I can't EAT WHAT?
- No garlic, no onions, no tomatoes, no lettuce, no pecans, no SOY (which is secretly in everything, especially as oil, and CHOCOLATE (soy lecithin)), NO HOPS (OMG i love beer though), no corn (also in EVERYTHING, no chippers at Taco Tuesday), olives (olive oil), CAFFEINE, and the list went on. Red foods would be taken out for 6 months. Yellow foods for 3 months, and green foods I could rotate in my diet.
I was already Gluten free + dairy free, but now I need to dissect the ingredient lists of foods WAY more, be the annoying person at a dinner party asking "What kind of oil do you guys use". "Why are you allergic", someone asked. Me: "No, but I have a food sensitivity and my immune system and digestion hates me if I eat it". AKA, you're just an annoying and high maintenance person. (side note: I don't care anymore because I feel AMAZING when I stick to my protocol).
After seeing my GI MAP results and MRT Food sensitivity testing I knew this was going to be a long haul, but I was there for it. I had been suffering for almost a decade with poor digestion and now knowing the reason why. I had tried all the fad diets, and they guided me down a semi-right path, but something was STILL missing. My GI MAP revealed: my hydrochloric acid was low, my pancreatic enzyme output was low, I was brewing some bad bacteria, I didn't have enough good bacteria and some strains were NON existent (I had no Akkermansia muciniphila, linked to metabolic health) , and my immune system (SIgA) was low, meaning I had a CHRONIC issues, and my body has been working on OVERDRIVE for years to keep things at bay. No wonder my body wasn't working in tip top shape, I had a lot of work to do.
Functional Nutrition changed my life, but it wasn't always sunshine and roses.
When you get a massive list of foods you can't eat, and a large bag of supplements to take daily, it gets super overwhelming. Talking to you now, I am on the other side of things, and I am the one dispensing these crazy food lists and lengthy supplement protocols. I get it, I have been in your shoes. I will also be your BIGGEST CHEERLEADER.
My success with you depends largely on your ability to make major life changes. That's tough for me because it's no longer in my control, and I ask A LOT from my clients. I'm literally you to change your life, something that feels comfortable and safe. I am asking you to take that leap with me, and to get used to sitting with the uncomfortable, because I know it's worth it and we have the ability to heal.
I'd love to do the work for you, but I'll be honest, I've been though this, I put in the work, I got the results I wanted, and now this is YOUR journey. It's your turn!
I always explain it this way for my PT clients who can't get out of bed on their own: "I can get you out of bed, that's no problem, I can do the work for you, but I'll get stronger, YOU won't". I was a client, I get it. I had to put in the work. It's the only way to see true change and to allow your body to do what it knows how to do: HEAL.
I'd like to let you know it is absolutely possible to master and succeed even the most challenging and complex healing protocol and it will be TOTALLY worth it.
Top Reco's for surviving + thriving a Healing Protocol:
1. It's temporary
Kinda like when I hand my 55 year old patient a walker after his surgery and he looks at me with 10 heads like "I am not THAT old". I explain to them, THIS ISN'T forever. It's just for this moment in time. Your body needs help.
Sometimes we hear something and think the worst, "That's it, I'll have to eat like this for the rest of my life" For me, "BUT I love beer, I can't go to a brewery again and get flights or kick back some Corona's at the beach?". Sometimes things are forever, especially if you have Celiac's disease, gluten is not your friend, it will destroy your gut. If you have an autoimmune disease it would be best to also stay away from gluten as well, but that's not the case for everyone.
I don't know you personally, and maybe your journey will last a few weeks, a few months, or even years, but majority of the time, things are temporary while the deep healing is occurring. Then, you have to think about why you needed healing in the first place, what caused it to go awry? Once the gut is healed, or pathogens eradicated, you can start to add back in the things you love, but you might not want to if they put you in this situation in the first place. The important thing is to trust the process and to ride it out.
2. The more you put in, the more you get out, it's simple.
If you don't do what is recommended, it won't work as well as it could. The most successful clients are the ones who commit all the way. Partial compliance will lead to partial healing, leaving room for continued imbalances and dysfunction. With that said, did I eat some garlic and onions? SURE DID, because that's LIFE and sometimes ingredients are sneaky. Mostly by accident, but it happens. We cannot be 100% all the time, but we can strive to be pretty darn close. I am not perfect, no one is, and I won't act like I was perfect, but when I felt like crap after eating something, I knew why. I saw the best results when I was the most particular and truly tried my best, no cheat days. If you're going to pay all this money for supplements, get testing done, and work with a practitioner, is it really worth it to eat that slice of pizza? I'd say no. If you half-a$$ it, then expect those results.
GO BIG or GO HOME baby!
3. Get the family involved
Eating healthier is not just good for your body, but it is important for everyone's health. Get the family in on the fun. Start cooking together, find recipes that you enjoy as a family, or snacks the kids can get behind. Let them help out. It will be MUCH easier for you to remain consistent with your protocol.
BUT, remember to respect everyone's own personal journey. Some people are scared of change, and it's really hard. If they are not ready to change, that is okay too. It's important to focus on YOUR health and YOUR journey at the end of the day. Don't force things that aren't ready. Sometimes we can only lead by example hoping others will join in, if not, we shouldn't shame anyone for not eating the way we are eating. Everyone is at a different level in their own personal health journey. It's best to talk with family and friends on why you're doing what you're doing, and why it's important to you. They should also respect and support your decisions.
4. Set yourself up for success
What are some things you need to do in order to be successful?
Not buying any junk/packaged food, or have your family hide it so only they can access it? Get strategic. Find organization where you need it, in meal prep, in supplement organization, prepping for eating out/social gatherings/parties (sometimes eating something compliant prior can help. You can then find something small to eat with friends/family when you're out). You won't miss out on the fun of eating out or partying, but you have prepared for it, and set yourself up for success.
