When you decide to cut out certain foods from your diet such as sugar or caffeine, it is normal to feel withdrawal symptoms while your body adjusts. But this may not be the case all the time as your body could be reacting to certain foods that don’t make you feel so crash hot. It could be you’re not eating enough or eating too much of the wrong food and not getting the right amount of nutrients.

Here are some signs to look out for that may prompt you to rethink your eating habits.

1. You have no energy

This could be caused by low iron levels. Iron is an essential mineral that gives us adequate energy to transport oxygen around the body and to keep the body functioning at its best. So if you aren’t obtaining enough iron in your diet, your body is unable to make enough red blood cells to carry oxygen and keep you on high alert. Hence, one major indicator of low iron levels is fatigue. This can be fixed however, by a few simple diet changes. Start consuming rich sources of iron such as red meat, pork, poultry, seafood, beans and dark green leafy vegetables. Iron is better absorbed with vitamin C, so when eating iron-rich foods couple it with broccoli, parsley, potatoes, oranges, mango or kiwi fruit to really boost your iron intake. Alternatively, iron can be taken in supplement form, but be careful of the dosage as too much iron can have side effects. If you are feeling a little sluggish and have been for quite some time, make an appointment with your doctor to get a blood test which will indicate your iron levels.

2. You’re short-tempered

This could mean you are ‘hangry’. This term essentially means you haven’t been consuming enough calories and as a result your energy is low, your blood sugar is unstable, and you become moody. I’m sure you have experienced this feeling of frustration when you haven’t eaten in a while. So now you know the exact cause. In an ideal world, everyone would eat a substantial breakfast, lunch and dinner. But in this day and age where everyone seems to lead busy lives, eating habits vary from person to person. Some people may skip breakfast altogether or have 5 small meals throughout the day or simply snack throughout the whole day. Furthermore, the amount of calories recommended varies between sex, age and your level of activity.

3. Your bowel movements aren’t regular

This could be due to not consuming enough fibre in your diet. Fibre works by adding volume to your stool which helps it pass through the digestive system easier. Constipation may also be caused by not consuming enough water, as water helps to loosen the stool and if you aren’t drinking enough your stool will be too hard. Fibre is in foods such as beans, oats, citrus fruits, apples, strawberries, raspberries, avocado, lentils, peas, and broccoli. By incorporating some of these foods into your diet your bowel movements will stay regular and you won’t feel bloated.

4. You’re feeling down

If your mood plummets it may be a result of ingesting too much refined carbohydrate in your diet. Carbohydrate is present naturally in fruits and vegetables. Refined carbohydrate is found in sugary foods such as cakes, biscuits and other processed foods. When refined simple carbs are metabolised they are released into our blood quicker and our body then releases insulin which drops our blood sugar quickly back down. This is why we experience that ‘sugar crash’ after going on a sugar binge which causes poor energy, fatigue and an overall low mood. The best sources of carbohydrates are those found in fruit, vegetables, oats, brown rice, beans and lentils as you will get your nutrients without the processed grains and refined flour. You also won’t experience the fluctuation in blood sugar causing your mood to be affected.

5. Your hair starts to fall out

This could mean you’re lacking in essential nutrients like protein, iron, vitamin E, magnesium, and selenium. Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet, as they are a rich source of the vitamins and minerals needed to promote hair growth. Protein is especially important as hair is mostly made up of protein. Foods like chicken, fish, turkey, almonds, walnuts, Greek yoghurt and eggs are the best sources of protein. Iron-rich foods such as pumpkin seeds, beans, lentils and spinach are also important as hair loss could be caused by a lack of iron.


Reference: ‘I Can’t Lose Weight and I Don’t Know Why’ by Dr Sandra Cabot

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