As I sit here after teaching yoga this morning I have organic peanut butter brown rice toast (with a little of the kiddos strawberry jelly) and a half-caffeinated americano made by my lovely Nespresso. My son asked me yesterday, "why do you always have toast for breakfast?" The truth is the reason why my breakfast is either a piece of toast or a smoothie is because toast is safe. I know that it won't upset my stomach like most other foods. It also feels like food vs a smoothie to me. But in reality, his question made me think..."Why do I choose what I do to eat?" From a behavioral perspective we know that our feelings trigger our thoughts and then quickly move to our actions (choices). So it makes me be very curious as to WHY I have been choosing to eat what I have.
We need food to survive and it is innate to nourish our bodies, yet we are bombared with so much information on what IS good to eat vs. Bad to eat. This isn't the way it will ever work in my mind. I don't believe that food is good or bad, but I do believe food can give us information on how it nourishes or doesn't nourish our body. Think back to a time when you at something fast or quick that you don't normally eat or the time that you didn't eat enough or the right things (think eating chips or a protein bar on the run to the next event or kiddo drop-off). How did you feel after? Usually our bodies will give us the information we need. We feel bloated, tired, and just bleh. Thank you bodies for this information. Even when I do my daily dinachrya (daily ritual) of tongue scraping I notice more kama (waste) on my tongue when it is less plant based and more heavy foods. Gross I know, but again, fascinating that our bodies tell us.
That is a simple look at how you can start to listen and make your best decisions on what makes you feel good. What if you threw out all of the articles you read and just started to let you intuition guide you on what to eat and what not to eat? What if you stopped judging your choices and allowed your choices to be information that will serve you on your food choices to nourishes you? You CAN have the entire bag of chips or you CAN have all the chocolate in the world, but do you really want to? Do you ever notice the connection in the arena of food regarding wanting what you can't have? I know I have because I have had (and still have) many restrictions that I get so frustrated and fed up that I do the "f-it diet!" I get so pissed that I cannot have raw veggies and hummus and I jam out to organic carrots and hummus and twenty minutes later my belly bloats and it looks like I am 6-months pregnant. Or I will eat a protein bar with the first ingredient as brown rice syrup because a) I am hungry b) I am not sure when I will eat next c) I know it won't give me gas or belly bloat, even though I know it is the opposite of nourishing me.
So why am I sharing all of this? I think because it is top of mind for me because of my recent stomach symptoms. My stomach hurts basically all of the time lately and my digestive track is proving to not be working (if you know what I mean without giving out too many details). It is not fun at all and I am left wondering what the heck to eat.
Here is what I think doesn't bother my stomach/my "safe" foods
- Brown rice (small amounts or 1-2 pieces of the bread)
- White rice (again, a very small portion)
- Oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil.
- Avocados (man I don't know what I would do without this one)
- Sunflower seeds (and butter)
- Organic peanut butter
- Coconut in small amounts
- Hemp seeds in small amounts
- Flax seed
- Chicken, Poultry, and grass-fed beef, bison, white fish
- Lentils (seem okay, especially if I cook with kombu seaweed)
- Green veggies: Romaine, iceberg lettuce, bok choy, fennel,
- Butternut squash, all varieties of squash if eaten in moderate amounts
- potatoes (if eaten in small amounts). Not sure if they cause inflammation pain, but they don't upset my stomach. Again, do you see the questioning even here?
- Possibly Wild Rice (still need to try; it's been a while)
- Herbs of all kinds (amen)
- Tamari Sauce, coconut amino
- Collagen and bone broth protein
- Low-glycemic fruit (blueberries and raspberries)
List of what I think DOES bother my stomach/My "AVOID" foods
- Nuts, of all kinds
- legumes of all kinds (except peanut butter as the exception I think)
- nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, except for me potatoes seem okay)
- Any gluten grains are a no-go
- Oats of any kind (including the gluten-free kind)
- Raw veggies (except for cucumber)
- corn - wow this one is the WORST. Even organic corn. Or maybe it is corn chips...eek! ;)
- Raw mixed greens, anything more than a little can wreak havoc on my gut
- Dairy of any kind
- All proteins that include whey or anything other than collagen or bone broth protein
- Sweeteners: stevia, maple syrup, honey and all sugars.
- Sweet potatoes
- Most fruit, especially apples, bananas, and all dried fruit
Looking this list you can see that my main "safe" foods are proteins, green and non-starchy veggies, some squash, and rasberries and blueberries. I honestly get so tired of trying to cook for me and my family combined because I feel like I am not even sure where to start. They love tacos, but most of all of the taco meal makes me feel so sick (heartburn b/c of the nightshades and bloat because of the corn or even the rice). And the list goes on and on. You know how picky your kiddos are?
And how about when I go out? I am just coming off a couple of VERY social weekends with a bachelorette party and a college reunion. I notice I think A LOT more about food because I think my mind is seriously concerned that I will NOT get to eat. Honestly I wonder if I am going to starve. I understand that this seems ridiculous, but sometimes it is so hard to eat anything that I don't eat anything and then by the time I get to the food I bring my stomach already hurts. It is so challenging to even figure out what I can bring that might make sense because I barely know what to eat at home.
