Food is a significant part of any health journey. What we put in our bodies affects every facet of health. However, finding a balance with food can be another maddening component of the healing process. Paleo, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, keto, AIP, SCD, low-fodmap,… sound familiar? The process can be intense and overwhelming. Education, guidance, and organization are key components to finding your way.
An intense focus on food and feeling deprived can fuel flares, symptoms, and emotions. It shifts the relationship with food into a robotic state that distracts from nourishment and the true enjoyment of eating. Food becomes the enemy and digestion is halted. If the body is in a state of “flight or fight” versus “rest and digest”, it is unable to process nutrients needed to sustain energy and health. Digestion is one of the first systems to shut down during this state of being that has become the “norm” for many people. Worrying about food intolerance and reactions can fuel this fire and creates a fear-state, which does not serve the healing process.
I needed science to sustain my belief and commitment to changes necessary to heal so I utilized food allergy/sensitivity testing to help me create a base of where to start the elimination process. I found it very difficult to pinpoint my reactions with elimination/reintroduction. Especially when the body can react hours and even days after exposure. Everyone is different. Many popular “trigger” foods are not issues for me so testing was immensely helpful in determining what foods to avoid. It has taken patience and time but these days I have a clear idea of what I need to avoid and why. It has been a significant part of my puzzle. I don’t follow any specific diet but rather embraced a bio-individual approach to food. Another conversation with my body telling me what it needs and when. Committing to going gluten and dairy-free decreased inflammation and put my gut into a state of health and healing. It also led to an immediate 50% decrease in thyroid antibodies, so I follow it. Feeling better is the reward and 100% worth it.
Many clients struggle with food shifts. Giving up beloved foods like dairy or gluten can seem daunting or even impossible. I get it! There are several successful ways to go about it. We live in a world full of options and possibilities. With so many new products and shopping options, substituting foods has never been easier. Consider this process another step in your journey. Be kind to yourself. Allow flexibility and remember, “it’s just information.” Stressing about food can be worse than the actual food itself. Breathe and listen to what your body tells you.
As I reflect on my journey, I recall how emotional these shifts were. How during one elimination challenge, I cried whenever we were invited to dinner or events involving food. How these moments felt isolating, intense and challenging. I felt sad and alone not to enjoy the things “everyone else does.” And guess what! Nowadays I rarely notice it. I am so accustomed to the way I eat that the process is second nature. I created a lifestyle that supports food in a way that is simple, effective, and easier than ever imagined. I no longer feel judged and insecure. Instead, I find that people are intrigued to hear my journey, as many people struggle with food as a huge part of health no matter what the specifics.
Honoring what my body needs have created a strong state of balance and that can handle unplanned exposure to foods and generally does very well. Shifting the way I eat is so worth the way I feel today. I have been exposed to a whole new world of food, cooking, and eating. There are many incredible resources available to guide a transitional journey with food. It just takes time and patience to figure it out. Small shifts lead to big changes. The process is empowering, life-changing, and so delicious!
It’s a journey…