How I Eat + Why I'm Much More Interested In What Will Work For You
It’s really common for clients, friends, strangers to ask me what kind of diet I, as a Holistic Health Coach, eat. “You must be vegetarian? Plant-based? Low-carb?” People want to hear all my secrets of how I “do it,” how I stay so healthy and happy, but what I am much more interested in is finding a sustainable, nourishing way of eating that serves you.
You can read more about my story right here and why I started to eat an anti-inflammatory diet, but for the purpose of this blog, the only thing you need to know is that I struggle with inflammation, an acidic gut flora from years of taking antibiotics for my skin (my doctor assured me I could take them for a lifetime with no side effects….eye roll) and was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 23.
We all come to the anti-inflammatory lifestyle (because that’s what it is - it isn’t a diet) with our own personal reasons and motivations. Most of which include dealing with pain, digestive issues, brain fog, weight gain, or an inability to lose weight — the anti-inflammatory lifestyle is great for all of these things.
I first discovered the anti-inflammatory lifestyle through Dr. Weil. He has a wonderful breakdown of the diet that you can use as a guide with this lifestyle. Being a visual learner, it personally helped me so much!
How I stay consistent and stick to living this lifestyle:
Have a why. I never knew how crappy I actually felt, until I started feeling really good. I remember waking up and thinking “how is it possible that I feel even better than I did yesterday?!” A huge motivator for me is the increase in my physical energy, clarity of mind and not dealing with constant gas and bloating. So annoying. It’s easier for me to stay on track when I know the physical and mental consequences that occur when I don’t.
My Why: I choose an anti-inflammatory lifestyle because I feel better than I ever felt when I am on it and I am able to show up, serve and be my absolute best for those around me.
P.S. This is not about being ‘perfect.’ More on that below…
I eased into it. Many people assume I made a complete 180, threw away all the sugar in the house, cut out everything delicious, deal with no challenges, and never “fall off the wagon.” This couldn’t be further from the truth.
I used a method called “crowding out”, meaning I added anti-inflammatory foods and recipes into my diet slowly over time to crowd out some of my trigger foods. What I have found is that when I restrict certain foods, I rebel. I get angry and resentful and then the pendulum swings to the other side, which makes sense because for every restriction there is an equal and opposing binge waiting to happen.
What I ask my clients is, what do you have the time and energy to experiment with today? Start there.
I plan ahead as much as possible. My personal Hell is looking at the clock, it’s 6:30pm and asking my husband what he wants for dinner. This never ends well - most likely in a frozen pizza, take out, or a bowl of pasta (which there is nothing wrong with, but it doesn’t always feel good). So for me, it takes a small amount of effort (I’m talking about 30 - 90 minutes/week) to sit down and plan out 3-4 meals for the week. I love planning meals that have leftovers because, honestly, I don’t love to cook.
Also, to not over-complicate things and reduce self-sabotage I stick to a few recipes that I really like and that are easy. Yes, it can get boring, but it’s also important to me to not spend a ton of time in the kitchen, so for me, it’s a win-win.
I have accountability. I have a coach that I talk to about my frustrations, my desires, my celebrations, where I am getting stuck, and she helps create clarity around my behaviors and thought processes. When I don’t believe in myself, she believes in me. When I want to give up, she reminds me of my worth and why I want this. It’s been the most transformative aspect of my relationship with food and body and why on most days I feel like a fucking superstar. With her support I know I will succeed in feeling exactly how I want to feel.
This is not all or nothing; steer clear of the black and white thinking. When we are on a diet and we ‘fall off’ we make ourselves bad. Which is ridiculous because diets require us to shift our lives around to accommodate the diet, and it should be the other way around. We end up feeling guilty, we judge and criticize ourselves, and eventually throw in the towel — and that never supports us in moving forward. If you make a choice that doesn’t feel good in your body, meet yourself with compassion, take that information and move on as quickly as possible. Start again with the next bite.
Reduce your stress. This is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory practices one can engage in. Remember, this is a lifestyle. And because we can’t ‘see’ stress, we underestimate the negative impact that it has on our body. Ways that I reduce my stress: I journal, meditate, created a morning routine that sets me up for success, I set healthy boundaries, and make self love and self care non-negotiable.
Eat slowly and mindfully. Eating fast stresses out the body, period. The slower we eat and more mindful we are with our meals, the more we are able to absorb the nutrients, the more efficiently we process our food and nourish our bodies on a mental, physical, and spiritual level. We tend to eat less, but take in more.
Experiment and listen to your body. My body personally does not do well when I eat nuts, and with nuts and seeds being a prominent food group with the anti-inflammatory lifestyle, I have learned to adjust and shift to make it work for me. Your body is the smartest one in the room. It will tell you what it needs, what it likes and dislikes, you just have to listen. Use this lifestyle as a guide, but allow yourself to also be flexible in figuring out what works well for your body.
With all of this being said, some of these strategies may work for you, and some of them may not. This is about you figuring out a healthy lifestyle and way of eating that works for you, not me.
Have you tried the anti-inflammatory lifestyle? What do you love about it? What do you find most challenging? Tell me in the comments below!
BONUS! Here are a few of my favorite anti-inflammatory lifestyle resources:
If you want accountability, support and a cheerleader to keep you on track as you anchor in some of these strategies into your own life, I just opened up 2 spots for my 1:1 Food + Spirit 6-week online program. You can find all the details and apply right here.