You’ve exchanged your caramel macchiato and chocolate chip cookie for a matcha tea and an apple. You’re doing everything “right” and you’re eating so many veggies you feel almost rabbit-like.
So…why don’t you feel great? Where’s that boost of energy, clearer skin, and overall fantastic-ness that was promised to you on the other side of this change?
It can all be so very frustrating.
Most of the time your body will give you a great “thank you” boost of energy every time you add some extra veggies to your diet. Most of the time this works beautifully. But, when it doesn’t, it’s a symptom we need to pay attention to.
Actually, many of my one-on-one clients book their first appointment because they feel just like you do now - they eat a better diet than most of their friends, but they feel tired, bloated, or generally blah most of the time. I hear the frustrated cries of “but I eat so well!!” so very often.
There is hope - these symptoms you’re feeling are a clue. An important clue to your health puzzle, and once we figure out what your body is asking for you’ll feel SO much better!
It really works, I see it every day :).
4 reasons why you might not be feeling fantastic -
1. Blood sugar imbalances -
Are you feeling “hangry” (otherwise known as the angry hungries) throughout the day? When you’re hungry do you need to eat NOW! If yes, your blood sugar might be out of balance.
Your morning green smoothie or other healthy breakfast might not be working for you. Breakfast can make or break your day, and sometimes a seemingly healthy breakfast (like a smoothie) doesn’t quite stabilize your blood sugar properly.
What to do - try out a bunch of new breakfasts. Try a high protein breakfast like beans or eggs with veggies. Or a high healthy fat breakfast like avocado toast. Experiment until you find something that keeps you full for 3 - 4 hours and lets you feel REAL hunger.
REAL hunger = an empty feeling in your stomach, a slight dip in energy, and the feeling that some food would be nice in the next few hours or so. It is NOT demanding, it does NOT change your personality, and you’ll crave a healthy meal instead of a quick sugary fix :).
2. Your digestion isn’t lovin’ your new foods -
Are you feeling bloated? Tired after eating? Constipated? Heartburn? If so, your digestive system might be less-than-happy about what you’ve been eating these days.
“Eat more fibre” is a mantra I hear over and over again in health literature. It seems to be the cure for everything from constipation to high cholesterol. If you’re eating mostly refined flour and sugar, then more fibre can be seriously helpful.
But, if you’re already eating lots of whole grains, beans, and plant-based foods, then more fibre might just bung up your whole system.
Our digestive system also likes to be eased into change, and too much fibre all of sudden is quite a shock. Especially if you’re even mildly dehydrated or lacking enough healthy fat in your diet. Just look at your skin - if it’s dry then your colon is probably dry too.
What to do - Cut back on your high fibre foods a bit, especially the hard to digest ones like beans, wheat bran, and psyllium.
Drink lots of water and add at least 1 tsp - 1 tbsp of healthy fat to each meal. Healthy fat lubricates your colon and helps keep everything moving smoothly…and beautifully glowing skin is a nice side-effect :)
3. Your diet is out of balance -
Most diet trends follow one theme -> remove _____ from your diet and you’ll feel wonderful. (fill in the blank with whatever is out of style, like carbs, gluten, fat, etc).
BUT! Macronutrients (carbs, fat, and protein) are all very important for your body. Each plays a role in how your body functions.
Protein is so important for muscles and our overall structure. Fat is important for the integrity of our cell walls (and therefore is important in almost every cellular function). And carbs are important sources of energy, happiness (literally, it boosts serotonin), and hormones.
That was a VERY simplistic description of what each macronutrient does, but you can see how cutting out one can have terrible consequences, like:
Not enough carbs = hormonal disruptions, low mood, low energy, GIANT sugar cravings.
Not enough fat = blood sugar imbalances, slower metabolism, dry skin, constipation.
Not enough protein = muscle weakness, weaker bones, low energy, blood sugar imbalances.
What to do - try out a new balance of macronutrients in your diet and see how you feel….but don’t worry about “counting macros”, no math is needed. Just adjust the portions on your plate and see how you feel. You’ll feel great once you’ve got the right balance for you, and readjust according to your cravings/season.
4. You’re not eating for your constitution -
Food is more than just a sum of nutrients and many traditional forms of medicine, like Ayurveda and TCM, also look at a food’s energetic properties.
This topic deserves its own post, but I’ll try sum it up a bit here. Simply put - what you eat can affect your energy, personality, and how your body functions.
According to Ayurvedic medicine, if you eat too many hot and fiery foods (like spicy foods) then you can become more angry, temperamental, and judgemental. Or, if you eat too many grounding/low energy foods (like root veggies) then you can become overly sedentary, tired, and jealousy can rear its ugly head.
Eating for your constitution makes your diet very VERY personal. I use this a lot myself and it helps me stay grounded before a big talk, and driven and motivated when I’m working on a project.
Wrapping things up
It can be downright frustrating when you’re doing everything you “should” be doing but you don’t feel so great. Especially when you’ve put in so much effort to make healthier choices.
If you’re feeling this way but you’re aren’t sure why, don’t be afraid to get some help figuring out your health puzzle. It may be that a few small tweaks are all that’s needed to shift everything :).