Thoughts on Health, Food and Emotions

by lydia on May 6, 2012

I’ve been on the GAPS Introduction diet for the past 5 days. So far, it hasn’t been a really big drama. I have had some discomforts in my gut, but I can tell things are working themselves out. One of the most interesting things I have noticed about being on Intro, is my relationship to food. Over the years on my real food journey, I’ve certainly come a long way in viewing my food more as nourishment. However, this week it dawned on me, that how I think about what goes in my mouth is shifting. I suppose that will happen when your body revolts against you in many ways after eating certain things. I never had such clear reactions as I’ve had in the past 9 months. I think my body is more able to deal with the stressors now, due to relieving such a burden on myself through the wrong diet. Now I may seem hypersensitive to more things, but it’s because my body is able to communicate better to me and deal directly with things that may have always been problematic. I look at it as a healing response. At times it’s regrettable, but when I realize I am becoming more in tune with my body’s innate needs, I take comfort in that. (photo – me enjoying a shrimp dish with lots of butter, pre-GAPS)

Gearing up to go on GAPS was a definite mind game. I knew long ago, my body needed it, but I didn’t want to go through the motions for a long time. Over time as my knowledge grew about nutrition, and as my own body showed me things, I finally allowed the reality of GAPS to sink in. Believe me, I did NOT want to tackle GAPS intro and emphatically so. I was tired, burnt out from all the work it takes to stay healthy. Yet, I knew deep down if I wanted to heal my issues, I needed to embrace it. After having several functional assessments done in the past 6 months, I’ve seen where my body needs the most support. Digestion. My small intestines are rather inflamed and irritated and despite all my attempts to work on them, I still have annoying symptoms. Though I have come a long way in my overall health, and even in my digestion, I still have a ways to go. Digestion takes a long time to work itself out, and we all are different. Some of us can heal quickly, some of us it may take a really long time. (though I suspect for most people born in the last 50 years, there is likely deep gut health issues that need to be addressed). From what I understand about my body and my own life experience, it’s likely I’ve had serious digestive issues since I was a child that went unaddressed. Now I have years and years of damage to undo. I’m sharing all that to say that I needed to come to terms with a lot of things and make sense of it before I just jumped deeply into a rather intense dietary game plan. I needed to know inside and out why I was taking on GAPS before I did it, otherwise I wouldn’t be setting myself up to succeed on it, and the chances would be high I’d just quit.

Now that I am on GAPS, and only just really beginning, I am very confident that this is the path for me. It’s not just a practical thing in my life, the decision to take on GAPS runs very deep, down to the very core of my being. Understanding the past and present, and how the body works has led me to make this choice. So, when I go on each day I find strength in continuing because I know the ultimate goal. To heal my gut. I want it so much that I am willing to do the hard work to achieve it. I am tired of dealing with ‘less than’ ideal digestion.

This weekend I went to a party, and as all parties go, there was lots of food, and of course NONE of it GAPS friendly. I knew that would be the case in advance, and simply fed myself prior. I had no qualms about it. I did not feel deprived, nor did I feel out of place. I had just as much fun going to a party, if not more, than if I had gone and eaten the food that was served. I realized as I sat there watching people go back for their 4th and 5th beer, and reach into the chip bowl non stop, or carry out their 2nd and 3rd plate of dessert, or as I watched the massive pieces of cake being handed out, that I look at food so differently now than I ever have. It was such a relief, to not think of all that food at that party as a need or a way to placate myself like I once had in the past. I also noticed people complaining about how much they ate or how they just couldn’t resist the 5th cookie or whatever the case may be. I used to be a slave to food like that. No more. Don’t get me wrong I still find food to be a great pleasure to consume, and I do look forward to enjoying some of my favorite treats again, though modified for GAPS. I just appreciate more now that I am able to look at food through the lens of how it impacts my body. I choose to eat things that will nourish me in body, mind and soul. I don’t think that gorging at a party is something we have to embrace because it’s just what everybody does. I think our culture is so far removed from the true pleasure of eating. That is consuming food that not only tastes good, but truly satiates the body and creates the ability for true pleasure. I’d rather have the pleasure of seeming denial and feel amazing while eating as well as afterwards, than to just gorge on whatever is around since that is considered a treat or otherwise I’d be denying myself of that. That mentality is pervasive in society. We think we should not ‘deny’ ourselves or we’ll be deprived. Ugh. I am not deprived on GAPS, in fact quite the opposite. I was depriving my body before in my days of eating just anything and everything. I wasn’t allowing myself to be responsible for my food choices and just placating myself with food and drowning my emotions in the consumption of whatever I could get my hands on.

