Does what we eat really make a difference in how we feel physically, mentally and emotionally?
Is it possible that the most natural remedy to soothing some of the pain and suffering we all experience, whether we live with a brain injury or some other diagnosis, can really be found in our kitchens?
It's been a while since my last blog post. I've been recovering from the grief of having to rehome our precious puppy Phineas. I will keep searching for the right dog for me, but in the meantime I've been exploring the truth in how food can heal.
Long before my injury I received training in wholistic nutrition from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition after getting my doctorate in natural health. I had made the discovery that what I ate made a big difference in my level of generalized anxiety mentally and helped prevent the physical effects of anxiety I once experienced.
Losing Control After Brain Injury
I had it all under control for over twenty years, and the food I ate definitely played a big part (I discuss this more in my book Stop Eating Your Stress which you can find on Amazon and go into details on how it can help you too). But after my brain injury, how I ate changed radically. I went right back to eating to soothe my chaotic emotions, my discomfort, my anger and my frustration. I couldn't focus on anything except my pain and suffering. Food was no longer a positive aspect of my life, it became a crutch, a therapist and a Band-aid.
Did I have the training and the experience to change my situation? Sure, but as you know if you are living with a brain injury, or any other major condition that takes over your life, when you are in the thick of it, all you can focus on is talking to your doctors to find out what the heck is wrong with you and to be a good patient. You do what they say, because they have the white coats and the medical degree. So they must have the answer and a solution to all your pain and suffering. For me that turned out to be a half truth. I got a diagnosis after only 3 months of living like this, which for many is a miracle in and of itself, probably because many of my symptoms were not only from a motor vehicle accident that had just happened at the time, but they were visible from slurring speech, seizure activity, enlarged pupils, vertigo/ dizziness, my gait was off, weak/poor muscle control and more. Once I had the diagnosis, I became infuriated though, because I just couldn't grasp how a "concussion" could cause this much pain and suffering! I've had zillions of concussions in the past, from pretty major stuff (which I won't disclose because I don't intend to trigger anyone here) and never had this kind of result. So I did some research and started finding ways to advocate for myself with everyone on my medical team, which they were not always happy about.
Although I did have a doctor that would prescribe supplements, it wasn't to the degree that I was used to. I had taken a class in Orthomolecular medicine, and even though it was a very beginner class, taking supplements in higher doses for shorter periods of times to help as part of a treatment protocol made sense to me. Food itself as medicine made sense to me. But my doctor didn't really believe that. She just wanted to prescribe small doses of supplements and put me on meds., even though my husband kept telling them that I am highly sensitive to synthetic, pharmaceutical medications. So from the quiet of my home and my computer, I began to research solutions on how food can help heal some of the symptoms of a brain injury. And what I uncovered opened my eyes in a whole new way.
One of the things I found incredibly fascinating is how Inflammatory foods make up almost 90% of the Standard American Diet and how that diet directly affects our health. Now this wasn't anything new to me, but as I was reading it I was living with head pain that was so bad, I actually considered ending my life to get rid of the pain. But I kept forcing myself to learn more so I could get help from a natural source and I could feel better. Supplements were definitely a big part of that solution. Omega 3's, GABA, L-Theanine, and many more became a big part of my daily treatment. But how food played a role made me really happy. Because that is where I knew I could get some control of my life back.
What I Discovered
A couple of things have been essential to my healing over the past two years, and when I divert from this formula my pain and suffering comes back with a vengeance. For starters, no alcohol. I can have a tiny sip occasionally, but really that is it. And sometimes even that is too much because I always end up with head pain and dizziness even after just a shot glass full of wine or beer. So it's really just better to avoid it. Another is eating anti-inflammatory foods. This goes beyond the Keto Diet or the Mediterranean Diet that so may people seem to like. And to be honest, I don't even consider the Mediterranean Diet a diet if you are following it correctly, because it is really a lifestyle. Which is why I really like eating anti-inflammatory foods. It's a lifestyle choice. There are no calories to count, nothing to weigh and it's all pretty simple. The premise is not to completely stop eating the Standard American Diet, such as take-out or processed foods, but to modify it so that you are choosing higher quality foods most of the time and allowing for lower quality foods less of the time. So we aren't getting rid of them entirely, just making choices that really benefit us in the short run and the long run overall. The other thing that has helped me enormously has been following Ayurvedic principles when it comes to which foods I choose. Ayurveda means "the science of life" and is more than 5,000 years old originating in India. It is often recognized and called "the Mother of all Healing".
Ayurveda focuses on the prevention and maintenance of our health by aligning the elements of nature with our thoughts, foods, and lifestyle by creating balance in the bodymind. It recognizes that each one of us is as unique as our fingerprint an that there isn't a one size fits all approach the health of any individual. Each one of us has a specific constitution that comprises of our physical, mental, and emotional characteristics called Doshas. When we eat, live and do activities according to the balance or imbalance within our Dosha we cultivate harmony within the bodymind.
So I have been Mindfully & Intuitively Eating anti-inflammatory foods (click the link to the left and you can join my new self paced course!) according to my Dosha and it has been life changing. I no longer feel so much pain in my head that I want to end my life to end the pain. I have clearer thinking, and I get less fatigued after I shower or talk on the phone. My stomach no longer feels like I am bloated and nauseous anymore and I can actually eat food and enjoy it again. I still have many other effects from the brain injury that I am coming to terms with, but knowing that I have control of THIS aspect of my healing is very empowering.
Information contained within this site does not take the place of professional medical care. It is for educational purposes only and created with the intention of offering support and empowerment to women struggling to find wholistic and natural answers to their challenges. Every individual is responsible for their own actions, choices and behavior.