Tag Archives: gluten free

6 Lessons I’ve Learned in Healing My Gut

This article has been featured on Elephant Journal.

Heartburn, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, and headaches. Looking back on it now, it’s hard for me to imagine that that’s what my life was like just 2 years ago. Having low energy and having trouble sleeping each night because either the heartburn or indigestion I was having was so uncomfortable.

While I don’t think we ever get to a point where we are completely “healed” in that we’re able to go back to the old lifestyle that we had before we started our healing journey, I have managed to reach a very stable place.

In order to reach this stable place in my gut health, I had a lot of different lessons to learn — and not only from health professionals that supported me in this journey but also in learning to tune in to my own body to recognize what it wants and needs.

Here are 6 lessons I’ve learned in my journey of healing my gut:

#1 – Cutting out dairy and gluten alone may not to do magic, but it’s still worth doing

When my gut problems first started getting unmanageable, I had several people in my life come chiming in with how they started cutting out gluten and dairy from their diets and they were able to get rid of their heartburn, stop having acne breakouts, started feeling more energized, and so on.

So I started cutting out gluten and dairy from my diet for a few weeks — and eventually even a few months — and I didn’t notice any results at the time. I found myself frustrated and as if all my efforts to cut out these foods was a waste of time.

I didn’t realize it then, but I know now that while cutting out dairy and gluten is beneficial, it may not be the only thing that our bodies need to heal. Maybe you’d also need to cut out sugar or soy and eat more vegetables and less meat. It varies a lot depending on the individual.

#2 – Gluten is in a lot of processed foods

In the first week or two that I started cutting out gluten, I remember telling a friend who had suggested I eliminate gluten from my diet, “I’ve been doing it for two weeks and I’ve noticed no changes!”

He sat there and looked at me with a straight face and asked, “Have you been eating soy sauce?”

“Yes”, I replied.

“Have you been eating salad dressings?”

“Yes.”

“What about sauces?”

“Well, yeah.”

“Then you haven’t been cutting out gluten.”

It took me some time to do the research online and read all the labels at the grocery store, but eventually I figured out what to look for on the labels and get a sense for what products are typically going to have gluten in it and which isn’t.

Fortunately for me, I’m not celiac so I don’t have to be extra cautious about contamination or anything like that. However, if you’re doing an elimination diet to see what foods work for you and which don’t, you have to know if you’re consuming bits of gluten or not.

#3 – Ditch the gluten-free products

In my experience of trial and error, I’ve realized that consuming gluten free products are just has bad as consuming gluttonous products. Why? Because they’re still processed.

When I started eating mostly whole, natural foods by buying most all my food from the perimeter of the grocery store, that’s when I started to really notice shifts in my gut and overall health.

#4 – We need to rotate our probiotics and enzymes

After about 9 months of working with my acupuncturist, I noticed my digestion was feeling a bit sluggish. When I informed my acupuncturist of this, she immediately asked me, “How long have you been using your current probiotic?”

“Probably 6 months” I said.

“You should probably change it” she responded.

Currently I rotate between three different brands of probiotics and rotate different kinds of enzymes. Sometimes our bodies get used to the same formula and all it needs is something different to give it a little boost.

#5 – We need to be open to changing our diets as needed

When I was first introduced to the paleo diet through my boyfriend and his sister, I first thought it was the magical life-changing diet that I had been looking for all along. Whenever I ate paleo I felt amazing, had more energy, and my gut was in the greatest shape ever.

So last spring I went on the paleo diet and I stuck with it all through the summer. Then, November hit and the paleo diet was no longer working for me. I felt tired, started having bouts of constipation and diarrhea again, and having occasional indigestion.

I experimented with different things in my diet for about a month or so and eventually I realized that my body wanted less meat, more veggies, and grains, like rice and quinoa, again. So through the winter months I stuck with a gluten-free “flexitarian” diet, where I only had meat once a week and it was exactly what my body needed.

BodiesChange

Click to Tweet: Just as the seasons change, so do our bodies. We need to be open and receptive to what our bodies are asking from us. via @jenilyn8705

Just as the seasons change, so do our bodies. So we need to be open and receptive to what our bodies are asking from us. Which leads me to what was, perhaps, my biggest lesson of all:

#6 – Our minds and emotions impact our gut health

The more we are stuck in our own heads, then the more our gut is likely going to suffer — and not merely due to neglect, but due to the fact that we are not tracking our own internal experience.

It’s important to be mindful and to check in with how we are feeling in our bodies throughout the day. Doing so helps us to get out of our “monkey mind”, as the Buddhists call it, and back into our present moment experience.

