Over the years of steadily building a collection of strong reactions to food (and as I have opening-up to listening to what my own body is trying to tell me) a pearl of wisdom has floated to the surface of my experiences that I feel I really want to share because it relates to the relationship we all have with our food…and its good news. Cutting through all the science and theories about the way glutamate receptors, enzymes, amino acids and nerves work in the body to “deal” with your food and convey vital information, here’s what I’ve come to know about my own body and the communication around food that is constantly going on.
Food has a frequency…think of it as a radio-signal that it sends out…and our bodies have so-far untold and largely unrecognised ability to read and interpret that frequency. Literally the moment food hits our noses and the saliva in our mouths, our body already knows all about it and is in reaction to it; that is, it is either welcoming it or preparing to defend itself. People tend to think that the reaction, if any, will occur when the food enters the stomach or the blood stream but it is far (far) more instantaneous than that; it takes almost no time at all – in fact a thought about food can be enough to trigger that exact same reaction.
How do I know this? Well, because as soon as I’m in that close proximity to food, I start to detect the “symptoms” (good or bad) of eating that food. If my body isn’t welcoming of that food, those symptoms can express as an immediate contracting of the stomach and a particular feeling that is like a kind of cheese-grater rawness to the lining of the stomach area (literally, my nerves endings are all firing up in revolt). It can present as pain or contraction of the lower bowel or bladder. It can be instant, intense nerve pain in the frontal portion of the head, along the trigeminal nerve and behind the eyes or my vision can be affected. It can mean suddenly heightened head tones (my perpetual tinnitus is a skilful measure of my reactions to food) or a general feeling of overwhelm or exhaustion to the nervous system (crashing fatigue, super-sensitive skin, electric sensations, nerve twitches, sudden mood change, brain fog etc,) though these symptoms tend to come on a little further into the eating process.
Now, I know that (akin to many people who experience pain syndromes) I am “extra-sensitive” but what my experiences have taught me is that the facility for our bodies to do this pre-audit of our food exists in all of us, like an untapped skill-set that we haven’t really got fully into using. We are evolving into it and it doesn’t have to be alarming for most people (I only register it as “pain” because I am wired that way) as it works with us, to help us – if we are prepared to listen to it. We are simply being told “yes, go ahead eat this” or “I wouldn’t, that’s not a very good idea”.
Another skill-set that I have noticed in myself is that when I have eaten anything that triggers me, it will “announce” itself to me the morning after, just as I start to wake up, when I’m still in that half-asleep half-awake meditative state of intuitive flow. Its almost like a funny little visual of the so-called culprit food will play out like a “reveal” moment on a TV program, along with an echo of the sensations that it triggered in my body and a repeat of what it tasted like, just to make sure I am listening. Through this handy little mechanism, I have come to understand how certain foods that I thought were healthy alternatives for me – coconut aminos and a couple of types of nuts are some examples that spring to mind – were not so good for me to eat after all (for reasons that I was able to make rational sense of, later, once my intuition had directed my attention towards them). I have found that it is a real advantage to have this inbuilt facility to check through what I have eaten and identify issues that I might otherwise have overlooked because they weren’t all that obvious; these particular foods simply weren’t a match in my particular case, and that’s the information that really counts as we are all utterly unique. We all know that phrase “the food didn’t agree with me”; well, this is where its coming from!
What I have also found, as I have opened fully to the possibility that my body will always speak to me openly on these matters, is that I am left in no doubt as to what triggers me and whether I can “get away with it” (just this once) or no. Yesterday was a point in case; a birthday celebration, I was hoping to indulge in sugar-free cake but the restaurant had run out so, rather than go home disappointed, I allowed myself to indulge in the standard sugary variety, even though I almost never eat sugar these days because of the extreme reactions it triggers. I was able to scan the three types of cake on offer and instinctively choose the one that would be least likely to create a problem…but I was also fully aware of the likelihood that I would be triggered anyway and was able to make sure I was alright with that and had a back-up plan for getting home. Within a minute of the first mouthful, I was able to recognise that my nerves were all hyped up and it took under ten for my eyesight to blur so much that I could hardly see at all and had to call on my back-up plan and get my husband to drive us home. Quite literally, sugar reacts like alcohol in my case and I watched myself go through a series of symptoms that started with vision disturbance and vague headache, that took me from sugar “high” to a feeling of crashing exhaustion and even vague irritability and depression, all within an hour and a half of eating a small triangle of cake. After that, there was no option but to sleep it off in the afternoon sunshine, with a pervading feeling of being “hung over” for the rest of the evening. What I registered, in its extreme form here, was a version of what everyone puts themselves through when they consume sugary food; I just happen to notice it rather more than some.
