The majority of my blog (and really my career) is about healing. Healing your gut, healing from Hashimoto’s, and eating healing foods. Though you’ll typically find me talking about healing with delicious paleo recipes, castor oil packs, and collagen peptides, today I want to talk about healing with something different… and that’s forgiveness.
Though most of my readers have some form of autoimmune disease, chronic illness, or gut issues that they’re trying to resolve with diet, we are all broken people in some sense. Whether it be our health, our emotional wellbeing, or something else entirely, no one is perfect, and we all have some healing to do.
We’ve all been angry at something. In this world of chronic illness, we’re most often angry at the doctors who failed us, at the people who didn’t believe us, at the food system that’s broken, and at ourselves for getting to a certain place. Sound familiar? Are you checking all boxes right now? These grudges hold us back from healing.
I want to share with you what I’ve learned first hand about how to heal with forgiveness. Why it matters, why you’re not a bad person for being angry for what happened to you, and who you need to forgive.
Why We Need to Forgive to Heal
Anger, grudges, and emotional pain are inflammatory. Just as inflammatory, if not more, than a big ol’ sugar-y cookie, and maybe even a cigarette. The stress keeps our stress response going, the anger keeps us from enjoying life, and the victimization keeps us from believing that we can ever heal.
Forgiveness is a central part of any healing journey. No matter how hard it is, or how long it takes us to forgive, we need to strive to do it.
You’re not a bad person for feeling angry, hurt or wronged. You’re human. Feeling wronged is normal… but it’s holding you back from healing.
Who You Need to Forgive to Heal…
Forgive Your Doctor and The Medical System
We put a lot of weight on the shoulders of doctor and the medical system. We trust it to solve our problems and make us whole again. And that isn’t wrong. Doctors spend their professional lives working to help us heal, and we can’t be expected to do that work ourselves. But when they lead us astray, we suffer both from health issues without relief, and the psychological pain of anger that keeps us from healing.
I’ll never forget how wronged I felt by my doctors as a kid. Growing up I hated eating meat, I was overweight, I was exhausted, and my body was crying for help. What I really needed was a loving voice to help me fix my digestion, heal my gut, and teach me about a nutrient dense diet. What I got were doctors that laughed at me when I told them that eating meat and fat made me gag, doctors that called me fat, and doctors that told me I just needed to exercise more to be healthy. I will never forget that doctor that once told me that all I needed to do get my daily required amount of protein was to eat enough peanuts to cover the palm of my hand. I am not lying. I was really told that advice by a doctor in middle school.
Looking back, that makes me angry. I saw dozens of doctors who wrote me off, turned me away, and made me think I was crazy to the point that I didn’t even believe I was sick. It held me back in my health and my life for years. I was livid.
However, one of my favorite things that my old boss used to say was “doctors are practicing“. Doctors are human, and the medical systems are inherently flawed. They will never be able to single handedly solve all of our problems.
That grudge that I held against doctors made me insane. It kept me from trusting my good functional medicine doctors fully, and it made me feel like I would never heal. All of that kept me from healing.
It’s hard, it feels wrong, and it does not make anything that crappy doctors told you okay, but in order to get over the pain and move on with your health, you have to forgive.
I had to move on and forgive the doctors that wronged me to form a new, better relationship with my new doctors, and with the research that was being put out their by doctors that I was using to educate myself. It didn’t make that ridiculous peanut doctor situation okay… but it freed me of the emotional pain that it caused me for years.
Forgive The Food System
This one is especially hard. It sounds like something absolutely crazy to ask of you. The same system that pumps our children full of sugar, grows GMO corn, and feeds us all the wrong information. I’m asking you to forgive that?
Again… forgiveness doesn’t make it okay.
Forgiving this system doesn’t mean that you can’t still speak out against it. It releases you of the anger and allows you to advocate for a healthier, more natural food system.
What our food system does is not okay. But where does anger alone really get us? Pushing for a better system and educating on change gets us somewhere. I’ve had to force myself to spend my energy on celebrating all of the things that are right with the natural, organic, and local food system, rather than just getting angry about the bad. And guess which one people like to read about more? Guess which one actually gives them valuable information that improves their lives? You guessed right 😉
Forgive Those Who Wronged You
I’ve had my fair share of naysayers in my life. Former friends and ex-boyfriends who thought my health problems were made up, my way of living was stupid, and refused to take any interest at all in what I was doing with my health and my life. Thinking about them would make my blood boil for years.
Forgiving those people doesn’t make it okay. It also doesn’t mean they need to be in my life anymore… most of them are not. But it helps me get over them, and it helped me open my heart to new people, or restart relationships with people who have wronged me in the past.
This is arguably the biggest one, and the one that I see most people struggle with. I’ve had so many people come to me saying, “I did this to myself” or asking, “What did I do wrong to deserve this?”.
