After diving deep into using food for healing and joining a lot of online support groups, I have noticed a lot of people practicing the Autoimmune Protocol, Whole 30, and other forms of restrictive diets to scapegoat their food choices for all of their negative health symptoms. I see this happening when people are using food as their only tool for self-care and not viewing their health and wellbeing as a holistic lifelong journey.
I get that sometimes food can feel like the enemy at times. When I stopped using my biologics (a powerful anti-inflammatory medication), it seemed like everything I ate made me feel bad. At the same, what I learned through my journey, is that a holistic and mindful approach to healing is more important than trying to control all elements (excluding allergies) of your diet 100% of the time. We live in a world that makes it hard to do just that all of time. Mind you, I know food intolerances can sometimes feel like food allergies so my experience is not to dismiss the stress when feeling a possible response to eating food that you may be intolerant of. What I am suggesting and inviting you to maybe offer yourself a bit of space for making mistakes, experimenting, play, and compassion while you learn what works and doesn't work for you over time to help make your healing journey more sustainable, joyful, and less stressful. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you the following questions that I started to ask myself and maybe you may want to ask yourself too:
- Are you getting enough sleep?
- Do you play outside?
- Are you treating an infection or other gut issues you may have that are preventing you from absorbing the nutrition in food?
- Do you have enough social support?
- Do you eat enough protein and calories?
- Do you eat vegetables everyday?
- Do you chew your food and take time to eat with friends and family?
- Do you have a part of your day or week that you look forward to doing something?
- Do you have down time everyday?
- What makes you feel more alive?
- Are you kind to yourself? If not, how can you be more compassionate?
- What are you grateful for?
- Are you drinking enough water and electrolytes?
- Do you move throughout the day?
- Do you lift or move heavy things if you can?
- Would a massage or a hug be more helpful than trying to find and eat that grass-fed organic and additive free, locally raised, and sugar-free delicious popsicle (I hope you can see my tongue and cheek humor here)?
- There are so many more questions that I haven't included, so I will end with what are some other questions that you can ask yourself that you have been avoiding?
For some people, including myself, I couldn't eat certain types of carbs (starches and FODMAPs), until I healed my gut and more, so I get how food can be a source of stress too. But there were a lot of things that got me there, like not eating enough protein, taking antibiotics, overexercising, not sleeping enough and more. It honestly took me years to change a lot of these habits and still working on many of them as a lifelong journey.
If you feel like you are in a rut and stuck with food, I encourage you to reach out for help. There are a lot of support groups, functional medicine doctors, cognitive behavioral therapists, and other allied health practitioners that can help. I plan to write more about such sources in the future, but for now I wanted to share a bit on my thoughts after a conversation I had with a fellow food blogger on what we are seeing in our communities.
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