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Dear Diary: Today I Learned Food Is My Friend

My parrot, Pearl, looks on as I encounter the fine print that has changed everything in my relationship with food.

It takes the time it takes….that’s all I can say.

My aha moment began to unfold yesterday morning when I was eating my usual breakfast yogurt.

Yesterday morning’s select was banana and cinnamon – with no sugar added. I’ve been eating this yogurt for some time now, but hadn’t noticed the fine print on the side of the container.

It read: “not a low-calorie food.”

Perhaps I should back up for a moment to explain. Back in November, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. If my test scores were any indication, there are bean bag chairs in this world that are more active than my thyroid gland.

I also had unusually high levels of a rogue hormone called prolactin, which typically only shows up when a lady is pregnant or lactating, neither of which does now or has ever applied to me.

Thyroid meds helped some at first, but then things took a turn for the worse. My body started to fill up with fluid, adding worrisome pounds as well as new aches and pains. My shoulders and hips began to throb with a deep inner pain I couldn’t pinpoint but was all too real.

Then my arms came down with it. My right elbow went first, then my left, followed by one knee and then the other. Before I knew it, I was having trouble standing up and sitting down. I couldn’t sleep at night because no position was comfortable for more than about five minutes.

At the same time, I was plowing through my closet, donating one outfit after another as I rapidly grew out of everything I owned. My face broke out in what I can only assume is the angry mutant version of teen acne. It then began to play “connect the dots” with new red bumps on my neck, shoulders, back, chest and even my scalp!

I panicked. My body was dying and I knew it. Inside my body, I was also a mess. Luckily, I am also a writer and internet research is kind of my special gift. So I started digging and quickly happened upon a writer named Anthony William, aka the “Medical Medium.”

Something about Anthony’s words resonated at a level I also couldn’t pinpoint, but it was like a little square block finding its little square hole at least, and settling in with pure blissful relief.

I ordered his book “Thyroid Healing,” started selecting supplements, borrowed my folks (uh-mazing!) juicer and went produce shopping.

Near-simultaneously with my discover of Anthony’s work, I decided what my aching body really needed was some yoga. But I also knew I would have to start over from scratch. Oddly (or not so oddly depending on whether you believe in coincidence, which I have to admit I’m starting to doubt) my dear friend had gifted me with a groovy yoga mat for my 47th birthday this past December. 

I headed over to YouTube and without any delay at all located a course that sounded wonderful. “True: Your 30-Day Yoga Journey,” the teacher announced. Her name is Adrienne. I am currently on Day 16 of the 30-day course.

Now that you have some context and background, let’s head back to the yogurt and its fine print.

I really love yogurt – I always have. I don’t particularly like sugary yogurt, though, unless it comes from fruits. So my choice of this banana and cinnamon pot had nothing to do with avoiding calories or fat or anything like that – despite the expanding waistline I mention here. I just like it better.

This is probably why I’d never bothered to read the side of the package before. But yesterday, I read it. And thought to myself, “Low calorie food? why would anyone want to eat a low calorie food?

Suddenly the whole phrase didn’t make sense. My brain started working to sort out what the issue was. So the body needs calories to function. Food provides calories. Ergo, any food that doesn’t have calories – many or any – wouldn’t be useful to the body…at least in theory.

So why would I want to eat a low calorie food?

And then I got it – part one of yesterday’s aha moment. This is the food industry sickness that has been making ME sick. Sure, fruits and veggies and herbs and other natural foods are low in calories. But they are rich in nutrients, too, which makes them well worth consuming.

But the foods this yogurt package was referring to – foods like sugar free or low calorie packaged goods, foods with lots of things I can’t pronounce or spell, foods meant to help me eat as much as I want with no weight-related consequences – these foods suddenly make no sense to me.

For the record, they have never made any sense to my body.

My body has never known what to do with these foods. Because to my body, which needs calories and nutrients to function properly, these foods have no purpose. And I think they might even be toxic.

Eating low calorie packaged, processed foods, the kinds with sugar substitutes and salt substitutes and fat substitutes and “flavor enhancers” (whatever those are) is like feeding my body poison.

Eating these is kind of like serving my car a salad and giving my body a healthy helping of gasoline. It’s all backwards – totally mixed up.

Part two of yesterday’s aha moment came next. Food – natural, whole, real food – is my FRIEND.

It always has been. It has one function and one function only: to help my body work. Each real, whole food that I choose to consume has something to offer. It comes as a friend. It comes in peace. I can trust it to give me something I need, which is the strength and energy and health to LIVE.

Perhaps as you are reading this, you are thinking, “Well, yeah….of course!” But for me, as someone who has spent half her life to date battling an eating disorder, and even looking back a decade into her healing process, this has been a revelation.

And here is something else amazing. About two days after I first discovered Anthony William’s work, I stopped eating gluten. And all dairy except for yogurt.

This wasn’t hard for me. I am not struggling. I don’t feel deprived or frustrated or scared. I am not angry. I don’t actually care that gluten and dairy are no longer in my life on any significant level.

My body was dying, and somehow, miraculously, amazingly, waving goodbye to these two things, plus the yoga and the supplements and the thyroid medications and the support of my doctor, my family and my friends, has made their departure a non-issue.

My brain, meanwhile, has discovered a fascinating new hobby it can think about for hours and days – learning about the nutrients in all these new fresh, whole, real foods that keep it so active and energized.

While my body is still aching in certain places and definitely we are early in the overall healing process, the small improvements I see daily encourage and uplift all parts of me to keep with it. We are doing this together, for the good of all – body, mind, emotions, heart, soul. We are in this together.

What’s most incredible, however, may be this: I feel FULL. As in, full-filled. Like, I don’t have cravings. I am not always thinking about the cupcake shop over there or the donut place over here or oh look there’s a Starbucks….I am able to remain much more present in each moment because the part of my body that was always hungry was constantly nudging my mind saying “look for something good for me to eat!” and my mind was then always nudging me saying “hey, isn’t that nice bakery you like right around the next corner?”…..

In other words, the hoped-for changes – a gradual lessening of the pain, the bloating, the breakouts, the mental fog, the nonstop fatigue, the fearfulness and onrushing hopelessness that was consuming my life – these are all taking place.

But it is the other changes – the ones I didn’t expect or even contemplate – that are blowing me away.

Food is my friend. It always has been. It always will be. My body is my friend. So is my mind, although sometimes it still needs a nudge (or a shove) in the right direction to get on board.

I might eat gluten or dairy again in the future. Maybe someday I will no longer take thyroid medication or all these supplements. But for today, life is rapidly getting better than “back to normal” where a few short months ago I was starting to believe my healthy life was over for good.

: Have you ever faced a real challenge – like a game-changer – a life-threatener – a big mysterious something that felt like an epic foe hell-bent on taking you down – and come out the better for it or even a hero in your own life? What helped you turn that critical corner and make the changes and learn the lessons and do the things and find the support you needed? I’d love to hear your story if you have time to share!

Dear Diary: Today I Learned Food Is My Friend

Shannon Cutts


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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2018). Dear Diary: Today I Learned Food Is My Friend. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 21, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/mentoring-recovery/2018/03/dear-diary-today-i-learned-food-is-my-friend/

 

Last updated: 21 May 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 May 2018
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.