Spiritual Saucepan

A mindful journey through gut healing


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You are not your condition

When you know something is wrong but results tell you otherwise you may well find yourself on a path of desperation; tirelessly searching for a diagnosis. A label to tell you what you knew all along – that, somewhere along the line, your health got out of sync and now you’re dealing with the consequences.

Of course, the naming of medical conditions is there for a reason; they give the medical world a chance to distinguish the chronic from the acute; the serious from the not so serious…they also lay the foundations for a generic approach to ‘treating’ the problem at hand. But, psychologically, is this boxed perspective anything more than a hindrance?

caught-1013600_1920It may validate your health complaints; removing any lasting suspicions of psychosomatic neurosis but there’s a real danger that you start to create one very limited, predefined path. A path that lures you into a new identity; one shaped by the characteristics of the condition, with little hope of healing or recovery. And who’s to say the label is even right?

feng-shui-1015429_1920If you’re freshly diagnosed, you may find yourself all-consumed by this new label. But, if your mindfulness practice is strong it will see you through this difficult time and give you the space you need to sit with all the uncomfortable feelings.

Most importantly, it will remind you that you are not your body and you are not your mind. Who you are sits deep within and it’s unchanging. Not like this suit of organs, skin and bones that we all inhabit.

It may take some time coming to terms with your diagnosis, but the important thing is that you stay kind to yourself. You are dealing with this in your own way and that is okay.

A little bit of sorrow is fine
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When I was first diagnosed, I felt bad that I wasn’t a stronger person. That I was feeling so full of self-pity. It was like I had already given up.

But it’s all okay. You don’t need to beat yourself up for feeling sad, for crying, for moaning to friends and family. You are allowed to feel like this.

However, there does come a point when you have to get over the wallowing and realise that you’re no different to where you were the day before you got the diagnosis. It’s a label. A label created by another human being in a world that has a lot more to learn about life and the intricacies of the human body. It’s no more than that.

Don’t lose faith
If your condition is chronic, you probably feel like you’ve been given a life sentence. If it’s autoimmune, you may also have the word ‘degenerative’ ringing around in your head. But, again, this is all information from an industry that still has a lot to learn about the human body.

medications-257346_1920It’s also an industry that focuses on chemical fixes rather than treating the root cause. It’s an industry where the role of diet is given almost no credit, and where, up until recently, the neurological benefits of meditation were poo poo’d. Now, there’s a wealth of science out there demonstrating the life-changing effect this simple practice has on neuroplasticity and, in turn, physical and psychological health.

It is what it is
You may have lots of thoughts buzzing around on the unfairness of it all: ‘If only this hadn’t of happened’ or ‘It wasn’t meant to be like this, I was supposed to be doing this job or that sport…’ The fact of that matter is, that while you can control your future to an extent, you can’t control everything that life serves you. We don’t get to pick and choose the parts we play.

new-life-1207327_1280So, it’s here and you need to make friends with it. You may not feel like it but a whole new opportunity has opened up and if you work with your challenges using mindfulness, gratitude and self-love you’ll notice that life starts to unfold in ways you wouldn’t expect.

You’ll find that everything becomes precious; from the cool breeze on a sunny day to your morning cup of tea with a good friend. You’ll start to realise how hard your body works just to keep you happy. And you’ll learn to truly love yourself, with gratitude for the body you’ve been given.

If you haven’t done so already, start meditating. I can’t emphasise this enough – it really is a life-changing practice and, if practiced daily, you will start to notice the difference. You can find guidance on daily practice here.

You dû have a choice

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There’s a lot of research out there to show that mind really can influence matter so the language you use is incredibly important when creating a positive mindset for healing. When it comes to taking on the identity of a condition, words like ‘feel’ and ‘have’ can be very powerful in reinforcing the symptoms you are experiencing.

One technique used in an increasingly popular neural training programme is to replace verbs with the word ‘dû’. So, you are ‘dûing’ stress rather than you ‘are’ stressed. Or in the case of an actual condition, you don’t have Hashimoto’s, you’re ‘dûingHashimoto’s.

