This my usual response to my patients who like to tell me that their head always tells them something different than what they feel: “I knew in my mind that I shouldn’t have done it!” or “ My head tells me one thing, but my body didn’t listen!” Through my lens as a clinical psychologist, the apparent disconnect is one that has been drummed into people’s psyches since they were young, and actually has a home in science. We can see that mind/body division everywhere, and in psychology, that division is apparent in “think before you do that!” or “I don’t know why I feel this way.” And in mainstream traditional psychology, the knowing part wins out; even though, we feel most everything before we know anything.
The reason I bring the Mind/Body connection into focus is because you and I can actually use the innate wisdom of our bodily sensations to track how we are progressing in our quest to lose weight and stay on track with the foods we eat.
So, OK, fine, how does this work with food? And why would you care about it? Do any of these scenarios ring a bell?
- “Went out to lunch, but I was hungry two hours later.”
- “Um no, I can’t do people today.”
- “Why do I have this crazy appetite?”
- “I can’t remember $h**!”
All of these are examples of how the body reacts to poor insulin response and inflammation. What I’m talking about here is how to really “hear” these bodily responses as indicators of our body’s reactions to some foods, and to make different sense of it than we ordinarily would. For example, being hungry fairly soon after eating is the body’s way of saying: “ I didn’t absorb nutrients from my food, because my body isn’t responding to insulin, so now I’m hungry again.” Rather than, “Wow, I’m just really hungry today!”
And just a note, if the food you ate spiked your insulin, it wakes up Grumpy too.
Realizing that we are grumpy, hungry after having just eaten, or having pretty heavy-duty brain fog can help us to know how we respond to even the slightest bit of glucose. We can then make adjustments that are specific to our own bodies. I know, for example, that while heavy cream is a favorite keto food, I can’t eat or drink it. I loved it in my coffee, but holy moly, did I get bloated! Same thing with peanuts; they hate me. So how do I know those foods were the culprits? I would bloat up after ingesting them then I’d go do a little research. I got to know that my bloating was due to the peanuts or heavy cream, but more importantly, and the point I’m trying to make here, I used to broadly just blame the whole diet. I’ve since learned to read my body’s cues better and I can now make finer adjustments. It’s actually so empowering to get to know my body better, to be curious about it, and to have a greater sense of trust about my “feelings.”
The mind – how we think about things – and the body – how we feel about things – are not separate. They have been separated through time to help philosophers and researchers break down our very complex and fascinating selves in an effort to learn and understand. However, the books didn’t put us back together. I’m here to tell you, we are not one without the other. Our bodily sensations inform us of everything everyday. I invite everyone to know that with a little attention, we can utilize much more of that amazing brainpower to help us track our journey to wellness and minimize frustrations along the way.