The Great Grand Diet Trial Of 2011: January

October 15th, 2011 - filed under: The Food » Food Styles

In 2011 I set about on a journey to regain my health – a series of dietary experiments. You can read the backstory here. Prior to beginning these trials, I had used an elimination diet to clear up a systemic Candida infection. I was also healing my gut/digestion through the intensive application of probiotics via fermented foods and beverages, and it worked, because cultured food is magical!

The Test
In January my goal was simply to Make The Healthier Choice.

The Theory
Heading into the new year, I was coming from a place of poor health and poor food choices. Which made sense of course – I was coming off the holiday season! Ugh.

I’m usually a “diver” type, but starting out on this great grand diet trial, I decided to wade in slowly. I was going for sustainability, after all, not impact. So January was all about:
1) reconnecting with my food intuition
2) tuning back in to my body.

After the sugar-shocked and over-indulged era that marks the winter holidays, my palate was completely skewed and my body’s expectations were unrealistic. Which meant I had to work to make the healthy choice become my new habitual choice.

“Leftover pumpkin pie for breakfast?”
“Hmmm, how about pumpkin-spiced oatmeal instead?”

Those was the sort of iterative improvements I was making. Nothing too drastic or ground-breaking. This was about being mindful and conscious in my food choices, and you know what? That can be hard enough.

But mindful eating is not just about making a good choice and then calling it a day. True mindfulness requires follow-through. Let me explain.

We all notice a physical change after drinking a cup of coffee, right? Or having a glass of wine? (or two?) These are normal responses – prompted by caffeine or alcohol – and since they’re expected, we’re aware of them. But what if you tried to notice the changes that occur after having . . . a green smoothie? A bowl of beans? Does your body react after drinking green juice? Does your mood shift at all in the minutes after you eat a sugary pastry? What about an hour after eating a sugary pastry? How do you feel when your dinner is mostly fresh? How do you feel when your dinner is mostly from a box?

There’s a lot of talk about “listening to your body” in the health word. “Listen to your body language!” the gurus like to say. But I think that’s only half of the equation. How much can you really learn from just listening???

I decided I needed to stop listening – and start talking back! So in January, that’s what I practiced – having a conversation with my body.

The Results
I learned a lot in those four weeks – enough to direct my investigations throughout all of the following months. I didn’t come away with a set of conclusions, but I did secure a series of important threads to pursue.

I know (I guess I should say I believe, since I can’t prove it) that different people require different proportions of macronutrients. With this in mind, I was able to observe how my cravings, emotions, satiety, and stability would change from day to day depending on the amounts of fat/protein/carbohydrate I was eating.

As well, I learned how to read the difference between a “tongue” craving and a “body” craving. That is, an emotional craving versus a nutritional one. Once that difference became clear, the question of whether or how to honor the craving was so much more straightforward.

January came and went. But it left in it’s wake a lot of promise.

Next up: February, and the fun really begins . . .

Edited to link in the rest of the series:

Putting It All Together

  • Sara Ann

    I’m really interested in the listening to your body intuition but I’m having trouble with the idea. I was just diagnosed with a wheat allergy and that just really blew everything out of the water. I would have all of this bread/pasta/cereal/etc. and it would cause me a great many digestive problems and then I would eat more of these wheat-filled items trying to settle my stomach. So, I guess I just wasn’t listening well enough? Hopefully I can get back on track, too.

  • Laura Agar Wilson

    Looking forward to finding out how February went! Eating more intuitively, and figuring out if my hunger is a physical or emotional response is something I’m working on at the moment. I also love your thoughts about tuning in to how your body feels after eating and drinking a variety of foods – I love nut butters but if I’m honest with myself I usually feel heavy and weighed down by them, usually because I’m unable to limit myself to having just a couple of tbsp! I completely agree with your thoughts that everyone is different and therefore will do better on a different ratio of macro / micro nutrients, I guess we have to be our own detectives in figuring that out!

  • Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles

    Great post. I think you’re right, it’s really important to think about how we feel after EVERYTHING we put into our bodies. I think that’s really key to discovering what our bodies truly need.

    Looking forward to hearing about February!

  • Alina S

    Aha! This is SO important and the truest reason I gave up meat. After starting a yoga practice and cultivating mindfulness in ALL aspects of my life, I simply knew I could not eat animals anymore if I were to live authentically. It took several months to make the “official” decision, but in reality it was one of the most simple and easy things I’ve ever done. I encourage everyone to start taking the steps you have if they are ready to make a significant and permanent change towards a healthy, positive life!

  • Rande McDaniel

    Excellent post, its so good to see someone TRULY listening to their body and not just following a program

  • Catie Humphreys

    This is very insightful! I’m a new follower who is looking to take her veganism to a whole different level. You’ve inspired me to start really observing how I feel after certain foods and writing it down to see a pattern! Thank you!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Hi Sara Ann, I’m sorry you’re having a hard time. I totally get what you’re saying. It’s hard to “listen to your body” sometimes . . . for example, if I had “listen to what my body wanted”. I never would have quit smoking!

    That’s actually a good comparison, as I have OFTEN heard that people (this is common in children, actually) who have allergies, will seriously crave the very thing they are allergic to. Something about the way the body responds. So lactose intolerant children are dairy addicts, and gluten intolerant folks are bread heads, and on and on. Could this be the sort of thing you’re experiencing?

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