I used to go over the timeline in my own head for years of how I got sick. First, I didn’t want to eat real food, then I binged on sugar, then I restricted and didn’t nourish myself, then I over did antibiotics and NSAIDs, then I got sick. It felt like it was all my fault.
Personal responsibility and recognizing what we can do to change aren’t bad things… but hating yourself? That’s bad news.
There likely are things in your life that you can do differently. We all make mistakes. But the longer that we hold onto that guilt and shame for what we’ve done in the past, the longer we stay stuck.
Yes, I did a lot of things wrong with my health that didn’t help. However, I didn’t know better… I didn’t have the information that I have now.. and I’m human.
Forgiving yourself is a mental shift that takes a lot of work… but it’s incredibly powerful for moving forward.
But, How Do You Forgive?
First, Recognize That Anger and Grudges Are Human
Forgiveness is one of the most powerful, and most difficult pieces of a healing journey to achieve. We hold grudges, we get angry, and the majority of the time, we have good reason to be angry. We’re angry about a doctor or a medical system that held us back from true health for years, we’re angry at a loved one for how they’ve treated us, or maybe we’re angry at ourselves for where we are in life.
Next, Remember That Forgiveness Doesn’t Make it “Okay”
The biggest misconception with forgiveness is that it makes what happened to you okay. It doesn’t. If you were wronged by someone or something, forgiving them or the situation doesn’t make it okay.
Forgiveness frees you of the emotional anguish of anger.
Still Be An Advocate For What Is Right
You can still advocate against what happened to you. That’s why I still advocate against most conventional doctors even though I’ve forgiven the system that wronged me for years. Forgiving doesn’t make it okay.. it just allows you to take one step further along if your healing journey.
Forgive Verbally and In Your Heart
If someone has wronged you, or you feel like you have wronged yourself, verbally offer forgiveness. Acknowledge it with your voice.
But more importantly, forgive in your heart, fully and completely. So many times we can say we’re forgiving something, but still hold grudges. Remind yourself over and over to let go of these grudges.
Finally, Remember That You Can Be Forgiven and the Greatest Example for Forgiveness Already Exists
We live in a society that’s pretty void of forgiveness. Say or do anything wrong, and you’ll forever have a target on your back. And though justice needs to be served, and doing bad things is not excusable, we have little example of grace and forgiveness in society.
The ultimate example of grace and forgiveness to me is God’s grace. Being human is not about being good enough… we’ll always fall short. But. No matter how far we are from being a whole complete person, He can and will still forgive us.
Forgiveness isn’t easy. We’ll all have to do it a million times over in our lives and keep reteaching ourselves how to do it. But, when we do, powerful things happen to our health and our life.
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Whenever we’re talking about gut healing and long term gut health, the conversation almost always move straight to bone broth, glutamine, and cutting out gluten. Though these are all valid steps to take towards better gut health, it’s really not the whole picture. There are so many practices and home remedies that you can start doing today that have nothing to do with food to help heal your gut!
Some of these practices have made just as much of a dramatic difference in my gut health as something like food and supplements, and are mostly inexpensive and easy to do. As always, double check with your doctor before hand, but these are all great remedies to ask about!
My Favorite Gut Healing Practices & Remedies
(that have nothing to do with food or supplements!)
1.Castor Oil Packs
Though this method may require the most tools, they’re fairly in expensive, and this is a highly effective practice!
So, why is this a great gut healing tool? When we have impaired gallbladder function, stagnant bile, or impaired digestion, moving forward with gut healing is Castor oil has been used for generations as a way to topically increase the flow of blood, bile, gastric juices, and other liquids within the body. It’s also been known to be helpful with ovarian cysts.
Applying a castor oil pack onto your right rib area if you have fat digestion issues, liver issues or gallbladder issues can be a great way to get stagnant bile moving and assist your fat digestion! Ever feel nauseated after a greasy meal? This is an amazing way to help with that. It’s also helpful to put over your stomach area for stomach aches to get gastric juices flowing.
So, how do you apply a castor oil pack and what do you need?
What you need:
- Castor oil
- Wool flannel
- A heating pad
- A large mason jar or glass tupperware
- 2-3 old towels and clothes that you don’t mind staining (this stuff stains!!)
- Plastic wrap (optional.. can be replaced with more towels)
How to do it:
- Cut the flannel to a size that’s enough to cover the surface area that you’re trying to apply it to.
- Place the the flannel in a large mason jar and saturate it in castor oil. Make sure it’s soaked through.
- Apply the flannel to the desired area and wrap it in either plastic wrap on a towel to adhere it in your skin.
- Place a heating pad on top of the area where the flannel is, and wrap yourself in a towel. Lay a towel down on the bed or the floor and get comfortable for 30-60 minutes with the heating pad on. You may hear gurgling or feel liquid moving… that’s normal!
- Use baby powder to remove the castor oil, and store the flannel in the jar for a few more uses.
