very different appearance…( there would surely be a lot less shelves ! )
Judging a heathy diet as boring in my case comes from the need for treats. I grew up on reward food and treats and I thought that food was one of the highlights in life. So, considering cutting out the highlights in my life seemed insane. However, once I started listening to my body (which had to shout at times) the food choices no longer are driven so much by reward as the way they leave you feeling.
‘from eating to taste to eating to nourish’….this is the wisest choice we can make.
Yes, a never ending process indeed how much you accept your power and awareness and how much you numb it still with even the littlest things. And if it is not food it might be created emotions, fights, drive etc etc. Food is a great marker, but there is so much more to look at as well.