Our bodies are pretty impressive machines -- full of bells, whistles, and alarms. Sadly this machine doesn't come with an instruction manual. We just have to get a feel for it while making some mistakes along the way.
I once read in a book (I believe it was Real Food by Nina Planck) that kids are born intuitive eaters. Left to their own devices they pick the foods their bodies need (such as when they're deficient in a mineral), and they don't overeat/undereat (kids are naturally slow eaters). Somewhere along the way we're told to eat this or that, that we eat too much or don't eat enough. "Society's played us a terrible trick, und sociologically we're sick." Okay, so maybe not sociologically, but we're definitely sick when it comes to our own nutrition.
And yes, we allow society to dictate too much when it comes to how we feel about our own bodies (I've talked about this before) -- leading to body dysmorphic disorders, eating disorders, depression, as well as a multi-billion dollar industry that either compounds those issues or helps to solve them. Basically we let the outside world be a louder voice than our own -- what we want for ourselves, for our own bodies, for our health, for our futures. Our own voice has been silenced.
I am just thinking about this today because my body sends me some very clear signals when I'm about to get my period (and even some subliminal ones) -- mainly that I don't drink much water or eat the day before/the first day of my period (and subliminally I tend to wear red more...). My period came a week early and I was caught off guard because I didn't listen to what my body was trying to tell me. Ever since I first got my period, it has been abnormal. However, my mom was so ill-informed about menstruation that all she could do was tell me "it's normal, drink some tea." It took going to college for me to finally ask a doctor, and no, my symptoms (hot flashes, chills, nausea, vomiting, severe cramping) were not normal (especially because they occurred on a frequent basis).
I should have listened to what my body was trying to tell me about my back -- that the pain I was feeling wasn't because I was weak, it was because I was injured.
So I'm going to make a promise to myself, and I hope you'll do the same: I'm going to trust my instincts when it comes to my body. I will be my body's caretaker and advocate. I will learn to trust and honor my body and listen to what it tries to tell me.