While ‘dû is pronounced the same as ‘do’, the accent in the ‘dû’ is representative of unintentional and unconscious action. This subtle change in language completely reframes the situation. You don’t need to be controlled by the condition when you have a conscious choice in the matter. From personal experience, the effects of practising this daily can be profound if combined with other forms of neural training.

It is not who you are and it never will be
So, there’s a lot you can do to work your way through this. We all have the power to make positive choices for the better and remaining kind to yourself is number 1.balance-110850_1280Take a step back and remember who you really are. You are more than just a label so start your journey by saying goodbye to this man-made stamp you’ve been given and recognising the power you have to create your own reality.

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The power of authenticity

I never thought for one moment that I would one day be thanking Robbie Williams for a moment’s epiphany. But when my mindfulness teacher recently quoted the wise words “If it don’t feel good, what are you doing it for?” (the quality lyrics of Candy), I had to take a step back and absorb this much-needed insight.

How many of us are going through the motions day in, day out without even a second thought? I could certainly apply this to many areas of my life….feeling obliged to meet other people’s wishes only to keep them happy or avoid feeling judged myself…running around like a blue arsed fly trying to manage a career that pushes the limits of a healthy work-life balance. Trying to fit in as many different hobbies and achievements as possible because I want to be the perfect human being… mindlessly scrolling through the menialities of social media. The list is endless…but in the words of Robbie Williams, what am I really doing this all for?

Facing your truth
There came a point, along my own path of mindfulness, when I realised what it was to be true to myself. As cliche as this may sound, I realised what was important in life and what I needed to do to be authentic to myself.  

Authenticity is about taking a step back from the vortex of day to day mind chatter and giving your inner self the space to flourish. It’s only when you do this that you create the conditions needed to understand who you really are and what it is that you really want out of life. It’s about finding a meaningful existence; knowing what you need to be the best version of yourself and what it is you can contribute to the world.

More often than not, the first realisation is understanding that you come first. You can still be a good friend, relative and colleague without sacrificing your needs for theirs. But you have to learn to say no. You simply can’t be true to yourself or others if you make life choices that are not serving you.

Quite often, the next step is genuinely understanding what it is that you bring to the table of life. What are your true strengths and how are you meant to use them in order to bring a deeper sense of joy to you, and those around you?

Coming home to yourself
By practising mindfulness on a daily basis, the answers to these questions are well within sight. And when it hits, you will know. It’s almost as if your whole being breathes a sigh of relief – you’ve finally come ‘home’ to yourself.

My own experience came about through a combination of 121 mindfulness coaching and an eight week mindfulness programme. While practising meditation daily is enough to experience change for the better, bringing other ‘mindful’ people into your life, and in particular a good teacher you trust, is more likely to lead you through this profound transformation.

Opening up new pathways
So say you join me on this path of authenticity…the culmination of your learnings may see you identify your true passion in life and it may create new openings in which you can explore this. If you’re anything like me, it may lead you to unchartered territory – discovering new skills and creativity you never thought you had.

It could be that you find a way to channel years of potential via new opportunities never before considered. Or it may simply be that a penny drops and your life priorities become clear; you develop the gratitude needed to work on the things you should keep, and the strength to get rid of the things that are not serving you.

From my own experience, the deep peace and clarity that came with daily meditation practice also opened up a part of me that I had never before experienced. I started to use creativity as a means for catharsis – many moments of mindfulness would trigger deep inspiration and creative urges would bubble to the surface; itching to be released.

I started writing alongside other creative outlets that made living a completely joyful experience; one that was driven by total gratitude for the present moment rather than a desire to be somewhere else, or the feeling that ‘I must get this task done before I can move onto the next.’

New ideas for my future career and aspirations started to emerge; ideas that I felt I’d been waiting for my whole life. These ideas reflected my deeper sense of being and what it was that truly made me tick. A far cry from the ideas generated by someone simply racing from one achievement to another.

Dig deep
Authenticity is something we should all dig deep for because, at the end of the day, this is the only thing that can bring us true happiness. When you start to feel your authenticity shining through, life unfolds in ways you really can’t imagine.

