The Fine Art of Food and Body Awareness
Published: August 19, 2016
The internet is full of advice to eat certain foods to heal ailments. I have found however, that foods that are good for most people are more like a poison to me.
Please let me explain
Not All Good Food is Good For You
My partner Lewis has to watch his food intake as carefully as I do but for a much different reasons. He has to avoid the very foods that my body needs and loves because many of the foods I eat are high in oxalates. Oxalate is a waste product made by the human body when foods such as spinach, soybean, wheat germ, beetroot, Swiss chard are consumed and the waste contributes to the formation of kidney stones in people who cannot get rid of that waste efficiently. Lewis had several stones in each kidney and it makes sense for him to avoid high oxalate foods which would create more problems. There are many other examples such the common but often under diagnosed condition hemochromatosis (1 in 9 people of European origin are said to be carriers) Those people with this condition must avoid the over consumption of iron because their bodies store iron in joints and organs rather than allow excess to be excreted as waste. This can cause serious and debilitating illnesses. Other more obvious examples are those of diabetics and celiacs. What is good for one person is a poison for another.
Countless times I have tried to eat ‘healing’ foods designed to rebuild my body, only to have my symptoms get much, much worse.
What to eat and when to eat it
I have read the books by doctors Michael Lam and James L Wilson and both make suggestions about when to eat as well as what to eat and how much to eat. Fruit for example, is quite a healthy breakfast for most people but not for people with weak adrenals. Why? Because most fruits are high in fructose and this gives the body a quick burst of energy which struggling adrenals can’t cope with. The solution is to consume fruits such as berries which have less fructose in them and to eat these fruits later in the day – certainly not for breakfast.
Is potassium good for me?
Banana was always a fruit that I enjoyed and used as a quick snack when I was out and about, however Dr Lam in his book Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome lists banana, dried figs, raisins, dates, oranges and grapefruit as fruits high in potassium and he suggests that this makes adrenal syndrome worse. I forgot about that on my recent holiday to Cairns in far North Queensland when I ate two frozen bananas covered in chocolate on Easter Sunday. Did I pay the price? Yes I did! I was also using dates in protein balls as a sweetener at the time. This statement does not apply to everyone with adrenal fatigue because people are at various stages of adrenal deterioration so only those with severe adrenal problems, stage 3 or 4 are likely to have strong reactions to potassium according to Dr Lam.
Listen To Your Body
When I read the posts that people make on various benzo withdrawal sites, they seem to be willing to try almost any supplement or food but are often less willing to tune into their bodies to feel how their body is reacting. Many people choose to detox their already weakened bodies and suffer an enormous amount of pain and discomfort in the process. I am not one of those people. I believe that my body has a language of its own; it tells me directly if what I am consuming is healing me or harming me and it does so primarily via my adrenal glands but also in other ways such as through heart burn and inflammation. For much of my life I have ignored my body and pushed on regardless but no more! There has to be a more gentle way. There is no doubt that detoxing is an important part of the healing process but the body must be strong enough to withstand yet another stress put upon it – and this of course depends on each and every individual.
Since the weather has become colder and I can’t walk in salt water anymore, I am beginning to get leg cramps again at night. It is amazing how much magnesium the body absorbs when in sea water! I bought a Nutribullet and created my own magnesium smoothies with organic raw cocao, pumpkin, sunflower and chia seeds, coconut milk and water, berries, some nuts and raw egg. It was very yummy and it worked -the muscle cramps disappeared. After a about a week though, I began to feel anxious, my back muscles began to tighten along with other familiar signs that my body was under stress. I stopped the magnesium smoothie and everything quietened down in my body again. I have every intention of continuing my smoothies but I can’t have them every day – it is going to be an experiment to see how much my body can tolerate.
There are loads of foods that I can and do eat but here again I have to be careful with them. I am also a big advocate of green and other smoothies but if I try to drink a green smoothie in the morning as advised, my adrenals react strongly. I have to wait until around 10am to sip some of my smoothie and have a bit more a few hours later….it has to be a whole day event for me or the smoothie does more harm than good. I have also found it best to consume a green smoothie every second or third day and in smaller amounts than usually recommended, in the same way as for the magnesium smoothie – in fact I alternate them. It is only because I have been experimenting with various ingredients and through the process of elimination, choosing foods with low sugar content and drinking only small quantities at a time that I can tolerate smoothies at all.
You Are The Expert
So what am I trying to say here? If you listen carefully to your body and respect it, you are the expert. No one can feel what you feel – no matter how high their qualifications, no matter how much they know. You live there – you know!
If you experience strong reactions to a supplement or a food my suggestion is to stop taking it, wait a while and reintroduce it very slowly and carefully to monitor how your body reacts when you reintroduce it.
Most of us have ignored our wonderful bodies for too long which is the primary reason we have become sick in the first place. We may have pushed ourselves too hard at work, eaten the wrong foods, drank too much alcohol or taken too many drugs, suppressed our emotions or perhaps we didn’t have healthy boundaries in our relationships – it could be some or all of these things.
Has this approach worked for me?
I am not saying that is has always been smooth sailing because this is a trial and error method and the errors are no fun at all! But I will say that I became a qualified Life Coach, gained two tertiary qualifications in ESL teaching and I started working as soon as I could find a job. There were days that I couldn’t study because I felt too horrible but quite often during those long, lonely nights when I couldn’t sleep, I did my assignments. It helped pass the time and gave me something else to focus my attention on. I have often gone to work feeling like death warmed up – I counted the minutes and hours and every one that passed was a personal triumph.
You might say that my symptoms were not as severe as yours are, Maybe you are right, but maybe that is because I cooperated with my body rather than expecting it to endure more than it could. Remember I was on benzos for nearly 40 years! My symptoms very severe at times but I managed them so that they did not stop me from participating in life.
We are all different and at various stages of healing but the principle is the same for everyone. Now is the time to listen carefully to what your body is telling you and thank it for its messages. Each and every one of us can make choices to honor our bodies, nurture and be kind to ourselves in our thoughts and actions. It really is the key to a full recovery and a healthier life.