Hello dear friends.
It’s finally time to talk about food. Gosh, I just love food. Honesty moment — I often start humming and swaying a little bit as I eat. Food is the best!
BUT…as much as food makes me happy, “what I’m going to eat” is one of the greatest sources of stress in my life. It sounds silly, but it’s true. Even though I conceptually enjoy cooking, it’s stressful knowing that I have to cook when I don’t feel well, because I HAVE to eat and there is no food in the fridge. And not only do I have to eat SOMETHING, but it’s got to be pretty healthy, otherwise, my body will revolt. Exhale. And if it’s stressful for me, I’m guessing it’s stressful for you too.
I’m hoping to take away some of your stress by talking to you today about how to start eating healthier. Now remember, this is a “Lyme for dummies” blog. So, I’m going to share with you what I know (and suggest a few fun recipes), and then send you on your way to do further research. Let’s begin!
Thoughts from my doctor –
I’m going to break my general rule of “don’t give specific instructions from my doctor”, because the things she suggests are just good common sense. Her beginning base line for new patients is to start here:
- Modify your diet to eat higher proteins (fish, meat, eggs, soy). Proteins are necessary for many important functions. It would be tricky to simplify its uses here, but read up if you’re interested.
- Eat fewer carbs (pasta, bread, rice, grains), which are inflammatory agents.
- Add more vegetables. Mmm vegetables… rich in tons of vitamins and minerals.
- Reduce sugar, even good sugars like fruit, since it is inflammatory agent.
- If you eat dairy, eat plain cultured yogurt, which contains bacteria that is good for your gut.
- Eat fresh, raw garlic as much as possible , which is rich in vitamins, boosts your immune system and can detoxify heavy metals.
- When you’re too nauseous for normal food, stick to the BRAT diet for a bit: Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast.
Baselines are helpful. These simple points will give you a starting place.
Things to pay attention to:
- Allergies: Many Lymies develop allergies or intolerances to certain foods. The most common are gluten intolerance and lactose intolerance. If you feel like you are having new allergies / intolerances, you should definitely talk to your doctor at your next appointment. In the meantime, you could also do a little experiment at home by cutting that food out for a few weeks to see if you feel better without it.
- Blood sugar: Many Lymies also develop hypoglycemia. This occurs when your pancreas creates too much insulin, thus resulting in you not having enough sugar in your blood. Then, your body crashes (e.g. become lightheaded, fatigue, tremors, tachycardia, etc). This is something to look out for. If you feel that you are having crashes in-between meals, you can ask your doctor for a blood glucose test.
- Salt: Now, please take this advice with a grain of salt (bahahaha)… One thing my doctor tells me constantly is to “eat more salt”. I was surprised at this, but it actually makes a lot of sense. When you are taking large amounts of medication, you have to drink lots and lots of water. However, if you don’t have enough salt in your system, the water will go through you too quickly, taking many benefits of the medication with it. So, make sure you’re eating salt. An easy way to know if you’re not eating enough salt is to think about how quickly you use the restroom after drinking water. If it feels like you’re not retaining water (you immediately use the restroom)… then up that salt.
- Matching symptoms with food: I get excited researching what specific foods do for the body. I love discovering that blueberries help with memory, and that olives are super-food for adrenal glands. Amazing! Then, I try to eat more of that food particularly when I’m noticing that the corresponding system in my body could use some extra help. Do you like my kindergarten approach at life?
- Cravings: Over time, I’ve noticed that my body now craves what it needs without me having to do the research I talked about above. I’ve essentially been doing “craving training” with my food (the symptom match game), so that my body now craves what it specifically needs. It’s amazing. I never thought I’d crave Kale.
I have found that paying attention to these things is enormously encouraging. So much of the time, I feel like my body and I are separate. There’s me, and then there’s my body that limits me and causes me problems. Making an effort to understand my body’s food needs, and then gaining momentum in that understanding… reminds me that my body is fighting, that it’s trying to give me cues, and that we’re on the same team. Again, enormously encouraging.
Meal Ideas / Recipes –
In case you’re looking for some meal ideas, below are some of my favorites. They leave me feeling good, full, and excited to have leftovers the next day. Most of them are actually pretty quick to make. Enjoy!
- Greek Yogurt with a variety of seeds, nuts, and berries – ready in less than 5 minutes
- Almond Meal Banana Bread – I make a batch at the beginning of the week and then eat them every day. I love having breakfast completely ready when I come downstairs
- Chia seed pudding with coconut flakes and almond shavings – ready in less than 5 minutes (P.S. I opt to leave out the honey, because it is sweet enough on its own)
- Lunch / Dinner
- Avocado with balsamic vinegar dressing
- Peanut Butter Pretzels
- Nuts: cashews, almonds, pistachios, etc
- Tortilla Chips and fresh salsa (Mmm)
By the way, we do eat “normal food” too. We love making homemade pizza, zesty chicken alfredo, tacos, etc. So, don’t feel like eating healthy has to mean giving up on things you love. It’s more about making your food from real food. (Cutting out processed stuff). We shoot for making everything at home ourselves with fresh ingredients. However, my deal with myself is: “I’m sick, and therefore, there will be nights when I can’t cook. Eating is the main goal, so whatever I need to do to eat is enough—even if that means a frozen pizza…” And exhale.
Lost on where to get started? –
Changing the way we eat can be incredibly intimidating. Finding new recipes. Buying new ingredients. Cooking with new foods. Intimidating. Pinterest can be a fun place to search for healthy meals. A big shout-out across Facebook may also yield you some fun recipes.
A great starting place could also be to talk to my friend, Janie Garber. Janie is a great friend who, through a wake-up call from health problems of her own, radically changed her eating habits and is now a health food coach. She makes clean-eating look exciting, doable, and peaceful (which is amazing!). I highly recommend her. Here is her website if you want to hear more from her. I originally asked her permission to link you to her website, and she responded with an excited “Yes! AND I’d like to make this even easier for them!”… So, if you decide that you’d like her help as a health food coach, shoot her a message in her “contact” section letting her know that you found her through my blog… and she’ll have a special discount waiting for you. Go be her friend! You’ll be so happy!
My friends, I hope this is helpful. I hope this feels like a small enough bite to chew. Changing health habits feels daunting for most of us. It really is okay to take one step at a time. My best advice is to work at being healthy — because it truly will help you feel better — but to ALSO give yourself permission to do what you can, and let the rest go. There’s a lot of integrity in that – doing what we can, and not beating ourselves up for what we can’t. It’s about being healthier in a way that actually works for you. Exhale again…
I wish you fun and excitement in your health food journey. I wish you grace for yourself. I wish you hope.
(And please comment below if you have a favorite healthy recipe to share!)