When I started really tuning into my body, I started to notice some interesting things. I noticed that whenever someone would cut me off while driving on the freeway, I would get a fluttery feeling in my stomach. I would notice what situations would raise my heart rate and which would cause neck tension.

By tuning into my body periodically throughout the day, I was then able to take care of myself in those moments. I then knew that I was holding my breath and that I needed to exhale. I knew that I needed to take a few conscious breaths to get re-balanced and centered.

In implementing a mindfulness practice, that’s when I learned the most valuable lesson of them all: How to care for myself.

What lessons has your body taught you?  Share it in the comments below!

4 Ways to Stick With Your New Diet or Lifestyle Guilt-Free

So you’re feeling the need to make a new diet or lifestyle change. Maybe you’re wanting to trying this out

new diet

yourself or maybe a doctor or nutritionist has recommended it for you. Or maybe you’re trying to cut down on your drinking. Either way, you know it’s something you want to do for your own health and well-being.

Easy, right? Well, not exactly because by making this new diet and lifestyle change you’re going to have to to change your social activities a bit. Maybe it’s no longer eating pizza with your roommates on Wednesday nights or having several drinks on Friday night until the clock strikes two. You feel torn because, well, you want to have a social life but you also want to feel good and healthy.

Well, the first thing I want you to know is: EVERYBODY who makes a new diet or lifestyle change experiences this at some point or another. If you go out to eat at the bar and grill there will always be somebody who asks you why you are the only person not having a beer.

Personally, I’ve struggled with this quite a bit. Currently, on a special diet where I’m gluten-free, dairy-free, and many other things. Based on my experience, here are the ways that have helped me to stick with my new diet and lifestyle guilt-free:

 

Know that you deserve to get what your desire for yourself.

Focus on what it is that you desire to get from this change. To reduce stomach problems? To have more energy? Whatever it is, consider what your goal is for doing this, add that in the blank, and then tell yourself out-loud: I deserve to have ________. You may want to try saying it as many times as you feel drawn to or play around with the wording as you go. Be sure you say it out loud because it can create a strong effect than simply saying it in our mind.

Tell everyone about your new diet or lifestyle.

This is what I know I really struggled with. I always felt like people were prying with all their questions whenever I simply decided not to eat the bread. “Why does this have to be such a big deal?” I used to think, and then I’d struggle to stick with my plan. What I eventually realized is that it was a sign from the universe to stand up and really tell people my goals. It was a matter of genuine self expression – of being both true to myself and other people. To stop trying to live a lie simply because I feared someone being critical and not accepting my own choices. And the funny part? I’ve actually been able to stick to my new diet and lifestyle change with greater ease because I now tell EVERYONE. Not only are we being completely honest with others and ourselves by saying it, but it also helps to solidify our goal so we are less likely to not follow it. Like, if I tell everyone at dinner that I’m gluten-free I’m much less likely to cheat with some bread and soy sauce because everybody knows about my new diet.

Take charge.

Though telling everyone makes a difference, it doesn’t always make it easier. The reality of the matter is that nobody is going to know what you need unless you tell them. For example, living a gluten-free lifestyle can be very challenging, especially, from my experience, that I’ve found many people do not know what gluten is and what it is in – both the people I have dinner with and the restaurants. I’ve learned that if I stand up and take charge of the situation then I’m less likely to struggle with it. This may be by choosing the restaurant to eat at, having the knowledge of what foods probably have gluten in it, possibly breaking away from the group and telling them I’ll meet up with them later, or perhaps even go home and do something else. Nobody else can know what you need at all times. You have to be willing to give that to yourself. If you take action to really be in charge of everything that happens to you in your own life, you’ll not only feel less guilty, but you’ll also feel more personally empowered.

If you mess up, forgive!

There are two ways that we need to remember to forgive when starting a new diet or lifestyle: 1. Knowing that it is okay to “let someone down” in order to take care of ourselves and 2. Knowing that it’s only natural to to have moments where we feel we are not doing good enough.  The big thing is to focus on being completely present in the moment. If you catch yourself focusing on a past situation with thoughts of “I should have done…” or focusing a lot on how fast your achieving results, let it go. If you focus on being present, then the next time the challenge comes up then you’ll be much more ready for it.

Take Action to Help You Start Your New Diet or Lifestyle TODAY!

What can you do today that will help you to stick with your new diet or lifestyle?  Is it telling everyone you know so you don’t set yourself up for social pressure?  Is it focusing on being easier on yourself?  Does it involve getting re-focused on what you want to achieve?  Does it involve really taking charge in your own life?