These days, choosing a diet is more complicated than ever before. Not only are you deciding what kind of food you’ll eat, but it can often also feel like you’re choosing a fundamental part of your identity. If you’re like many people, the diet you subscribe to might impact which blogs you read, who you choose to socialize with, and even which jobs you apply for.
While it’s great to participate in a wider community of people who share your food philosophy, things can get tricky when it comes time to shake up your diet. And outside pressure to stay on your current dietary train can potentially stop you from recognizing your body’s signals that it’s time to expand your horizons.
From vegan to paleo to macrobiotic, there are tons of healthy eating styles out there. But how do you know if they’re working for you? Watch out for these signs that your body needs a change.
1. You have mysterious health problems.
Maybe you felt great when you first started eating raw or paleo or lacto-vegetarian, but now you’re dealing with symptoms you’ve never encountered before.
Maybe you’re getting a ton of cavities no matter how often you brush your teeth, or you’re dealing with mysterious headaches that you can’t get rid of. Maybe you’re losing a ton of weight (and you didn’t have much to lose to begin with), or you’re starting to add the weight back on that you lost when you first started this diet. Maybe you just feel sick.
2. You're suddenly more forgetful, anxious, or you're experiencing unexplained emotional changes.
Are you more absent-minded than usual lately? Dropping the ball at work? Or are you suddenly feeling more anxious than normal? If you’re finding that you’re having trouble dealing with day-to-day stressors, these emotional symptoms can be signs of specific nutritional deficiencies such as low B12, vitamin D or low intake of protein and essential fats.
3. You’re getting serious cravings.
We all long for the occasional sweet treat, but if you’re finding yourself fantasizing for extended periods of time about foods you’ve cut out of your diet, it might be time to consider the possibility that there’s something in those foods your body truly needs. Feeling hungry right after eating, or getting strong cravings that were never there before, can be an indication that your intake of macronutrients (fats, carbs and proteins) isn’t in the ideal balance for your metabolic type or stage of life.
4. You’re exhausted.
Are you feeling properly rested when you wake up in the morning? Or perhaps tired all day and then wired at night when you should be winding down? Do you get heavy afternoon slumps? If your body is feeling more and more run down, it might be time to investigate whether your diet could be a factor.
5. You’re scared of what other people will think if you change the way you eat.
Sometimes when we know it’s time to change up our diets, the first thing we start thinking about is not the food itself, but what those we love or the friends we have might think about it. If you’re craving things you haven’t wanted in a long time and feel like you would eat differently if nobody were watching, that’s a major red flag that something is amiss.
So what should you do next?
If these signs and symptoms are popping up, it might be time to take a cold, hard look at the dietary regimen you’re currently on and consider making some changes.
A natural health practitioner can help you identify possible nutritional deficiencies you might be facing, and help you tweak (or overhaul) your existing diet. Bloodwork, testing your iron levels, thyroid hormones, vitamin B12 and vitamin D can all be great places to start. The results may influence whether you need to be taking certain supplements, changing up your diet or both.
Remember: Labels are for tin cans. We’re all individuals, and no one style of eating is right for everyone.