If you’ve been following me on Youtube
, you know I’ve been talking a lot about “healing diets” and eating disorders lately. I’ve noticed that for many, myself included, “healing diets” like AIP, low FODMAP, and even paleo (any “diet” with restriction) can be triggering in either bringing up past disordered eating issues or developing new ones. This can be a huge problem, for many reasons.
So, I’ve begun to talk about. I’ve made two Youtube videos around this topic so far (you can watch them here
) and talked extensively about it on my Instagram
through posts and stories. I’ve connected with lots of others (both women AND men) who feel passionate about this or are dealing with it, as well.
One of those people I’ve connected with is an amazing lady named Chelsea. She not only intimately understands this issue on a personal level, but works with women to help them through this, as well. I know I’m being rather vague, but that is because today I have a guest post by Chelsea and she explains it in a lot more detail below. I don’t want my intro to be too long, so let’s just get into her post, okay?!
Guest Post by Chelsea Gross
Much of our modern society is divided into two groups greatly affected by their relationship to food – The first being an obesity, diabetes and an addiction to overly processed and poor quality food epidemic, and the second being a group of people who are struggling with a diagnosed eating disorder. But where do those of us who struggle with disordered eating fall? Yo-yo dieters, restricters, calorie counters, restrictive/binge cyclers, ect.? And where do those of us who have a primary focus of healing chronic disease, insane digestive distress, pain, and many more issues who are having discorded eating/eating disorders reignited or developing NEW unhealthy thoughts and patterns due to following a healing protocol fall?
How do we separate a protection of our mental health and emotional well-being with our strong desire to reduce health symptoms by following a strict way of eating?
Why do I care so much about this topic? For nearly a decade I struggled with disordered eating. I was everywhere from underweight, to overweight, and for many years was stuck in a cycle of restriction, binging and purging, desperate to lose weight and regain the self-worth I told myself came entirely from being in a thin body. I was always dieting, always trying to eat less, do more cardio and absolutely at war with my body. I ate diet food, artificial sweeteners, counted calories and battled with being on and off the wagon constantly losing weight, gaining weight, and never finding peace or balance. I felt totally imprisoned and lost and, frankly, exhausted from my obsession around food and hate for my body.
4 years ago after a back injury turned into chronic pain, I went back to school for holistic nutrition. I studied at the Institute of Transformational Nutrition which specifically covers the science of nutrition but also the psychology and spirituality of eating. I was drawn to the program largely to heal my own issues with food but also to gain the skills, tools and knowledge to pay it forward and work with women who struggled just like I did. I learned that I could make my mess my message and that’s exactly what I did.
The program was the catalyst to my change. I worked on my nutrition, lifestyle, and mindset and slowly but surely I broke my disordered eating cycle. It was not overnight and I’m still not perfect but I know I will never go back. I made the crucial shift from eating (or not eating) out of punishment and self-hate to eating well and caring for my body out of self-love and self-respect. You can read even more on my about page.
But here’s the caveat… I also struggle with chronic illness. 3 years ago I woke up one day bloated and distended and have been on healing protocols and specific ways of eating off and on ever since. I have yet to find ultimate relief but after many many doctors I was finally diagnosed with Lyme and bartonella disease 7 months ago. THIS is why I’m so passionate about helping this new group of the population who is on healing diets, but has a past of discorded eating, because that’s me. And I KNOW how difficult it is.
So do take everything with a grain of salt and work through this process at your own pace – always being kind to yourself. I work a lot on mindset with my clients in my 1:1 coaching practice so below I’d like to give my best tools in managing this difficult to navigate process if you are identifying with what I’m talking about. Knowing you are not alone is one of the best pieces of advice I can possibly offer. You are NOT alone. Please reach out if you would ever like to talk. I also have an ebook, How to Break Free From Disordered Eating (mindset, tools & resources to find freedom from the dieting and depriving cycle for GOOD so you can create a healthy relationship with food + a life you LOVE) and a 1:1 signature coaching program: make peace with food.
1. Resist the label even if you’re following a certain way of eating
There is most certainly a time and a place for categorizing your way of eating under a specific label, but I think it’s important to approach that with caution. Labeling ourselves can be a positive thing for clarity, direction and community, but it can be a slippery slope when it feels like a box with rules and yes’s and no’s and we get farther away from our own intuition (which is such a gift to our healing.)
When we put ourselves in a box and under a label we then run the risk for beating ourselves up or feeling like a failure when we go outside that label. Having nightshades when you’re AIP, grains if you’re paleo or onion or garlic when you’re low-fodmap. We beat ourselves up for going against the rules but we’re forgetting the main focus is a healing, nourishing diet and stressing out about having something on the “no” list is far from healing. Stress absolutely plays a role here and I really do believe that stress can override an actual physical reaction to a certain food. Protecting your mindset needs to be #1 even if you have food rules for a healing reason. Allowing yourself to mess up and allowing yourself to forgive and move forward is key.
Resist labeling yourself to give yourself the freedom to move out of that way of eating if you so desire whether that be in the near or distant future.
I always just say I’m a real-food eater. I eat high-quality protein, healthy fats and nutrient-rich carbs. This is an abundant way of eating and if I have to avoid certain things from that point on (like AIP or low-fodmap) I’m doing it out of self-respect and even curiosity and evaluation.
Allowing yourself to create your own rules is empowering and use healing diets and protocols as your base- exploring the idea that maybe there are things on the no list that work for you and things on the yes list that don’t. It takes time to grasp and accept this concept but I’ve found it to be freeing.
2. Focus on inclusion vs. exclusion.
This ties in perfectly with the first mindset tip. If you’ve experienced discorded eating or an eating disorder or have ever dieted (which is almost every single person right?) then it’s always been about the “can’ts” “won’ts and “shouldn’ts.” Healing diets are the same way. This of course feels overwhelming, restrictive and anxiety-producing. But what if we simply focused on what we CAN have, instead?
Even trying new things, new recipes, new ways of cooking old favorites. Instead of roasting veggies maybe you spiralize them, rice them, or blend them into soups. Play around with different textures, tastes and spices. Try new cuts of meat or types of seafood. Make meal prepping fun by watching a show, listening to a podcast or music while you cook. Treat yourself to a new beautiful cookbook, watch youtube videos, follow some new inspirational people on Instagram. Open your eyes to what you CAN have and ditch the limiting idea of what you can’t.
3. It’s not about what you do one time, it’s about what you do most of the time
All of these totally go together!! This is my favorite tip of all time no matter what you’re going through. It completely aligns with the idea of treating yourself with respect and grace. My goal as a practitioner is get people away from everything being so black and white and existing in the grey zone- and letting that be ok. Get off the wagon and away from “good” and “bad”.
It’s so much more important to focus on what you do most of the time. If you ate something outside of your healing diet and protocol- move forward. Drink some water, go for a walk, eat some greens during your next meal, but above all else FORGIVE YOURSELF. Your body will forgive you too, as long as you don’t stress out about it and try to punish yourself for messing up. That just makes things worse.
Look at your way of eating as a way to nourish yourself and just simply focus on high-quality, real foods. Allow yourself to be up and down and focus on forgiveness and experimentation vs. perfection. Yes sometimes we have to stick to a certain way of eating for health purposes but be super kind to yourself during that tough process. Make the choices because you want to feel well, not because you feel like you SHOULD. In fact, eliminate that “should” word from your vocab entirely. Don’t call foods “good” or “bad” and remember you’re not “good” or “bad” for eating that way. You’re worthy and lovable and good enough despite your diet and you will figure it out if you just keep moving forward and make your well being a #1 priority.
To reach out to Chelsea or learn more: