I am so excited to share today’s post with you. A blogging friend of mine, Jenn Baxter, is sharing her story about her path to healthy eating and how it has changed her life. I connected with Jenn a couple months ago and I was so thrilled to find someone who shares so many of the same convictions as I do. Leave a comment below and tell us about what your goals for healthy living are.
I haven’t always had the best eating habits.
Ok… let me rephrase that. I used to be a straight-up junky eater.
My main “food groups” were pasta, sugar, frozen meals, pizza, and sugar. Yes, I know I said sugar twice. That’s because when you’re eating cupcakes from the local bakery 2-3 times a week and ice cream every single night, I think sugar has earned its place as a food group twice.
I NEVER bought produce… the only fruits and veggies I got came out of a can or a bag. And even then, it was only once in a blue moon.
Usually, dinner consisted of some type of concoction that came out of a bag and got heated up in a skillet in less than 10 minutes! Or pasta and sauce or a frozen pizza… you get the gist.
There wasn’t much cooking going on (even though I actually am a pretty decent cook!) and most of the time, convenience ruled over nutritional value.
It wasn’t really until 2012 when I started to have a lot of GI issues that things began to change.
Around October or November of that year, my GI system decided to take a vacation without giving me any notice and up and left its job. Meaning, it suddenly stopped moving things along and no matter how many pretty prescription pills or miraculous “cures” I threw at it, it stomped its feet and remained stubborn.
It’s not like stomach issues were new to me or anything. I’ve pretty much had a love/hate relationship with my GI system since I was about 20 years old. Mostly… I loved to put food in it and then hated how I felt afterward.
But this was different. In fact, this was the complete OPPOSITE of what I was used to my whole life. So I knew something was wrong.
I had the dreaded colonoscopy that December and passed with flying colors. Which meant, I went home yet again with no real answers and still feeling miserable.
And then other symptoms began to stack up… a mysterious pain in my left side, debilitating fatigue, headaches, dizziness, shakiness, vision impairment, heart palpitations and more. I felt like my body was literally falling apart on me.
I went through a million doctors who all wanted to do the same thing (Let’s put her on antidepressants! That’ll do the trick!) until I finally saw a naturopathic doctor who had some sense in his head.
Turns out, I wasn’t crazy and all of my symptoms were courtesy of leaky gut syndrome and advanced adrenal fatigue.
Now, that’s a whole other story for another day, but basically, my body was kind of falling apart on me. But not just for the heck of it. It needed some serious changes and it needed them QUICK!
So, in addition to lifestyle changes like getting more sleep, taking naps, earthing, meditating, doing reflex exercises and drinking tons of water, I also made some serious changes to my diet.
For six straight months, I was on an extremely restricted diet that my naturopath prescribed, called the “Repairvite Diet.” It was basically clean meat, vegetables and low-glycemic fruits and that’s it. It’s easier to tell you what I could eat than what I couldn’t eat, but basically, anything outside of those three things was off limits.
Now, for someone who barely cooked at all and rarely had fresh produce in the fridge, this was a HUGE change. And I’ll admit, I was pretty lost in the beginning. I think I had a chicken breast, a sweet potato, and steamed broccoli every night for the first week because I had no clue what else to make.
But luckily, I found a menu planning service online shortly after that, which catered to special diets and I was able to get lots of healthy recipes delivered straight to my inbox.
I survived the six months and even after I came off of the diet, I continued to be gluten free and mostly dairy and sugar free. Translation: I will still have cheese once in a while and although I may try to have something sugary on occasion, my stomach usually can’t handle it and I always regret even giving it a try.
Which brings me to my point (finally).
I used to love sugar. And I mean LOVE sugar. And yet, here I sit today, barely able to make it past a few bites of something that I would have devoured in the past.
Because my body got the reboot that it so desperately needed.
See, we were never made to consume half of the crap that we eat these days – the sugary treats, the salty snacks, the pre-packaged dinners, the genetically modified “foods.” We were made to eat real, whole foods in their natural state.
Yet, when we force all the crap on our bodies long enough, it begins to get used to it. And eventually, start craving it.
That’s why it’s so difficult to go on a diet or lose weight because our bodies are literally addicted to the junk.
But do you know what I realized once I saw that my body no longer wanted the junk? That hunger was never about what I wanted in the first place.
Let me say that again…
Hunger isn’t really about what you want. It’s about what your body needs.
This is why now, instead of craving a cupcake or French fries as a snack, I will literally crave something like a smoothie or a protein bar. (Seriously, I wouldn’t have believed it either)
Or when I go to the salad bar at the grocery store… instead of making a ridiculous excuse for a “salad” that consisted of iceberg lettuce, cucumber, tomato, and cheese, usually with French dressing smothered on top like I used to… I now actually want fresh greens, black beans, beets, carrots and balsamic dressing.
My body actually craves different things now because it’s about what my body needs not what my brain thinks it wants!
Now, that doesn’t mean that you have to become some sort of mindless robot who eats only for the purpose of sustaining their body. You can still enjoy eating and enjoy tasty food.
But the point is, your body will tell you what it wants, if you just give it the chance.
Once you give it enough time to clear away the addictions, the obsessions, and the foods you eat out of comfort or convenience… once you give it a “clean slate” even just for a brief period of time… it can finally breathe a deep sigh of relief and let you know what it really wants (and needs).
And that, my friends, is the best kind of hunger pains.
Jenn Baxter is an accomplished writer in Charlotte, NC, who has been published in numerous print publications, as well as featured as a columnist on Beliefnet.com. Her freelance clients span across the nation, as well as Australia and the UK, in the fashion & beauty, health & wellness, travel and life coaching industries.
In 2015, she launched her website, Live a F.a.s.t. Life, based on her own experiences with clean living, emotional health and downsizing into a 160 sq. ft. tiny house, and released her first book, “Tiny Abundance: My Journey to a Simple, Yet Fabulously Abundant Life in 160 Square Feet,” which is available on her website and Amazon.com. She also strives to help others learn to clean up their homes, their bodies and their lives in her e-course collection, “De-Clutter, De-Tox, De-Stress.”
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