Yesterday, I had lunch with a friend who for years has been dedicated to addressing her food sensitivities and responding to the ways in which different foods impact her body and her health. She told me that, after years of sometimes suppressing her body’s needs out of a desire not to be seen as picky, she has decided to stop trying to live according to the ideas and standards of others and to tend to her health in the way that is best for her, without feeling embarrassed. I was truly encouraged by her willingness to listen to her intuition and her body’s wisdom, regardless of the arbitrary assumptions that others may (or may not) be making.
My friend’s approach to eating is one that everyone should adopt. In our attempts to be healthy, we often turn to outside sources to tell us what we should eat. We follow diet crazes like the low-fat diet that was popular in the 1990′s, or the low-carb Atkins diet. Or we are influenced by proponents of various ways of eating who sometimes believe they’ve found a diet that is right for everyone. Certainly, many people have experienced wonderful health effects from a wide range of diets, and for those people, such diets may indeed be the most beneficial. But each body has unique needs.
For example, I was a vegetarian for four years but, due to my low blood sugar, I often experienced dramatic drops in energy, along with dizziness and nausea, because my protein intake was too low to maintain stable blood sugar levels. To be sure, dedicated vegetarians can find sufficient sources of protein, but I did not want to take the risk of damaging my health. My mother was hypoglycemic before she contracted diabetes, and some doctors believe that hypoglycemia can be a precursor to diabetes.
Two years ago, I reintroduced meat into my diet and I’ve felt much stronger ever since. The nausea and dizziness occur much less frequently, and I no longer experience dramatic drops in energy. I believe that purchasing ethically raised meat is extremely important. I buy organic, grass-fed beef and free-range chicken and eggs. I also try to buy my meat from local farmers as much as possible, and I am encouraged by the recent growth of biodynamic farming. I also highly respect the decisions of those who choose not to eat meat. Whatever eating habits one adopts, it is important to treat the animals and the land in an ethical way.
When it comes to our bodies, ultimately we know them more thoroughly than anyone else. When deciding how to eat, we should be mindful of how particular foods make us feel. We should not listen to the somewhat arbitrary judgments of others, who often do not know our full health history.