I do research on my health all the time, just by eating and drinking!
We have to be our own health advocates and that starts with body intuition.
Learning to listen to our bodies is the first step to understanding them. It doesn’t mean we need a PhD and need know every inner-working part and all the in-depth details behind it. But if we truly begin to pay attention when we eat, we learn how food we eat affects us.
I call this research. Every time you eat or drink something you get the opportunity to listen and learn. Does your nose run every time you eat dairy? Do your ears itch when you eat yeast? Perhaps apples make you sneeze?
Coffee has started to make me jittery and gives me the cold sweats; I still drink it on occasion but the difference is that now I’m armed with information and I can choose how I want to feel knowing this. What’s even more important is I know how my body reacts so I can make wise decisions about when to imbibe if I feel the need. If I do want a cup of coffee I’m probably not going to have it right before teaching a class.
The best way to track your research is to create a food journal; it will help you see patterns you may not otherwise see. Make note of what you eat and of any side effects you experience, keeping in mind that food intolerance can show up immediately or up to 48 hours.
What I have found is that we often think we will remember things but with so much going on in our busy lives, this is one area that goes out the window first. It’s also difficult to see patterns when they aren’t written down. Food intolerance that show up immediately, like a sneeze, becomes a little more obvious and easy to remember than say a sluggish digestion that only shows up a few days after eating nuts.
Think about a true researcher, much of their day is spent analyzing data; without the data we are pretty much stuck at the beginning. We won’t get a full sense of the spectrum and we may loose the opportunity for valuable incite.
A food journal can be as simple or as complex as you want it. I create a small spread sheet on Google Docs so I access it anywhere. I track what and when I eat and how I feel along with some other bodily functions and lifestyle influences. Once you get in the habit it’s pretty easy.
My friends gasp when they see me order a giant, cheesy sandwich; but I shrug it off and say “I’m doing research.” I want to see how this is going to affect me … in the case of a cheesy sandwich I can already tell you it’s not going to be great.
Let’s keep in mind it’s easy to let the ‘I’m doing research’ statement get out of hand. That doesn’t give us carte blanch to go eat everything in sight. I’m a strong proponent of the 80/20 rule- eat clean eighty percent of the time and you let yourself imbibe up to twenty percent. You might need to adjust to firgure out the right components for you, say 90/10, but the base idea is to eat better more often than not.
So do your research, track how food affects you and you will start to gain keen intuition; you might also find that the process of writing down what you eat just might trick you into a healthier eating by default.
Now go do some research!