Pack foods and snacks ahead of time. Bananas and PB, make some protein balls, cucumbers and chopped peppers, grab a compliant bar. Are you traveling? Have your handy dandy snack bag ready to go with all of the foods you can enjoy so you're not looking at all the fast food options and drooling. We've all been there, sometimes you need to grab something, but if you practice preparing for these instances, you'll be ahead of the game.
Plan, plan, plan. If you constantly stress about what to eat, you'll be in a tizzy. Planning it out will help you SO much. Establish some NEW basics and go-to-foods that you can enjoy. Get some new meals in the rotation, ones that are compliant.
Have a few breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes ready to go, and rotate them. I love to eat leftovers for lunch because it's easy and delicious. Find some snacks that are compliant and STOCK UP. Experiment with new flavors. Get all the macros involved, protein, fats, and carbs. If you need suggestions, I can assist you in finding foods that suit your needs.
5. Focus on the foods you CAN enjoy, not the ones you CAN'T
It's tough to say goodbye (for now) to some of our favorite foods. One of the things that motivated me was knowing my body was going to heal, and I was going to get rid of the bloating, the constipation, and the fatigue. I got more creative with my cooking, and learned that there are SO MANY amazing foods out there that I haven't cooked with or tried to incorporate into my diet. I found new ways to spice foods, new recipes (Pinterest is amazing at finding recipes, and you can type "gluten free" or "no garlic or onions"). Also, Real Plans, has a subscription where you can find meals that are compliant with your food sensitivities.
Often times we wind up getting into a routine of eating the SAME foods all the time, however, those are the foods that we tend to become sensitive too. Especially when our guts are "leaky". (I will post a blog on food sensitivities soon to further understand this topic) Even though some of the foods are the healthiest foods on the planet, if our digestion is not working properly, (dysfunction to your chewing, bile, pancreatic enzymes, hydrochloric acid, etc.) and these food particles aren't broken down enough, our body will be stimulated improperly. When these large food particles pass through a leaky gut, they enter the bloodstream prematurely or in an improper form, and our body sees this as a threat. It then sounds the immune system alarm. It may be the most nutritious food in the world, but to your body, it is an invader.
If you are someone who eats the SAME THING over and over, your chances of developing a food sensitivity to those foods are high. When you remove those foods, it feels like it's the worst thing in the world because that was your NORM. You're so used to only eating those foods, BUT, there are so many other foods out there that deserve your attention, especially as you being to heal your gut. Remember, this is temporary.
6. Make it fun, find substitutes for your favorites
How you approach the situation changes everything. If you see it as the worst thing ever, it's going to be miserable. If you see it as a challenge you want to take on, and are willing to put time into making it fun, you'll have a much better time and RESULT.
For me, I have a MASSIVE sweet tooth.
Instead of eating pre-made baked goods from the grocery store, I bake my own, using ingredients that are compliant to my personal protocol. I also always have a HU chocolate bar stash for those moments when I just need a nibble. What's your comfort food? What food do you lean on for a little help. Why do you like this food? Is it the texture, the saltiness, sweetness, crispiness, cheesiness? OR is it the RITUAL of it, and the associations, the emotions attached to it? I think for me it's a little bit of everything. I LOVE chocolate, I just crave it, I love the taste. Instead of pounding down Reeses cups, I learned to make my own with ingredients I know and trust, with less added sugar and with more nutrients. REINVENT your favorite food. If you love a certain sauce, instead of smothering pasta or bread with it, maybe pour it over your favorite veggie, zoodle or spaghetti squash. I also LOVE Pad Thai. I found a recipe that comes mighty darn close to the real deal and I use KELP noodles instead, OR there is a raw version with dates, almond butter, lemon, lemongrass, and ginger that I love, AND I have tested it out on MANY of my friends and co-workers, giving it 2 thumbs up.
7. Find your GO-TO places to eat
Let's be honest, most places have a salad section, most places offer a protein and a vegetable. Don't be afraid to be "That person", who special requests meals. I find most places have a "side dish" section with add ons like roasted veggies, broccoli, baked potato, side of chicken/protein, side salads, etc. You can make your own meal y'all. I've done it a million times. Get in there, get all those veggies, ask to substitute sides. Ask about what oils they use. For me, I couldn't have soybean oil or olive oil, I found a few places like Mendocino Farms, Chipotle, and Sweet Green, who at the time used an oil I could use like sunflower oil for their dressings and cooking, therefore I knew those places were "Safe" for me to eat. (Ideally, I would like avocado oil, but you win some and you lose some)
Do your research, ask questions, advocate for your health, I say this OFTEN.
8. Do it for the GRAM, just kidding, do it for the RESULTS
Was I skeptical at first? YEP. Did I want to turn back, YEP, but I didn't and I am so glad I stuck with it.
For me, I tried SO MANY diets, supplements, fasting, exercises, cleanses, powders, juices, etc. Nothing was consistent, and nothing gave me the results I longed for. Nothing HEALED me. I so desperately wanted to have normal digestion and daily bowel movement. A few weeks into my protocol, I began to have less bloating, improved digestion to the point that I didn't really notice it much anymore. I was going AT LEAST 1x a day, if not 2-3x, which was UNHEARD of for me. Who knew that was even a thing. Having a BM every 5-7 days to going EVERYDAY, if that doesn't scream success, I am not sure what does.
As for my hormonal health, it has been SO much better. I notice if I do have symptoms I can pinpoint why. I may have been extra stressed or drank a little too much that month, ate a bit more sugar than I should have.