So, you feel like crap…
Do you suspect that there was a time when you felt better than you do today? You can’t really put your finger on it. Maybe you had more energy. Perhaps you could eat with less discomfort. Your skin didn’t feel so dry and itchy. Your breakouts felt more “age appropriate”. You just generally felt more vibrant.
What if I told you that there is a possibility that this isn’t normal aging? What if I said that your body may be suffering from inflammation. And this inflammation is making you feel like crap.
But the good news is that there are things to address in your diet that may lift the fog under which you’ve been living and help you rewind time to feel good again! Here are some of the most common reasons you aren’t feeling your best and the steps you can take to heal.
You are negatively reacting to a food
There are certain foods that are problematic to a large number of people. This includes foods like dairy, soy, gluten, eggs and corn. And you don’t need to be allergic to these foods for them to be problematic. You may have when it called a sensitivity. This food doesn’t create the same immune response as an allergy, but it does create enough of a reaction to cause inflammation. And the result of this inflammation will be things like brain fog, skin problems, depression, migraines or you may just feel like crap.
Doctor’s can’t test for a food sensitivity in the same way they test for allergies. This is because a sensitivity is a different type of immune response. The best way to determine if a food is causing you problems is to eliminate it for at least three weeks. This allows you to see if symptoms disappear and then return upon eating the food again. Such a response would indicate a food sensitivity. Just remember; it can take up to 72 hours for symptoms to appear so be patient. Learn more about doing an elimination diet by clicking here.
You’re eating more sugar than you think
It is wrong to think that you don’t eat sugar because you don’t eat a lot of desserts. Sugar is a major ingredient in most processed foods as well as most restaurant meals. Most people’s sugar consumption is significantly higher than they think. Some years ago I decided to become vigilant about reading labels and I cut all refined sugar and artificial sweetener from my diet (except for one “totally worth it” treat a week.) My skin cleared up, I lost about 10 pounds without trying and I physically felt like a weight had been lifted. Sugar and artificial sweeteners are both extremely inflammatory.
Take a label reading challenge. For a week, don’t eat anything from a can, bag or box without reading a label first. You may be surprised with how much sugar you’re ingesting. And this could be integral to understanding how to help yourself feel better.
Start by downloading your free sugar cheat sheet to help you identify the sneaky ways that sugar is hidden on a food label. My bet is you didn’t know that some of these were terms for sugar!
You have Candida
Candida is a yeast which can run amok in your body and make you feel like crap. The good bacteria in your digestive tract are supposed to keep the yeast in balance. When your good bacteria are compromised, the yeast runs wild throughout your body causing internal chaos. This can begin after taking multiple courses of antibiotics, years of birth control pills or from eating an inflammatory diet. A hint that you have Candida is that you have very strong sugar cravings as Candida feeds of sugar. However, the only way to know for sure is to get tested. Healing Candida usually means removing all forms of sugar from the diet, replenishing the digestive tract with good bacteria, and calming the inflammation with things like Vitamin E, Glutamine and flaxseed oil.
You’re suffering from malnutrition
Here is an interesting fact. Those with the highest percentage of body fat in Western societies tend to be more malnourished than those living in third world countries. How can that be? The foods that put the body in fat storing mode are nutritionally empty. So it is possible to be eating excess calories while the cells in your body starve. And you wonder why you feel so empty when you should feel so full. This then contributes to further overeating. Your body commands you to eat food as self-preservation. And of course, malnutrition makes you feel like crap.
When people embark on a new weight-loss plan, they often start by restricting their food intake. But this is damaging to someone suffering from malnutrition. A good first step is to add supportive foods before you restrict the diet. This means the first step to diet change might be adding fresh vegetables or a good source of protein to every meal.
Take time to understand your body’s needs
We’re not all the same and your body’s needs are unique. Take the time to get to know your body. Understand how you react to food. And then focus on healing.
Healing isn’t as easy as just waving a nutritional magic wand. There is a process to discovering what is throwing your body off-balance. Be patient with yourself. You don’t have to feel less than vibrant and healthy as the years pass. But it is up to you to take the time to create body balance. Before you know it you’ll go from feeling “blah’ to feeling brilliant!
Sabrina Quairoli says
Great post! I was diagnosed with a Candida issue when I was 18 and still to this day, I need to monitor the dairy and bread intake because of this. It’s OK though, because it helps me stay on track and eat more low carb vegetables and lean meats. It hasn’t made me loss weight eating this way, but it has given me my energy back. Thanks for bringing this to other’s attention.
Thank you for sharing your story with Candida, Sabrina. That really is a life long commitment you’ve made. I’m glad to hear you’ve been so diligent in your healing process.
You bring up some interesting facts here that I wasn’t aware of. I’m aware of the value of reading labels, mostly for the fat, sugar and salt contents, but I wasn’t aware of the malnutrition factor. When you think about it, that makes a lot of sense and also explains why many obese people always seem hungry – it’s because they are. Great information.
I was surprised when I first learned how malnourished people can be as well. Then I look back at how I ate in high school and I realize that it is easy to eat lots of foods that are nutritionally depleted. It is very sad, but I’m glad more people are becoming aware of healthy eating.
Donna Janke says
Great information. I’ve learned a lot about food insenstivities over the past few years as my daughter struggled to deal with a number of issues because of them. I know I need to watch my gluten and starch intake. Something else I’ve discovered recently is that a lot of foods generate histamines and at some point can create an overload that triggers the immune system. It’s amazing how the issues diet causes and how many things we can deal with by a change in diet.
