We’re not against diets like keto, vegan, and paleo. Each of these is healthy in its own way. It’s the uncompromising mentality that irks us. The truth is: No one diet is right for everyone. So, if you are trying to be vegan, but you seriously crave red meat or if you’ve eliminated bread because “gluten is bad,” but you’ve never had a problem with your morning toast before, we encourage you to listen to your body. You might be eating the wrong foods.
“Eating the wrong foods can have a profound impact on the body and mind,” says Nick Bitz, N.D., a naturopathic doctor and chief scientific officer at Youtheory. “It commonly leads to gas, bloating, headaches, and nasal congestion, but it also presents in weird and unexpected ways, too.”
Keep reading for some pretty solid hints that you need to switch up your diet.
1. You feel tired all the time.
“Food is more than just calories. It helps to feed the “energy factories” of cells called mitochondria,” explains Bitz. And without a steady influx of the right nutrients — i.e., if you’re eating the wrong foods — the mitochondria are unable to produce cellular energy. In other words, you feel tired.
According to Bitz, this is especially true for those of us who are sensitive to high glycemic foods, which can raise blood sugar and cause fatigue over the course of the day. “If you’re experiencing fatigue, it’s important to favor low glycemic foods or at least add more protein, fat or fiber to meals to help buffer the sugar spikes,” says Bitz.
2. You have brain fog.
Another telltale sign you’re eating the wrong foods for your body? Brain fog. According to a Harvard Health blog, brain fog is one of the main signs of a food sensitivity. If you’re eating a “healthy” diet but still feel foggy, loopy, and easily distracted, you might be eating a food, ingredient, or beverage that doesn’t agree with you. (Here’s how to find out if you have a food sensitivity.)
3. Your tongue looks white or yellow.
“In a clinical setting, I always look at a person’s tongue,” says Bitz. “The tongue never lies and it is the single best indicator of a person’s digestive health status.” Interesting, right? The cool part is that you can examine your own tongue at home.
According to Bitz, a pink tongue with a thin coating is considered healthy and normal, and it shows that you’re digesting your foods properly. A thick coating, usually white or yellow in color, is a telltale sign that your diet is wrong or that you’re not digesting your foods properly.
4. You have dull hair, skin, and nails.
Nutrition is mostly about what’s going on inside your body, but that doesn’t mean your outward appearance isn’t providing hints about what’s going on inside. Weak or dull hair, skin, and nails can be a sign that your body isn’t getting what it needs out of the foods you’re eating.
5. You don’t enjoy food anymore.
Food is about health but it’s also about enjoyment and pleasure. If your diet plan has taken all the joy out of your meals, then something’s got to give. Food should be a source of happiness in your life!
And be aware that orthorexia, or an unhealthy obsession with trying to achieve a perfect diet, is a very real disorder, with lasting effects on mental and physical wellbeing. If you’re feeling the pressure to “succeed” at your diet or you find yourself giving yourself a pass or fail grade on what you’re eating, you might want to take a step back. Nutrition plans are blueprints, not tests.