Your goal is to eat four or five small meals throughout the day. Your body is a machine and your machine needs just the right amount of fuel to keep working to heal. If you overload it, it stops working. If you don’t feed it, it stops working. Feed it the wrong things, it stops working or works too hard.
Every few hours, put a little good fuel in there and let it do what it needs to do. Be gentle and kind to your machine. Do No Harm.
Eating too much at once will shock your system. If you ever feel like you just had a huge Thanksgiving meal, that was too much. What essentially happens is that every other system in your body stops doing what it was doing and focuses on digesting all that food. You may get heart palpitations and a headache. Your circulation slows down. You feel exhausted and sleepy. Too warm or too cold. Your brain can’t think very well and your stomach might ache or you feel nauseated.
You want to avoid this as much as possible. If you’ve ever been a meal skipper – stop. Wake up to a small meal. Have a small second meal around 11. Then a third small meal around 1 or 2. Then another around 4 or 5. That might be enough for you, but if you want another small meal have one. If you take any kind of synthetic medication, it’s important to have a small handful of food with your medication before you go to bed (hopefully early around 9pm). Synthetic medication is very hard on your stomach and other organs. Having a small amount of food in there along with it makes it easier to digest and less of a shock. Just a small amount is all that’s needed. And don’t forget to drink a glass of water, too. (There is an exception here for hormones, which usually need to be taken on an empty stomach.)
Eating too fast will shock your system. If you have excessive burping and you’ve eliminated anti-nutrients from your diet, you may just be eating too fast. Slow it down. Chew well. We know that your stomach is having a hard time, right? So help it out. Do as much predigesting in your mouth as possible. Small bites of well-chewed food will make your tummy happier.
Eating too many foods in one meal will shock your system. Three is the magic number. Maybe four, but really, don’t push your luck. This healing time is about simplicity. Later, if you want to go to a buffet and eat everything in sight and see how you feel, do it. But right now, appreciate your system for what it’s doing – saving your life. Don’t harm it by throwing in too many things at once. Learn more about how your stomach digests here.(missing link)
Eating all the live long day will not help promote healing. However, at first, you might need more snacking than later. Try to wean yourself down to just your 4-5 small meals throughout the day and cut out the snacks. Your stomach likes to take a break every now and again. If you’re constantly adding in foods, it has to work all day without a break. This causes stomach acid and blood-sugar imbalances. It’s simply too much work.
You might feel like your blood sugar dips so often, that if you can’t have snacks all day you might faint or fall asleep. You might be right and if your body is that far out of balance, go slow with your weaning. The more whole fats and easily-digestible protein foods you give it early in the day, the better your blood sugar will be the rest of the day. Also, try adding in digestive enzymes to really get the most out of the foods you eat.
What the heck can I eat? What’s left? I know it might seem like your diet is going to be boring for awhile but it doesn’t have to be. After your body adjusts to being free of foods you can’t digest, you’ll realize there is a whole world of food out there your body will love. And keep in mind – once your body heals, you may be able to re-introduce certain foods and be fine with them. This time of eating restrictions is not forever.
Grains are no longer what they once were, as we already discovered. Wheat was modified years ago to be more protein-dense and to grow better as a crop here in the USA. Even if you succeed in finding GMO-free wheat products here, they are still not a pure wheat like you might find in Europe. Probably you can’t really digest it right now. Probably you need to cut it out and see how you feel. Target at least a month being wheat free.
The first two weeks of not eating bread are going to be rough. Your body has been conditioned to crave it because essentially, bread turns into a sugar in your body and your body loves sugar. But that sugar has been causing inflammation and we’ve got to cut that cycle out.
You wake up in the morning and you want toast or a bagel with your breakfast. For lunch you have a sandwich. For dinner you have pizza or a few rolls. Maybe there is a cinnamon roll or donut thrown in your day somewhere. Or a cheeseburger. I don’t know, but you get the picture. Our lives are bread-heavy and in our chronically ill bodies, those pieces of breads/starches turn into sugar which turns into inflammation. They must be eliminated for now.
