Healing through food has become increasingly popular in the medical field, for it has been found that the removal of certain food groups can aide in decreasing inflammation, curing type II diabetes, reversing the early stages of heart disease … and the list goes on. But how do we take the right perspective when trying to make healthy life choices in freedom and wellness without causing harm to ourselves through control and restriction? What I’m talking about here is understanding the difference between eating foods as fuel and medicine vs. disordered eating with a motive of image and control.

I have had my fare share of health issues, and because of that I’ve seen multiple doctors, tried many different medications, and even branched out into acupuncture, yet I’ve seen the most significant results through changing the food that I allow into my body. However, even though I recognize that food is a source of medicine, I also wrestle with an unfortunate history of disordered eating. As a result, my eating lifestyle has been a continual struggle; one where I’m trying to find a balance between what is healthy and unhealthy for me.

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Thankfully, though, this struggle has slowly been resolving itself through the new approaches and the fresh perspective given to me by others in my life that also choose to use food as a healing source. Here is the collection of wisdom that I have been gifted with in the hope that it may help you, too, if you find yourself needing to distinguish between helpful and harmful eating habits.

You Do You
Type anti-inflammatory diet or healthy eating into Google and hundreds, if not thousands, of books, blogs, and forums will come up pertaining to eating as a source of medicine. Regardless of how many triumphal comments a certain eating lifestyle has, remember that not every diet is for everyone. We each have a unique genetic predisposition and can react differently to foods than others’ might. This will take some trial and error, but get to know your body and the ways it runs best. Experiment with a little bit more of this and a little bit less of that so that you can find a happy balance for what makes you feel like you.

Can, Not Can’t
Trying a new eating regimen can seem daunting. It usually takes one look at the list of foods you are to stay away from before the overwhelming feelings start to creep in. So, don’t do it! Instead, take some time to sit down and create a list of foods that you can eat. Look for interesting new recipes to try, go to your local farmers market for fresh organic finds, and spend quality time in your kitchen getting to know some ingredients that you might otherwise never have tried. Food in its natural state was created as a source of enjoyment and fuel to put into the body, so find the joy in what you are able to consume and have fun with it.

Choose Your Battles Wisely
This is the most important lesson that I have learned in my journey of consuming healing foods (and as a disclaimer, I know that there are many of you out there who are highly allergic to certain foods, so this one might not pertain to you and please use your own judgement here) but, not all situations are equal. There will be times, whether it be a social function or a special celebration, when all the “rules” need to go out the window. Don’t allow food to dictate your fun or your level of comfort in a particular situation. Use moderation. There are certain moments in life where it might be a requirement to say yes to a sprinkled cupcake and a sip of some champagne.

Remember The Why
It is so important with any intentional lifestyle change to remember the purpose of why you are making certain new choices in the first place. What is the goal that you are trying to achieve? If you are using food as a healing source, continue to remind yourself why you’re doing so: whether it be to feel more comfortable, to have more energy, to love your body or to decrease your bathroom runs. There is always a why component to a lifestyle change and it is of the upmost importance to continuously return to that purpose to carry you through the tougher moments.

These are just a few little bits of wisdom that I have learned over the past couple years and a little piece of the very intricate puzzle through my journey of finding peace with food. It is still a daily choice for me and not every day is a good day … but slowly I am finding that with healthy living comes my best version of abundant living.

Have you had to make a dietary change that’s impacted your lifestyle? What have you learned in the process?

Image via Milena Mallory

6 comments

  1. Great article on a very important topic. I have a history of disordered eating and have been eating an autoimmune paleo diet for the past three years after discovering that I have MS. Doing so has changed the way I look at food completely but I find that old thoughts still come to mind. The healing benefits have been amazing but navigating balance is something I think about often and re-evaluate as needed.

    The thing that has helped me the most is to think about nutrient density and thinking about if I am fueling my cells with what they need so I can feel my best. Once that foundation is there, I make sure to give myself a little flexibility within the realm of foods I know won’t make me feel ill. Thank you for addressing these important points in finding balance. It’s encouraging as I continue to find my own version of what works for me.

  2. I was forced to make a fundamental change to my eating habits due to excess weight and health risks. Simply by changing my idea of a “diet” into a lifestyle change of healthy eating it became clearer what i had been doing to my body. I lost over 65kgs in the process and understand now what my body will and will not accept as decent food (goodbye large pizza). You are right in saying it is trial and error i was suffering from IBS weekly and now that i have changed my diet/lifestyle i no longer have days chained to the bathroom because of greasy foods. It takes time to understand what your body is telling you and looking out for tell tale signs isn’t always easy. I kept a journal of my process to reflect on later and found that to be my biggest asset when trying to figure out how my body functions.

  3. I love the idea of using foods as healing. I noticed that I react strongly to dairy, and instead of focusing what I can’t have (fro yo and cheese!!!) I look at what I can and get creative with learning new preparations. For example, I love cooking with coconut oil instead of butter, blending frozen fruit for dessert, and sampling the new varieties of dairy-free ice cream. Great suggestions and beautifully put about being aware of disordered eating and deprivation.

  4. These suggestions are beautifully practical in that they keep the core reason in focus. The guarding of your intake does not have to be seen as deprivation, but rather enrichment. Make it a pleasure to fuel your physical body with the best ingredients, the proper proportions, and increments of indulgence.

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