This post is an update on how I’ve been feeling since the raw food challenge and eliminating my medication. It’s lengthy, and personal, so I won’t be offended if you don’t read it. Feel free to check out some brownies or cake instead!
It’s been six months since I began the Raw Food Healing Challenge and I can’t believe how much my life has changed since then.
I’ll bet you’re wondering if I’m still eating mostly raw. No, I’m not. I was following a raw diet at the height of summer’s bounty, which made eating effortless and enjoyable. And while the raw food diet was an incredible challenge that allowed me to experiment out of my comfort zone, Jenn and I thought that it might not suit my constitution all year long.
I’m still having my green smoothies for breakfast, and eating plenty of raw fruits and vegetables for snacks, but my lunches and dinners are typically cooked. Now that the weather has turned cold, I find myself turning to soups and stews on a regular basis.
What about the medication?
When the 28-day raw food challenge finished, I didn’t quite feel ready to stop taking medication. I felt I needed more time. By the end of the summer, I was confident enough to begin tapering off the meds.
Throughout the fall, I slowly lowered my dose and by November, I finished taking medication altogether. It’s been almost two months since I’ve swallowed my last pill.
So, how do I feel?
That’s a complicated question.
When I decided to try going without immunosuppressive medication, I was excited but also terrified. Would I end up in the hospital again? Would I become malnourished? Would I spend my days running to the bathroom?
Thankfully, most of these things haven’t happened (except for the hospital thing, where I ended up again after a school potluck that involved poor food combining and a lack of chewing on my part. Once again, a painful reminder to chew my food).
Mostly, though, my digestion seems to be chugging along quite nicely. It’s not perfect, but things haven’t changed for the worse.
What I wasn’t expecting was the repercussions of releasing my immune system from its longtime slumber. I was so focused on my gut it didn’t occur to me that there might be any other consequences.
Friends, I have had a cold since September that I can’t seem to shake. It sucks. Until November, my sinuses were so fogged I could barely think. My nose is always running. I cough all the time.
I have tried every natural healing method for the common cold. Problem is, there isn’t actually an infection there – I could lick your face and you wouldn’t get sick. My body is reacting to nothing. I’m like a child again, learning to distinguish between the innocuous and harmful germs in daily life. Seventy percent of our immune system is in our digestive tract. And my gut, while on its way to healing, is still damaged.
The upside of all of this is my digestive system is rallying, it’s rising to meet the task. And what this has taught me is I need more patience, which has never been my strong suit.
And then the plot thickens…
As I began to taper my medication, I noticed I was developing a dysfunctional relationship with food.
I felt guilty about eating, even if it was something healthy.
I felt an immense pressure to eat perfectly.
I felt like no food was good enough – surely, I thought, there must be a healthier choice I should be making.
I worried that my ability to help people as a holistic nutritionist was dependent solely upon my ability to heal myself from Crohn’s disease. If I couldn’t do that, I was a fraud.
So I visited my medical doctor, who also happens to be a medical intuitive and is very knowledgeable about alternative therapies. She referred me to an energy healer. Now, if you had told me a year ago that I would be seeing an energy healer I would have snickered at you. But the experience was transformative.
As I worked with Georgie, we began to unravel that my obsession with food wasn’t really about food. It was about not feeling good enough. It was about my Type A personality and my relentless crusade to excel at everything. It was about my drive to succeed, which led me to two university degrees and a unfulfilling career.
Over the past year, I have tried to assimilate what I’ve learned at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition through my usual lens of logic, intellect, practicality and reason. And while much of my nutrition education has been evidence-based and scientific, an enormous part of this field is about being intuitive, emotional, sensitive and open. These are all qualities I have not developed, which is why I have been struggling.
What happens next?
Like many afflictions, an important first step is even acknowledging that you have a problem.
Now that I’ve done that, I feel an immense sense of peace. I feel far less stressed about my life and where it is headed, since I have more trust that I will end up where I need to be.
It seems ridiculously simple, but much of my emotional healing has come from actually calling attention to the negative, fearful, self-conscious thoughts that have consumed me. I ask myself, what am I trying to prove? Who am I trying to prove it to? The answer is never about pleasing others. It’s about not believing in myself.
I am now finished my studies at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. A requirement to graduate is a professional co-op placement. I am incredibly excited to be returning to my hometown of Toronto for three months, where I’ll intern with the team at Meghan Telpner Inc. Meghan is a holistic nutritionist who runs a successful cooking school, blog, online store and retreats. She’s also a popular television personality.
I haven’t spent longer than two weeks in Toronto for almost 10 years, and visits are always a whirlwind. Perhaps the most exciting part about returning home, aside from the internship, is the opportunity to reconnect with family and share all that I’ve learned in the last year with them. I can’t wait to cook for everyone! (If you’re in the neighbourhood – want to come over for dinner?)
Then, when I return to Vancouver in the spring, I’ll ramp up my freelance writing career and work on developing my nutrition business.
For the first time in many months, I am excited about what the future will bring. That doesn’t mean that the future is not scary for me, with plenty of unknowns. But I am more willing to live in the moment, be grateful for what I have and appreciate the opportunity to pursue my passions.
Do you have a complicated relationship with food? How do you handle it?