I’m a big believer in common threads and synchronicity.
Like, when you get a group of women together, a similar theme always emerges...they’re all going though something similar at the same time...it’s spooky.
As a coach, I pick up on it ALL THE TIME. When I start seeing clients on Monday, I can already get a feel for what everyone needs to hear, even if their session isn’t until the end of the week. It’s got something to do with feminine energy. I learn so much from paying attention to it...and it freaking ROCKS!
This week I had two sessions with different clients and the synchronicity in their stories was uncanny. The setting was unique, but the lesson was the same. Both ladies have presented with varying symptoms that were causing them some physical discomfort and both needed a little guidance this week in staying true to themselves and listening to their body wisdom.
One of these gals has worked with me this year and done so much amazing work on conquering her inner critic, releasing negative self-image, honouring her body and listening to her intuition. Early on, she started experiencing some inconsistency and pressure in her digestive system and tummy so we explored helping her ease that through a more balanced approach to exercise, concentrating on stress management and looking at getting to know her body really, really well. She went and checked in with her doctor, and also decided to meet with a naturopath to see what might be the CAUSE of her SYMPTOMS and where she could further support herself back to feeling her best.
Of course, the whole while, we were doing amazing work ‘behind the scenes’ to build a peaceful, healthy and loving relationship with food by breaking down the barriers and labels of good and bad food and releasing the idea that there is one ‘right’ way to eat.
The other had already been seeing a highly sought after specialist to alleviate some of her symptoms. Unfortunately she still wasn’t feeling any better, despite being given a whole host of things to avoid eating and drinking and a complete course of medication to take. The rules she had to follow, however, left her feeling tired, anxious, frustrated and preoccupied with food and her body. She hasn’t been able to enjoy a cup of tea but found herself eating lollies like she was possessed, which she said was completely out of character for her!
Back to my first client. She’d finally started to feel empowered enough to explore her body’s individual needs and unique nuances. Sure, she was consciously eating less of some things and more of others and noticed that what she was doing was reducing her digestive discomfort. She was feeling good and better still, she wasn’t relating to food as the bad guy in the situation anymore. She just recognised that her body was going well with this experiment and she was the one in control. She also happens to be a high level Basketballer, so energy support is vital for her even moreso around her approach to training and game day. She was acting as her own nutritionist and her own self-investigator. She was on fire!
After a few more consults with her naturopath, she found herself in a bit of a sticky spot yesterday when we had our session...She had been given a diagnosis and a 4 week program to follow in order to repair her gut health.
The program looked a little like this:
No grains (rules out out, rice, pasta, bread, wheat, flour and any products that use them)
No sugar, No alcohol, No soy, No potato (sweet potato and pumpkin in small amounts), No corn, No fruit, except berries...and the list goes on slightly, in addition to taking a lot of supplements.
Now, of course, as their nutritional therapist and health coach, my goal is to help both of these beautiful clients eliminate the cause of their symptoms, reclaim their health and get them to the point of felling the best they ever have, but these women also want to be free from the experience of being trapped in a war with food and their bodies that have been going on and causing them grief for YEARS!
I’m 100% all for treating ourselves naturally, as a first port of call, instead of going blindly down a synthetic (drug taking) approach but if any prescription has you scratching your head at the open pantry door wondering what the HELL you can eat and fearing all the bad things that are going to happen if you sneak in a rice cracker or two before dinner...I’m sorry (I hate delivering bad news) but that’s a diet.
If it’s got rules. It’s a diet.
If it’s got restrictions. It’s a diet
If it’s been given to you by someone else. You guessed it. It’s a diet.
Why is that such a big problem, you ask?
Well, because, diets feel like you’re on a merry go round...except that the merry go round is on fire... and instead of pretty coloured plastic horses on golden poles, your perched on top of a set of scales... and the music that’s playing isn’t a fun sing-a-long number but just constant stream of thoughts about food and eating and it isn’t actually motion sickness but waves of guilt and confusion and anxiety that break the connection in the machine which means you can’t get off and just keep going around and around on the endless ride....
What fun, hey?!
Sarcastic metaphors aside, diets get in the way of us having a healthy relationship to food. Full Stop. They make so many of us anxious, confused, ashamed and lost.
And here’s the irony...it’s the anxiety and fear that’s getting in the way of us having good digestion IN THE FIRST PLACE because we are using the energy that needs to be in our tummy to THINK ABOUT OUR FOOD instead of tasting, enjoying and metabolising it!
oh...but speaking of nuts, if you’re to eat them, they’ll have to be activated...
