When I was 20 years old, I became unable to digest cow’s milk. I dealt with terrible stomach aches for about six months, tried several over the counter stomach and digestive aids, and then finally went to the doctor where they told me to try cutting out dairy. I did and I immediately felt better. After the initial few weeks of trying to figure out what I could and could not eat, it became easier. I began to find some alternatives for milk and eventually things like cheese and ice cream. I found out I could eat (and I thoroughly enjoyed) goat cheese. The most important lesson I learned, though, was to let go.
It’s strange to think that “letting go” would be the lesson to learn with a food intolerance, but it honestly was the best teacher for me. If I had a craving for a food that I knew would make me feel sick afterwards, I would eat it anyway – at first. I would take an enzyme to try and help digest better, or deal with a terrible stomach ache, because I “needed” that “normal” food. But after awhile, that grew old. I didn’t want to feel bad or sick. I didn’t want to go home from work or class early because of a stomach ache.
I began to see that food is only food. A craving is just a craving. My life would not be better if I had a piece of cheese, a slice of pizza, or a bowl of ice cream. Afterwards, I would still be me, whether or not I ate that food. What I would focus on instead is how the food made me feel. Was it worth the pain and discomfort? Nope. Would the craving eventually pass? Yup. I simply learned to ask myself these questions, and remind myself of why I didn’t eat these foods. When I had this internal reminder, I was able to harness my will power and see the meal or snack for what it was or wasn’t. It gave me clarity.
If you suffer from a food allergy, intolerance, or are looking to change some aspects of your diet, I encourage you to remind yourself of the why when you begin to doubt your choices. I now follow a plant-based, low-gluten diet. It can seem extreme to some, but for me it makes sense. Dairy and gluten give me stomach pains. I choose not to eat meat and eggs for other health reasons. If I crave one of these, I look and see that my diet may be lacking (low iron? sugar crash?), I remind myself of the why, and I let go. One of life’s simplest and best lessons from a surprising source.
Jessi Andricks is a yoga and mind-body fitness teacher in Charleston, SC. She teaches a blend of vinyasa, as well as mind-body fitness classes. Jessi is a certified Green Living Expert and is receiving training in Holistic Health Coaching. She hopes to help people learn to live vibrant, healthy lives through holistic lifestyle habits.
Website: House of Healthy
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