So, how often should you do it? That varies greatly depending on your goals, and health. Talk one on one with a doctor about it if you want more insight, but I think 30 minutes 1-2 times a week is a great way to start! I use it on my liver/gallbladder area about once a month as I historically have issues with that area, but I do want to get into the habit of using it more.
2. Oil pulling
This next practice is a very low barrier to entry, and you likely have everything you already need to do it! Oil pulling is the act of sloshing oil around in our mouths… more or less gargling with oil. Just like we have flora in our gut, we have flora in our mouth that can directly impact our gut. Oil pulling helps to pull bad bacteria from the mouth and the body that can impact the health of our gut.
What you need:
- Oil like coconut oil or sesame oil if tolerated.
How to do it:
- Add 1-2 tbsp of oil to your mouth first thing in the morning and slosh it around, like you’re rinsing your mouth.
- Start slow at first with 5-10 minutes and work your way up to 20 minutes.
You can do this daily, or start with a few times a week. I haven’t been able to get into a daily habit with this, but it’s doable!
3. Dry brushing
Dry brushing is another cheap method that only needs one tool. It helps to improve lymphatic flow, digestion, and detoxification through the skin.
What you need:
How to do it:
- On your dry skin, brush in upwards, towards your heart or in a circular motion and upward motion on your stomach.
You can easily do this daily! All it takes is 10-15 minutes. Though I’ve gotten out of a daily habit,
4. Infrared sauna
Infrared sauna i done with infrared light, and it claims to be much more effective than normal sauna. From what I’ve read and heard from my own doctor, IR sauna help detox on a cellular level, rather than just make you sweat out excess liquid. This is helpful for removing toxins and heavy metals, which is often at the root of so many gut issues.
This is one that I got off to a rocky start on myself. I started doing it as part of my mercury detox protocol… in the middle of Texas summer. 140 F degree sauna + 102 F degree car on the way out did not mix. I was far too heat exhausted in general to keep up with it in the summer, but plan to pick up again in the fall.
Where can you do it? You can easily buy an infrared sauna for your own home, which I’ve seen many people do. You can also go to a yoga studio, gym, spa, etc. that has a sauna there. Depending on how much you do it, you can work out which is more cost effective.
How much you do it will depend on whether or not you’re actually on a detox protocol. From what I’ve read, daily isn’t always recommended as it can result in too much loss of fluid. You can easily start at 15-30 minutes a few times a week.
5. Colonics or enemas
This is likely the most controversial practice on this list, and your success and the safety of doing it will vary greatly from person to person. Regardless, colonics and enemas are both designed to clean out the colon and rid the body of toxins which can help in gut healing. Though they’re more of an advanced level practice with a higher barrier to entry, enemas can be part of cancer treatment, and colonics are often used to help in the removal of parasites and candida.
So, what’s the different between an enema and a colonic?
Personally, enemas are not my favorite, but they’re still worth mentioning as so many have questions about them. Enemas can be done at home with an enema kit. With water or coffee (not just your everyday coffee… coffee like this) and help to clean the colon. Coffee enemas specifically can help boost glutathione as well. Learn more about how to do it here.
A colonic needs to be done with a certified specialist, and gets much deeper than an enema. A colonic involves constantly flowing water which helps to get more water into the body.
Regardless, I highly recommend talking to your doctor about both of these therapies before trying them to make sure it’s a good move for your current plan.
6. Gentle exercise
The human body was made to move far more often than most of us actually do! Exercise helps to get the lymph moving, reduce stress, eliminate inflammation, and help the body the naturally detoxify from toxins, all which are necessary pieces to healing!
The type of exercise that everyone can handle will always vary, especially if you’re healing from illness. Here are just a few gentle exercises that I recommend to get started doing even 15-30 minutes a day:
- Daily walks
- Yin yoga
- Light yoga
- Slower weight lifting
7 . Prayer and/or meditation
When we’re healing chronic illness, our mind can move at a thousand miles a minute. We think about food choices, how we feel, what we should be doing, and constantly question everything, which is the perfect recipe for stress.
Our body cannot heal in a stressed out state.
As a stressed, burnt out brain is exactly the last thing the want when we’re trying to allow our body to heal, prayer and meditation can both help ease stress tremendously! As someone who always turns to prayer and God’s guidance when I’m too stressed, I can tell you first hand that it always calms me down and puts my mind at ease.
Here are some of my favorite ways to get started:
- Morning devotionals (I often use the Bible App)
- Meditation apps (Headspace and Calm are great for this)
- Yoga Nidra (I love using this before bed! This is my favorite video)
8. Gratitude journaling
Another one of the best ways to stop stress in its tracks is to practice gratitude. No matter how bleak things may seem in life, there’s always something to be grateful for. The sooner that we focus on the food, the fast that the bad seems to melt away.
Starting is as simple as sitting down every day for a few minutes and writing down what you’re grateful for. It could be five little things, or one big thing. You can do it unguided, or use a journal like The Five Minute Journal to guide you.
