Identity Evolution Through Healthier Eating Guideline
What I love about the Body Thrive habits is that they are so approachable for anyone at any level of their health journey, especially Habit 8- Healthier Eating Guidelines. In the beginning it is somewhat one size fits all noticing our eating schedule, adding more greens, and maybe lessening sugar. I loved this one size fits all approach so much, because it allowed me to not make too many hard dietary changes right away, until my body became super smart forced me to take this habit deeper!
This is my personal story about my identity evolution through Healthier Eating Guidelines. As a Vata-Pitta, I’ve never had trouble keeping my weight managed and have always “looked” healthy, but my energy levels were another story. I used to manage my energy in the typical SAD (Standard American Diet) way, feeding lulls with sugar and calming highs with alcohol. I would often get “hangry”, which people close to me can vouch for. Some colleagues even called me “the crier” when I would get emotional over stressful work deadlines. If I started crying, they would recommend I eat a snack and my emotions would usually improve. On top of the mismanagement of energy levels, I also had acute inflammation expressed by skin issues and pain in my joints, as well as a super irregular pooping schedule.
When I first read Body Thrive, I started noticing my meal habits through Healthier Eating Guidelines and made simple adjustments. I stopped snacking, and I made sure any desserts I ate were with lunch. The hardest thing for me was avoiding all the donuts that were often around my work environment, but I made great progress. The immediate benefit was that my hangry-ness faded away as well as “the crier” in me. My energy levels were more stable. I felt happier and lighter from more regular digestion. I coasted on this for a while, making small refinements with starting to meal prep and use better quality ingredients, but eventually my entry level Healthier Eating Guidelines were not enough…
In 2018 I was living my basic version of Healthier Eating Guidelines and the other nine habits fairly well. It was during an exciting, but stressful time of my life. I was in the first semester of Yoga Health Coaching, I had switched my Interior Design Career of 14 years to move more into the wellness field, AND I was leaving my home and relationship of 12 years to live on my own for the first time. With all this going on, I slept enough, my diet stayed descent, I moved and meditated, I had a daily oil massage practice, and I was overall healthy and balanced. I still had some adult acne and some pain in my SI joint, but nothing that was too bothersome. Then, I started getting a rash around my mouth. It was painful and it also looked pretty darn gross.
The first step I took was to see my general practitioner, who I hadn’t seen for years. She was overscheduled, as always, had no answers in the five minutes we talked, and passed me on to an allergist. I was excited to see the allergist to find out about possible food allergies. After meeting with the allergist for about 10 minutes, she discovered in our casual conversation about my rash that I used coconut oil mixed with lavender essential oil to ease it. After hearing that she dismissed further discussion or protocol to test for any allergies. She told me to stop using coconut oil and essential oils and that they were causing the rash. I left super upset, having no answers, and still had my painful rash.
I went through the next year experimenting and trying to heal the rash on my own. I tried to pay attention to what I was eating that might be flaring it up. Sometimes I thought it was tomatoes, then spicy foods, then eggs, then coffee. I would go through weeks giving up one of those at a time, but then there would be an intense flareup out of nowhere. I had given up petroleum and bees wax based lip balms, which helped a lot, but it would still flare up randomly for no rhyme or reason. I even listened to the allergist who left me in tears with no answers and didn’t use my oils to ease it.
This self-study went on for at least a year. It was through the Cabral Concept Podcast that I heard about some functional medicine lab tests that might find me answers. It was a simple finger prick test for blood samples, sent in the blood samples to a lab, and I finally got my answers! I can drink my one cup of coffee, I can eat salsa, and eggs are okay too! The test revealed that I had a sensitivity to gluten and dairy. The two things that I never tested giving up on my own…
Seemed so simple and some friends even recommended giving them up during my personal experimentation phase, but it wasn’t something that this Wisconsin beer and cheese lover would give up without scientific proof. Now I had it. So now what?
The lab test came with a session with a health coach who gave me the recommended protocol which was a 21-day liver detox, and elimination of dairy and gluten for A YEAR! I had friends in the YHC Community that participated in the Yogi Detox, but I never even thought of taking a detox route, since I thought it would make my Vata-Pitta constitution wither away to nothingness. Well, now that I had my scientific proof and doctor recommended protocol, I was finally open to try something new. I just wanted this rash to stop happening.
It was a long 21 days, and it wasn’t easy by any means. Each of the three weeks started with two fast days, which I only had nutritional shakes and liver detoxifying herbs, followed by five days of clean eating. By the end of it, I didn’t wither away to nothingness, but I did lose some bloating, I had clearer skin, my SI joint pain went away, my eyes were whiter, AND my rash hadn’t made an appearance the whole time!
So, did I eliminate gluten and dairy for an entire year after the detox, you ask? No is the short answer, and it hasn’t even been a year yet, but I surely don’t eat it like I used to. I eat pretty clean through most of the week, and it’s worth it because it makes me feel better than I ever have before. I have a weekly cheat meal day, where I might indulge in some dairy or gluten and then feel the effects of sluggish digestion the next day or two. While the cheat meals used to be worth it for the pure enjoyment of eating, they are happening less as I become more in touch with what really feeds me. I also do a 7-day detox each season to give my whole mind body and soul a reset.
This fall will mark the one-year anniversary of my taking the food sensitivity test, completing the 21-day detox, revamping my eating habits completely, feeling better overall, and NOT HAVING A RASH AROUND MY MOUTH!!! The moral of my story is to not let yourself plateau because of your old identity. If something isn’t working or you are not getting results, keep searching. When you are not finding them where you expect to, reach out to the community. Looking back, I had the answers all around me (Yogi Detox, YHC Community, friends, etc.), but I just wasn’t ready to listen to them. I gave into my Vata-Pitta, Wisconsin beer drinking, cheese loving image until it refused to serve me anymore with a vengeance. While my main goal was to heal a rash, I’ve also gained so much hope! If I can feel this much better in less than one year from some non-perfectly practiced dietary changes, imagine what will happen with more refining over the next year. And then the next! And the next!