On Thursday, I had the pleasure of speaking with Ingrid Vaicius, health coach and headache expert, at Sweetgreen. Our topic was listening to your body: paying attention to the annoying health symptoms like headaches and bloating. These symptoms are annoying, not disastrous, but they take energy to manage and make your day more stressful.
As we were discussing the various symptoms, what they signaled about your body, and how to prevent and treat them, you could feel the air in the room get a little heavy. These kinds of conversations can be overwhelming: first you have to cut out dairy, then you have to drink water, then you have to reduce stress…on and on and on.
But as the evening continued, I came to an important realization: the point understanding these symptoms isn’t to make your to-do list longer. Rather, we understand these symptoms so we have information. This knowledge is empowering.
My bloated belly is empowering? Do tell.
The example I’ll use here is lactose intolerance. When you first experience symptoms of bloating, constipation, then diarrhea…it seems random. You eat certain meals and *bam*, you feel like crap for a day. You can’t control it. You don’t know why it’s happening. Eventually, you do a little information digging. You write down what you eat, and you realize that these symptoms always follow eating dairy. So you cut out dairy for a few weeks and see – yep! No dairy, no symptoms. This is HUGE! You now know. You now have a choice. You can go into each meal, see dairy on the menu, and decide “is this food worth they symptoms that I’ll have?” You have power to decide, rather than having to blindly worry about what your food will do to your stomach.
Understanding how my body works and reacts to situations has been one of the best parts of my health journey.
So when you get a headache, or a pimple, or a cold, don’t say “why is this happening to me?” Instead, see it as information. Get curious about what precipitated the event, and if there’s a pattern you can discern. Use this as an opportunity to LEARN about what your body likes and doesn’t like, so you can take back the power and take care of it.
Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day,
Samantha Attard, PhD, is the founder of Happy Healthy Human. Sam is a performance coach and yoga instructor who helps people eat, move, and live with intention. Learn more here.