Love food that loves you back.
Which foods nourish your body, mind and spirit?
Once upon a time I loved Reese’s cups; my in-laws even bought me a 36-pack of them one year for Christmas. I loved pastries, fried dough at the state fair, and ice cream. But then, a few years ago, friends introduced me to some eye-opening ideas. I decided to try them out.
And I started paying closer attention to my body and how it responded to different foods.
I noticed what foods, as it turns out, cause inflammation in my body. That inflammation presented itself in me as sinus congestion, as seasonal allergies, and as wheezing. And my dietary changes since then have helped me work my way off of four prescription drugs that I used year-round: two for seasonal allergies, an inhaler for asthma, and an anti-depressant.
That knowledge made it easier to love the food that loves me back. And most days, I don’t miss gluten, nor fried foods, nor dairy.
Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.
Why Love Food that Loves You Back
The Standard American Diet (SAD), which is high in processed foods and pro-inflammatory animal proteins, is not what loves most of us. Quick to pick up and consume, these foods are full of easy calories and can lead to a host of health problems.
Lifestyle changes, such as improving our nutrition, could reduce our risk of those health problems. More than 75% of our health care spending in the U.S. is for chronic conditions.
Sunil Pai, MD, is a board certified holistic integrative medicine physician in New Mexico. In his book, An Inflammation Nation, Pai writes that food allergies (sensitivities) are “the most overlooked underlying causes of the inflammation that triggers or worsens all negative health conditions.”
Western medicine is wonderful at responding to acute or life-threatening situations. But for chronic conditions (most of the health problems in the U.S.) Western medicine only addresses the symptoms – not the underlying cause.
“Since approximately 80 percent of your immune system resides in the GI tract, it is important to understand that certain foods cause inflammation in everyone, and other foods cause specific reactions that are unique to each of us,” Pai writes.
When I first started to pay closer attention to my diet, I eliminated gluten (wheat, barley, rye and oats), fried food, and cooking oils. I also avoid deli meats and cold cuts with nitrates and nitrites. Later, I discovered that when I consumed milk, cheese and ice cream, several hours later I become congested and have a runny nose.
How to Know What Food Loves You Back
Get a free app such as MyFitnessPal, and first log everything you eat and drink, without making any changes. Log how you feel an hour after each meal, then the next day. Then start to cut out some common inflammatory foods – perhaps dairy for a couple of weeks, then gluten for a couple of weeks, etc.
Look for connections between what you eat and how you feel. Every body is different, so what affects me negatively might not affect you the same way. And be aware of delayed reactions. Some, such as heartburn or gas, may happen quickly. Others might not happen until a day or so later.
Once I figured out what food I love that doesn’t love me back, it was easier to change my attitude. Now I know that I can eat fried dough at the state fair, but I will feel effects. It becomes a choice.
How I Started to Love Food that Loved Me Back
The Bad Foods/Good Foods list that I learned about more than three years ago started my personal journey. The results I saw fed my desire to learn more, and I progressively improved and stopped needing my medications. (Ultimately my journey led me to become an integrative health coach so I could help others in multiple ways.)
Other lifestyle plans and elimination diets abound.
When you know what food you love that loves you back, you can figure out the right plan for you. Your mind changes. Your taste buds change. And so does your overall health.
Don’t you love that?
I’m Amy Hoogervorst, an integrative health coach offering grace and space for a healthier you. Thanks for joining me for Step 14 in the “31 Steps to a Healthier You” series, part of #Write31Days 2017. You can read what the series is all about here and catch up on past posts. If you don’t want to miss a thing, subscribe to get each one in your inbox.