If you get my newsletter, there may be a few repeats, but don’t worry…this post is going a lot deeper. Get ready for a long one.
Let’s be real, digestive issues are hard to explain and can change from one year to the next. If there ever was a “no one size fits all”, this is it. Some of you may have seen on Instagram that I finally figured out what is going on with all the digestive issues I’m having. It took months, years even and negatively changed my relationship with food. I just want to say…disordered thoughts don’t just happen over night. At least not for me. Everything from the environment and social media to blog posts and trends, changed the way I viewed food. I was healthier when I wasn’t so obsessed with everything I put in my body & eating Little Caesar’s every Friday night. It’s funny how that works.
My “gut” has been a wreck since I was 14. I would sit in class feeling bloated and embarrassed by the noises my tum would make. I also had bladder issues and frequent UTIs and was overprescribed antibiotics, which made my digestion even worst. By the age of 24, I had 2 colonoscopies, seen multiple doctors, specialists, and naturopaths, and spent thousands of dollars trying to figure out my issues. My last gastroenterologist said “If I knew what was wrong, I would be a millionaire and own an island by now”. Wow, thanks…that was helpful. I had polyps show up on the colonoscopy, which they removed but no one knew why they were there. So of course, it was just IBS. Except I tried everything for the IBS with no relief whatsoever. I then spiraled down this path to heal my digestion. And when I say spiraled down, that’s exactly what I mean. It got worse and worse and worse. I’ve tried bone broth, supplements, loads of probiotics, and eaten all the fermented foods, because that’s supposed to cure us all right? Nope. The bone broth was the only thing that relatively helped. Everything else left my stomach looking like it had just been blown up with helium. My digestion was affecting my skin, mood, and hormones. And looking back, when my digestion screwed up, everything else began to follow. What? Probiotics are literally supposed to cure everything right? Well, not if you have SIBO, small intestinal bacteria growth. More on this later.
Since having all these issues, I’ve tried everything. My senior year in college I was gluten & dairy free. Did it cure me? Nope. No change at all. Then I tried paleo thinking if it cured other people’s auto-immune issues it would cure mine. Nope. Again, no change at all. Actually, it made it 10x worse. Then I tried low FODMAP. It definitely helped alleviate some symptoms, but I still felt pretty awful and couldn’t tolerate the smallest amount of brussel sprouts, kale, or broccoli. Oh and definitely no cauliflower smoothies. Next I tried keto. Basically low-carb, moderate protein, super high fat. I thought…”surely this will be my answer to healing my gut & hormones”. NOPE. It was actually the most horrible I’ve ever felt (yes, even after getting over the 2 week period of feeling sluggish). I did it for over a month and felt disgusting the whole time. No fruit? No sweet potatoes? How is this living? My period pain was even more painful than usual and my mood was shot. What did I learn? My body needs carbs. It needs carbs to heal my digestion and my hormones. What else did I learn? That the more I restricted my diet, the worse my digestion became.
See, diet wasn’t the answer, because the issue was deeper than that. If anything, all these diets did the opposite of healing my digestion and created fear foods. I’ve been told rice is bad, peanuts are bad, nightshades are bad, etc., but throughout history people have eaten those things and are some of the healthiest individuals on Earth. Like how are tomatoes inflammatory and then not? Btw, Dr. Weil disagrees that nightshades/tomatoes worsen inflammation (i.e. arthritis) because of the lack of evidence. I’m literally so confused. There’s no way that removing all of these things in my diet would be the cure. And believe me I tried. Oh, and PSA. Now white rice is good and coconut oil is bad. Is it worth it to keep up with all of the “new research”. I did a ton of research in grad school and will be the first to tell you that it constantly changes depending on the population and type of product you’re using. And when you do individual studies versus large populations, the difference is even more drastic. So, yes. It’s important to educate ourselves. But it’s more important to fuel your body in a way that makes YOU personally thrive.
I’ve been thinking lately that we’re forgetting the true meaning of balance and health. This last month, I’ decided to go back to the basics and eat “balanced” meals of protein, carbs, and fats. I feel SO much better and my mind isn’t busy freaking out over a piece of fruit being on my plate. During keto, I was terrified of fruit or any carbs, because they were “bad”. The same happened with paleo. Because indeed, aren’t grains the bane of our existence? Obviously not for me. And personally, I don’t feel great eating a ton of fat, but I do feel amazing when I’m adding a little bit to every meal. There’s too much controversy, especially in the natural health world, and that’s why you take everything with a grain of salt and do what makes you feel healthiest. And I’ll go on record to say, your mental & emotional health is FAR more important than anything you put in your mouth.
After reading blogs about digestive issues and seeing people eliminate whole food groups from their diet like gluten, grains, dairy, etc., I’m talking about ppl that don’t have an allergy or auto-immune disease, I lost hope. I started having super disordered thoughts about every type of food, and it was starting to mess with my well-being, social life, and happiness. Because it’s so true, digestive issues can result in eating disorders and vice versa. I would restrict food groups when I would hear/read they were “bad”, and then binge on them once I realized my digestion wasn’t getting better. I’m talking ice cream, peanut butter…you name it. It was so unhealthy. Looking back, I can see the negative impact it had on my health but at the time, I didn’t even realize it. I still have a hard time considering my behavior as “binging”, because it’s not like I was eating 2 cartons of peanut butter in one sitting…just 1/2 of one. But binging is binging and it took a lot of self-evaluating and positive relationships to see the issue I was having. Even my sister thought I was in a bad mood all the time, which is probably true because I never felt that I could eat anything other than romaine lettuce or chicken. And even that had its limits if it wasn’t organic along with every other label out there. My anxiety also started going through the roof. And since I’ve stopped paying attention to all those blog posts and worrying about every thing I eat, it has almost completely gone away. Hmmm.
Fast forward a few weeks post-keto when I was feeling pretty skeptical and down about everything…I randomly found out Meg from @root_for_food, started her own company, Nourishing Minds Nutrition. Talk about a God-send. Her focus is on healing digestion, healing your mind, and establishing a positive/healthy relationship with food. I started working with her, and MAN, she just gets it. She’s also the first person to actually be ecstatic for me to begin this journey towards healing my digestion. I mean, that’ll give ya hope.
After giving her my list of problems and symptoms, she tested me for SIBO. It took a week of working with her to figure out my problem as opposed to months/years working with everyone else. My test came back positive…like extremely positive, haha. Surprise, surprise. What I love about working with Nourishing Minds Nutrition is that they are effective, understanding, caring, and always present. Also WAY more cost effective than anyone I’ve seen in the past…even doctors where I used insurance. But what I love most is that these girls (Victoria & Meg) are realistic. I’m not on some crazy strict diet to cure SIBO. I’m on an individualized regime of intense herbal supplements along with manageable/moderate diet changes. You can’t get rid of it from diet alone. You can only abade the symptoms. AKA the problem will still be there. And honestly, I’m a weirdo and would like to eat brussel sprouts again.
It feels good to be moving past all of this. But I couldn’t do it without a lot of support and understanding. I finally ate sourdough again for the first time in like a year…and guess what? Nothing happened. PS thanks Meg for encouraging me to do that! I look forward to the day that I’m healed enough to add in more fermented/probiotic foods, gluten, and basically be able to eat anything I want. Whether it’s free of everything or full of everything or completely organic or not at all.