an update on the TBB food + gut health journey A.K.A. the ever-evolving saga & my new experiment

06.19.17

Health

STORY TIME.

one day very recently i woke up and i was sick of being controlled by food.

and maybe you think i’m talking about three years ago when i transitioned away from veganism and took control of my eating disorder (orthorexia) by letting go of the labels and learning to eat intuitively and bountifully.

or mayyyyybe you think i’m talking about my health journey post-veganism with the long road of dedication to balancing my hormones and trying to treat and cure various parasites, imbalances, gut issues and infections through functional medicine, ayurveda, acupuncture, restorative yoga, all sorts of diet changes and lifestyle adjustments, supplements, probiotics, alternative treatments and therapies, and the thousands of other things i’ve dabbled in.

(for the record, i still love & do/use all of those things.)

if i were you, i’d think i was talking about one or both of the above too.

but the truth is, i am talking about something far more recent. i am talking about a shift that is taking place in me RIGHT NOW, even after all this time.

well, after a whole lifetime really of stomach problems.

i have considered myself mostly recovered from full-blown orthorexia for a while now. i feel very grateful that my brain tends to work in the way that once i realize something and become intensely aware of it — i can begin to let go, work on it and move forward.

after i started introducing more foods into my life post-veganism i struggled a lot, but my orthorexia shifted into something else. it shifted back into what it was pre-veganism for me — which was a general discomfort about & around food because for my entire life, food has made me feel rather shitty.

so even though that’s not nearly the same as the depths of my former orthorexia, it has been similarly difficult albeit way more manageable and balanced.

i have an insanely sensitive stomach. trust me, it’s textbook undiagnosable

i have spent two full decades and then some wishing that i had an answer that came in the form of a diagnosis so that i could treat it and live comfortably without food fears, anxiety about what i am putting into my body, major stomach pain and bloating, IBS, hormone imbalances (post-eating disorder… newer problem), lethargy after eating, indigestion and constipation, acid reflux, etc.

in the realm of all things gut-problems… you name it, i’ve experienced it.

so as much as i have recovered from the eating disorder i once seriously suffered from, i have still had a lot of trouble with food for the last three years. just want to keep it real with you guys. mentally, i’m GOOD. physiologically, my gut issues are a beast of their own.

i keep it to myself most of the time because who wants to be “THAT girl” who still has all of those food intolerances, can barely touch what her friends / family make her or want her to try, avoids alcohol 99.9% of the time because it makes her feel hungover for an unusually extended period of time, and on top of all of that… now people worry that i still have an eating disorder if i express too much concern about ingredients or meal times or alcohol or what have you.

so i really don’t want to go too into depth about all of the above (even though i sooooo could) because this is NOT a “woe is me” post about my stomach problems. at all. been there, done that. 😉

this is about the revelation i recently had that i really think is going to help me, a lot. and hopefully it will help you too!

so let’s talk about that revelation…

it pretty much started while i was having a super open heart-to-heart convo (the best kind) with my dear assistant + friend christina while at the GOOP health summit last weekend. (so yes, gwyneth was indeed just a few seats down from us while this convo took place. important #sidenote.)

we have BOTH (christina and myself) experienced straight up turmoil with our stomachs over the years. it’s just a hard way to live — and i know a lot of you have been here and know exactly what i am talking about. (although i do understand and know things could be way worse!)

i was expressing to christina how sick i am of feeling this way — of trying so hard to do what feels right for my body, only to have my body backfire on me and feel inflamed to the bone with total rejection of what i’m eating / drinking / fueling myself with.

she gave me a ton of good insight that i won’t even go into at this exact moment… but her words inspired me to take a deeper look at my approach.

she reminded me that as far as setting myself up to feel good, my lifestyle is on POINT. i make all of the self-care choices my heart desires, i live an unapologetically wellness-oriented life full of yoga, healthy food, positive friendships and relationships, and even a wellness-focused career.

my exercise and sleep are pretty darn good too. it’s just that food component. that one tricky thing that always sneaks up on me no matter how hard i try to avoid that happening.

for the last several months i have tried to follow the “wait 4-6 hours between meals, intermittent fasting, bulletproof in the morning” type of dietary structure for the most part. i have NOT been crazy rigid with it because as we know that doesn’t work for me — but eating that way made me feel good for a long while so i stuck with it.

then i started feeling not so bueno again. just really imbalanced and not good. my skin is always a good indicator of how my gut health is doing — and for the last two months, my skin has been inflamed and breaking out like a mofo.

