Finding Clarity On What Food To Eat For Your Autoimmunity

by | May 13, 2021 | Lupus Blog | 0 comments

Hey everybody! I was finally able to go on vacation last week. We had such a great time in The Bahamas and I hope you all had a great Mother’s Day. I’m happy to be back and on a normal schedule. Today I really want to talk to you about gaining clarity about the food that you want to eat.

Having been both vegan, on a very restrictive diet and also on a very flexible diet, eating all kinds of meat, I’ve explored both sides of the coin. Then, what I can tell you as a registered dietician, who has a master’s degree in nutrition, is that the pendulum will always swing. I don’t like what’s happening out there in all of the books being written in terms of health, wellness, and the foods. A lot of the time, there’s a lot of confusion and contradiction.

This is mainly because we can’t focus on the foods that are outside of us. Food needs to be metabolized, assimilated, eliminated, and processed biochemically within our bodies. That means that genetically you are predisposed to certain things. So, what I like to focus on in my programs is not so much about saying “This is what you eat” and “This is the diet you should adapt,” like autoimmune, paleo, plant-based, intermittent fasting, or keto diets.

I prescribed a lot of these diets at different phases during my career in the last 20 years to my patients, as well as experimented with them myself. What I’ve learned is that food is something so personal for each and every one of us. I learned that one man’s poison can be another man’s medicine. Knowing that, I am very cautious in directing people to say, “This is exactly the diet.”

Food is Not One Size Fits All

There is no “one size fits all.” I have to take into consideration your cultural background, preferences, eating habits, and relationships, most importantly with yourself and food. Food is so much more than just something that we do to nourish our bodies. We don’t just eat food to sustain our life anymore. There’s overindulgence, food addictions, and chemicals and processing that goes on in our food industry. So much, that it does pose a threat to our health and wellness.

Having said that, I believe that food is not the enemy. It’s our thoughts around the foods, and then the feelings that our thoughts trigger that cause us to make choices in the foods we put into our bodies. So, I’d like to focus on what’s called intuitive eating. At the end of the day, I want to teach you what you body is trying to communicate to you, versus dictating exactly which foods are right for you. Honest to goodness, I don’t care how learned I am, with so many degrees. I can never know exactly what is right for you.

It’s different for every single individual, but there’s principle-based foundational things that I want to talk about at the end of our time together. I want you to adopt them to make sure that your drive your behaviors and eating habits based on foundational pillars. That’s going to serve you no matter what phase of autoimmunity, severity of autoimmunity, or whatever might be happening in your life.

Your Gut is Your Second Brain

So, going back to the topic of intuitive eating, remember that your gut is your second brain. It’s been trying to tell you for a long time that something is off. But yet, even though it’s trying so hard to tell you, what we do is look to the doctors to tell us exactly what’s wrong. We ignore the signs and then the symptoms have to get bad enough to get our attention and make us go seek help outside of us. That, to me, is foundationally wrong.

So, that is where I normally like to start in my program. Many autoimmune patients tell me that their rheumatologists tell them that food doesn’t matter and they need medications for the rest of their lives. You and I both know if medications work for our disease. Food does too, because it’s biochemistry, assimilation, and all the things. Medications come from nature. A lot of the time they are concocted from natural medicine. It’s holistic herbs and things that produce certain things. Medications are highly researched and tested, but it’s not black and white. Science is never black and white. It’s not a sure thing; it just has a little bit more scientific evidence behind it.

Like I said, just as we alter biochemistry with the medications, foods do matter. Depending on the stage and severity of your autoimmunity, you will need to follow different diets along the way. There are many different diets out there, like I mentioned, and many contradict each other. So, it’s not your fault if you stay really confused. It’s important to remember that foods are so much more than something you eat to satisfy your hunger.

Food is Memories, Connection, and Experience

Food is memories, connection, a coping mechanism, relationships, experience, and enjoyment of life. It can provide us with a community of people that we love. For example, for me, I grew up in South Korea and I have some comfort foods that my mom used to make. Whenever I get sick or down on myself, those are the foods I crave. It’s a chicken porridge with a lot of ginseng and it’s called samgye tang. With kimchi, it’s served as a staple food, which used to be the healing food for me.

So, for me to tell you to eat that, from my reference point of growing up in South Korea, would not be right for you, who grew up here in the United States. There’s chicken noodle soup here in the States. Many of my friends grew up eating Campbell’s soup. Is that any better or worse than home-cooked noodles or porridge? It all has to do with you context. Content to the context.

Many of you consider food as something outside of you, when really it’s something that you need to feel. You want to know what it feels like. Does it cause an upset stomach, indigestion, bloating, fatigue, or headaches? Some of these things we don’t even pay attention to. We just pay attention to a point where it provides us with enough discomfort. Then, we go to the doctor to figure it all out. We ignored the signs and symptoms.

