You may not realize it, but diet plays a major role in how you feel on a daily basis. This is one of the reasons why it is very important to pay attention to the connection between what you are eating and how you are feeling – especially if you haven’t been feeling too great.
Read below to learn the top 12 signs that you need to change your diet:
1. You always feel constipated
Constipation is an indicator of something not working in your diet. It also signifies that you are likely not getting enough fiber and water. Start paying attention to how much fiber you are eating, and slowly introduce 5 grams of fiber per week until you get up to 30 grams of fiber per day. Also be sure to drink at least 64 ounces of water because water helps to push fiber and stool down.
2. You frequently get heartburn
Heartburn, aka acid reflux, is when acidic juices from your stomach travel up your esophagus (the tube connecting your stomach to your throat) causing an unpleasant “burning” sensation. Heartburn every now and again is unpleasant but OK, but if you are having heartburn regularly this is a problem because the acid can cause erosion and ulcers to form. Some of the most common triggers for heartburn include spicy foods, tomato based sauces, coffee, peppermint, citrus, chocolate, and sugar. Everyone is different and will be more affected by different foods, so keep note of when you feel heartburn and what you had eaten beforehand.
3. You’re always gassy
Having an overly gassy body is an indicator that something you are eating is not digesting well. One of the most common culprits is due to a lactose intolerance. Try cutting out one food at a time for a two week period to determine which foods are causing a buildup of gas.
4. You’re always bloated
This could be because you are producing an overload of gas and/or you are constipated, both of which indicate something is not working well in your diet.
5. Your skin is breaking out
Your skin is the largest organ of your body and can tell you much about what is going on inside. If you’ve noticed an increase in breakouts for no apparent reason, this could have to do with what you are eating. One of the best ways to prevent breakouts from the diet is to eat non-inflammatory foods like berries and vegetables, and to drink tons of water.
6. You are gaining weight
You could be gaining weight for a few different reasons related to diet. These reasons could include increased inflammation in the body, too much sodium, not enough fluids, too many calories, an unhealthy gut flora, or all of the above. Keep in mind that our bodies try very hard to keep our weight constant and so if you are gaining weight seemingly out of nowhere, this is a sign that something is disrupting the body’s ability to maintain homeostasis.
7. You’re always hungry
This could be from a few different reasons, the most common being your’e not eating enough or you’re eating too many carbs and sugar.
Professional experience: I had this one young woman come see me – I actually forget the initial reason – but it came up that she would wake up in the middle of the night ravenous and have to eat something. I inquired about her diet and came to find that she was eating way too much sugar in the form of energy bars, electrolyte drinks, and fruit. I told her to cut back on these and see if it helped. The next time I saw her she let me know that since cutting out those foods, she no longer woke up hungry in the middle of the night, and she had lost close to 10lbs!
8. You’re always tired
Not getting enough nutrients in your diet can definitely make you feel more tired throughout the day. Make sure you are getting adequate protein, healthy fats, and some carbs in your diet.
9. You feel depressed
This could be from a number of different nutrients lacking in your diet, but some of the most common include a lack of B12, omega-3 fatty acids, and other vital nutrients which can lead to feelings of sadness. Read more about the nutrition depression link here.
Professional experience: I had a patient who started eating vegan after watching a documentary on veganism (a very flawed documentary I might add) who at first told me he felt great cutting out animal products. Then a week or two later he came to see me because he started feeling very depressed seemingly out of no where. I told him it could be stemming from his new diet, and so he agreed to start slowly introducing animal products back into his diet to see if it would help. A few days laster he called to let me know he felt SO much better after introducing animal products back into his diet and no longer felt depressed.
This is a reason why if I have a patient come in who is depressed, I ALWAYS inquire about diet and any new diet that could be part of the issue.
10. You have very little energy
Having little energy throughout the day is definitely a sign that something is off with your diet. Common reasons include that you aren’t getting enough iron, you aren’t drinking enough water, you aren’t eating enough in general, or you are eating too many carbs and sugar. Take a look at your diet and see what you are eating in the day and take note of when you feel low energy and good energy.
11. You have chronic diarrhea
Chronic diarrhea or frequent, loose stool is a big indicator of something off in your diet – it is literally your body rejecting and ejecting the food it doesn’t like as fast as it can from your body. The most common culprit is dairy due to lactose intolerance.
Note that that there are other reasons for chronic diarrhea and it is a good idea to let your primary care provider know if you suffer from this.
12. You often feel sick to your stomach
Feeling sick to your stomach on a regular basis is not normal, and it could be due to something in your diet. Some of the most common culprits include too much sugar, gluten, and artificial ingredients.
Personal experience: When I was younger I would use artificial sweetener to sweeten my coffee and my oatmeal and noticed that I often felt sick. I also noticed that when I didn’t use the artificial sweeteners I didn’t feel sick and so I completely cut them out from my diet and I’ve felt so much better every since. This is why I am a huge proponent of using natural sweetener like whole fruits and avoiding artificial sweeteners as much as possible.
If you are experiencing one or more of the above issues, it is a good idea to start taking a hard look at your diet. Try keeping a food and symptoms journal for a couple of weeks to see if you can make a connection between what you are eating and how you are feeling. If this isn’t enough, then start cutting out certain foods one at a time for at least two weeks to determine what is causing the issue.