This is one of the most frequently asked questions I get when new members join my free FB group, Autoimmune Well with Kel. And I think it's also one of the questions that I asked the most after I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and an eating disorder within the same year.
Is it possible to eat intuitively when you have an allergy, sensitivity or intolerance to particular foods? How do you feel good and okay (and not restricted) while cutting out foods that cause physical symptoms and reactions in the body? How do we eat in a restrictive manner without emotionally feeling restricted at the same time?
Since you're here (asking this question, too!), then you know how much friction lies in the wait for an answer. There's just a lot of tension in this place. Because we want to do what's best for our bodies and our physical health -- i.e. cut out foods to which we respond negatively -- but we also want to do what's best for our emotional and mental well-being -- i.e. feel free and not controlled around food.
It's like we have these two strong values -- (1) to feel good physically and (2) to feel good mentally -- that stem from an overarching desire to simply feel good. And yet, we're so confused, frustrated and sometimes so defeated because we don't know how to move forward in a way that will actually get us there.
It kinda feels like we have to pick one or the other, right?
If you're binging (or binge eating) with an autoimmune disease, then you're probably trying really hard to eat a certain way -- maybe to follow Paleo or the Autoimmune Protocol -- and yet you find yourself falling "off the wagon" and eating (probably a lot of) something you're not supposed to eat.
For many of us, it's not that we're binging because binging itself is a symptom of autoimmune disease, but rather we're binging because binging is a symptom of our efforts to control our food.
When it comes to binging and autoimmune disease, we're usually trying to control, manipulate or "guarantee" a certain health outcome. We want to go into remission. We want to feel better. We want to get off medication or stop a flare. (Though, we might *also* be trying to control weight or body image, too.)
This means that even if you've been diagnosed with Celiac disease and have an allergy to gluten, any binging is likely not a reaction to the act of physically restricting gluten but is more so a reaction to the mental and emotional experience of not eating gluten. (In other words, it has to do what you think, feel and believe about not eating gluten.)
The good news is this: You don't have to change what you're eating to stop binging. (Especially if you're eating in accordance with medical restrictions, allergies, intolerances, personal preferences, etc.) Instead, you want to change how you think and how you feel about what's on your plate!
Earlier this year, I decided to go a month without a particular protein, called A1 casein, that's often found in cow dairy.
That month turned into two which turned into three and now it's been many more months and I feel better than ever.
But here's the thing.
I don't just mean I feel better physically. (I do feel better physically but I attribute that to the time I spend with my journal shifting beliefs and on my mat doing restorative yoga much more than I attribute it to this dietary tweak.)
I also mean that I feel better mentally and emotionally and that I feel a sense of freedom around food that I've never felt before.
You see, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease at age 14 and 7 months later with an eating disorder. I spent many months healing from the severity of the eating disorder and another 10+ years healing my relationship to food as a whole.
In fact, it felt so good to finally get to a place where I wasn't dieting and I wasn't controlled by the ingredients on my plate or the size of my waistline that I once made a vow, in a church no less, to never ever ever diet again.
So, how (and why) do I limit A1 casein and things like cheese, milk and ice cream? Even more, how do I do this without dieting and feeling an ounce of restriction along the way?