So what are you waiting for? Make the time and space to bring mindfulness into your life; start to sow the seeds for a new, more fulfilling life journey. A journey where things that ‘don’t feel good’ are not driven by a delusional sense of necessity but, instead, are part of the course to achieving your true life goals.


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When dairy lurks around every corner…

Who doesn’t love cheese? Not many, I’ll bet. Over the last year, my admission of following a dairy free diet is most often greeted by, “It must be so hard, there’s no way I could ever give up cheese.”

Yeah, it sucks. Thanks. But removing cheese from your diet is the least of your worries when it comes to avoiding your digestive system’s nemesis. Think skimmed milk powder…think lashings of butter…think whey concentrate and casein.

Anything that is processed; you can almost guarantee dairy will creep its way in. Common foods to watch out for include those with flavourings or sauces; processed meats (including seemingly innocent ‘plain’ meat like chicken ‘chunks’) and…sorry to say it…wine.

The best thing you can do is stick to a whole food diet and avoid eating on the go, but that’s not always possible. And let’s face it, you want a social life and the chance to treat yourself every now and then. There’s no reason why eating out should be a thing of the past.

Tip 1. Know your stuff
Don’t rely on other people’s knowledge to keep you safe – even if they work in the food industry. I’ve been caught out many times on this assumption and it’s really not worth it. Educate yourself on all the hidden sources of dairy and carry a list around with you, wherever you go. Godairyfree.org have a particularly comprehensive resource here.

You need to tell food service staff that you’re dairy intolerant from the outset, but you also need to check any potential sources of danger with them.

Don’t worry about feeling like you are stating the obvious because your health is worth more than that. It may sound over the top but even something as simple as checking staff haven’t buttered your ‘dairy free’ sandwich. Yes, from personal experience, mistakes like this do happen.

It’s also worth mentioning that gluten free bread quite often has milk powder in it, yet this doesn’t seem to be common knowledge among food service staff. Another point to check off on your list if it comes to it.

Tip 2. Simplicity is key
This is a lesson I should have learnt long ago – when you’re ordering from the menu, keep it simple. One Sunday morning, a friend and I found ourselves at a very popular cafe, waiting almost an hour to get in. Needless to say, we were famished by the time it came to ordering the food.

I can be a pig at the best of times but, with gluttony in overdrive, I decided the main dish wasn’t enough and went all out on the side order. Say hello to rookie error number 1. Whatever you do, stick to the basic offering – particularly if staff are already changing the order to accommodate your intolerance.

When my main dish came out, it became apparent that the side dish hadn’t been included with my order. So I asked for it again. And therein lies rookie error number 2. Regardless of your original request, stick to what you’re given.

In the chaos of a busy cafe, throwing in a new or non-standard request is never a good idea. It’s generally fine to request dairy free options but steer clear of going outside of the basic offering.  My side dish was rushed through as an additional order and I spent a week getting over the after effects.

Tip 3. Be aware of your surroundings
Any cafe, restaurant or bar where staff are running around like headless chickens should signal big, red alarm bells. Don’t let your hunger get the better of you and ignore all the signs.

I’ve been stung even in places that pride themselves on allergy free dining. On one cafe visit, I had personal service from the manager and hyped up promotion on their allergy free standards, yet I was still served a plate of gluten-fried potatoes.

And sometimes, people behind the scenes just don’t understand the consequences. When I sent back the poisonous potatoes my dish came out a second time, still with remnants. Rather than provide a new, clean plate, kitchen staff had scraped the offending food off in a half-arsed attempt to remedy the situation.

I’m not telling you this to scare you, but you need to have your wits about you and be hyper vigilant wherever you go.

Tip 4. Check, and check again…
As you’ve probably noticed by now, things do get missed, regardless of how reassuring the staff are.

Don’t be afraid to check every ingredient with the waiter if you need to.  While you may have ordered a sandwich without cheese, or a sauce without cream, there are many other things that you need to pick up on.

As I mentioned previously, there are the more obvious mistakes like buttered bread on your dairy free sandwich, and the less obvious like casein and skimmed milk powder creeping into your gluten free bread.

It’s taken some monumental f*** ups for me to accept I need to be embarrassingly neurotic when it comes to checking food risk. And I really do go for it.

Not once, not twice but quite often three times. First when you order; second when the waiter repeats the order and finally when your order arrives (be aware: certain friends will be cringing in the corner by this point). It sounds OCD but your gut will thank you for it.

Tip 5. Choose your drinks carefully…
If you’re trying to heal your gut then, strictly speaking, alcohol should be off limits. But, my personal opinion is that gut healing is not just about what you eat or drink. It’s about finding a way to manage your stress levels and not beating yourself up every second because you feel you have to lead a 100% virtuous life. 

I gave up alcohol completely for four months and while I still recommend you cut it out if you can, don’t judge yourself too harshly if you want to treat yourself to a drink or two in small doses.

When ordering wine, you need to make sure that you’re ordering allergy friendly brands. I was distraught to find that wine is often contaminated with dairy yet most manufacturers don’t add this to the label. ‘Criminal’, you say? I hear you.

However, all is not lost – I live by the Barnivore resource which allows you to check what is and isn’t safe. It’s not totally comprehensive but it’s a start. Particular brands to avoid include Echo Falls, Banrock Station, Hardys and Kumala. As for buying your own wine, the Co-operative is, apparently, a good brand to choose as they clearly list wines that are vegan (see their list here)

Dine free
That’s about it – I hope this helps. Whatever you do, please don’t let the fear of standing out get in the way of putting all your safety checks into place – this has been my biggest challenge so far. Just remember to have faith in your convictions and enjoy everything the world has to offer.

 


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Facing up to food intolerance

I LOVE food. I have always loved food, I think about food 24/7 and not just for nourishment. Food is so much more than nourishment; it’s so much more than survival.

Food is a science; it’s an expression of culture; it’s the glue that holds communities together. It’s an economic driver in hardship and prosperity and it’s what we spurn or turn to in times of need; it’s our comfort blanket on a cold rainy day and a social stimulant for like minded people. Food is the substance through which we nurture and heal our bodies, and it offers a creative outlet for the inner artiste.

When one is deprived of food, the implications can be far wider than a lack of sustenance or malnourishment. Having spent a lifetime of eating, sleeping and talking food, I found myself in the position, just over a year ago, of saying goodbye to some of my favourite foods after intolerance hit me.

In a world where people are becoming ever pickier about what they eat, restaurants are becoming more accommodating of special requirements. The downside is that those serving you never know whether your demands are driven by desire or need, and on entry into this world of dietary restrictions, I felt incessantly judged by all those around me.

Coming to terms with intolerance will most likely involve a process of “Why now? Why me?” You’ll find it hard to stop yourself from feeling bitter and twisted every time you’re out with friends indulging in all the things you can’t have. You’ll resent the lack of gratitude, evident from leftovers abandoned on their plate.

Perhaps, you’ll feel sorry for yourself that you’ve lost a part of your identity – previously a culinary explorer you’re now resigned to nitpicking at every dish thrown your way. And you’ll feel apologetic every time you eat out – deconstructing the menu and quibbling with the waiter.

These feelings are all normal, and they are part of the grieving process. “Grief about food?!” many will roll their eyes, but it’s more than just swapping your morning toast for scrambled eggs.

Changing your diet at the drop of a hat is no easy task, but there are a few things I discovered along the way…

Food intolerance doesn’t have to be ever-lasting
Food intolerance is quite often a sign that something is not right. This doesn’t mean it has to last forever. Your body may simply be trying to tell you that it’s not happy and it needs a break; it needs some extra love and care to get better.  During my journey, I spoke to a lot of people who had previously given up gluten due to intolerance only to reintroduce it at a later stage.

When things were at their worst for me, I seemed to develop intolerances left, right and centre. The big blow came when I had one of my favourite stand-by meals containing a healthy dose of avocado. I vividly remember laying on my bed consumed by the undulating waves of nausea and pain, thinking “Why? Of all the things you could take away from me, why my beloved avo?!”

I refused to believe it at first but after repeatedly failed attempts to nurture myself with this delicious fruit I realised it was time to let go…Now, I still have restrictions but avocado is not one of them. So remember, it’s not the be all and end all.

Reframe the problem
As with most challenges in life, it’s all about how you frame it. Looking back, I can see that these changes marked the start of a new journey for me. There have been plenty of peaks and troughs along the way, but ultimately it has been a positively life-changing experience.

At a time when all you can see are things being stripped away, you need to step back and question what else is opening up. This is your chance to learn more about yourself; find new challenges to tackle and things to enjoy.

A life lesson
In my case, there was a long period of time where I had to cut out dairy, gluten, caffeine, alcohol and sugar. I needed to see what I was reacting to, and give my gut space and time to recover.

No more glasses of wine on a sunny evening, or Saturday morning lattes the next day. For someone who saw indulgence and social togetherness go hand in hand, this whole experience made me realise that I had spent my life using consumption to try and make more of social moments – even though the magic was already there in front of me.

Simple things like going for a walk rather than sitting in a restaurant became very special. Through mindfulness practice, I learnt to appreciate simply being in the company of friends – no accessories required.

Get creative
All of that said…I will always remain a foodie at heart. Now with a slightly different approach, I decided to don my foodie hat and get creative in the kitchen.

At the time i was still struggling with fatigue so an active social life wasn’t an option. I spent days racking up the pinterest posts on healing a leaky gut and almost every day my housemate would come back from work to find me mixing up some new allergy free treat in the kitchen.

Whether it was a steaming hot bowl of nutrient dense broth or hacking away at a failed attempt for coconut courgette bread, there was always some weird and wonderful thing going on in there. It really was a time for discovery, and I constantly surprised myself with these delicious new creations.

Out the other side
So now here I am. While I’m still that person who carries their ticklist of what they can and can’t eat, I’m no stranger to interrogating the waiter and I have no qualms in doing so. I no longer feel guilty, nor am I a victim.

And neither are you. When one thing is taken, something else will appear.

We may not remember this all too often, but life is in a constant state of flux. If you look back on your life you’ll know there have been unexpected developments around every corner – some good, some not so good. Take this as just another bump in the road that may well lead on to bigger and better things.


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Who said poo was taboo?

WARNING: If you shy away from ‘poo stories’ this feature is not for you…

Let’s face it, most of us are plighted by constipation at some point in our lives. But if you have reached the stage where you’ve almost forgotten what it means to sit on the toilet without the added extra push, then you’ll know just how much it can take over your life.

I’ve spent the last couple of years chronically constipated and it wasn’t until a year down the line that I managed to get an abdominal x-ray showing I was impacted. For those of you who don’t know, this basically means you are full of shit, literally. Yes, that’s right, my poop had overstayed its welcome and was sitting there, happy as Larry in my large bowel.

In my case, I went on to have a course of colonic hydrotherapy which I can’t thank enough for putting me on the path to recovery. If this is something you’re considering, you don’t want to make the decision lightly as there are pros and cons to using this therapy. You can read a bit more on that here.

Anyway, if you’ve been chronically constipated for some time now, I strongly recommend you push (excuse the pun) for an abdominal x-ray. Impaction is no fun and it can cause all sorts of health problems; bloating, fatigue, insomnia, not to mention A LOT of pain and discomfort. And if you don’t get impaction sorted out, you’re also at risk of doing your body some serious internal damage. So please – speak to your Dr and see what they can do.

Impaction was just one of the many consequences of my ongoing plight with constipation. I also have constipation to thank for the development of a very intimate relationship with my poop. From toilet acrobatics in the Dr’s surgery – trying to figure out how anyone manages to poop and pack into those tiny little jars – to taking a deep interest in the structure and contents of my socially reprehensible friend.

The peak of my personal journey with poop came in China…you may be aware that digestive relief here comes in the form of squat toilets. Well, on my first day as a traveller in China, I was mortified to find myself crouching over a friend’s toilet only to see that squat toilets are not too welcoming of a constipated colon.

There they were – my type 1 stools, sitting in the bowl stubborn as anything, refusing to go down. They’d set up home. And size was not the issue. Compaction was the issue and every time I flushed, every time they returned. I reached the point of desperation and found myself with plastic cutlery in hand, chopping it up like I was prepping for the evening meal.

