Eat what your body tells you

2012 Habitat Bolivia 355All around me, people are making really interesting food choices. Some won’t eat meat. Others don’t eat wheat. Still others eschew all things dairy. In most cases, there are no medical reasons for their choices. Food advice these days is so conflicting and confusing, people don’t know what to do with themselves.

Since my first pregnancy, I have followed this rule: Eat what my body tells me, because my body is smarter than I am.

On your average day, I never drink orange juice. The thought of orange juice on my stomach first thing in the morning makes me feel nauseated. But when I was pregnant, I drank the stuff by the gallon. I needed folic acid. I didn’t know it, but my body did. I also would have hurt people who stood between me and meat in any form. I’m serious. I would have run over them with a truck. I needed all that iron and those B vitamins. I didn’t know it, but my body did.

I never have a desire for sweets. I’ve never understood people who “save room for dessert.” Nuts to that. Skip the dessert—give me more steak. My body knows that I can’t process sweets. If I were to eat them, I would likely develop Type 2 diabetes like my father did in mid-life.

I have two friends who had crippling arthritis. They both exhausted modern medicine options that didn’t help and sought the advice of a naturopath. They both underwent a test to determine what kinds of foods they could or should eat. In both cases, when these women stopped eating certain foods, the arthritis disappeared. What’s interesting, though, is the lists of foods were different for both women. A food that one couldn’t eat caused no problems for the other, and vice versa. And in both cases, these women gave up the foods they shouldn’t eat easily, because they never had a great desire for them anyway. They had been eating them out of politeness or because they believed the food to be beneficial.

I despair when I see yet another guru out there prescribing a “one-size-fits-all” food prescription for people. We are not all the same. Some people don’t desire meat and shouldn’t eat it. Some people don’t desire sweets and shouldn’t eat them. Some people can’t process dairy and shouldn’t consume it. Some people can’t process wheat and shouldn’t eat it. That doesn’t mean that vegetarianism is for everyone or that the rest of us shouldn’t enjoy a creamy brie.

Listen to your body. It’s smarter than you are.

Here is a list of foods deemed good or bad depending on who is doing the talking. What does your body tell you about them? Whatever it is, try listening to it, following it, and see what happens.

Chocolate milk
Grape Juice
Red wine
Olive oil
Canned tomatoes
Granola bars

6 thoughts on “Eat what your body tells you

  1. Helen

    Hi Arlene – good blog. Here’s my question – what if your body tells you it likes and needs ALL those foods you listed, in copious quantities???

  2. Jodie

    Great post, Arlene! I am careful to choose organic animal products for several reasons, yet the other day as I was filling my grocery cart my eyes settled on a slab of conventionally raised liver pate… complete with gelatinous topping. Not something I usually buy, but I brought it home and ate half of it for lunch! I’m certain my body just wanted a boost of iron, as the rest remains in the fridge, untouched. Who are we to doubt our body’s innate wisdom?

    1. Arlene Somerton Smith Post author

      Well, you look great, so you’re doing something right. I go through phases like that, too, and I have started to assume that there is something in whatever food it is that I’m craving that I must need. And then, moderation is key . . .

  3. emjayandthem

    This resonates with me; I don’t cook with salt, but I do “crave” salty snacks. I’ve learned to enjoy them in moderation. I rarely crave sweets (note my post yesterday about the Butterfinger cake – which you caught my fat free Jell-o, funny!).

    I, too, am a meat eater and love fresh veggies and fruit. I hate wine but I enjoy beer.

    here’s to listening! 🙂 MJ


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