I am certainly not saying any of this to judge others for their choices, or come off as self righteous in my own choices. I am simply unveiling my soul a bit on this issue, because it really takes a lot of mind renewing to be set free emotionally when it comes to eating. I am certainly not suggesting I have arrived at some pinnacle place where I’ll never wrestle with food emotions again. My goal in sharing this is to kind of unravel the emotional aspect of my real food journey and quest for deeper healing in the hopes that it may resonate for someone else. Compare it to a spiritual awakening if you will. I suppose it feels that way, because when you become alive spiritually the truth is you are simply walking into deeper freedom from things that once kept you back or burdened you in some way. I guess I’d like to relay to others that how you walk out your life in relationship to food matters. One will never overcome being a slave to cravings if there is not a mind set shift. It’s like that with all things. If you want eating healthy to be essentially ‘effortless’ you have to have a deep seated belief or faith in why you are doing so. If at the very core of your being, you know that you know that you know, you need to walk a certain ‘eating’ path for your health, you’ll be more likely to just flow with it. I am not saying it won’t require work, I am saying the work will be worth it to you, because your beliefs are firm.

For some reason today I felt the need to share some of these thoughts that have been swirling around in my brain. I know that when I work with clients, one of the biggest hurdles is overcoming fears. Fears that creep into one’s thought life and cripple one’s ability to have confidence to act. The ‘what if’s’ creep in, and cause one to really second guess themselves. That coupled with not having deeper knowledge as to why one is embarking upon greater efforts to take their health further. I guess I just want to empower people to a greater end. Let yourself process your emotions involved with health and food. Ask yourself the deeper questions, but do not beat yourself up. Allow yourself to be totally real, raw and vulnerable about how you view yourself, your health and your food. Accept where you are at, but do not accept passivity. Processing thoughts and emotions can only lead to you being able to go deeper, and take your health and life back. Just remember, no guilt. Ever!

There are so many forms of emotional eating. We all do it. Society warrants it, deems it appropriate, therefore it’s an acceptable vice for most everyone. However, what I am driving at today in this post is that emotional eating is akin to slavery. Freedom comes when you can realize you are not depriving yourself at a party where everyone is eating, cake, cookies, or even large quantities or drinking as much as ‘desired’. Freedom comes when you don’t feel the need to have ‘treats’ at every party in order for it to be fun. I am not saying that you can’t enjoy some cake from time to time, but what I am suggesting is that we do a mass overhaul on how we think about celebrating with food. I no longer feel inadequate in a social setting when I do not fit in by excessive eating or social eating. Or when I simply drink water while everyone else continually has there hand in the appetizers or chip bowl. I’ve had moments of regret for sure, thoughts like; ‘I miss the days I could just eat as much as I wanted without consequence’. Problem is, the consequences were gradual for me, and now that I know that, those momentary thoughts are easy to defeat.¬† I have total confidence that I am doing what I am compelled to do with my diet¬† for the benefit of my own body, mind, soul, and that to me is freeing.

I want to eat to nourish myself and satiate myself, not to placate myself. (though I am sure that when I am tired and emotional that eating to placate will be a temptation.) That act, time and time again, got me to a place where my health suffered greatly for it. It is now taking me years to unravel the mess that came with the repeated choice to fill a void in myself by consuming unneeded foods. I do believe food can bring comfort from a physiological perspective, but the food I am talking about is real, pure, unrefined and in modest quantities. It’s food that is consumed to fill the void of genuine hunger and can be done in a very pleasurable way. It’s simply a mindset shift that allows one to eat in a way that is not burdensome to the body. Ultimately, it’s learning to love yourself from the inside out that makes all the difference!

I hope my thoughts may be helpful to others as they process their own thoughts and feelings that come from health, food and eating.

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