Our Thoughts About Food Are Often Overlooked

Remember, the thoughts that trigger feelings are what drives which foods we choose. They all work together, and that’s why I focus on the psychology of your eating behaviors because thoughts do matter. Food for thought is just as important as the foods you put into your body. Then, the feelings cause a vibrational frequency, impacting our level and efficiency of metabolism. So, it doesn’t really matter so much what the food is. Think about eating the healthiest food at a desk, highly stressed during your work day, versus eating a McDonald’s Big Mac, savoring every bite, reminiscing about past pleasant memories. For me, I reminisce about coming to the States and enjoying a hamburger, while it wasn’t so abundant in South Korea. So, for me, it’s kind of a memory when I think about a Big Mac. It brings up a lot of joyful memories with my mom.

Intuitive eating means that you begin to listen to what feels right, as opposed to adopting a diet because someone like me said you should. I want to be the guide that tells you to listen to your body. Only you can be empowered enough to read into the sensations of your body. I can’t read into those sensations. You have to tell me how you feel. Based on that, the doctors might gibe you so prescribed medications. But, how backwards is that? That’s a broken strategy.

Foundational Principles vs. Strict Diet

It’s why all of us remain sick in the conventional medical setting. As I said, I’ve been both vegan and carnivorous. I can tell you, not every vegan diet is healthy and not every carnivorous diet is healthy. Everything depends. As a learned individual with lots of degrees and a highly scientific background, I can provide you with information on what foods to eat. But, I know that your food tolerance and your needs will change based on the phase of your life, severity of your condition, symptoms, and what type of medication you’re on.

I’d much rather provide you with foundational principles that guide your decisions, versus telling you to adopt a strict diet. I also want to focus on what you should do, versus what you shouldn’t. A lot of the doctors are busy telling you exactly what you can’t have. To a human mind, you know what happens, the more I tell you not to eat something, the more you’re going to want that thing. So, I’m not really keen on the restrictions, because I know how our human minds work.

General Food Tips

I’m going to give you 10 things that you ought to do, and you might want to write them down. Number one is to eat what’s in season. Right now, in Georgia, everything’s abundant. We have a lot of vegetables and lots of fruits are in season. That’s what you want to pick. Eat local. I don’t need to get an apple from New Zealand when I can get it here in Georgia. Number three, get in the habit of cooking your meals. Find some enjoyment and empowerment from doing it, especially post COVID. We’ve all cooked enough meals, and I hope you’ve gotten enjoyment out of that. It’s control, power, and being empowered to do the right things for you.

Next, I want you to be gluten and dairy free, and avoid nightshades for 28 days. Practice intermittent fasting, which means you want at least 12 to 15 hours of a complete break between eating. Number seven is to hydrate, drink water. I don’t want to say not to drink carbonated water, but hydrate yourself. Make sure you get plenty of water throughout the day. Number eight is to exercise, metabolize what you’re feeding in your body. It helps you and then eat more, mostly vegetables and organic.

Eating Intuitively

Here’s another thing. Desserts and alcohol, like wine to celebrate, are allowed, within reason. Learning to be sensible is a lot more important. That’s where you’ll find peace and freedom. That’s where you’ll find your body to be healing, when you start to be sensible and everything is gained. You’re not so heavily restricted because you’re going to focus on the thing that you can’t have. So, short-term restriction leads to long-term freedom. So, I would tell you to be sensible. It’s when we become overly restrictive that we tend to veer off course, almost always.

I just want to say a thing or two about the Alkaline Method, which is the proprietary strategy or method that I founded and created to help you go through and put all of the broken pieces of the puzzle together. It’s all about addressing your body, mind, and health as a whole ecosystem, paying attention to your body and connecting to it. That way, you allow it to tell you what it needs. This is key to a successful life, health, and longevity in all that you do. Health is something you absolutely need to live the best life.

Another Diet is Not the Answer

So, I hope this was clear on how I want you to think about food. It’s not another diet that’s going to be the answer to your question. It’s about looking at the foundational principles and making things very simple, as opposed to making things so hard. We tend to commit to the things and whether it be making things hard or easy, we’re committed to making them every which way. Eating should be pleasurable and joyful. It’s one of the gifts of life. I don’t want to take that away from you. For so long, I lived in this space of restrictive eating, where all I could do was exercise my willpower and try to restrict myself from enjoying life.

To me, being sensible enough to enjoy all of the things life has to offer is the ultimate goal through the Alkaline Method. I hope this was really helpful for you. We’ll continue to dive deeper into exactly what foods and what intuitive eating looks like for me. I’m going to be coming more from my kitchen. If you have not checked it out already, we have our Autoimmune Health Transformation program. We also have a private Facebook group, call the Tribe of Autoimmune Health Rebels. You can join me there to have conversations about living the day to day in a healing way, paying attention to our second brain, our gut, utilizing the Alkaline Method. I hope you enjoyed this, and I’ll see you next week.

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