My point in all of this isn't to complain, but more to illustrate that food sensitivities and food restrictions happen because of ALL reasons. For me, my stomach hasn't been the same since I had my daughter seven years ago. I took a strong does of antibiotics because of mastitis (breast infection) and then after my son I still remember my midwife helping support my gut healing and when I left her office in June of 2011 we decided to cook and/or blend all of my food. Yuck right? I am talking it is summer time so how easy is that. Following a couple months of summer soups and smoothies (and some tears) I my son and I then caught Guardia. I was SO sick and couldn't eat or keep anything in me. Eventually three weeks later we figured it out and I took an anti-parasitic. Needless to say that was a lot and of course disrupted my gut even more (and my mental state of food-body connection).
I am a yoga teacher and have learned a lot about Ayurveda (the sister science to yoga) and in Ayurveda they say to eat with the seasons. In theory this makes perfect sense to me. However, in practice, I am challenged to follow anything that keeps me in balance or is guided by anything like Ayurveda, etc. I feel limited in my choice and completed blinded in my bodies ability to LISTEN. It is almost like the disruption of my digestion plus my out-of-balance hormones (I won't even get into those) have given me a muffled clarity of how to "listen to my body." I referenced my challenge to people telling me/others to "listen to our bodies" in this blog post! And it definitely still comes up.
In fact, after my son's comment I started to be very curious on what is my driving force behind my food choices. I will be honest that it is two-fold: The first is that I want to eat foods that DON'T make me sick. It is almost more of a focus of that vs. what I would LOVE it to be: nourish my body. The second is that, even though I hate to admit it, what foods will help me shed this extra pounds. Because I feel frustrated that I don't feel good, one of the results of being out of balance is having extra belly fat, being bloated and just not feeling like myself physically. Thus, it is impossible for me NOT to think of this. So of course I am wondering why I get so hungry sometimes I eat things that don't make me feel good. I subconsciously try to eat "just the right amount" or the "right things" so that I can keep participating in life events and have fun AND start to fit into my clothes and not feel like am pregnant half of the time. I promise you, there is of course the part of me that wants to be as fit as I was in my 20's, but even more, I am so tired of it feeling like there is someone inside my belly pushing my belly out. It seriously hurts.
And then there is the doubt of if my body will every heal or get better? Then the spinning of the mind tells me a story that "my body must be defective" or "I will always have a sensitive stomach." or....or...or....
I know my eating challenges definitely were triggered when ALL of the food sensitivities and thus food restrictions happened. When I struggled with my eating disorder in middle school and then the end of college/beginning of real life I had a VERY long list of "safe" foods vs. "unsafe" foods. I felt trapped in my "rules" and had zero trust in the innate knowledge and wisdom in my body. With a lot of time and work with a psychologist and nutritionist I was able to prove to myself that I was OKAY without working out and OKAY lifting ALL restrictions in my body. I still had to be mindful with dairy (as I did my entire life), but I was able to eat whatever. I found a freedom that I cannot explain. The ironic thing that happened was that I was drawn to actually eat healthier, to enjoy life more, to allow for freedom of veering off of the healthy foods on occasion and flow with life. It was such an amazing process to follow. I so deeply wish I could be in the space right now. I have attempted to say to my mind "you can eat anything, it is just the quality of the mind." However, this attempt is not successful. When I do eat whatever I often pay the price and suffer with stomach pain, bloating and other symptoms. Perhaps the symptoms I am having is my bodies widsom telling me something isn't right with feeling like this for so many common foods.
So what does my inner guide say?
- Sleep is my number one
- Deep belly breaths is my next priority
- Cooking/blending my food could help?
- Creating a meal plan and already cooked/prepped food so I don't jam out on chips or hummus or protein bars,
- Yoga/meditation practice daily
- Writing helps me to process
- Gratitude for my journey so that hopefully I WILL fill better and possibly my story WILL help someone else
- Smiling helps everything!
- Digging deeper into why I don't feel well might be a good idea
There are so many blogs out there and stories about how "I did X protocol and now I am healed." I am so glad there are so many that have found health in his/her journey. However, I am here to stay I am still in the thick of getting through the healing of my gut, my attachment to even having a list of foods at all, and more. I am healing and some days it feels hard. Some days I feel sad or angry or confused. I used to LOVE to cook and now I hate grocery shopping and cooking.
That is my current state, but my hope is that by sharing my journey and exactly where I am at I can grow and show up in this place of challenge of nourishing my body with food. As much as I say it is "hard to listen to my body." I think that by pausing and reflecting I will continue to know what is helping and what is not. I honor that it is a process and lean into those that support me to keep cheering me on. Because honestly what would we do without each other?
I know that my challenges are SO incredibly small compared to a lot of people and their health. But I share today because although it is small it does impact the quality of my life. it does bring up old body-image issues and defective thoughts. And then I remember, our bodies are meant to heal and the quality of our belief in this and mindsets matter a lot.
In closing I ask you to start being curious on if you are truly listening to what makes you feel good when it comes to the nutrition department? Do you follow a list of what is a yes/no food or think too much about it? Or are you curious and kind to yourself? Could have more energy? Could eat more vegetables? Are you really drinking enough water or eating the foods that keep you in balance? The curiosity and awareness will continue to be a gift to you as you learn and grow each day. And perhaps this is irrelevant to you in the food department, you are truly connected and need nothing more. Then I challenge you to ask yourself, 'is there a different place in my life that I could start to listen more?'
Thank you for supporting me on my healing journey. It feels good to be writing again. Let's stick together my friends and keep showing up in life.
Happy Listening; Happy Digestion!!!
In love, light and gratitude,