A niggling voice is urging me to share some of the dietary changes that helped me deal with anxiety, stress, and various physical ailments. I don’t enjoy technical writing, so I have resisted doing it. To lessen the discomfort–I am hoping to break it down into a series of shorter posts over the next few days/weeks.
I have been diagnosed with anxiety disorder (and later diagnosed with PTSD). Even prior to that diagnoses, I had health ailments and a ‘nervous disposition.’ Therefore I tried a LOT of diets and supplements to try to mitigate the effects. There were specific times I believe I was led, by God, to make changes in our cupboards. Other changes were made for our entire household and for the benefit of my spouse and children. (My BHH’s family has celiac disease in its genes and we have all been gluten-free for about a decade).
As part of the cognitive behavioral therapy method that I chose: eliminating sugar, caffeine, and alcohol was a requirement in the beginning phase of recovery (cigarettes and recreational drugs were also included–but I was not using those). I must confess that even at my sickest I did not entirely eliminate sugar, and I used natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup. I didn’t always share those ‘slips’ with my therapist who asked probing questions about my food intake each week. I had known, from prior dietary experience, that my body did well (and didn’t ‘spike’) when using natural sweeteners in exchange for sugar; particularly when using real maple syrup–that was one sweetener that just ‘agreed’ with me and my system.
I did, however, eliminate caffeine and alcohol entirely for a while. They are now relegated to special occasions. A ‘healing’ vacation to the Carribean is not the same without indulging in the best coffee ever! Saturday mornings on the back porch also deserve a ‘real’ cup of coffee. My son’s college graduation and entry into the real world of job/career was christened with a bottle of bubbly on ice. So, even at that I made/make exceptions.
And I still eat junk food. I can tell you where all the gluten-free french fries and taco trucks can be found; in three towns around my own. I can also rate them for crispiness and quality…Clearly I’m not a purist about diet. I’m more of a ‘foodie’ at heart. But I do believe dietary changes have improved the quality of my life and helped me heal. I do not, however, believe that what worked for me will carte-blanche work for everyone. I think it is about listening to your own body, and praying, and trusting where God might be leading you.
In my ongoing recovery from anxiety disorder and PTSD, I worked with a nutritionist specializing in PTSD and anxiety recovery. Furthermore, I have been guided by various healthcare professionals who have stressed dietary changes along with lifestyle changes.
I have found, in sharing with others, that it is unusual to find modern healthcare professionals who address dietary changes with their patients. Niche naturalists, healers, chiropractors and yogis (et al) will stress dietary changes. But I haven’t actually been to any of those. Much of my dietary-change-advice was coming from men and women in white coats! Strange because M.D.’s don’t always get along the best with the gurus in the strip malls selling diets and herbs and supplements. As a friend recently shared, her doctor rolled her eyes when she mentioned a supplement she was taking– after seeing it on Dr. Oz.
Yet the medical professionals who helped me in my efforts to improve my quality of (an anxious) life have suggested dietary changes time and again. One woman literally dropped her mouth when I shared that after a colonoscopy/endoscopy, the surgeon who did the procedure sat me down and told me I don’t have celiac or IBS or any issues with reflux in my esophagus but my stomach looks redder than it ought and he thinks I ought to try the FODMAP diet and see if that calms down my digestion…the astonished woman had simply never heard of a negative colonoscopy/endoscopy ending with obscure dietary advice...let alone advice coming from the specialist doing the colonoscopy. Meanwhile, I had grown used to hearing such off-the-wall things at doctor visits. And I began to research FODMAPS while chalking it all up to another ‘God’ thing.
Therefore I think I am (somewhat) qualified to write ‘technically’ about this subject, based on all of my real world experiences. However, I’m not entirely convinced I actually want to write about it (again, because I dislike tehcnical writing!).
But, here I am now, writing about it…
I will try to keep it as pain-free as possible.