As mentioned in my previous post My IBS struggle and symptoms, I was referred by a friend to see an alternative healer, as she sensed I was in a bit of an emotional dip after a break-up. She had no knowledge of my stomach issues but said this lady may be able to help make me feel generally better. My friend had seen this woman on multiple occasions for various ailments and had had great success – and at this point I was open to trying anything.
I will refer to this lady going forwards as ‘the healer’, as unfortunately she is now retired and is no longer accepting patients. She had a huge range of expertise in different natural treatments and had been practising for decades, with her main areas of focus being kinesiology and reflexology. Kinesiology is an alternative therapy that uses the muscles in the body to detect reactions, and reflexology is a type of massage performed on the feet, hands or ears.
FINDING THE FOODS THAT WEREN’T WORKING FOR ME
The healer used kinesiology to assess my body’s food preferences and identify any intolerances. To do this, she had two large trays of various glass vials that were each labelled with a different food type e.g. eggs, pork, cucumber etc. She would put the vial on my stomach, ask me to lift my arm, and press downwards on my arm to see whether my arm was weaker or stronger with each food type. If anybody had told me about this practice before experiencing it myself, I would not have believed it would work. However, certain foods I knew did not work for me i.e. lactose and gluten, I did not mention to her, and she was amazed at how adverse the reaction was, and I could feel how weak my arm was when she pushed it down. It took about 2 hours including an initial assessment, and she said she had seen very few other people with so many food intolerances.
The foods she advised I cut out completely included (temporarily):
- Rapeseed oil
- Vegetable oil
- High fructose corn syrup
Foods she advised to eat in low quantities (no more than once every four days)
Obviously this is quite an extensive (and initially intimidating) list. I wasn’t sure initially there were enough foods left for me to eat, particularly whilst I was out the house from 6.30am-7pm for work, it would mean organising some major food preparation.
She advised that I start each day with a home-made smoothie, as she said I was very low on nutrients and this would help to build my body back up. She also recommended I start incorporating more nuts and seeds into my diet, something I rarely ate previously, and upped the variety of foods I ate as much as possible.
Looking at the various elimination diets available on the internet, there are a few that are quite similar to the list I was given by the Healer. That said, I believe everybody’s body is unique, and I am glad I was able to follow a personalised list that was tailored exactly to my body’s needs. I feel if I had followed an elimination diet and some of the ‘yes’ foods weren’t agreeing with me, I would probably have become given up rather quickly. I think there was always a part of me that thought my body was just slightly broken, and unable to digest food. So having a list of foods to follow where everything seemed to work, provided a huge sense of relief.
On the one hand I was excited to try something new and unproven. After years of cutting out so many different foods and taking random supplements, I was excited to try this completely new approach. On the other hand, I was also very worried it could make my IBS worse, something I was not sure how I would handle at work.
Fortunately, my friend who had referred me to the healer had been through a similar process (but was able to tolerate a lot more foods than I could). Her and her boyfriend helped me to find new recipes, recommended some food products that may be suitable and really guided me in the right direction. I started by browsing Wholefoods in London and spent about two hours reading various labels whilst looking up recipes. I then created a lose food plan and bought myself a spiralizer, which meant that courgetti and spiralized carrots soon became some of my new favourite go-to staples. I bought a load of frozen fruit for my morning smoothies, that I mixed with fresh veg and I stocked up on every type of nut butter I could find. I looked to the likes of Deliciously Ella and Autoimmune Wellness for recipe inspiration. It was a huge lifestyle shift, from eating the same foods day-in day-out and buying lunch from Leons or Wasabi nearly every day.
LIFE ON MY NEW DIET
My stomach took some time to adjust to the morning smoothies. I think the high fibre content was a bit of a shock, and I felt like a lot of the bad bacteria that had probably been sat in my stomach for a long time was finally expelling. Regardless, they made me feel good so I persevered, I would drink them slowly on my 50 minute tube ride and they definitely gave me a morning-high.
The rest of the time my stomach felt so much better; more settled, less bloating and trapped wind, my energy levels increased, my skin cleared up and I just generally felt so much happier in myself. I dedicated Sunday’s to food prepping, where I would try to make 3 different meals of 2, 3 or 4 portions to have during the week for lunch and dinner. I’m not normally a huge fan of microwaves, but I used the one at work to re-heat my lunch and I used a pan or the oven when I was home from work in the evening. I spent a lot of time researching new recipes and really came to enjoy experimenting with different ingredients and cooking techniques – as I was previously a total novice.
I went back to see the Healer on her guidance after a month to check in on my progress. She tested all the foods again and said my intolerances hadn’t changed, and to persevere with the diet. By this time I was quite used to my routine and really didn’t mind, and we agreed I would go back again in two months.
After a further two months I returned and she said she could tell my body was a lot stronger than it had been. Although I could have told her this myself, as I was feeling noticeably less anxious and more energised. She tested all the foods again and I was able to reintroduce the following:
- Caffeine – still no more than two cups of tea a day & no coffee
I was thankful to have these foods back as it gave me more recipes to choose from and allowed me to incorporate more variety. She told me that if I found any of the foods that had previously been on the no-go list to be causing me problems, to have them no more than once a week to allow my body to adjust to them.
My stomach continued to be much better on these foods. And although I generally felt better, after the initial high I felt my anxiety and tiredness start to creep back in slightly. When I spoke to her about this, she agreed that now the food had been addressed, it was probably more down to lifestyle and stress. She said that the supplements I was taking should support me in this, but I would need to do more to manage my stress and anxiety levels. To find out more about the supplements I was taking and how I work to manage my stress levels, please click on the appropriate links.
FOODS I EAT NOW
Three years on from my initial encounter with the healer I am happy with the place I have come to with my diet. Following on from the three month strict diet, I opted for a low-carb, paleo type diet for about a year. This worked well for me, and I think the large variety of fruit and veg I ate helped to build my body back up. However after that year, I found my body wanting carbs. I became bored of just having meat & veg and began a more flexible approach to my diet. I now have a healthier balance between all the food groups, which is a much more enjoyable way to live life and experiment with cooking.
Nowadays, I use my skin and stomach as a way to tell what foods I should avoid. Foods my body does not like immediately bring me out in spots and tend to make me feel bloated, so I try to avoid them as much as I can. These include:
- Wheat/ gluten
- Dairy (though I will have a small amount of sheep’s or goat’s cheese)
- Caffeine (I try not to have more than one cup of tea in the morning)
This means I can eat and enjoy nearly all foods, just with the occasional wheat and dairy replacements. I feel like I am finally able to live a normal life and no longer look with envy at people who can eat what they like with no consequences!