Yes, histamines are really a problem. I had a situation some years ago where I had a lot of histamine in my back, I was super itchy all the time and my Doctor just told me to take a Claritin. I finally figured out on my own that I had a problem with gluten and that was causing the histamine. I really wish there was more emphasis on how food interacts with the body in the medical world because it is very important to how we feel.
Patricia Weber says
Erica it’s horrifying to me how much sugar is in EVERYTHING we eat. I read labels all the time and have for years. It’s not always that fat or the carbs but those sugars that make me put the item right back on the shelf or in the freezer.
I’m right with you, Patricia! It is frightening how much sugar is added to foods that are supposed to be healthy.
Marquita Herald says
Love the new look for your website Erica! This is a great post and I was not at all surprised when I read your point on malnutrition, and it’s more than just those on diets who experience it. Most people would be shocked if they knew the numbers behind the working poor in our country, but that’s another subject. I also like your point about sugar, and realize I’ve been so focused on minimizing salt in my food that I completely forgot about sugar since I rarely ever eat sweets. Thanks for the advice and inspiration!
Thank you Marquita for your kind words about the site. And you are correct that socio-economic class impacts nutrition. They have more fast food restaurants in poor areas than anywhere else. And nutritionally depleted food is really cheap. This is a big problem without an easy answer.
Hidden sugar is so easy to miss. I’m glad you found that enlightening and helpful.
Beth Niebuhr says
I hadn’t thought about malnutrition in our type of society. That is really pitiful, isn’t it? No wonder people keep eating too much; they are actually hungry. Thanks for all the good info on sensitivities. It’s too bad they can’t be measured but you gave a method for detecting them ourselves.
People who are heavier get very harshly judged if they talk about having an insatiable hunger. They can easily get judged for gluttony. But there is a really physical aspect to insatiable hunger.
My problem is cutting sleep and adding sugar as far as I can tell; great post idea
Thank you, Caroline. Cutting sugar as well as sleep are super important.
Hi Erica, loved your post. It is very informative, I never knew that having more body fats tend to be more malnourished, true indeed that the first step to diet change is adding fresh vegetables or a good source of protein to every meal. Having a balance diet and everything in moderation is the key. Thanks for sharing. Really great to read!
Thank you, Sherill. It is true that we really don’t associate obesity with malnutrition but it is unfortunately so prevalent.
Thank you so much for writing this post. Many of the symptoms you mentioned, I have been feeling for quite a while (even years). This is so helpful!
I’m glad this is helpful, Jia. Hopefully some of the tips can help you feel better. I know from personal experience that it is frustration when you don’t feel great but you can’t figure out why.
Ken Dowell says
Reading your blog has made me sugar-conscious Erica. I think I’ve cut my sugar consumption by about half. Since I’m in my 60’s I do have a habit of shrugging off all maladies as part of aging, so this was a good post for me..
I’m so glad to hear you are cutting back on sugar. Aging is inevitable but small changes can at least make it easier.
Angie @ My So-Called Chaos says
I would add not drinking enough water to this list too. Which I do… I’ve been bad at everything lately, but I definitely need more water and less sugar in my life.
Yes, drinking water is a good one. Many of us are suffering from dehydrating and we don’t realize. It is good to drink half your body weight in ounces of water a day (150 pound person drinks 75 ounces of water a day.)
Great post, especially for me.
I have just gotten on a strict diet, eating mostly whole grains, and white meats.
This was after I had went to get my annual physical and found out my cholesterol level was 869, and my glucose was 160.
I do feet really great now, and been able to begin working out now. I must say my lackluster living before, was based on my diet.
Thanks for sharing.
Isn’t it funny how much diet can affect how we feel? I’m glad to hear that you are making healthy changes and really feeling the benefits. Even doing what I do for a living, I can get in diet ruts and I always feel so much better when I clean things up.
Jeannette Paladino says
Erica — After years of focusing on fats and carbs, the medical community is finally identifying the real culprit which is sugar. You’re quite right; there is sugar in many processed and canned foods. We all know that there is sugar in ice cream and candy but I don’t think that many of us considered that sugar is in so many other foods, too. We know sugar can make very small children hyper-active because their bodies can’t process it.
Jeannette, I think we really do have a problem with parents not understanding how much sugar is hidden in kid’s foods. I see parents giving their little ones glass after glass of juice, thinking that juice is healthy. Well, once juice is separated from the fiber of the fruit, it is pure sugar. And parents don’t understand why their children are so hyper. Diet information for parents is key.
I have a friend who is going through this process. He thinks candida is the issue and plans to cut out sugar as the first step in experimenting with what’s ailing his gut and making him feel bloated.
I’m applaud your friend in working to feel better. Healing from Candida can seem overwhelming at first, but it is worth the effort. I encourage him to keep moving forward in his healing process.
Oh my! I was having major aches in my joints when I woke up each morning. I thought I was getting arthritis and mentioned it to my chiropractor. She asked if I had been eating a lot of sugar. I had not, but than thought about the Blue Bell ice cream that was my nightly snack. I eliminated it and felt better immediately. I never knew that food sensitivities could make you feel so horrible. Thanks for the great information.
Cheryl, I’m so glad you mentioned that to your chiropractor.They are great resources for total body healing. Arthritis is so often diet related but Western medicine often just medicates without looking for the source. I’m glad that cutting out the nightly ice cream had such a positive impact.
Wow!!!! Is like you know exactly what I need each week. ..I woke up thinking gosh….I don’t feel like doing anything and so bloated….I even made an appt with my dr. Will definitely tell him about the suggestion above. Thanks Erica!