What fits? I think a lot about this question. And I’m not referring to the type of fitness that comes with adequate exercise, though that too is important.
Most people make decisions about what clothes or shoes to buy and wear by how well they fit, in size, style and appropriateness for the weather. It’s such an obvious concept that we adults may not give it much thought, except perhaps when trying to outfit young children, who can have unusual notions (to say the least!) about what fits for a given day or a specific outing.
As a parent, the kind of “fit” that I have found most compelling and challenging has to do with food, with figuring out what works well for each individual in the family.
Which foods support your energy and health? What about for your partner, or for your child? The answer may be different for each of you, and I’m not speaking here of taste preferences.
Take chocolate, for example, which shows up in shops and homes with renewed appeal during springtime. Chocolate eggs, chocolate chicks, or other little chocolate covered treats that we sprinkle into our rituals of celebration.
Like most people, I enjoy the taste of chocolate. However, unlike most people I know, I pay dearly for my occasional tastes of it. Just yesterday I was rudely reminded of that.
A friend had made gluten-free and vegan chocolate truffles. How could I resist? Because I’m sensitive to gluten and casein, I really appreciate the rare homemade treat created without those ingredients. It had been long enough since my last taste of chocolate that a degree of amnesia (or was it denial?), had started to creep into my yearning for a bit of that dark wonder.
I want to be able to eat chocolate, at least every now and then. After all, dark chocolate has useful nutritional benefits. It’s high in anti-oxidants and can lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and cortisol. Besides, it’s also fun to eat! So after a hearty meal, I enjoyed (actually, relished!) 1.5 of those fudgie truffles.
That small amount of delicious chocolate sent me zinging into extra high gear. I’d forgotten how intense my energy can become after a mere morsel of caffeine, especially when laced with sugar. I also managed to forget about the sudden crash that follows those zing hours. By mid afternoon, I felt wiped out, worn out, and completely run-down, as though my body was suddenly trying hard not to become sick. I had to go to bed. So much for my intention to work in the yard on that glorious spring day!
Chocolate, I admit finally, is not a good fit for me. Is it for you? What about for your child? Which other food or food ingredient might not be a good fit for you or someone in your family?
Each body differs in terms of reactions to specific foods. However, there are a number of common symptoms that can show up, several hours to several days after consuming one or more foods or drinks. Here’s a partial list of food sensitivity symptoms:
- Ears, eyes, nose — recurring ear infections, especially in children; itchy and watery eyes, dark circles under eyes, and swollen, red, or sticky eyelids; runny or stuffy nose
- Emotions and mind – mood swings, depression, anxiety and tension; irritability, anger or aggressive behavior; food cravings and binge eating or drinking; confusion, poor comprehension
- Energy – fatigue, mental dullness and memory lapses, difficulty getting work done; hyperactivity, restlessness
- Gastrointestinal tract — constipation or diarrhea, frequent gas, bloating, stomach pain, heartburn
- Head — frequent headaches, difficulty sleeping, dizziness
- Heart and lungs — irregular or rapid heartbeat, asthma, shortness of breath
- Mouth and throat — sores on gums, lips, and tongue; frequent clearing of throat
- Muscles and joints – general weakness, muscle and joint aches or pains, swelling, stiffness, arthritis
- Skin – Rashes, eczema, hives, psoriasis, acne, dry skin, hair loss, irritation around eyes
- Other – bed wetting, frequent urination, insomnia, weight issues. Children who are sensitive to certain foods or environmental triggers may have attention deficit disorder, or behavior or learning problems.
Which foods work especially well for you, your child, your family? What do you eat and drink that stabilizes your energy and allows your overall health to be as vibrant as you want it to be? As the weather warms and springtime takes over, consider those questions about “fit” carefully. Their answers could make a big difference to your health.
Guest Blog to Window of Heaven Acupuncture and Yoga, April 15, 2014