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?
Have you ever found yourself scrolling on Instagram and trying *really* hard not to feel like a failure?
Maybe because you didn't eat 'clean' enough this week...
Or because you haven't spontaneously 'cured' your flare-ups or your symptoms...
Ever feel like you have to choose between your mental health and your physical health?
Maybe feeling like you can't have both... you can't do the things that support your mental health AND do the things that support your physical body...
Do you feel divided between following a flexible, anti-diet eating plan (such as intuitive eating) and a more rigid, health-based plan (such as paleo or the autoimmune protocol)?
Maybe you're curious about the autoimmune protocol and all the success stories you've read. But maybe also you've done diets in the past and really don't want to start another.
If this is where you find yourself today, I've been right where you're sitting.
I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease at age 14 and an eating disorder 7 months later. Meaning, when I wanted to heal my body using food I had a VERY hard time.
It's interesting writing this story 15 years later. I was a teenager when I was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease and eating disorder and so I've always had "teenage brain" when it comes to the facts and specifics. It's like I've always had my own interpretation of the events that unfolded over that year... without too much questioning of what was true and what was not. And so, as I look back at the incredible book my mom kept with everything from appointment dates to test results to conversations with providers, it's uncomfortable to say the least.
It's this out of body experience where you are looking at something you experienced with absolutely no recognition or remembrance of the experience itself. I guess I held onto the big meanings I made of the events and let go of the rest. (And I'm no therapist, but I imagine this might be quite normal when you go through anything that could be perceived as trauma?) Whether it was too painful, or I determined certain facts not important, or it's simply a case of poor memory on my part, I don't know. But as I read through this book my mom kept, I felt unsettled and uneasy as I wish I could tell that little teenager exactly what I know now. (You know, that we made it and we're fine and we're really, really proud of what we've done with the cards we were dealt.)
Maybe I'm feeling uncomfortable telling this story because the events themselves are uncomfortable. Or maybe, I'm feeling shame I didn't realize I still held from the way things played out. Or maybe even, it's embarrassment or disappointment or better yet the feeling that I disappointed those around me. It doesn't matter what I'm feeling now or why I'm feeling it because what I do know is that sharing this story is important. It's important because it's shaped every belief I now hold about health and wellness and it's important because I think it might be able to shape some of yours, too.