How I found true freedom with food, and how you can too…
I’ve been writing this post for months now, struggling to put my thoughts into actual words, because when it comes to finding total freedom with food, I believe that it really has very little to do with actual food.
But food is the easy focus.
Food is something that can be measured, weighed, and controlled.
I believe that real freedom with food really comes down to your thoughts, feelings and emotions around what you’re putting into your body.
I’ve watched Tony Robbins documentary, “I’m Not Your Guru” several times, and in one of the stories, a young woman talks about her negative relationship with food, and how she doesn’t feel that she eats in a way that her body needs.
Eventually, because Tony see’s right through the BS, you learn that her struggles really have nothing to do with food, and it has everything to do with her very challenging relationship with her dad. As Tony said, we tend to focus on small problems that we turn into huge issues (often our eating habits), because we don’t want to deal with the things that actually scare us. The ghosts of our past.
The beautiful young woman in this documentary healed her relationship with her father, and in turn, she set herself free.
So when you believe that food is the problem, be willing to dig deeper, and watch what you uncover, as I bet that your struggles have very little to do with actual food.
Why was it so simple for me to eat paleo for 2 years, and now to always eat gluten-free, regardless of the situation? Why is it that I can switch from eating gluten-free toast, fries and ice cream, to straight up veggies, simple protein and healthy fats, with no hesitations, especially when it didn’t used to be that way?
This is the question that I’ve been pondering for months now, and while I’m sure it has somewhat to do with who I am as a person, it wasn’t always this way for me. I believe that habits can be changed, and you can learn to have total freedom with food too, just like I’ve found.
Food can feel so complicated, and I believe much of that is because our society completely revolves around it.
Don’t believe me? Go watch TV for a half hour and tell me how many commercials you see that involve food. I learned this when I was hospitalized at 12 years old and was taken completely off of food for the very first time.
For 15 days, which felt like the longest 15 days of my life, I wasn’t allowed to have anything besides clear liquids, and I became OBSESSED with food.
When you’re a kid, not being able to eat doesn’t make any sense. I’d recently been diagnosed with Crohn’s, and my doctors weren’t able to get my disease in remission, so as a last resort, they hospitalized me and “fed” me a mysterious liquid called TPN, through a PICC line IV.
While I wasn’t allowed to consume any food, I made lists and lists of foods that I wanted to eat, I drew food, I watched cooking shows, and I made food out of clay.
When I was finally able to eat a full diet again, I became so protective of my food. Nobody could tell me that I couldn’t have something.
Being taken off of food was something that I experienced many times throughout the years, as I went in and out of remission. When medications don’t work, removing food is often the next step that’s taken.
Fast forward to 2011, when my Crohn’s became so severe that I had to have my entire large intestine removed. Two years later, I was still very sick (mostly due to a very damaged immune system), and I finally came across what would ultimately be my game changer.
It was some diet called “paleo.”
Ever heard of it? 😉
When I first changed my diet on February 4, 2011, I did so because I felt like I had no other option. Before this, I’d tried many different diets and all sorts of natural treatments, and nothing had worked. My doctors had no answers for me (besides yet another surgery), and so I decided to once and for all to take back control of my own life.
At first, completely changing my diet to paleo felt HARD. The key words…at first.
So many of us expect change to be easy, or for everything to just fall into place for us (hiiii, been there!), but in the beginning, change is almost always feels SO HARD. The awesome news? It ALWAYS gets easier, but only if you stick with it.
Paleo was the complete opposite of how I was eating before. BUT, it worked, so I knew that I absolutely had to find a way to make it sustainable.
Although this way of eating made me feel better than I ever had, I also felt like I was somehow missing out, and once again, was frustrated that I had to eat differently.
Turns out, as I’ve learned with time, these feelings are completely normal, and as I stuck to this journey of eating real food, and I found what worked best for MY body, I realized that I’m not actually missing out on anything…and gluten & grains are not actually the devil, and some people do just fine with them.
Here’s where I remind you that it’s been well over 5 years since I changed my diet. This is a JOURNEY. None of this happened overnight for me.
This is also what’s worked incredibly well for me, but as with everything else, I’m never, ever saying that this is what will work for you. I’m only hoping to give you a different perspective, that you can decide whether or not to apply to your own life.
So with all of that, let’s talk about how I actually found total freedom with food.
HOW I FOUND FREEDOM WITH FOOD
1. I Learned to Forgive my Past
Every single one of us has faced different struggles in our lives, and I fully believe that in order to move forward and truly love your life, you have to learn to forgive your past.
Let’s be real, digging into your past is probably gonna feel so ridiculously uncomforable, but the reward is so worth doing the work. This is where my true healing came from.
