I’ve been spending quite a bit of time lately thinking about chronic illness in relation to intuitive eating, body positivity, diet culture, and the healing powers of nutrition.
A lot to unpack, I know. My sleepy Lyme brain has been on overdrive thinking about it all.
I’m sharing my thoughts here because truthfully, I started this blog over half a decade ago to normalize being healthy in a world where “wellness” isn’t or at least wasn’t often considered cool or normal.
Hilariously enough, wellness has become a pretty cool topic over the last several years. I of course am thrilled about that, but the very niche subject I started my blog about still gets a lot of flack: veganism, but specifically veganism in relation to a sick/struggling/healing body.
You guys may not know this if you haven’t been here reading since the beginning, but I started my blog to share that the plant based way of life had helped heal me in many ways from lifelong chronic stomach, gut, and digestion issues. I found veganism in college and explored it deeply before I started my blog, then thought it would be cool to have an online space to talk about being plant based AND being social, fresh out of college, going to bars, doing all the “cool & normal stuff” while also prioritizing my health and wellness.
My journey hasn’t been so linear from there. I stopped being vegan for a while which many of you know about. I wrote a book about dealing with orthorexia and very much became a poster child (thanks to the media, not to me) for “walking away from veganism,” and for some semblance of eating intuitively.
But there is so much to the story that many people simply do not know. If you follow me closely then you probably do, but even so it is hard to articulate just quite how sick my body started to get during those years of switching from veganism to a non-vegan way of life.
And let’s just get one thing straight here: veganism didn’t make me sick, and eating meat and other non-vegan foods didn’t make me sick. I believe that extreme stress took a toll on my body plus a VERY quick departure from veganism into full-blown non-vegan foods way too fast. The whole situation wreaked absolute havoc on my body.
During this time I placed a lot of trust into doctors and nutritionists and others who very much led me toward a meat and fat centric way of eating (aka lots of keto vibes). I talked a lot about intuitive eating. Heck, I still believe in intuitive eating… but not the way some people talk about it.
What I have realized most recently is that EVERY circle of “food labels” comes along with a certain amount of snarkiness, holier than thou attitude, and quite frankly… issues. I used to get hate from the vegan community when I stopped being vegan, and I thought it was a vegan thing. Now I get hate (more subtle but it’s there) from the “intuitive eating” and “anti-diet” cultures and ways of life because I am deeply, severely, chronically ill and am turning to food as medicine to heal me. Also because life and intuition and the universe has lead me back to… none other than a fully plant-based diet.
I am sharing this all with you because yet again, five and a half years after the inception of my blog, I want to normalize this conversation and tell you that YES, IT IS OKAY TO BE THE GIRL WHO BRINGS HER OWN SALAD TO A FRIENDSGIVING. Not only is it okay, it’s fucking cool. It’s amazing when you know what your body needs, and you know what you need to do about it to avoid anxiety or making anyone or especially yourself uncomfortable in social situations.
You can place a huge amount of emphasis on your health and the food that may nourish or heal you, AND be a normal, living, breathing, regular human in society. Placing a huge emphasis on what you eat is not in itself dangerous, it is not something to be avoided.
I heard something recently that really struck a chord, although I quickly tried to let it go and not take it in as my own hurt to ruminate about. It said something along the lines of, “Fuck [a long list of things I won’t mention and also] veganism and the celery juice trend. Intuitive eating and real label dropping is the only healthy approach to diminishing food fears and living a life without anxiety.”
I was thinking, “Hmmm… plant based foods and celery juice, for a chronically ill person, can be fucking life changing. Not for every chronically ill person, but it should be at least given a fair shot. You can eat intuitively and drink celery juice. You can be intuitively led to drinking celery juice. You can be plant based and be deeply intuitive with it the entire way through.”
Secondly… if I ate whatever I wanted and went buck wild around food the way I did four years ago when I “dropped the vegan label,” I would be so sick I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed. Because my body is SICK. I know I don’t speak for everyone here, but I have mold growing on my organs. I have Lyme bugs legitimately chewing away at my BRAIN. I have inflammation that makes it damn near impossible to sleep at night because it it makes my skin so, so, severely and painfully itchy.
Currently I can’t tolerate sugar and I can’t tolerate foods that have salt or oil in them. I could probably tolerate some fish but I can’t risk any mercury, factory farmed or genetically modified contaminants, or even pollution from our very unclean oceans. That is my current situation. I believe wholeheartedly that everyone must listen to their gut and find their own “intuitive” approach, and also include lots and and lots of fresh fruits and veggies, unless allergies or food intolerances apply.