so now i am trying a new approach.

i realized i got really attached to the way i’ve been eating for the last year or so because in the beginning, it was working. just like veganism!

but i truly believe, time and time again, that doing the same thing every day and expecting my body to want/need the SAME type of fuel each day just doesn’t work for me.

so now i am focusing on something a bit different.

it doesn’t have a name, or a label, or a cult following, and it’s not the answer to everyone’s gut health problems – but i have a feeling it might be the answer (or part of the answer) to mine.

my hormones are out of whack. i know this because i am a highly sensitive person and i KNOW what’s going on in my body even if i can’t pinpoint why or what exactly is going on (if i could, i think i’d be a medical medium, so i wish i could!!!).

but i do know generally what’s going on. and it ain’t pretty.

so instead of skipping breakfast every day for bulletproof coffee and living that intermittent fasting life, i am going to focus on really nourishing my body from the inside out. i am going to make it my mission to LISTEN to my body… eat when I’m hungry, and eat three square meals a day to balance out my hormones and let my body know and trust that nutrients will be coming in at normal times of day.

( nothing against bulletproof, i will still be having it when i feel like it!!! it’s PART of my lifestyle, but it doesn’t have to be the end-all be-all everyday go-to. )

maybe some days that will mean i wake up and I’m not hungry for a few hours. i will listen to my bod and won’t force anything. other days that might mean more snacks and eating smaller meals than usual, which is also cool.

i remember a brief window of time a few years ago — between starting to eat plant-based and becoming a full-blown food-eliminator… when i felt really normal. my gut health was at bay, and my hormones were nice and balanced. what i did back then was LISTEN TO MY BODY, cook almost all of my meals at home, focus on healthy, whole, real foods from the earth, eat smaller meals more often (so i was never overly full or overly hungry), and trust my intuition about what would / wouldn’t feel good.

i had no dependency on things back then like coffee and dark chocolate and kombucha and coconut butter and certain other things that these days i feel freakishly addicted to because i know things are just off inside of me.

for a brief little period of time in my life, things were REAAAAL good with my stomach. just normal.

and i want to get back to that. i know that for ME (and i keep specifying this because we are allllll different and i just simply have no idea if this is good for YOU or not) never getting TOO hungry or TOO full is also a key.

eating smaller meals throughout the day. not letting my stomach get inflamed and bloated from eating just two main meals a day, full of variety and nutrients during those times only.

more of a balanced, spread out approach.

i also really resonate with the ayurvedic approach to eating, which is also rooted in ancient indian cultures. in that culture and approach, keeping it SIMPLE is the way to go. not a ton of wild sauces, superfoods, over the top ingredients (even when they’re healthy), and not a ton of mixing foods together.

keeping it simple — two to three things at once. protein and rice, beans and quinoa, chia pudding by itself and not buried in toppings, fruit by itself and not slathered in nut butter… you feel me.

not always the most exciting, especially for a foodie like me, but it IS exciting to feel good in your own body.

with minimal caffeine ( not cutting it out entirely, because that ish does make me feel good! i can use it like medicine, as we do in ayurveda, if i don’t rely on it fully ), minimal to no sugar because it just doesn’t work for me, and a few other things i won’t go into detail about because – again  – we are all diff and i don’t want you to feel like my plan is YOUR plan.

this is just my own personal experiment, and i’m crossing my fingers it really starts to do good things for me.

i will say, for the last week… i’ve been doing this and i have been feeling good. my friend laura hadn’t seen me in weeks, and she told me yesterday that i am looking so BALANCED and GOOD and HEALTHY… which i took as a huger than life compliment. because i am trying, and that is all that i want – to feel good and to radiate that outward.

i am also reincorporating running and HIIT into my life after being rather fearful of them for a while when i was in my very, very low-impact phase of working out. i don’t want to be afraid of anything, and i know that variety is good for my particular body, so i am doin’ it and it feels really, really good so far. still a lot of yoga too, always. 🙂

sooooo that’s where i’m at, peeps.

i am not a doctor and i don’t ever want to be considered an expert with these little experiments that i do because our bodies are so intensely personal. it’s all US, and we are all different. i want to feel good and i want YOU to feel good, and i will keep sharing my story in hopes of inspiring you to dig deep within yourself to do the same.

i will keep you all updated, but if nothing else i wanted to share this because its a very big and important side of who i am, and i never want to withhold info and act like everything is perfect in TBB land when my gut health is truly just out of whack.

thoughts?!? love getting real with you guys. excited to see where this takes me… so much love. xx