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, I started learning about the impact of food on my overall health and well-being.
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
Once I started paying attention to what I ate and how I felt, plus supplementing with nutrients I lacked in my diet, I saw results. And those results fed my desire to learn more. As I learned, I implemented changes little by little, progressively improving and ultimately working my way off of my prescription medications.
Others try elimination diets such as Whole 30, Wheat Belly, and Grain Brain. Whole 30 eliminates the most common inflammatory foods such as grains, dairy, legumes, soy, alcohol, and sugar for 30 days and then suggests reintroducing them one by one to gauge the effect each one has on a person. Everyone is different, so what affects one of us might not affect another.
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?
Hi! I’m Amy Hoogervorst, an integrative health coach offering grace and space for a healthier you. This post originally was titled as Step 14 in the “31 Steps to a Healthier You” series, part of #Write31Days 2017. You can read about the series and each post here. If you’d like to stay in touch, please subscribe to the Well Check email, a free resource with information and inspiration for a healthier you.