June 5, 2010

No gluten, no sugar, no dairy…no freakin’ way.

…Or so I thought.

She pricked my finger and said the results would be back in about a week—results that would forever change what I eat and how I think about food.

About year ago I went to a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) because I was having digestive issues. Since then, because I tend to over-share my personal experiences with family, friends and yoga students, I discovered that many people have digestive issues, but do not talk about it.

Why not? Well, simply put, digestive issues usually involve being bloated, farting and pooping. Not topics that typically rate highly in day-to-day conversations—except poo, which may be a regular topic of discussion if you are in a home with a newborn/infant or you have a toddler who is experimenting with potty-training.

So, back to my life changing appointment. My ND tells me that I have to cleanse my GI (aka gastro intestinal) tract. I have to partake in an elimination diet.

She proceeds to tell me that I cannot eat wheat, gluten, sugar, dairy or eggs.

What?! Seriously!? I break down into what Oprah calls the ugly cry. In between my sobs, I am asking the ND questions about what I can eat. As she is talking I am in a daze, barely hearing her words because my mind is spinning and I am thinking over and over again—how will this be possible for a carb-heavy, cheese and ice cream lovin’ gal like myself?

Without going into too much of the drama, and there was plenty of it, I can tell you that discovering my food sensitivities was one of the best things I did for my body and my mind (yoga would be the number one best thing). Case in point—last weekend I went off my healthy eating plan, consuming what seemed like tons of non-gluten-free bread, dairy and sugar.

Did I regret it? Yes, yes I did. Not only did my stomach ache, but my mind wasn’t clear, I was irritable and tired. My bad food choices contributed to my inability to enjoy the day. It was a lovely outside…and I was inside because I didn’t feel well.

Stomach issues and fatigue are two major complaints related to food sensitivity. When we neglect to eat foods that are good for our body and aren’t digesting our food well, we may be subjecting ourselves to more serious illnesses by not choosing foods that strengthen our immune system.

Does this apply to me?

If you do not want to go to a ND to get a food panel test done to determine what foods you may be sensitive to, you can keep a personal food journal to see which foods aggravate your GI system. While you experiment with your food choices and notice how they make you feel, you will learn what is best for your body and get to know your body more accurately.

As you plan your daily menu, you may want to include the following nine “super foods”: berries, kiwis, sweet potatoes, broccoli, beans, quinoa, avocados and nuts—which are all delicious and free of gluten, dairy and refined sugar.

A final thought about food choices—choosing organic is something we should consider before putting food in our mouth and into our body—if you have seen Food, Inc. or a similar food documentary, you probably already know this. If you haven’t, and you eat chicken or anything made with corn, you’ll want to.

If you need to limit your organic food purchases due to financial constraints, you might find the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides helpful to educate yourself on how to affordably decrease your pesticide consumption.

One of my yoga teachers, Govinda Kai, wrote an article about The Art of Truly Joyful Eating.  When we think about food primarily as a way of nourishing our body and mind and we are truly aware of what and why we put certain foods in our body, we are practicing Ahimsa—the first Yama of Ashtanga Yoga—or non-harming. When we eat foods that continually create distress in our body, we are harming our body.

Make the choice to be kind to your body—you won’t regret it!

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