What we put in our bodies matters. After all, the foods we choose to incorporate in our diets affects our skin, our risk of cancer and diabetes (among other diseases), and even the length of our lifespan. To that end, if you’re suffering from health problems with no immediately conspicuous cause, chances are good that your diet is the problem. A visit to the doctor – and subsequent “diet makeover” – may be in order if…
1. You experience bloating, abdominal pain, or problems going to the bathroom frequently after eating. This may be an indicator that you suffer from a food allergy or intolerance, such as lactose intolerance and celiac disease. Consult your GP or an allergist for a diagnosis of the problem and to set up a plan of action regarding your symptoms – even if you don’t test positive for an allergy proper, around 10 percent of the human population suffers from gluten sensitivity, and 60 percent struggle to properly digest lactose (according to an article in USA Today). And if you do have celiac, you’ll want to get it checked out right away, as continued consumption of wheat products can lead to serious conditions (such as the severe allergic reaction anaphylaxis) and even death. Many people, including myself, have found elimination diets – in which you remove the suspected culprit from your diet for a month and see what happens – to be very beneficial in reversing symptoms of digestive unease.
2. You feel tired all the time. If you’re not eating three square meals a day (especially breakfast), get in the habit now – there’s no point in ” trying to run a car without gas,” according to Keri Gans, dietitian and author of The Small Change Diet. If you suffer from iron-deficiency anemia, you may need to mix up your diet with more iron-rich foods, like peanut butter, raisins, dark leafy greens (such as spinach and collards), and watermelon. Another way to boost your energy is to start eating more soluble fiber, which protects against blood sugar spikes and crashes, and can be found in whole-grain oatmeal and nuts.
3. You find yourself inexplicably gaining weight. Granted, this may not be so “inexplicable” after all – you may be increasing your food intake without realizing it, and since eighty percent of weight regulation depends on eating in moderation (with the remaining twenty percent being exercise), you may need to practice mindfulness when you eat. Keep a food diary to track how much you’re actually eating each day, and adjust your calorie intake accordingly if it turns out you’re consuming more calories than you burn. My Fitness Pal is a great online/smart phone tool to track not only the amount of calories in your food, but also estimate how many calories you should actually be consuming for your height, weight, and body type.