The Nutrition Paradox
Last updated: February 2022
When I was diagnosed with AS, I was also diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. A double whammy. I grew to understand that dietary changes and certain diets could have the potential to really help both Crohn's and AS.
So I started experimenting and found that changing up my diet and following protocols to heal my gut was helping and two years after extreme dietary discipline (no sugar, grains, alcohol, most carbs) my next scan of my colon showed no inflammation and my AS symptoms were lower!
Well, with commitment it worked! Amazing...so why have I titled this a nutrition paradox?!
Well along that journey I began to fear foods, I was terrified of eating something not under the protocol I was following and something "bad" happening or losing progress. I remember being on holiday with a friend and spending hours trying to find somewhere to eat and feeling pretty stressed and isolated. I was obsessed with nutrition and accumulated a huge amount of knowledge. But this knowledge also made me hyper aware of foods and made me constantly think about the health or "danger" of certain foods.
I lost considerable weight and became underweight, I felt really weak and my hormones were definitely sub optimal. My mother actually took me a aside and showed me a photo of myself showing how much weight I had lost and I was really shocked.
I had developed an obsession with food, being "healthy" and doing everything I could to eat "perfectly." But I was so stressed and the stress and fear I had to foods made me anxious and constantly on high alert. The stress surrounding food may have actually been as inflammatory as the foods I feared.
I would have done it differently
Now there is no denying that this way of eating helped. Would I have done it again, YES...but differently. I would have worked with a nutritionist or dietician for helping ensure I wasn't becoming undernourished and losing too much weight. I would have been kinder to myself and also consider, my social health, my relationship with nature; the sun, the warm, the cold. I would have checked in regularly to see if this was not only working, but how I was feeling and if anything needed to be changed.
Isolation isn't healthy
I realized that you can eat the healthiest diet in the world but if you are alone and feel isolated you will never be healthy. Health is an accumulation of so many components, nutrition being one of them. No diet 100% can help. I still follow a way of eating but not out of fear but out of choice to eat in a way to help me to thrive. But, when I have the opportunity to eat delicious foods with friends and family I eat what I want and have no negative affects. I believe that is because I am no longer afraid. Eat pasta in Italy, eat cheese in France, eat rice in Japan!
You get my drift, I realized that life is short and it is important to eat to thrive but thriving is not just eating healthy foods, but being connected with others and being joyful.
Just some food for thought ;)
PS. I am not a nutritionist, this is purely my anecdotal experience.
Do you notice worsening flares in colder weather?