The depths to which I was reduced (literally), was one of many over the last year where I have found myself seriously thinking ‘Is this really what life has become?!’

But you have to see the humour in these moments and be grateful for the comedic value they bring. You can’t deny it makes life interesting and there’s a lot to be said for that.

In my quest for digestive relief I have spent many days trawling the net for the magic solution – refusing to believe that there is no ‘easy fix’ out there. It was during this time that I found myself increasingly frustrated with the stream of sites giving out simple advice – all on the premise that constipation is easily fixed…”do more exercise”, “eat more fibre”, “drink more water”…blah, blah, blah.

I’m all too familiar with the need for soluble and insoluble fibre, I drink 2-3 litres of water every day and yes I’ve tried prunes, psylium husk and much, much more. I start my day with gut-healing bone broth and flaxseed, and always fit in my daily meditation and outdoor walk – you name it I’ve done it.

Maybe I sound a little bitter, but none of it has worked for me so there’s something else at work here. I’m at the stage, where I’m hoping to try something known as gut directed hypnotherapy. It’s been shown to have a 70% success rate for treating IBS and constipation (yes, there is still light at the end of the tunnel for us all).

But back to the point of this article, there are other ways you can help yourself, aside from the bog standard eating, drinking and exercising. I’ve shared some of these tips in Managing constipation so click through and see if any of it works for you. If you do have success, I would love to hear from you…happy pooping!


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From the eyes of a gooseberry…

 

17554483143_5c980a9fd0_oIf you’re a singleton reading this, chances are you’re all too familiar with the concept of the ‘third wheel’; the concept that can find you sitting on the edge of the precipice, while two lovebirds mosey on in their own world blissfully unaware.

Some couples are okay. They keep their hands to themselves, and they’re conscious that others exist outside of their bubble. But the honeymoon couple, now that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

It doesn’t matter how friendly they are, how genuine they are, or how much they try to include you in this state of joy…it’s glaringly apparent that you’re an outsider who only serves to snatch away precious moments; moments made up of unabashed PDAs (public displays of affection, but I’m sure you know that).

Having recently upped and left my hometown for city life, I found myself in this situation after moving into a houseshare with not one, but two newly infatuated lovebirds. Perfectly lovely people, although I do find myself doubting this when the frustration starts creeping in.

To give a bit of context, I’ve been on a long journey ever since coming out of a nine year relationship. During this time I’ve gone through all the stages of post-relationship breakdown…mental girl goes wild, bitter and twisted man-hater, relationship cynic and commitment phobe.

Yep, I’ve done all of that and I’d come out the other side. The revelatory moment came when, one day, I found myself looking at a couple holding hands on the street. Rather than scrunching up my nose in disgust or looking at them with pity, I felt a surge of warmth; touched by the depth of their love.

So, the rate at which this freshly formed relationship has come screeching up in front of me has come as somewhat of a shock. As the cycle of ‘baby’, ‘bub’, and playful banter build, so to do the invisible barriers around this fortress of infatuation.

I look on at this newfound world, and wonder…what is it that makes the honeymoon couple so infuriating? What is it about my place in this that gives me so much angst?

Setting aside the practical issues of sharing a tiny space with a pair of love fools, there’s a whole tangle of knots that I start to unfurl.

I realise that being completely new to an area, you transition from feeling well-known with a clear sense of identity to a blank canvass amongst a sea of entrenched connections. It makes you feel vulnerable.

Your sense of being starts to be defined by the interactions with those around you…people who know nothing about you, who hold each other in very high stead with no time to find out what you can offer them. You feel your identity slipping away, and you start to question your worth. What is it that you bring to the equation?

And of course, when you see a happy couple so full of joy; so spurred on by one another, you start to see a gaping hole in your own life. Where is my own bubble of bliss? Where is my partner in crime? Is it possible that I can bring someone else this much happiness?

My initial response to this question saw me drag my feet back to good old online dating. Nights spent trawling ‘odds and ends’, instigating chats with rare finds only to find the attraction is not mutual, and batting away the crazies.

Despite the trauma, I tell myself it’s okay – this is perfectly normal for someone starting afresh in a new area. And of course, ‘normal’ it may be, but is it really ‘okay’? Yes I want to meet new and interesting people, but when it comes to dating I’m not prepared to use someone else’s love to cover up for my own self-lacking.