The market is filled with gluten-free products everywhere you look. The issues with most gluten-free products are, 1.They are made with other grains, and 2.They contain something to replace the gluten, namely xanthum gum or guar gum or similar. 3. Your body sees them as basically junk-food because of all the sugar.
After healing, there will be time for you to explore these products to your heart’s content. For now, please just say no. Your goal of removing grains is most important and these products are a combination of flours, many of them very hard for you to digest. Both xanthum and guar gums are made from seed hulls and the process with which the gum is extracted is highly chemical and because of this, they can cause severe reactions in perfectly healthy people. In someone battling for their very basic health, it’s a backward step and prolongs your healing. And lastly, these products are often very high in sugar, which we know causes inflammation and which we are striving to eliminate from our diets.
After about two weeks, I found that the intense physical cravings were mostly gone. However, I noticed that there would be a particular day of the month, during some months, when I could shovel pizza or a grilled-cheese in my mouth and die a happy death. I still felt this for about two years while avoiding grains! This is either an hormonal imbalance issue or a gut/Candida issue. There is nothing to be done about it but weather the storm until we get those systems figured out. I did what I could to comfort myself through those days with other things, like homemade oven fries or dark chocolate. But, it did eventually get better once my body became more balanced. And now I eat very simple bread and have no issues.
If you find that you experience something similar and perhaps give in one day and eat some grocery store bread, you’ll probably have a day or so that you’ll feel pretty bad afterwards with intestinal issues and headaches. I’m sorry if that happens. Hormones and gut issues are pretty challenging sometimes. But know that you aren’t alone!
What happens in our system when we eat Comfort Foods? Ready to get science-y?
A study showed that people ingesting fatty acids, like what it feels like to our body to consume a comfort food, directly into their stomachs – not even through their mouths! – while being shown some depressing images, had a much smaller reaction and were not as sad as people sitting beside them that were receiving a saline solution to their gut. The proof was in the brain scans being done on the subjects during the study.
Fascinating, no? I mean, think about that for a minute. Your body, during a comfort food craving, is actually yelling at you to put a specific kind of fatty acid in it and knows the difference. No amount of substituting an apple is going to make you not want the mac-n-cheese.
I saw a recommendation from Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, creator of the GAPS Diet, to mix honey with butter in a little jar and carry it around with you, taking small bites when you felt the cravings.
Let me just say that doesn’t sound all that good to me, but the important thing is what it’s accomplishing. You’re giving your body a whole, good fat along with some whole, real, natural sugar. That’s going to go straight to your blood, act like a comfort food and quiet the storm and possibly keep you from eating the entire larder. This would work better than you trying to figure out how to make the craving go away, which it won’t, because you aren’t giving it what it wants.
Your brain and body want proteins and fatty acids. Bodies low in essential fatty acids (the kind that your body can’t make itself) feel depressed. Your brain is made of Omega-3s and you need to replenish the amount in your body on a consistent basis. You need them for proper growth, development, and function of your brain tissue. And if you don’t have enough Omega-3s? It forces your body to use other fatty acids, inferior fatty acids, to build your tissues.
With that in mind, while you’re in this healing time, adding in whole fats every morning like coconut oil and ghee when cooking your breakfast eggs or putting half an avocado on your plate would do you a kind service and help ward off cravings later in the day. Give your body what it needs and it will thank you.
Food Diary – It’s a great idea to start a food diary at this point. You might not quite be able to see during a day how you feel but if you’re logging throughout that day, it becomes simple to look back over the week or month and see patterns emerging.
When you first wake up in the morning, log how you feel. This is your baseline. Do you wake up with a headache? Puffy? Bloated? Well-rested? Feeling spunky? Optimistic? Hung-over feeling even without drinking alcohol?
Log what you fixed for breakfast and how you prepared it, in what oils and herbs or spices. Log how you feel 30 minutes later. And then log again an hour or two later. Do this all day and finish with right before bed. Include your daily exercise. Record your overall mood about your day.
