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Feel like your body is failing you?

Do you ever feel like your body is failing you?

I think we’ve all been there at one point or another.

Maybe it’s that feeling of inconsolable bloating after eating a seemingly healthy meal. (Leaving you to wonder what else you have to cut out of your diet.)

Or the surprise of getting sick right before vacation. (Great timing, body.)

Or gaining weight (and inches) instead of losing when you finally get consistent with your exercise routine. (Seriously?! Is this a cruel joke?)

If you feel like you’re in a never-ending war with your body and you just can’t win, this post is for you.

In a recent nutrition session, a client of mine revealed that after reintroducing some foods into her diet, some of her symptoms had returned.

She was distraught.

She had spent the past 4 weeks diligently working through a customized elimination diet. And unlike her past attempts on healing her digestion, her symptoms went down a whopping 74%.

In her eyes, this was a miracle.
Finally, she had won the war.
Her digestion was healed.
She could eat like a “normal” person again.

I encouraged her to (carefully) bring back some variety to her diet. And as she did. But some of the foods she added in brought those nagging symptoms with it.

In her eyes, all this effort she had put in went to waste.

Her body was still broken.

There was no point in trying, when it seemed like living with digestive turmoil was inevitable.

And as much as I can relate to those feelings (believe me, I’ve had my own health woes), I was actually celebrating for her.

Let me explain.

Or maybe Lou Holtz can do it for me:

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it.”

That applies to your body as well.

Even when it doesn’t seem this way, your body is always on your side. It always has your best interest at heart. It wants you to feel good. And it most certainly doesn’t like to cause you pain.

So when something’s not right, it’ll tell you.

Send out a little warning signal. But, it doesn’t always know the best way to communicate with you.

It’s like a newborn that doesn’t yet know how to talk. When a newborn cries, it can mean any number of things.

It may be hungry.
Have a dirty diaper.
Want to be held.
Have gas.
Want to sleep.
Want to move.
Want to be still.
Want attention.

(…you get the idea)

But it only knows one way to tell you. 

So it cries until you can figure it out.

If you happen to get it right, baby stops crying. You feel like a mind-reading genius (and hopefully you can get some sleep).

When it comes to your body, you are the parent (or caretaker). And if you can’t interpret the cues it is sending you, you’re bound to get frustrated.

Just like any caretaker of an inconsolable baby.

You would never assume a crying baby is somehow “broken,” so why are you assuming that about your body?

Luckily, your body is a more adept communicator than a newborn. It might tell you you’ve eaten the wrong thing by giving you a stomach ache, while it might tell you you’re getting sick by making your throat hurt.

And sometimes the signals it sends are a bit more subtle, but you might not have developed the skills to interpret them or the awareness to look for them.

That takes time. And that can be learned.

Let me reassure you. Your body is not broken.

You are not broken.

You simply need to be patient, present, and persistent, just like any good caretaker.

For this client, we were able to figure out which foods triggered the re-occurrence of her symptoms. We also learned that she had a dose-dependent response to certain foods, meaning if she over-consumed some items, it could trigger symptoms.

With that extra information, we were able to even more carefully fine tune which foods she introduced, when, and how much, so she could safely build in more variety (and nutrient-density) into her diet.

In her case, this temporary digestive discomfort was simply her body communicating with her. And because she was listening (and I could help her interpret the signals), she learned something new. And with a few tweaks, she was back on track and those symptoms faded away.

There was most certainly a useful lesson learned from this so-called “negative” experience. (Isn’t that always the case?!)

So my challenge to you today is to prioritize listening to your body.

The next time you feel like your body is failing you, ask yourself:

What symptoms is it sending me? When? What are they like?
What can I learn from them?
And most importantly, how am I responding to my body?

If you’re not giving your body the same love and attention you would give to a newborn, you’re doing it a disservice.

Listen more. Care more. Nurture more.

You’ll be able to speak the same language soon enough.

And if you’re at a loss as to how to do this, especially when you’re battling seemingly endless digestive issues or food-related symptoms, we should talk.

Through a combination of highly accurate food sensitivity testing, a customized elimination diet, and a healthy emphasis on mindful eating (so you can become a master at interpreting these signals yourself), I can help you heal your unhappy tummy with real food.

Go here for more information.

Before you go, I’d like to hear your experience.

Do you ever feel like your body is failing you?
What makes you feel that way?
And how can you use the signals your body sends to respond differently?

Tell me about it in the comments below.

Until next week,

PS – Tummy hurts, but feel confident in figuring it out on your own? Great. I’ve got a helpful freebie for you below to guide you to a happier tummy in just 30 days.

