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7 Subtle Signs You're Eating All the Wrong Things

Here's how to know if what you’re eating isn't working for your body at the moment.

When I decided to quit dieting for good, I made a commitment to be more in tune with my body. Through intuitive eating and a positive eating mindset, I was able to overcome my habits of restriction and body negativity. Instead, I take the time to learn about my body and proper nutrition. However, this process is definitely a practice and something that I don't think I'll ever be perfect at. Listening to my body means really honing in on what foods I react to well, what foods don't make me feel the best, and trying to eliminate eating the wrong things for my body. Not out of restriction (clearly I don't do that anymore), but out of a desire to feel my absolute best in the skin I'm in.

In order to do so, I have a list of "subtle signs" that I walk through to help me evaluate if I'm eating the wrong things for my body. If I feel any of these symptoms, I evaluate what I ate that day, what was different from previous days, and how my body felt after consuming those things.

So if you're looking to feel better, here's how to know if you're eating the wrong things for your body right now.

You're feeling bloated.

Sideways angle woman holding bloated belly

For me, feeling bloated is one of the most obvious signs that something I ate isn't reacting well. For example, if I consume a few high-sodium meals one day, I almost always feel bloated the following morning. However, high-sodium meals aren't the only foods that make me feel bloated. Sometimes a few glasses of wine or an extra serving of cruciferous vegetables can do the same thing. When I feel bloated, I'll take a look at what I ate and evaluate what to change in the future so I don't feel that way again. If you're not sure what's causing your body to bloat, evaluate our list of foods that cause bloating and gut discomfort, and see if you can replace some of those with these foods that reduce bloating.

You're not sleeping well.

trouble sleeping

Did you know that studies can actually prove that a diet lower in fiber and higher in saturated fat and sugar can cause a less restorative sleep? If I find myself having consistently bad sleep, I take a look at my foods and see where I can fit in more fiber into my diet. Some great high-fiber foods to add to your diet include beans, chia seeds, berries, sweet potato, apples, and avocados.

You're groggy.


While the grogginess could be a result of not having good sleep, how you eat can also seriously affect your energy levels throughout the day. According to Medical News Today, eating a meal rich in carbohydrates and protein can produce serotonin, which makes a person feel sleepy. Knowing this, I am mindful about when I have meals that are rich in both of these things, and will try to incorporate more energy-boosting foods in my diet. Some of my favorites include Greek yogurt, tuna, eggs, green smoothies, and get this, dark chocolate.

But honestly, sometimes feeling groggy can happen from not drinking enough water or a lack of sleep. Try to drink a sufficient amount of water throughout the day and get that eight hours of sleep that you know your body needs.

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You're moody.


Whether we like it or not, studies do show that ultra-processed foods do affect our gut and our overall mood. Ultra-processed foods are the ones that have extra ingredients or additives that will help to make them tasty, or last longer on the shelf. As I said, I'm not one for restriction, and I sure do love baking a boxed brownie mix every once in a while. But I also am not a fan of how moody my eating makes me, so I fight it off with cleaner, whole foods that improve my mood. I even will occasionally turn to our list of folate-rich foods, since studies show that a diet lower in folate does can result in a depressive mood. Some of my favorite folate-rich foods include blueberries, Brussels sprouts, and bananas.

You're taking more naps than usual.

laying on couch

This is in the same vein as bad sleep and grogginess, but it's a subtle sign that can also show you if you're eating the wrong foods for your body. Harvard Health Publishing says that 90 percent of serotonin receptors are located in your gut, which means what you're eating will absolutely affect how sleepy you feel throughout the day—and can lead you to want to take a little afternoon snooze. While I'm not opposed to a good 'ol restful nap every once in a while, having the desire to do this regularly is absolutely a subtle sign (especially if you're constantly eating foods that make you sleepy). When you do feel the urge to nap, take note of what you ate that day and how it was different from other days, and evaluate how that food makes you feel on a regular basis.

You're constantly hungry.

woman standing at fridge hungry and confused

This is probably the biggest lesson I had to learn about my body, and something I'm still working on to this day. If you are feeling hungry after an hour or so of eating a meal, then that meal didn't have all of the nutrients you needed to feel full and satisfied. While I love indulging in a muffin with a cup of coffee on the weekends, I know for a fact that meal won't make me feel full for hours at a time. Usually, I have to pair it with something with extra protein that will keep me going, like a fried egg or a few slices of turkey bacon. The easiest way to evaluate your hunger is to take note of how you feel an hour or so after each meal. Write out the meals that make you feel full, and the ones that make you feel hungrier. I almost guarantee you will notice the foods making you feel hungry are higher carbohydrate or sugary meals, while the meals that make you feel full have a good amount of protein and healthy fats.

You have a hard time in the bathroom.


Yep, you heard me. Your diet will absolutely affect your poops. If you're not incorporating fiber-rich foods in your diet, you're going to have to schedule a very long time in the bathroom. I'll be honest with you, this constantly used to be a point of frustration for me, so I started adding foods with more fiber in them to my overall eating plan. And, wouldn't you know it, I stopped having a problem in the bathroom. So if you are also having this issue, take some time to add in a few foods that make you poop.

Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a freelance health and nutrition journalist. Read more about Kiersten
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