I hope this extensive list was helpful! Let me know which ones you try, and which are your favorite already.
Healing is not easy. It’s not easy to heal after a breakup, after a broken bone, and it’s definitely not easy to heal your gut. There are so many factors, so many underlying causes, so many layers, and so much mental and physical labor to put in when you’re trying to heal! When it comes to healing your gut, there are people who embark on this journey for year… myself included. With so many factors, and so many things to focus on, it can feel like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. How do you make this journey easier?
Speaking from personal experience, I know it’s not easy. I spent years follow intense elimination diets, and taking expensive supplements only to discover that I still wasn’t even digesting my food properly, and even more recently, I found out I was mercury toxic which I learned was still disrupting the balance of my gut. This journey is anything but easy!
After walking this path of chronic illness since I was a teen and becoming a nutritional therapy practitioner myself, I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and taken a lot of wrong turns. I’ve wasted time, money, and have found myself curled up in bed with a stomach ache hundreds of times.
But throughout all of my failures and missteps in my own gut healing journey, I was inching closer and closer to figuring out how to make this journey easier! And today, I’m sharing that knowledge of how to make gut healing easier with you…
10 Ways To Make Gut Healing Easier
1.Know your why
The number one thing to start with in setting any goal is knowing why you’re doing it. Just following your doctor’s orders because they’re in a white coat and look important isn’t enough to motivate you in the long run.
Think in big picture here. Think about things like…
- Being able to play your favorite sport again
- Going on that dream vacation
- Being more present for your loved ones
- Better achieving your own hopes and dreams
Having serious issues with your health can potentially hold you back from doing all of those things and more. Keep your ultimate goal in mind to keep yourself on course and make your entire journey easier to follow.
2. Focus on your digestion before you focus on healing your gut
This was my biggest mistake for years and one that I’m very intentional about since I became an NTP. In gut healing protocols, we’re used to seeing people pull foods from their diets and add in supplements to patch up their gut. Certainly this behavior isn’t wrong.
However, if we don’t focus on healing our digestion before we heal our gut lining, our gut lining can continually be damaged throughout the process, or damaged soon after if we’re not intentional about good digestion. Here’s how I always explain it… taking tons of glutamine as your first and only effort in healing your gut is like going to the gym only to get a buff left shoulder without working the rest of your upper body. It’s not possible. You need to address the entire system to heal it, and that includes making sure you’re not getting reflux, or are improperly digesting fats, carbs, or proteins.
Healing your digestion is hard work on it’s own, and comes from being intentional, slowing down, and supplementing when necessary. I wrote an entire blog post on naturally healing your digestion, here.
3. Establish 5-6 core gut healing recipes that you can always depend on
Many of us get shiny object syndrome when trying to get the hang of a new lifestyle. What about this recipe? Or this food? Or this product? Variety and trying new things is great, and I encourage rotating your foods, but constantly trying a brand new recipe is anything but easy. It requires new pantry items, new cooking methods, and can be way more hassle to add to your routine regularly.
To make the process easier, establish a core meal routine of 5-6 or so staple recipes that you can always lean on. Things that you’re comfortable making and know won’t stress you out!
Here are some of my gut healing staple meals…
For some main dishes…
Of course, throw in some variety here and there, but in the interest of making it easier on yourself, have solid staples!
4. Favor warm, well cooked meals over cold meals
I like an occasional smoothie with raw greens and frozen fruit as much as the next person. Especially in the Texas heat! However, cold, raw meals aren’t the best for our digestion… especially in the morning and in excess. Our society has this idea that smoothies are an amazing to have for breakfast every single day, when in reality, cold food interferes with our digestion, and can influence the overgrowth of gut bacteria like candida.
If you want to go easier on your gut and actually make it easier to heal, favor warm, well cooked foods over cold and raw meals. Rather than worshiping salads and smoothies, try roasting your vegetables, slow cooking or baking your meats, and reaching for warm pureed soups over a smoothie.
When I’m really craving a breakfast smoothie, I typically reach for a pureed soup in instead like carrot leek soup, zucchini soup, etc. These soups have a lot of the same elements of what make smoothies healthy, without the cold temperature.
Does that mean that I’m 100% anti-smoothie or raw salad in all cases? Not necessarily. They certainly have merit and their place in the world! However, if you’re trying to make it easier to heal your gut, reevaluate your smoothie frequency.
5. Plan ahead every week and batch cook (and use your freezer!)
I wouldn’t be able to do this real food 24/7 thing if I didn’t plan every week. With other obligations that we all face like work, long commutes, events, and so forth, it’s just not feasible to plan real food meals on the fly and cook them right then and there.
Every weekend, sit down and make a plan for the week ahead. It can be as detailed or relaxed as you want. You just want to go into it with a general idea of how to make the week a success! For me, I make sure that I have enough veggies and proteins on hand for the week, and then mix them up as I go.
As for batch cooking, this is another extremely helpful tool in the planning ahead category. Again, you have to find the level that works for you, but it’s extremely helpful for me to have 60-70% of mine and my husbands meals prepped and ready all in one big batch that I do on the weekend. I take a few hours in the kitchen, keep the oven running, and cook tons of veggies and proteins all at once.
For those worried about histamine in left overs or sustainability of batch cooking, the freezer is your friend! Freezing gut healing foods like soups, meatballs, and veggies, to have on hand in a pinch is an amazing way to make the process easier.
Still struggling with prepping gut healing meals ahead of time, and putting together a gut healing meal plan? I wrote a 30 Day Gut Healing Diet Plan that has shopping lists, prep guides, meal plans and recipes to get you started on this path for 30 days! Get your copy here.
6. Build up your arsenal of gut healing books and supplies
Knowledge is power! Make sure you’re stocked up on resources and tools that help support a gut health-centric lifestyle like great cookbooks, educational books, pantry staples, kitchen supplies, and holistic home remedies.
I built out a big list of gut healing supplies in this blog post!
7. Use supplements with extreme intention
One of the biggest flaws in any healing journey can be taking way too many supplements. I’ve been known to supplement for every symptom all while making the process more expensive, and way to complicated!
Our list of supplements shouldn’t be a mile long. Don’t keep in that B12 just because you get sleepy sometimes, and don’t keep taking something longer than you actually need it. Work with a doctor or nutritionist to help you refine your supplement to keep it simple and intentional to make it both easier, and more effective!
8. Have a doctor who you trust
I can’t stress how important working with a doctor is for keeping this all easier! Here in the online space, we feel empowered to tackle these journeys all by ourselves because of the plethora of information at our fingertips. I too felt empowered to do it on my own for way too long.
Here’s the thing… reading advice online will never be personalized enough to your unique situation.
You need to be working with a professional who can help get you to your root causes, track your progress with diagnostic testing, and effectively diagnose and treat your own disease.
Even after being an NTP myself, and spending hundreds and thousands of hours learning about health, I never would have pegged myself as mercury toxic. Never. What underlying causes could you be missing from not working with a doctor?
Still don’t have a good doctor that you trust? I have a blog post here that discusses how to find a good doctor, and my personal recommendations in Dallas.
9. Find a support system
Humans are social creatures. We need relationships and support to make the hard times easier. I can’t tell you how valuable it was for my own healing journey to find other bloggers and friends who I could relate to and supported me!
When your friends and family don’t get it, searching for support in local groups, or finding friends via social media can be extremely helpful. I get tons of support from friends I originally met online that became real life friends!
I also host my own gut healing support group on Facebook that’s great for doing just this!
10. Keep your mindset in check & practice gratitude
Even after you’ve got your diet airtight, have a great doctor, and your supplement cabinet is full to bursting with gut healing supplements, it can all be fore not if your mindset isn’t in check.
Dealing with chronic illness is hard. Nothing about it is easy. However, healing our body can’t effectively be done without healing our mindset.
Hating your situation, feeling sorry for yourself, and believing that you will never heal is a recipe for disaster when trying to heal your gut. Remind yourself of how far you’ve come and how much you have to be grateful for.
Keeping a gratitude journal has changed the way I view my life and my own health. My gratitude journal isn’t filled with things like “I’m grateful for my yacht” or “I’m grateful that I can eat whatever I want”. I’m grateful for things like…
- Having the ability to buy food
- Having clean water, and a clean kitchen that I can cook in
- Community support from friends online
- Access to books, podcasts, and internet where I can learn more
- God’s love, forgiveness and grace
Everyone has something to be grateful for. The sooner that we focus on what we’re grateful for in our health and our life rather than what we hate about it, the easier it makes our situation.
Is coconut oil bad for you? Is meat going to kill you? Do I need to avoid nightshades? Is plastic actually the devil? Who shot J.R.? Okay, maybe not that last one. But, really, I think we’re all seeing tons of buzz regarding hot topic health news recently. From documentaries, to articles, to confusing and conflicting protocols, and different influencer opinions, it’s no wonder that so many people aren’t quite sure what to believe. Questioning is human nature. We’re curious creatures and it’s actually refreshing to see people second guessing their ideals at time as it suggests open mindedness.
However, the constant back and forth is maddening isn’t it? One second you’re following a paleo style diet that promised to lessen your inflammation, and the next, your Facebook newsfeed is flooded with articles and 60 second videos on how animal protein is the root of all evil. You were just so sure a few months ago… now you’re not so sure. Maybe you’re even freaking out?
I know the cycle because I’ve gone through myself dozens of times with health news, from seeing vegetarian posts on Myspace in high school (just aged myself) to watching Forks Over Knives on netflix a few years ago, I’ve second guessed my stance and wound up confused quite a bit. I’ve done pantry clean outs, Google binges, and full on freak outs. And today, I’m watching hundreds and thousands of people go through the same confusion and mini freak outs daily.