ANYWAY this whole saga brings me to a story that happened yesterday when I was with Jonathan at the farmer’s market…
We had spent the previous day making food for a Friendsgiving that we went to. I made cookies and a banana bread that I can’t currently eat on my Medical Medium Protocol and I was cool with it, even though it still kind of sucks to make food that you can’t eat but looks really delish to you.
The next day we were at the farmer’s market and I saw this really cute cookie stand that I used to always get vegan cookies from. It’s healthy, it’s all good stuff. But for my current protocol, specific to Lyme disease and inflammation, this new protocol that I am really trying to give a shot… it had ingredients that I shouldn’t eat. That I told Jonathan to make sure I stayed away from so that I could really give this thing a fair chance.
I bought the cookies, I ate them, thinking, “IT’S THANKSGIVING WEEK, I will do what I want!!” and guess what? I felt like shit. We got home, he looked at the box, and he called me out for buying cookies with ingredients that I can’t really eat right now (just like I asked him to).
The whole thing made me feel like crying. Part of me for a second got dramatic and woe is me and felt like, “Why can’t I enjoy a simple treat from the farmer’s market? Why am I so sick?”
But then I thought better of it, and remembered that if I wanted a treat it was really quite simple: I could make one. I have plenty of recipes that are very inclusive of my protocol and the diseases and issues I am dealing with. This protocol is not about restriction, it’s about doing the work (hard work at times) to make my food and infuse love (very important) and take the TIME to make things for myself that will nourish my body and also nourish my soul.
So… insert these cookies. These cookies are really special to me, because I came up with this recipe right after I realized the farmer’s market cookies were not going to cut it for me. Heading to Thanksgiving with my family later this week in Carmel, I want some treats for myself too! I know I won’t be able to eat the sugar-laden pies and cookies and whatevers that I would have been able to a few years ago… so this week I am meal prepping some good stuff to bring with me!
The point of this post is: no matter how you eat, don’t let anyone bully you about it. Lately, I have felt subliminally BULLIED by the anti-diet culture. When I did my water fast earlier this year, for my health and to try to heal from a sickness that is literally killing parts of me inside and out, I had an “anti-diet health coach” CREW, like 30 of them, bashing the absolute hell out of me. Posting photos of me, ridiculing me, calling me dangerous.
How sick is that?
Bullying/hating on ANYONE is not healthy.
That is the kind of stuff that messes with health for real: anger, bullying, lashing out, feeling such intense anxiety toward others that you want to call them names and write nasty posts about them.
I am used to all of that stuff, but I am here to tell you if you experience it too… we are stronger than that. We will rise above that hate (which is really just someone else’s insecurity). True health, true spiritual growth and evolvement and happiness… is our acceptance that not everyone is going to celebrate what we do, but as long as we celebrate it, from a true and authentic place, then we are good.
If you’re the girl who gets made fun of at work for her overnight oats with spirulina and goji berries, this is for you. If you’re the guy whose girlfriend’s family doesn’t understand him at all because he is going to eat a plant-based meal on Thanksgiving… this one is for you.
And if you’re anything like me, just out there trying to figure it all out, letting go of the labels and focusing on healing and realizing that food IS MEDICINE, and plants are medicine, and juices are medicine, and healing humans like the Medical Medium know what’s up… then this is really, really for you.
And to be radically honest with you? THIS ONE IS FOR ME. I needed to work through these emotions and process, and I do feel a lot better now.
I will have a Medical Medium update coming soon!! For now, enjoy the recipe for these cookies and I hope you make them on Thanksgiving if they sound good to you. 🙂
SOS-Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Medical Medium approved too as far as I know!!)
1 1/2 cup almond flour (or any flour of your choice)
1/4 cup maple syrup (or I used date syrup if you can find it~)
1/4 cup crushed chocolate (I used Addictive Wellness, use code BLONDE for a discount!)
1/4 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 tbsp carob powder (just to make it more chocolatey!)
2 tbsp almond milk (unless it is liquidy enough already, use your discretion)
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mix all ingredients minus the crushed chocolate in a big bowl until a thick batter forms. Add almond milk if you feel it is too thick. Add more almond flour if it is too watery.
Stir in the chocolate chips until evenly dispersed.
Place cookies onto a baking sheet (will make 8-10 ish cookies) lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.
Pop them out, let them cool, and enjoy!!
Alright guys this post is very near and dear to my heart, so I hope you enjoy and I hope you got something out of it. I was just listening to Oprah & Gwyneth Paltrow on the Goop Podcast (IDOLS !!!!) and Oprah said that with every story you tell, keep your audience in mind and make sure there is an “A-HA” moment for them to resonate with. I hope this story had that for you!! Or at least the recipe. 😉 Love you guys so much and thank you for being here!