(...am I the only one who still has a giggle when they hear the term “activated nuts?!”)
People are really savvy these days and, in my experience, women are slowly starting to catch on to the deceivingly heartbreaking notion that dieting doesn’t really work. It doesn’t bring us the happiness, confidence and piece of mind it promises. Thankfully, there’s not as many obvious diets being sold to us as there have been in the past. Not too many people are on those shakey-meal-replacement- thingys anymore. Weight watchers memberships are at an all time low.
...but in this new era of wellness, concepts like gut health, food group intolerance, immune deficiencies and organ function are being used to persuade us that food is still the enemy and we are not to trust it....
...and THIS is where I have the problem...
Now. Don’t get me wrong...I am not about to claim that gut health (or any of the issues mentioned above) are bogus concepts and I am definitely not ignorant to the idea that we need to make sure we are healthy and thriving on all levels, or that our internal health; the function of our digestive system, stomach and other vital organs is not important...it is. Hello – I’m all about devoting some attention to your tummy for SO MANY reasons but if you’ve found yourself in a similar wave of confusion about what to be eating I want you to take a big ol’ breath for a minute and just chill.
It doesn’t have to be this confusing or leave you feeling like you’re trapped.
Our food has certainly changed over time... I’m not objecting the fact that there’s things that are used in food production now that could be making food harder to digest and our bodies might struggle to deal with it. When our digestive system is struggling a little, we might notice symptoms like irritability of the bowls, constipation or diarrhoea, bloating, wind, pain, reflux or even heartburn.
Getting curious is the first stage to easing any discomfort you have. Explore your body with a variety of lenses. Experiment with foods in a non judgemental way to figure out your ideal diet.
(but hang on...didn’t she just say diets were like being on a fiery merry-go-round from food hell?! )Yes, I did! But I’m also big fan of re-claiming the D word. We all have our own individual diets; built up on our tastes, preferences, cultures, tolerances or intolerances and nutritional needs. We’ve had it backwards for a long time, we’ve been conditioned to think that a diet is something we go on. It’s not. It’s something we own. Just like your hair – YOUR diet is YOUR way of eating. You have every right to adapt in any way you like)
If certain foods make your feel a little upset – it might make you feel better to change to a different style, brand or variety, or sparse out your consumption of them to see if you notice a change for the better. If you do, great – stick with that for a while and look out for the evidence to see if you keep improving! If you don’t notice any difference, move on to exploring something else!
ADDING some stress management tools into their ‘diet’ before feeling obliged to take everything out of it is the most supportive thing I offered to both of these beautiful women this week. It’s what’s going to give them a strong foundation on which to build their evolving relationship with food. Think about this: restricting your diet isn’t the only way to heal yourself... Taking things away from your body might leave it feeling really cranky! Why not do MORE of what makes you feel good and LESS of what makes you feel like crap. (um, that kinda goes for life, not just food!) You can:
- Sleep more
- Talk your feelings and thoughts out (or write in a journal)
- Take time to relax and renew your energy
- Put some physical space between yourself and people or situations that are stressing you out
- Do things you love to do. (what are your hobbies, interests, bucket list items?...)
- Take a bit of a technology or social media detox
- Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated
- Eat mindfully and slowly and begin to think about your food in a positive way
All these things, I guarantee, can support your gut health just as much, if not more, than going it along with restrictive food protocols.
So, why aren’t we told that?
...’cause meditation don’t cost money, honey...
Investing energy into your health and wellness doesn’t have to mean paying a hefty financial fee.
No one knows your body like you know your body.
No one need be invested in your health as much as you are. No one should benefit from you getting healthy more than YOU. Put yourself FIRST, please!
Underpinning this all is, of course, the one common thread: you are the captain of your own ship, beautiful! YOU are the architect of your own health. We are really freaking blessed to be living in a country with access to such a variety of professionals. You can choose to see a doctor of western medicine, or one working with eastern philosophies. Hell, you can see both! You can choose an osteopath, a chiropractor or a physiotherapist for your muscular-skeletal treatment – you might have a practitioner that combines all three modalities! You could see a naturopath or a herbalist.
The choices are all yours. The symptoms are yours. The cure is yours. The journey is yours.
I want you to know that, ultimately, it’s YOUR body and YOUR health and you’ve gotta do what works for YOU.
You’ve GUT this! ;)