In order for me to find freedom with food, I had to completely forgive my past. I had to feel the pain, the sadness, the anger, and confusion…every single bit of it. I had to recognize that being taken off of food taught me so many incredible lessons, and rather than being a curse, it was a true blessing. It all made me who I am. I had to feel every difficult piece of my past, and over time, I released the hold that it had over me.
I forgave every single person who (at the time), I felt did me wrong, and most importantly, I forgave myself.
This set me free.
I believe that this is the first step and the most important piece for most people, and then you can move onto your thoughts feelings and actions around actual food.
2. I Never Say I Can’t Have Something
I hear it all the time. “Kristen can’t have gluten.” Errr… that’s not actually the case. If I wanted to, I could in fact eat gluten all.day.long. Nothing is physically stopping me.
In reality, it’s a choice that I make. Every bite that I take is a choice, and it will either make me feel great, or not so great.
I personally choose to never eat gluten because I know how I’ll feel. I spent so many years feeling awful, and I refuse to ever spend a self-induced moment in that space, so it’s simply never, ever worth it to me. This is why I eat the way that I eat.
Maybe it’s worth it to you? Or maybe it’s something else that doesn’t leave you feeling great, but you decide to eat it anyway? That’s your decision to make, and also your decision to move on from.
No longer saying that I “can’t” have something changed everything for me. When my brain hears “can’t,” it automatically thinks that I’m missing out on something, when in reality, I’m not missing out on anything. My life is so much richer when I make decisions based on what will make me feel good.
How often are you telling yourself that you “can’t” have something. What if you changed the conversation to say that you choose not to have whatever that thing is, because you want to feel amazing? How much would that simple shift in your perspective and your words change your entire life?
3. It’s Not About Will Power:
So often I hear how high my will power must be to not eat certain foods, but that isn’t the case.
Here’s the thing…I straight up eat like I love myself, because I do.
When I choose to eat gluten-free bread, French fries or ice cream, it’s because it’s worth it for me at the time – and they’re all things that won’t leave me feeling awful.
I learned this over time. When I first changed my diet and wasn’t feeling awesome yet, it 100% took some will power to get me through. It’s when I started to see just how great I actually could feel that everything began to shift.
4. I Found What Worked For ME:
In THIS POST I talked about how when I changed my diet, I stuck to eating paleo for 2+ years. Once I felt that my gut was really healthy, I slowly started experimenting to see how different foods made me feel.
As it turns out, I do great with white rice and some other gluten-free grains. I also do great with high-quality (grass-fed) dairy, although I don’t eat it all that often.
While I’ve never intentionally, or had the desire to eat gluten, I’ve been unknowingly served a dish with gluten in it years ago, and I felt sick for 3 days. Annnd, this is why eating gluten is never worth it to me.
Knowing all of this has been SO powerful. It’s what has helped lead me to total freedom with food, because I always know what isn’t worth it to me, and what is.
5. I’m Not Perfect:
Years ago, I used to really struggle with perfectionism, as I felt that if I couldn’t control my health, I could at least control everything else. Now, I no longer aim to be perfect, and instead I simply do my best in every situation.
life can be TOUGH. Sometimes, all I want is cookies and ice cream. Sometimes I eat the (gluten-free) cookies and ice cream. This Strauss gluten-free cookies and cream ice cream shown in the picture above is my FAVORITE, and sometimes it’s worth it, but sometimes it’s not. That’s a choice that I get to make.
I often hear from my readers who will, say, eat cookies and ice cream, and then say that they spiral out of control because they feel sooo guilty. So then they just figure why not keep eating junk and feeling like crap.
Or, what about doing the opposite? What about stopping the cycle of guilt? What about loving yourself enough to realize that we all make mistakes, we all slip up, and that you can choose to let go of the guilt, and just move on?
Being perfect is no longer a goal of mine, so instead, I decided what was most important to me, and I let the rest go.
For me, finding freedom with food did somewhat involve actual food, but it was first learning and working through the root cause of my emotions around food that healed me. Once I found out what exactly it was that made me feel my best, and what didn’t, that’s when the emotional shift came into play. That’s when I started to learn that in order to free myself, I had to first change my entire thought process around food.
Here’s what I’ve discovered – the pursuit of attempting to be perfect with what you eat will more than likely destroy your happiness and your progress.
Learning to forgive your past, finding what works best for your body and really enjoying life, is what I believe will help lead to you finding your own freedom with food. It takes lots of practice, lots of falling down, getting back up, and doing it all over again…but putting in the effort is so worth it, my friends.
Imagine not being a slave to food? How amazing would it feel?
If it’s possible for me, it’s absolutely possible for you. Be willing to dig deep, heal your past, and watch your entire life change.
You’ve got this.