Sugar, alcohol, glutamates (especially, but not only, MSG), gluten and numerous additives and flavour enhancers have these kinds of effects on all of us…at some level…whether recognised or not. Additionally, what I have come to recognise is that certain foods (sugar, alcohol and MSG being prime examples) actually anaesthetise the natural ability we all possess to tune into our food, even before we eat it in order to know whether it is going to be good for us. They act like an over-ride button to our natural self-preservation instincts so that we are no longer listening to the good advice our body is giving to us or we no longer care (there’s a mini death-wish in every addiction and some of reactions to food provide exactly what we are looking for). Quite literally, our responses to the food that we eat are dumbed down, we are walking blindfold in a food store and eating whatever we can put our hands on. Perhaps the cultural habit of consuming chemicals that override our discernment regarding the food that we eat served some sort of purpose in the days when food was so scarce that we were looking for ways to persuade ourselves to eat whatever was available on an “anything is better than nothing” basis. However, in these days of almost infinite choice for so many us, fogging up our own powers of discernment so that we can persuade ourselves to eat something we (or, even if we fail to notice, our bodies) will regret later is a nonsense and one that we are ripe to evolve out of.
To open up to tuning-in – directly – to the food that best serves us as an individual – is self-empowerment realised; and is the most direct way to achieving optimum health and all the trimmings that come with that (including ideal body weight, strong bones, balanced hormones and longevity). How do we do this, do we have to learn a whole new skill set? No, we just listen to all the overt and more subtle clues our body is so diligently presenting to us. Believe me, the natural high you get when you effortlessly sync with your body’s most direct food requests and then allow your instincts to take over how you interact with that food to create colourful, ingenious, deeply-satisfying meals is the stuff of divine inspiration; its like playing in heaven’s kitchen (and you feel that high vibe coming straight off the kind of food you find in the freshest, most vibrant new restaurants, such as the vegan, gluten-free Offbeat restaurant that we had the most incredible meal in this week). When you live in a place of joy and highly-tuned instinct around food you eat when you are hungry and you know just what to eat when you do; how easy can it get? After just a few months of living consistently like this, your body starts to trust that you are listening to it and delivering what it most needs in order to thrive; as a result of which I have lost all the weight (the self-protective layers!) that I once fought so valiantly to shed without any so-called effort at all which, I believe, is outcome most people can expect once they stop eating habitually and unconsciously. Its like the body lets out one enormous sigh of relief and sheds all of its stored-up layers of surplus fat and so much emotional baggage too…because it is now striving to meet the higher vibration of all the wonderful food you are delivering to it. It very quickly and easily drops all that old weight over the side, like so much unnecessary ballast, before taking off for the ride of its life and the sheer exhilaration of how different your body can feel is palpable; a very different way of experiencing life in human form.
Yesterday was a rarity for me as I, for once, threw all caution to the wind (and it made me laugh long and hard at how my new devil-may-care party mode involves “getting drunk” on cake!) but it was so interesting to watch how my body responded and how skilful it was at taking me through all the stages, including presenting a very clear echo of that cake on my tastebuds when I woke up this morning. Its been almost five months since I drank alcohol because it was no longer logical for me to continue doing that when my body told me…time and time again, often at the very first sound of the cork popping…that it was not welcoming this substance into my body. One of the funniest effects of this degree of sensitivity is that I can sometimes prepare a meal and feel like I’ve already eaten it before my fork digs in; because, at every stage of the preparation, my body has registered the food exactly as though it has eaten it already and is now replete. This helps explain why my mother so often complained that cooking the Sunday roast used to leave her feeling utterly devoid of the appetite to eat it! What this tells me is that too much time preparing the food can undermine the desire (or need) to eat what results and so the quickest-prepared, freshest, most intuitive, least fussy kind of meals remain the healthiest for us, in every respect; taking the freshly picked food straight from plant to the mouth being the most healthful of all.
The other, inevitable, outcome of being this in tune with what you eat is that you start to naturally recoil from anything processed or even inorganic because you instinctively read the vibration coming from the food, checking if it is a match with your own, ever more highly vibrating, body and will only find yourself choosing what feels in alignment with your own frequency. When that food isn’t a good match, you will find you prefer to walk way from it, to seek an alternative or even wait a little longer for your food; but then hunger is no longer the urgent, all-demanding thing that it used to be when the body read the desire for food as a series of very mixed-up impulses that were based (at their unseen core) upon a very desperate fear of starvation and the need to survive against all the many odds that is the most primal memory lodged in all our DNA. Once you are tuned into the food that is exactly right for you (and that won’t be the same for every person!) then you somehow find that it comes your way easily or that you will know how to source it exactly when you most need it. Now that’s what I call being tuned into your food!