Health news and debates may seem like it’s at an all time high, but guess what? It’s always been there, and it’s not going anywhere. So, how do you get over it? How do you stop freaking out over health news?
How To Stop Freaking Out Over Health News
Do your research for the “why” behind the protocol, diet, or lifestyle you follow.
Back in the day, I used to just scour the internet and magazines to find the prettiest girls and figure out what they were eating. That’s how I wanted to eat. Why? For no reason other than I wanted to be pretty too. Greek yogurt, hummus, popcorn, and egg whites? I was in. I had no idea why these foods were good or bad, I just did it.
When I first started transitioning to the paleo/ autoimmune paleo lifestyle that I still live, I cut out nightshades and grains only because I knew I reacted to them. I didn’t know why they were actually bad for people with gut issues and autoimmune disease. When I was challenged on this belief (with movies like Forks Over Knives) my opinion wavered. I thought, “maybe this movie is right and all of the other food lists I read were wrong?”. The problem was I was just reading food lists, meal plans, and recipes. I wasn’t understanding why an autoimmune protocol diet was actually a good choice for me. I didn’t understand the crucial difference between factory farmed meat and pastured meat, thus, I thought all meat was created equal and fell for a lot of the plant based beliefs entirely too quickly.
What you want is to be able to understand the approach that you follow to the extent that when it’s challenged, you already have an answer as to why you believe what you believe. Not that a food list told you to, but that you understand why the food list said it.
Even with captivating news that says otherwise, I feel comfortable which is one that is grain free, vegetable heavy, full of healthy fats, and moderate properly raised animal protein because I did the research and know the why’s behind why I do it.
You don’t have to be a science nerd to understand the “why” behind why we eat certain foods. There are tons of great resources out there that explain these concepts in plain English.
Here are my favorite resources that explain the why behind the diet and lifestyle I share on my blog:
Be open minded, but firm.
Like I said, I often find it refreshing when I see people make big lifestyle changes and second guess their previous opinions. We’re not meant to stay stuck in a box. Research changes, we change as time goes on, and we should be looking at new opinions and data. We can even borrow nuggets/poppers (if you follow my blog you get the popper reference 😉 ) from approaches that we don’t agree with 100%, but stay firm in the big picture that we believe.
When I first watched Forks Over Knives (which is another plant based rules, animal protein drools documentary) I was not eating a lot of vegetables. Maybe I’d eat some baby carrots with hummus, but that was about it. The documentary was so compelling to me that I started eating more vegetables over night. I was at whole foods buying acorn squash and greens for juices the very next day! And you know what, I’m glad I watched that documentary! It helped convince me to eat more vegetables. Did it convince me to stop eating animal protein? Not exactly. I was open minded enough to make the bulk of my meals plant based by firm in my original belief that animal protein doesn’t have to be the end of the world if it’s properly raised.
So please, take what you can from the plant based movement! Truly, they make a lot of great points when it comes to eating more vegetables. The same goes for a handful of other protocols and opinions that don’t fit your lifestyle, but still have some wisdom to share. However, stand firm in the big picture of what you believe rather than completely making a blind shift at the drop of a hat.
Accept that no perfect health solution exists and that we’re all different.
Some of the biggest arguments over health news of our time are child hood obesity, heart disease, autoimmunity, and cancer. Clearly all incredibly important issues, and our modern lifestyle and diet have contributed to making those bigger issues… 100%!
However, before there was childhood obesity, there were children dealing with the plague. Before there were autoimmune skin conditions, there was leprosy. Before there was cancer caused by bacon and sausage, the Ancient Egyptians who ate a 100% real food diet free of processed food were documenting cancer… yup… cancer in Ancient Egypt. Some of these comparisons may sound like a stretch but the point is, sickness will always exist in some capacity and there is no perfect health solution to make us all invincible.
Since original sin, we’ve lived in a fallen world where death is inevitable and sickness has taken many forms and has had many causes over the past hundreds of thousands of years.
Does that mean that the pursuit of health is fruitless? Of course not! I wouldn’t be here if I thought that. But at the same time, when someone asks me what the ultimate answer is for a truly healthy body, I have to answer that there isn’t one that applies to everyone. We’re all different, and even when we figure out our own diet and lifestyle solution, we’re all only here for a short time.
So, at the end of the day, don’t ignore the health news. There’s always something to take away from it. But know your why, stand firm, and remember that there is no one perfect answer!
When you’re rebuilding your pantry from scratch, there are a lot of questions. I remember when I emptied out my all purpose flour and white sugar years ago and wondered what the heck I was supposed to do now on birthdays? Or what I was going to cook in without canola oil? I had been cooking with staples like corn starch, seed oils, iodized salt, and refined sugar for years! I had no idea what to do without them.
