Food for Thought

Paying Attention to Your Body’s Signals for Optimal Health

The human body is a marvelous creation. It tells us how it is doing every day. It speaks when it’s doing great, just like it speaks and when things aren’t so wonderful. Many of us ignore the messages our bodies send. But that’s the beauty of it – the body gives a ton of signals to alert us when it’s in need of something so we can do what’s necessary to achieve optimal health. Perhaps our greatest challenges are paying attention and acting on the signals we receive.

Use these strategies to tune in to what your body is telling you:

  • Assess how you feel each morning. The early morning hours are can be an ideal time to listen for the body’s signals. At that time of day, it’s often very quiet, so you can pay closer attention to the physical signals.
  • Determine if you experience any new aches when getting out of bed.
  • Figure out if you wake up feeling lousy, even after a sound night’s sleep.
  • See if you wake up with any ailments that you didn’t go to sleep with.
  • Check to see if you are alert and well-rested or groggy and tired even before your day begins.

Compare the effects of different food choices. As we go through our routines day by day, it’s sometimes tough to maintain proper nutrition. Especially if you’re always on the go, you may end up making some questionable food choices. If that happens, it’s important to notice what kind of impact your food choices have on your body. From there you can make informed decisions about the best foods to fuel your body.

  • Do you find that you’re more energetic when you eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables?
  • How effective are you in the gym after you’ve spent a day eating junk food?
  • Does your mind function better when you eat nutrient-rich foods?
  • Does your body ache all over if you eat foods containing a lot of sugar or chemical ingredients?
  • Are your moods lighter or more stable if you stick with plant-based whole foods?

Get regular checkups. Even if you haven’t seen or felt anything to worry about, it’s important to get regular checkups from your healthcare provider just to make sure everything is functioning as it should. For example, it is possible for a person’s cholesterol or blood pressure, or blood sugars to be high and they have no idea. Per the CDC many people are pre-diabetic. Prediabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Approximately 88 million American adults—more than 1 in 3—have prediabetes. Of those with prediabetes, more than 84% don’t know they have it.

  • If you’re about to embark upon a stressful month at work, now would be a great time to get a checkup.
  • Put a routine in place for getting annual checkups and stick to it.

Know your body’s physical capabilities. Although you may consider yourself healthy and in good shape overall, there’s just so much the body can manage. Whether it’s exercise or mental work at the office, it’s important to know your limits so you don’t end up burned out and physically exhausted.

  • It’s okay to work out until your muscles feel worn, but you’ll know if you’ve overdone it if the recovery time is longer than you expect.
  • The same goes for mental and emotional exhaustion. Learn to recognize overwork and psychological stressors. Most importantly, become an expert at managing stress and put yourself first in line for self-care.

Paying attention to your body’s signals is a crucial part of maintaining good health. Remember that you rely heavily on your body to take you through the ins and outs of daily life, so you’re better off protecting it. Listen to your body’s signals and act accordingly.

Contributing Writer: Meryl Fury

Meryl Fury is President and CEO of PBNM.org.  She is a Registered Nurse with a Masters Degree in Nursing.  Professionally, she has specialized in public health and underserved populations. Personally, she is mad about healthy eating. She enjoys everything about whole-life health, especially working with older people who can greatly benefit from the healing power of whole food plant-based eating. Meryl is the founder, and CEO of Balance Forward Health and Wellness, LLC, which focuses on playfully supporting people who want to attain vibrant health over the entire lifespan. You can read more about her on her website at www.balanceforwardhealthandwellness.com.