How Your Body Tells You About Your Health by Danah Mor
Danah Mor explains how to read your body signals and what they might be telling you about your health, in this excerpt from her book, Shine Brighter Every Day: Nourish Your Body, Feed Your Spirit, Balance Your Life (Watkins May 2020).
BODY LANGUAGE AND SIGNALS
How often do we read our body’s signals without the mind interfering, ignoring or distorting? If your car is giving a red alert signal, but you don’t stop to work out what the alert is for, what happens? It’s likely your car doesn’t last long. Smoke signals from our bodies mean, “Please do something different because something is wrong!” If you ignore those mild smoke signals, a fire could be just up ahead. Check out the guidelines in the table on the following page. You can create some for yourself too!
HOW SERIOUS ARE YOUR SIGNALS
An occasional mild pain/ discomfort, indigestion, or headache.
Medium pain, heartburn, indigestion, bloating and rashes. All mild, acute discomforts
or yellow alerts that repeat themselves frequently including general discomfort/ pain, headaches, bloating, acid reflux and constipation are orange alerts.
Continuous repeated and regular orange alerts.
When orange alerts become regular or chronic, they are red alerts, and if ignored or symptomatically treated, these mild symptoms can lead to serious long-term complications
or disease. For example, chronic constipation can lead to intestinal cancer and other intestinal complications. Uncontrolled heartburn can lead to throat, voice and dental problems, as well as asthma and other respiratory complications, if not worse conditions.
This discomfort is occasional, which means it happens a few times a year – not more. If you think, you can probably connect it to some sort of event like eating bad food which causes a stomachache, a sleepless night leading to a headache or eating something that caused heartburn.
The difference between a yellow and orange alert is the level of pain and/or the fact that it is repetitive. The reoccurring discomfort is indicating something continues to be wrong and needs attention,
not symptomatic relief. When yellow signals occur every month, and even more than once a month
they become orange and could even become red alerts if they are not tended to. At this point we need to stop, look and listen to what we have done differently. Looking at internal and external factors will help us scan different areas of our lives.
RESPONDING TO THE NEED
Responding to these symptoms does not mean numbing them with symptomatic relief, like a painkiller. Your body is telling you something is wrong, so please try something different. For example, if your stomach hurts after eating something, try eating differently or different foods. If you have headaches, drink more water, or is there something in particular that is causing you stress? Try to relax more, exercise and spend more time in nature… it’s simple; just try anything different in a better direction.
Next time you feel discomfort, ask yourself if there have been any changes in your diet, activities, emotions and sleep. For example:
* What did I do differently today, yesterday, this week?
* Have I had enough water?
* Did I get upset or angry?
* When did this discomfort begin? What has happened since then?
* What have I eaten in the last few days? Anything different?
* Is this reoccurring? If so, try to notice what happened around these discomforts
* Does it happen after a particular meal? Does it happen after an argument with your spouse? Does it happen when you stress at work, with the kids? Does it happen in the evening or morning? What happens around that time?
* How did I feel? What were my thoughts about?
* What did I eat? What did I drink?
Most discomforts are triggered by emotional or/and physical events. By understanding the trigger, we can prevent the discomfort. For example, I have always loved homemade desserts, but I’ve linked them to my allergies. So, I started experimenting and found that if I eat ice cream before 6pm I have no allergenic response. This could be related to the fact that my body has time to process the sugar before I sleep and therefore it doesn’t affect my system the following day.
If you are eating something that is irritating your system and causing you discomfort as a result, this
can be solved simply. Becoming more aware of how you feel after your meals, interactions etc., and
figuring out if you feel better when you don’t eat a certain food, is how you begin a conversation with your body. Becoming aware of our signals, responding and experimenting is crucial to reconnect and communicate with ourselves. I sometimes get headaches. At first, I asked myself if I’d had enough water that day, and I made an effort to drink more. I noticed that drinking water often helped the headache go away. But I started to get a stronger type of headache.
By questioning what happens around these headaches that may be causing the discomfort, I realized they always occurred before or on a very stressful day or event. I realized that my headaches were related to my anticipation of stress. I was stressing about what was to come, that hadn’t even happened yet. I was thinking too much, and all my energy was getting stuck in my head. Now that I know that too much thinking/stressing causes my headaches, when I start to feel a headache coming on, I can prevent it by trying to calm my mind down and stop any recurrent thoughts.
My client Michael came to see me when he had already made a connection with his symptoms.
His mouth was filled with sores for years and he was overweight and always bloated. He heard about
gluten and dairy sensitivities and experimented one day. He stopped consuming dairy at first. He noticed after two days that the sores in his mouth had disappeared. This is a great example of body connection – because he felt discomfort and acted upon it. He tried something different. By trying something different he discovered his body didn’t agree with dairy. He stopped consuming it and his discomfort vanished. After a few weeks his belt size reduced by six holes! He was shocked. Michael never thought that one type of food – and something he had been brought up to believe was healthy – could cause so much discomfort.
Maria decided to stop eating bread to lose weight. However, when she was on holiday she didn’t mind and enjoyed bread as much as she wanted. She started to notice that on holiday she no longer had bowel movements, so she started to ask herself what she was doing differently. Firstly, she was on holiday, and she was more relaxed and less stressed, so emotionally it was positive. So she thought about food – how was her eating different? The only thing that was different was her bread consumption. She responded to the trigger and her constipation vanished. Now she enjoys her holidays much more without bread and no bloated abdomen!
Often the idea of having to give up certain foods is outweighed by the comfort we feel once we free our bodies from the discomfort. As I have said before, there’s nothing more addictive than feeling amazing! Asking ourselves the right questions will lead us to an answer, a choice and an action.
About Danah Mor
Danah Mor is a certified Health Practitioner who discovered she was going blind at age 13. She trained in Ayurvedic Medicine at the Medical University of Manipal and is certified by Hippocrates Health Institute and The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. For more about Danah go to http://danahmor.com