For those of you who are currently making a diet change, you are not alone. It’s okay that it’s hard. It’s also okay if it feels easy. Everything changes. And if you need to do this for your health, then it will definitely be worth it. I’m rooting for you!
Almost ten years ago, I made a huge lifestyle change for the sake of my health. I was really sick and had six autoimmune, chronic diagnoses and most things indicated that it would continue to get worse. My lifestyle change started with the food. From one day to the other I completely changed my diet and began a rotational diet to ensure that I got the nutrition I needed from the limited food I ate and didn’t develop new food allergies out of the 64 I already had. It started with food but that was just the outer layer of the onion. Since then, I have changed so much in my life, both practically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. And I’m still asymptomatic.
About a year after I started the change, I had reintroduced most of the food and for the past 10 years I have eaten “anti-inflammatory”, which for me has meant food prepared from scratch, minimizing additives and processed food, focus on clean and organic food, and excluding gluten, cow’s milk and sugar. So easy, compared to how it was for me in the beginning.
A while ago, I decided to do a comprehensive health examination, through a functional medicine doctor, to ensure that I still live in a way that suits my body and my conditions. To prevent any future illness. And when you look at more than 300 parameters, of course, something will come up. For me, it was SIBO.
There is a lot to read about SIBO here at FoodPharmacy, for example here. In my understanding, it’s one of those things that over time can create leaky gut, which can create low-grade inflammation that can create imbalances in the body, what we usually call disease. So even though I was symptom free, I wanted to heal my SIBO. As part of the treatment, I will now eat low FODMAP for three months, which you can read more about here.
So, here I am now, 10 years later, again in a diet change, and I have had to remind myself of what I learned then, to make it easier for myself this time as well. Here are my tips for anyone who needs to change your diet, for the sake of your health:
1. Find your intention and your why. Formulate for yourself, what’s your intention in doing this for yourself? Why is this important to you? Try to formulate it so that it’s based in love and not in fear. For your health and not to avoid illness. My why right now: “My intention is to live long and feel strong, healthy and happy, therefore I want to take care of my body in the best way. Because I deserve to feel as good as possible.”
2. Remember that it’s hardest in the beginning. When we’re learning something new, we often move through the same cycle. At first, we’re completely unaware of what we don’t yet know. But then we become aware that we need to learn something new and change, which is inconvenient. Eventually we learn more but still need to be extremely attentive and use a lot of energy towards for example finding the food we can eat in the grocery store and how to prepare it. But eventually this new knowledge becomes more natural for us and we become unaware of everything we now actually know, it’s on autopilot and the energy consumption goes down. It’s the change in the beginning that is difficult, not the new lifestyle.
3. Your taste buds need some time to adjust. There was a time when I thought that nothing could ever replace candy. Today, I can’t imagine eating something that tastes so unnatural. My taste buds have become accustomed to the type of food I choose to eat today, and even though nothing tasted particularly delicious in the beginning, it only took a few weeks before I found myself longing for the taste of kale. I could never have believed that!
4. Give yourself some time to learn and plan. Everything becomes easier with planning. Spend some time in the beginning to learn more about the diet you choose to eat. Find inspiration online. There are certainly many more who are already eating as you now need to eat, find them and realize that you are not alone. Try out new recipes. Create a weekly menu. Make sure you have the right things at home (and make sure that what you’re no longer eating is out of sight).
5. Focus on what you can eat. Choose your focus. Instead of, in front of others and yourself, over and over again listing what you can’t eat, choose to focus on what you can eat and rejoice in it. If you eat out, look at the entire menu and identify what suits you and ask the kitchen to create something with what they already have at home, in case you can’t eat anything directly from the menu.
6. Decide on “your story”. My experience is that many people have lots of questions when you choose to eat something other than the “standard diet”. Decide on your story and motivation so that you don’t have to get caught up in complicated explanations every time and perhaps share more than you are comfortable with. I’m, for example, saying: “Right now I eat a little less stuff than usual to ensure that my body feels as good as possible.” You choose when you want to go into longer explanations and not.
7. Be kind to yourself. Change is difficult, especially in the beginning. Be extra kind to yourself. What do you like to do? Which people give you inspiration and energy? What can you treat yourself to that has nothing to do with food? Ask for support and help when you need it. Lower the requirements in other areas of your life, because this takes a little extra energy from you.
Eventually, I think many more will choose to eat more natural foods again. And those of us who choose it today will feel less alone. At the same time, we are constantly learning more and more about the impact of food on health, so it will certainly also become more common with various forms of dietary treatments for a limited time. If you are in the midst of a diet or lifestyle change now, know that you are not alone. And even if it’s difficult in the beginning, it will be easier with time. Remember to listen to your own inner compass first and foremost. You know best what you need right now.
This is a guest post. The opinions expressed are the writer’s own.