If You Are What You Eat Why Do I Feel Like I’ve Been Eating Prickly Pears?

If you are what you eat I must be consuming prickly pears because my body is always in pain. The sad thing is that because of my disease I’m extremely careful with my diet and there is very little chance I’d be accidentally consuming anything. So, my carefully prepared diet still results in pain and illness. I often have conversations with myself about this, and I always tell myself that if I wasn’t so careful I’d be a lot less healthy; perhaps this diet is what is keeping me from dive-bombing into severe illness.  So, I persevere with my careful diet, one that continually confuses those around me to the point that I rarely tell anyone why I eat the way I do because I don’t feel like explaining my choices.

They are simple guidelines I have for myself, really, and I make a point not to be too rigid with anything in my life, so the guidelines change as my body’s needs do. Right now, my goal is not to lose weight so I basically eat anything I crave, as long as it is GMO free/ organic, and I continue to limit processed foods. Luckily for me, I never crave foods that are obvious bad food choices such as fast food, fried foods, or those high in sugar anyway, so even when I tell myself to eat everything I crave, I know I’m doing this to add to my health, not subtract from it.

I find that diet is a touchy subject with people, especially these days, with so much information, and misinformation flooding the media, internet, and health/medical fields. When I was young I didn’t have complete strangers telling me how to eat, and now it seems I am fair game to all with an opinion, which is basically everyone. I’m constantly hearing about the dangers of grains/oils/meat….lately even entire food groups are regularly demonized. For me, taking down an entire food group is probably going a bit too far. But not all the dire warnings are off base so tuning everyone out entirely isn’t a good idea either.

It is confusing and daunting enough living with a painful, chronic disease, let alone having to worry about whether the walnuts I had as a snack are going to inflame my knees. If I do a Google search asking “health benefits of walnuts,” and then a search for “health risks of walnuts,” I’ll come up with some distressing news- eating walnuts can cause cancer and they also combat cancer! They cause weight gain AND weight loss!  Should I just toss a coin?

The answer to that rhetorical question is a resounding no-a better choice would be to stop doing confusing Google searches. But seriously, I hope by now you understand the complicated issues we all have to deal with around diet and disease.

My good friend Ellen says that opinions are like butts, everyone has one. (She actually uses a better word than butt- I think you get the picture!) Keeping this juicy sentence in mind is really helpful when it comes to learning how to eat right for your health. The second thing to keep in mind that it is YOUR health and YOUR body we are talking about. Who better to figure out how to eat well for your life but you?

My approach is a sane one, I think, which is why, even though I’m about to give you my opinion, I think you’ll be happy I did.

Here is how I handle the nutrition conundrum:


  • I take nutritional advice only from trusted sources and tune others out. For me, mainstream media is not a trusted source, but certain specialty internet sites are. I look outside the US for advice on nutrition as this country has too many special interests getting in the way of solid information.


  • I have consulted nutritionists and Naturopathic MD’s for advice, to teach me current understanding of diet and health, not traditional MD’s who are not taught anything about nutrition. I’ve also attended nutritional conferences.


  • I pay close attention to how I feel when I eat and after I eat in order to guide future choices.


  • I am extra careful to eat power foods, which are foods packed with nutrition and anti-oxidants because my constant pain/disease add oxidative stress to my body.


  • I eat foods high in omega 3 fatty acids in order to keep my fatty acid balance one that decreases inflammation, instead of fueling inflammatory fire.


  • I stick with what works for me, and tune out people who try to change my mind.


  • As I said before I refuse to be rigid, and change my diet when what I am doing doesn’t seem to be working.


This is a partial list, one that I hope inspires you to stand up for your own needs, and make the choices you need to in order to feel good. It takes time to become confident doing this, and can be a constant work in progress, but believe me; it’s worth it.

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