It was a lot of work to rebuild my pantry and find new staples, but it’s clearly made a huge difference in my health and my life to transition to these Paleo and AIP Pantry staples!
First, what are the best places to shop?
Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Natural Grocers
These are my local stores that I shop at the most of course, local stores vary by location, but this is where I have the most luck for pantry staples. Personally, Natural Grocers is my favorite!
Tropical Traditions is the only place I buy coconut products from. They harvest their coconut products traditionally in the Philippines, and you can really taste the different. I use a lot of coconut in my recipes, and often get questions as to whether or not you can taste the coconut in them. Of course it depends on your palate, but Tropical Traditions products easily has the best flavor.
Though they mostly sell coconut products, they also sell lots of other great staples like palm oil, supplements, and even skin care products. I love their coconut based lotion!
I love Thrive Market! Thrive is essentially Amazon for natural food and products that sells non-GMO and organic foods at a discount. I was skeptical for a while about Thrive, but decided to try it out and really like it. My favorite thing about Thrive is that they often throw in free products and give big discounts like 15% off your entire order… which is huge!
I swear that I basically get everything from Amazon. I’ve had Amazon Prime since college and have never looked back. It’s so convenient for getting everything and anything, and a lot of my staples come from Amazon.
Wild Foods Co
I just started using Wild Foods Co, and I highly recommend trying it out for spices, teas, and other pantry staples. Their products are super high quality, and delicious!
My Paleo AIP Pantry Staples
Other baking staples
Healing diets aren’t easy. With conflicting information, social pressure, financial constraints and more, it’s no walk in the park. But, I can tell you with the utmost confidence that transitioning to a slightly more challenging diet than my former SAD diet was worth it’s weight in gold for giving me my life back. Before I knew what I know now and was being told that I should be following a rotation diet along with all of my other restrictions to heal my gut, I was skeptical.
What’s the point of rotating your foods? Isn’t that just a whole other headache to add onto everything? How do you even practically do it? How strict do you have to be? Do you have to follow along 100% forever? These are all questions that I had about following a rotation diet that I just didn’t understand for years. And though I’ve gotten to a point where I can be much less strict, I attribute my past experiences with following a rotation diet to helping me get my gut health stable.
First, What Is A Rotation Diet?
The type of rotation diet that I’m referring to is switching up the foods that you eat on roughly a 4 day rotation to ensure that you’re not eating the same foods every day. Rotation diets alone do not heal your gut or heal food intolerances. Rather, they helps ferret out food intolerance, calm inflammation while you’re healing your gut, and prevent you from forming new intolerances.
It’s not about calories, restriction, or perfection. It’s about getting variety!
Why Rotate Your Foods?
1.We are biologically designed to rotate foods.
Man is meant to eat with the seasons. We are not designed to eat avocado every single day, because nature does not allow for it. In nature (or even 100-150 years ago) we ate what was local and available. We couldn’t drive to Walmart and get whatever we wanted that was flown in from all corners of the Earth at any time.
To be cliche but honest… eating the same thing every day is not “Paleo”.
2. Rotation allows for more nutrient diversity.
If we eat avocado as our main source of fat every day, we’re missing out on all of the healthy fats in olive oil, coconut, and beef tallow. Different foods come with different nutrients and we need variety for vibrancy!
Our ancestors ate hundreds of food a year… we eat a small handful and have maybe 20 in our weekly rotation, if that.
3. Eating the same foods constantly can cause food intolerances and impede gut healing
Have you ever gotten a food intolerance test. I have. And though I was intolerant to a lot of foods, I couldn’t help but notice that the bulk of my intolerances were foods that I was eating every day. I’ve heard this same complaint over, and over again. The foods we eat day in and day out can be the most likely culprits for intolerance, especially if we have gut issues.
Why? Like I stated above, our bodies aren’t designed to eat the same thing over and over again. And if we have permeable intestines and are eating avocado daily, our immune system is reacting to the avocado over, and over, and over again. Eventually it becomes too much.
Surely, the goal is to heal the gut. However, an important piece of gut healing is to remove inflammation, and stopping new intolerances from forming. Thus, a rotation diet can be an amazing strategy within a gut healing template.
How to follow a rotation diet for gut healing
Before you get too overwhelmed with all of this, I wanted to shout out my 30 Day Gut Healing Diet Plan e-book that I designed to loosely fit a rotation diet to help you along this journey that I struggled to get right for years! Not only does the meal plan rotate, but it’s designed for gut healing, it’s AIP/paleo, and it has shopping lists and prep guides to make it super easy to get started. You can get your copy here!
But aside from that, here are my best tips on how to follow a rotation diet…
Start with a 3-4 day rotation
When introducing foods and playing with food intolerances, the gold standard is 3-4 days to gauge a reaction and give your system time to process it. Of course, that varies from person to person, but 3-4 days is a good starting point.
So, how does that work?
