Friday, May 22, 2009

Lessons in Eating for your Body

This past week I learned an important lesson about eating in tune with what my body needs. As you may know, I have an underactive thyroid which I am trying to heal. One of the main influencing factors, of course, is diet, and I am always trying to gather more information on how I can do better. I ran into someone I knew as a thyroid "expert" at a talk I attended, and began discussing my thyroid condition with her afterward. She asked if I eat raw vegetables and I said yes, I do, mainly in the form of a big seasonal salad which I have a few times a week. She told me I needed to stop eating any raw vegetables because they contain goitrogens which attack thyroid hormone. I am not sure if she meant salad was taboo as well, but I took this to mean that I shouldn't have any type of raw green thing, and since I'm not into cooked lettuce I simply stopped eating salad. For the following week and a half I noticed a strange shift in my mood and energy level: I became very irritable, unmotivated, and fatigued. I wasn't keeping appointments or getting anything done at home which is totally unlike me. Friends heard me complain often about everything from my strange lack of energy to my odd desire to do absolutely nothing. I couldn't seem to stop griping and complaining about things in general! I was starting to have thoughts that maybe I had developed a food allergy or my thyroid medication wasn't working, etc.; I really couldn't figure out what was happening to me. Finally (after feeling pretty bad for a full week), I realized the only thing that had changed in my life was that I had STOPPED EATING SALADS. I spoke with my friend Sharon who reminded me that the woman I had consulted follows macrobiotic principles, which teaches that raw vegetables of any kind are very unhealthy. I realized I had misapplied information and made a drastic change that wasn't right for my body (something I warn other people against!). I began eating salads again as much as I wanted and began to feel better immediately. The change was dramatic. I don't know if somehow the nutrients I was missing are what was making me so miserable, or if it was that I was suppressing myself (I LOVE making --and eating-- beautiful salads of spring greens and to not eat them was to deny a part of myself). I suspect it was a mix of both. I have reached a point where I know what my body needs: it tells me when I need protein and what kind, when to eat fruit, when to have something lacto-fermented. I have to keep listening to that inner knowledge. This is what we all must do. Forget the so-called "experts;" they have their place of course, but the real expert on you is YOU.

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