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Lily Nichols is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, researcher, and author with a passion for evidence-based prenatal nutrition and exercise. Her work is known for being research-focused, thorough, and unapologetically critical of outdated dietary guidelines. She is the author of two bestselling books, Real Food for Pregnancy and Real Food for Gestational Diabetes.


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  1. Ohhh I love this topic. I’ve learned to listen to the signals from my body in more ways than one and usually stay balance. Although I do get off track occasionally… hey, I’m human, right? Sugar will get me if I’m not super careful. It just makes me feel yucky. A few weeks ago I decided to have a bit of decadence and knew it would throw my system off. What I did, was eat green for the next day and took some probiotics, that I love, known for strong anti candida qualities. It’s not a cure all, meaning if I did it often, it wouldn’t work BUT it does help me in a pinch 🙂

    So I guess my body’s signal is the yucky feeling and it keeps me in line most of the time 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing, Melissa.

      Sugar is such a tricky one, but it’s great you’ve learned how it affects you. Knowing that gives you the power to choose to indulge and plan for your “recovery.” 😉

  2. Great article! Intuitively listening to our bodies is the best way to live.

  3. Thanks for the great article! I’ve had stomach aches as long as I can remember. During a period of very high stress when I was 20 I started having severe acid reflux. Apparently I still have it while I sleep but at least it doesn’t happen while I’m eating or in the middle of the day anymore. It’s odd because things that are supposed to be “good” for me often hurt my stomach like if I eat a lot of raw vegetables it causes bloating and stomach aches. However, when I eat things like plain white pasta I usually feel fine. Not sure if I should just eat smaller meals more frequently or if I should try an elimination diet (although I’ll admit I’m a little scared by that thought). The sad part is that I’m so used to having a stomach ache that it just feels normal to me and I just deal with it.

    • Hi Lauren, I understand how frustrating it can be to deal with digestive issues, especially long-term when it seems like it’s something you’ll have forever. If you decide to embark on an elimination diet, just be sure to read this first so you avoid the top 10 elimination diet mistakes. Best of luck. 🙂

  4. Thank you for this. It’s exactly what I needed right now. I was “glutened” on Friday night, and have spent the rest of the weekend with a very unhappy gut. After being up all night sick on Friday, I woke Saturday morning feeling very discouraged. I’ve been paleo for 4 months, and felt like I was on the mend, but after getting sick I felt like I’d just wrecked my gut again.

    I don’t necessarily feel like my body fails me though. I feel like I’ve failed it. After feeling the damage from gluten this time, I feel terrible that I’ve done this to my body for so long. Years of eating lots of gluten every day left it constantly in defense mode. I worry about the repercussions from that.
    I’m trying to be very nurturing to it right now. I lay down if I need to. Sleep when I’m sleepy, and I’m eating gentle whole foods so I don’t stress it out more.
    At the end of the day, it was my body that told me I needed to change my life, and for that I’m grateful!

    • Hi Sage,
      I, too, have been accidentally “glutened” (I have a food sensitivity to wheat), so I completely relate. And you’re right – Imagine if our bodies didn’t send us a message to stop eating it?! You’re listening and responding to your body’s needs just as it is asking you to. Hope you feel better soon. 🙂

  5. Thanks for this article,
    I have suffered for a very long time with low self-esteem and body image issues. In the past I had an eating disorder. My legs have every problem imaginable, lipedema, vericose veins, cellulite, loose skin, bruising for no reason, and acne. I feel so defeated and angry that not only am I dealing with one issue, but so many, that I feel overwhelmed and wonder why this is happening to me. I am slim because I try hard to eat healthy and exercise regularly, but like all humans, I slip sometimes, but I feel like I’m getting punished more than others. No matter what I try, my legs just look ugly and a mess, and now I feel even worse about dating guys, to the point where I have even considered the possibility that I will be alone forever because I am too afraid to be rejected by a new guy who hasn’t seen my legs yet. I have been rejected before, but no one has pointedly rejected me for my legs, but they never give me a real reason, so I assume it’s because they think they can find a more beautiful girl. So my whole existence is absorbed with fighting a losing battle against my body, instead of doing the things I love. All my time, energy, and resources are going toward trying to fix my body and I’m failing in other areas of life because of it. I should be doing so many other more important things but it’s like my mind is clouded and occupied with this, and there is no mental space for much else. I feel as though the answer is sitting there but I just can’t see it or reach it. Is it something I am doing? Eating? Is it all just genetic and I’m wasting time? I don’t know where to start to find out. I just want to be normal and don’t know why this is happening. It is torture being a woman in this world. I want it to end.

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