Monday – Bison, cauliflower, arugula, cilantro, parsnip, coconut oil
Tuesday – Salmon, zucchini, cabbage, ghee, blueberries
Wednesday – Sardines (or another fish), onion, greens, kraut, avocado, strawberries (I have cheese on this salad which is not typically on many healing diets, but I’ve reintroduced it)
Thursday – Beef, leeks, carrots, beef tallow, apples
And on Friday, it starts over again from Monday! Obviously you can add in more things on Friday than just what you ate Monday… that’s just the next time you’d be eating bison and the rest again.
Track and plan
Sit down every Saturday and make a plan for the week, and consider all factors. Are there any crazy nights that week? Will you be eating out one day? Write out what you plan to eat for each day of the week, and use Sunday to prep. I use the notes in my iPhone to make a rough plan like the one above!
You want to track any symptoms throughout the week. As times goes on, it will become easier to see patterns and ferret out anything that isn’t working.
Simplify your meals
I know these gorgeous bowls on Instagram with 7 different kinds of vegetable in ⅓ cup portions each look appetizing. In reality, that’s not what you want to be doing if you’re following a rotation diet.
Structure your meals to be a protein, 1-2 vegetables, and a healthy fat. Keep it simple to give yourself more options to rotate! It’s easier to prep, and can be just as delicious.
The freezer if your friend
Let’s say you make a big nourishing soup with tons of veggies and eat it on Monday. You’re not feeling like playing with eating it two days in a row, and would rather wait until Friday, but don’t want to waste it. Throw it in the freezer!
This is one of the easiests ways to plan ahead and stop from wasting foods when you’re trying to get into a rotation habit. Most foods like meatballs, soups, and roasted veggies freeze well, especially if you’re only keeping it in there for a week or two.
Eating with the seasons is what nature intended us to do, and one of the best things to compliment a rotation diet. Go to a farmers market, or do a quick search every couple of weeks to see what’s seasonal that you can enjoy, rather than just buying the same things over and over again. Even if you’re on a four day rotation, that doesn’t mean that eating the same things that are not always in season within that rotation is the best course of action.
I try not to buy things like watermelon or pumpkin out of season, and really enjoy it when it’s in season. That way, if I happen to eat a lot of it over those weeks when it’s seasonal, I don’t really sweat it as this is what nature intended to do!
Don’t over complicate it if you don’t have to
I know what you’re thinking… “Are beef and bison too close? What about turkey and chicken? Or all cruciferous vegetables?” It can get complicated.
Start small. Especially in the beginning! The beauty of following this sort of plan is that you do really start to figure out your triggers. If you start to realize that chicken and turkey back to back produce some sort of reaction for you, then you can adjust.
However, when you’re just starting out, the goal is to just get in some variety and get in the habit of not having the same thing day in and day out.
Perfection is not required
Eating sweet potato two or three days in a row isn’t the end of the world. Don’t beat yourself up if you do. Even if you eat it several times a week, try and take the next week or two off. The point is that you’re not eating sweet potato every single day of your life, and not to be perfectly rotating on a four day rotation for the rest of your life.
I remember I would get so mad at myself if I ate the same foods back to back. But in reality… nothing happened unless I ate it every day for weeks and weeks and already had a tendency to having issues with it. Tiny slip ups are fine and you don’t have to be perfect every single day. The goal is variety.
It is hard… until it becomes a habit
When I first started doing this, I was cognizant of everything I was eating down to the oil and spice. It was a pain, and I felt obsessed and exhausted. For some folks, it can be too triggering of bad habits, which is certainly reason to reconsider doing it.
However, all new health ventures are hard. Whether it be going gluten free, picking up running, or following a rotation diet, it’s hard at first… until it becomes habit.
Eventually, you’ll start to get the hang of it to where it becomes second nature. These days, I just don’t want to cauliflower every day. I keep it in the freezer and only pull it out once or twice a week. I don’t have to think about it every day. It takes time to get to the point where it just becomes a habit to rotate your foods, but you will get there.
Do you have to follow it forever?
Like I said above, eventually it becomes habit to not eat the same foods every day. For me personally (and what I recommend) is to follow it more strictly in the beginning to get into the habit while you’re following a more structured healing protocol, and then just be mindful about it going forward.
As time goes on, you’ll figure out the foods that you don’t have to be as mindful about and your body just tends to do well with (for me, I know I always tolerate beef and salmon very well) and the foods that you have to be more careful with (for me, it’s reintroductions like cheese and almonds). You’ll eventually find your own rhythm, but more variety is always a good template to try and follow.
Is a rotation diet for everyone?
Of course not. Not everyone is in a place where they can start doing it full force if they’re already down to very little foods or have issues with restriction. I also wouldn’t recommend it if you’re just starting out with a real food diet.
However, I think it’s important for all of us to learn from this template to focus on getting more variety and not eating the same thing every day!