YES this is a lot of logging. YES it probably sounds like too much work. Yes. But I promise you that if you can’t quite get a handle on what you’re eating that’s making you feel poorly, this is how you’ll figure it out. And after about two to eight weeks, you won’t have to do it anymore if you don’t want to because the foods and habits will be obvious.
Caffeine – What about my coffee? I know. You’ve been exhausted. To ask you to give up your coffee is sacrilege. I’ve been there, believe me. You’ve been relying on caffeine to get you going in the morning. And you’ve been counting on it to get you through the afternoon. It’s hard to imagine how you’ll get through your days without it.
Let’s talk about what happens when you drink regular caffeinated coffee. First of all, it smells wonderful, doesn’t it? I mean, the aroma! Please, nothing like it. It’s one of the best parts of the morning, looking forward to that smell. And one single cup of regular caffeinated coffee is probably just fine after you’ve eaten a meal.
If you can just have the one cup and you don’t load it with a bunch of sugars or flavored coffee creamer products, you’re probably going to get to smell that aroma, enjoy those sips and wake up every morning with your coffee with no ill effects.
However, if you don’t drink it black because you are used to dumping artificial sugars or more than a tsp of any real sweetener, or using any type of creamer besides real cream or whole fat milk or coconut oil, or you drink many cups of coffee throughout the day, or you drink it before you put any nutrition in your body, your body is having a hard time with your coffee intake and you are doing harm.
When caffeine enters your body it acts as a central nervous system stimulant, which is why you’ve been counting on it for so long. A little bit helps you feel more alert. Too much ruins the chance of your body being able to rest well, even when it’s sleeping at night, because it raises your blood pressure and makes your heart beat faster and in an uneven rhythm and we really need you to sleep well right now. It can cause you to become dizzy or nervous and get a headache. And then, after awhile, you start getting dependent on it and start feeling this way when you don’t get it often enough.
If you’re having a hard time digesting foods, which all chronically ill people are, too much caffeine can exacerbate this issue because it causes your stomach to release more acids at the wrong time. It’s also a diuretic, meaning it makes your body release water faster. So if you’re trying to hydrate, caffeine is working against you.
Additionally, excess caffeine stimulates cortisol production and insulin resistance. How does that work? Let’s take a science-y look.
Cortisol in our body is known as the stress hormone. It’s the one that saves us from threats by taking charge of Fight or Flight. So, under stress, cortisol is released and ups our blood pressure and speeds up our carbohydrate metabolism. This means, our blood gets flooded with sugar to feed our muscles and cells for that moment we have to Fight or Flight. And after that, we feel hungry. The cortisol demands fuel.
If we were actually in flight and running away from something dangerous, we’d be burning off that extra sugar, but we aren’t. Instead, we’re sitting around drinking our coffee, working and feeling slightly hungry and probably grazing on processed, broken-fat, sugary or salty foods. The end result could be insulin resistance, which is also known as Type 2 Diabetes. Instead of mindless grazing, we really need our eating to be intentional right now.
Have your one cup of regular coffee in the morning and in the afternoon have a cup of green tea which has about a fourth the amount of caffeine as coffee and many more health benefits like helping to regulate our metabolism and glucose levels, protecting us from cancer, promoting healthy brains and lowering blood pressure.
If you miss having something warm to sip throughout the day, have all the herbal tea you want. Squeeze some lemon wedges in there, forego the sweetener, and you’re set.
What about decaffeinated coffee? The usual methods are natural (water), chemical (ethyl acetate, methylene chloride) or third, highly pressurized carbon dioxide to strip the caffeine away from the beans. Then the beans are steamed to remove any solvent residues and dried, packaged and sold. All the caffeine can’t be stripped out, there is about 3 to 6% left, and I’m betting not all the solvent residues are always stripped, either.
Drinking the water/naturally decaffeinated coffee isn’t the worst thing in the world, and if you must, you must, but when the benefits of drinking green tea or herbal teas are so high, why not do that instead?
Drink Something Good