So I take a step back and I re-evaluate. The honeymoon couple have brought my insecurities to the fore. If I was truly comfortable in my own skin; if I relished time spent with myself, would I really care that I had been certified with gooseberry status?

I don’t think so. And with this in mind, I decide to rebuild my sense of self-love. The perils of a relationship founded on insecurity and reliance are simply not worth the time or effort.

Welcome to the stage, loving kindness. In moments like these I’m thankful for the likes of Jon Kabat Zinn, Shamash Alidina and Esther Teule, whose practices are invaluable for bringing me home to myself. Paul Gilbert and Kristin Neff are also well known for their work in self-compassion.

Now I practice each and every day, and little breakthroughs do occur. I feel that rush of warmth for my own being; truly treasuring who I really am. These moments are only fleeting, and all the while I’m aware of the honeymoon couple in their hazy bubble. But who knows, maybe one day I’ll find me, myself and I in a fresh, new bubble of our own.


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A little bit of what you fancy…

8446381541_e1dc0f7d23_oToday’s post is inspired by an afternoon of gluttony gone mad. I’ve always loved food but I’ve always known when to stop, and I’ve never had a sweet tooth. But when things started to go wrong with my health, one of the first things I noticed was an insatiable appetite for sugar. I was a demon… fantasising about chocolate and cakes all day, every day; determined to get my sugar fix at whatever cost.

Life became a cycle of self-torture and bingeing. Binges were always followed by melancholia and resignation; once the rules were broken it was pointless stopping there so I’d set out to cram as much junk into my body as I could. Every day was a fresh start, but when things were at their worst, every day was a fail.

After one particularly impressive feat, I remember laying there in a food coma, full of self-loathing. I hated myself for this and I hated how it made me feel. Every time I ate sugar, my poor belly would bloat to new levels I didn’t think humanely possible; and in my mind I was a fat, frumpy pig.

Why am I sharing this?
This is in the past now, and I’m grateful to have experienced it as part of my journey. But for you, you may be going through this very cycle right now and I want you to know that it is okay. It is all okay – every little bit of it.

There’s absolutely no need to berate yourself. Avoiding self-judgement is hard because of the way it makes you feel and the fact that most people simply can’t understand.

When I started to realise something was wrong, no one else took it seriously. If people can’t relate to your experience, it’s hard for them to understand that it’s more than just being weak-willed. Some will believe that there’s no problem and you’re just being too hard on yourself.

7534093854_699495757b_kOn my attempt to cut out the evil sugar, friends and family would tell me to lighten up and ‘treat myself’, I even found cakes hidden in my bags from crafty friends who didn’t realise the extent of the problem at that point.

But binge-eating is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of an imbalance that needs to be fixed, and that could be psychological, physical or emotional.

By the time I officially said goodbye to sugar, I was used to the all too familiar saying ‘a little bit of what you fancy does you good’.  But for me, I couldn’t trust myself; my gut was compromised and for some reason, something inside just kept screaming out for more. So, armed with my meditation practice and some other tools, I embarked on an anti-candida/elimination diet.

That’s when the shit really hit the fan; when the true beast was unleashed. All the ailments and symptoms I’d experienced over the past months – they came back ten-fold. I later discovered this was what is known as a Herxheimer reaction.

Luckily I also had the support of my naturopath.  If I didn’t have that personal source of encouragement and reassurance I’m not sure I would have stuck to it.

Now, those nasty cravings are a thing of the past.  But don’t get me wrong, I haven’t nailed it completely. And if, God forbid, I make one little slip  into ‘processed food’ territory, whether it’s something as seemingly innocent as a Nakd bar or packet of salted nuts, I WILL go 9492927864_6df781e6d2_oto town. Luckily I’m strong enough to avoid chocolate and refined sugar; I’m far too fearful of the consequences.

If you’re fresh onto this road you can read about the tools and techniques that got me through this tough time. It’s not smooth sailing, it was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but hopefully it will help you on your way to a healthier appetite and more manageable level of hunger control.