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Don’t sell short the healing power of healthful food

Are you ignoring what your body is trying to tell you?

The people I see in my nutrition practice experience a wide range of undesirable symptoms that prevent them from enjoying their lives to the fullest. Whenever you experience unwanted symptoms, think of it as your body’s way of telling you (or sometimes yelling) something isn’t right and that it needs a little more support. While it’s common to assume many symptoms are unrelated to food, the improvements I see in my daily work with clients tell me there are very few issues that healthful food choices cannot help.

Here are a few examples of symptoms and issues where the healing power of food can be overlooked or underestimated:

If you are feeling tired, you might immediately determine that getting a better night’s sleep would help. What you might not realize is the extent to which food improves your circadian rhythm, which results in better sleep. Your hormones (such as cortisol, the wake hormone; melatonin, the sleep hormone; and insulin, the metabolic hormone) all work together to improve your health when you’re making healthy food choices.Also, routine wake ups at night that are commonly attributed to the need to urinate are many times related to a drop in blood sugar that spikes your cortisol. I’ve seen this issue reduced or even eliminated many times by simply eating more healthy food during the day at regular scheduled times. If you experience body aches such as joint pain and muscle aches, exercise can help to improve blood flow and provide some relief. However, eating an anti-inflammatory diet filled with healthy meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds can provide nutrients that can reduce inflammation in the joints and muscles. This alone can many times relieve aches and pains all together. If you suffer from depression, anxiety, or any other mood disorder, I strongly encourage speaking with a licensed practitioner for help and guidance. But in addition to this, understand the ability food has to nourish your brain and regulate your blood sugar so you can function at a higher level resulting in a better mood and more mental clarity. When your “gut” is happy, your brain is happy. If you are overweight or obese and want to eat healthy, but feel shaky, hangry, or can’t function whenever you try, the timing and portions of your food can make a significant impact. Diets don’t work across the board, because you are a unique individual and your food plan should be too. Your body needs a specific amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fat in certain ratios at certain times based on your lifestyle. A personalized, healthy eating plan can get you off the diet roller coaster and leave you feeling satisfied with no food cravings and weight loss that’s sustainable long term. Listening to your body’s symptoms is the first step to feeling better. Write down what you are experiencing and go over it with your healthcare provider. But don’t forget that for most undesirable symptoms you feel, there’s a way for healthy food to help you reduce or eliminate it and bring your body back into balance. Remember, the healing power of eating healthier food can’t be underestimated. It’s more important than you think when it comes to feeling your best.

Fran Sutherlin is a local registered dietitian, health coach, speaker and owner of Sustainable Nutrition, which has offices in Durango and Bayfield and offers virtual-coaching options. She can be reached at 444-2122 or fran@fransutherlin.com.