This article is written in partnership with The Whole Journey. They’re dedicated to helping people address the root cause of their health issues and use food as medicine to create lasting change—we’re honored to work with them. ~ ed.
We’re dieting to the brink of starvation.
Elephant Journal’s own Kerry Gallagher knows it all too well:
“At age 24, after eight years of restricting my calories to the point where I was thin enough to feel attractive, I got laid off from my job. Suddenly my metabolism shifted, and I began noticing a belly pudge that never existed before. I responded the only way I knew how: cut calories even more, hit the gym harder than I already had been. But instead of the results women have been conditioned to expect, such as a ‘whittled waist,’ ‘shedding pounds,’ and all that bullsh*t, my body was having the opposite effect.
My hair was falling out. I was stressed out of my mind, reactionary, mean. And if I hadn’t stumbled upon a book about female physiology, I never would have figured out what was insidiously occurring with my hormones and adrenal system.
When women under-eat and over-exercise—you know, all of diet culture, basically—our bodies respond to this physical stress by going into ‘survival mode’ and packing on body fat that would have served to get us through life-threatening situations thousands of years ago. And while our circumstances may have changed, our bodies’ responses to stress certainly haven’t.”
I hit a similar weight wall in college. It wasn’t until my first winter break that my mom gave me a gentle nudge about my late-night pizza consumption overstaying its weekend welcome. I started with giving up soda. Then came the green tea diet pills. Then came incessant workouts and weigh-ins, which were a drastic departure from the girl who never used to set foot on a scale.
Diet culture got its grip around both Kerry and me for one timeless reason: we’re women.
Since Eve grabbed the apple, women have had a complicated relationship with food, and our bodies. The reason we get dangerously close to starvation to shed a single pound while our male counterparts hit their goal weight after skipping a single Oreo is no coincidence. We’re wired differently, and as Kerry pointed out, stress hormones play a leading role.
By the time we notice physical and emotional symptoms, it’s an indicator that our bodies are in need of a major overhaul—and one that can only come from within. We first have to believe that a seismic internal shift in our health is actually possible, and then we need to be empowered with the know-how to get the ball rolling in a sustainable direction instead of driving down a yo-yo diet avenue. It’s overwhelming. And it’s really impossible to get started without a trusted source…one like Christa Orecchio.
Christa has dedicated her life’s work to wellness from the inside out, with the guiding principle that the world can’t heal, before we heal ourselves. She started The Whole Journey, an empowering online wellness resource to help bring light to the ways our bodies are ailing in the shadows, and how to help cure them. With personal nutritionists and chefs at astronomical costs that are beyond the reach of the global population, Christa’s goal has been to make healing an accessible journey to all.
With over 15 years of experience in identifying underlying health issues and giving people the authority to resolve them, she vehemently believes in food as medicine and its ability to address the source of physical discomfort that we, women especially, have learned to just live with.
For instance: ever wake up between one and four in the morning? Ever do it…every night?
I did, and I wanted to believe it was some sort of psychic, medium, intervention—or a sign that I was being summoned to become the next Oracle, but it was really a glaring red flag. Just about 80% of women between ages 35 and 65 are suffering from a disorder that no one talks about, and Christa is determined to not only bring awareness to it, but offer solutions to heal from it for good.
It’s usually misdiagnosed as chronic fatigue, adrenal fatigue, Hashimoto’s, hypothyroidism, perimenopause or menopause, weight-loss resistance, candida, IBS, or the general effects of aging…and it’s called TAG Disorder.
Well, I took the quiz, and TAG: you’re (unfortunately) it. I’m Type A (for adrenals), and the results didn’t shock me one bit. That’s not to say I didn’t resonate with the T (thyroid) and G (gut) elements of TAG Disorder, also. The exhaustion and bloating I feel on a regular basis set the T and G up for pretty tight second and third place spots.
Keeping that extra little weight around my midsection for all those years, irregular mood, and lack of sleep weren’t just things I needed to deal with. They were pointing directly to issues in my adrenal glands and my body’s inability to process hormones properly. I’ve been literally running on stress hormones, and passing the baton from my coffee to my wine every day to deal with it.
According to Christa, the way our bodies manage stress hormones is not only more complex as women, but as survivors of trauma. Even if we move through life feeling as though we’ve resolved much of our past triggers, their emotional scars are actually lingering, physical wounds.
Living in flight mode as a result of trauma stalls any natural healing our bodies are capable of doing by locking us out of our parasympathetic nervous system. If we can’t rest, digest, and heal, we’re spinning on a trauma hamster wheel and our bodies are paying the price.
“If you haven’t healed it, every time you think about a negative event from your past, your body produces the exact same chemicals in the body as when it happened. That means you relive the experience hundreds of times simply because you haven’t let it go.” ~ Christa Orecchio
This emotional toll impacts our systems—making them hectic, unsafe environments. We feel it in our anxiety, our inability to relax; and we see it in our guts, our digestive systems, and our skin conditions. Popping pills won’t resolve those symptoms alone, because as Christa would say—we can’t expect a quick fix to repair a systemic issue…we need a whole recode.
The Whole Journey offers a free Adrenal Recode Mini Course that gives us access to methods for addressing and de-stressing the trauma in our bodies. By dealing with our emotions, tapping into the power of our breath, and leveraging the healing properties in our food and the way we consume it, we can shift into a healing state of being that’s indelible—a whole healing journey.
In the course, you’ll get a taste of how to:
>> Recode your adrenals
>> Restore your thyroid
>> Heal your nervous system
>> Nourish your brain
And these aren’t band aid repairs. Picture a fish in a fishbowl: it’s dirty, it’s murky, and the fish inside of it is dying. Traditional medicine, similar to the aforementioned hormone-repair pills, aims to medicate the fish. The Whole Journey Mini Course cleans the tank.
Once you’re able to identify and understand the source of your body’s murkiness, i.e. TAG Disorder, you can uncover a regimen for the type of food to eat and when to eat it to maximize the cleansing effect the program has the potential to emit.
How to Outsmart Stress with Food.
Our bodies are geniuses. We can regenerate our skeletons, heal gaping wounds, and teach ourselves how to speak again after suffering a stroke—and through the Mini Course, I’ve started to tap into my body’s healing acumen with Christa’s guidance. The steps to get into a better relationship with our bodies and reintroduce them to the parasympathetic nervous system include timely and grounded eating habits that you can start…right now.
Take a sip of Nature’s Xanax, a.k.a. Christa’s Creamsicle Smoothie, and take a deep, detoxifying breath out. Wake up with a calming, Morning Elixir, and get uninterrupted rest (goodbye 3:00 a.m. wake-ups) with the Banana Sleep Remedy.
These are just a sampling of the intuitive daily changes you can make to realign symbiosis in your body. You don’t have to keep living in a restless, painful, uncomfortable state of being. You don’t have to starve yourself to lose weight, and you don’t have to take pills to restore a sense of normalcy.
Healing doesn’t have to be some pipe dream—and when it comes from within, it can be a lifetime reality.