Before trying an elimination diet, I felt out of control and ashamed of my body. I suffered from adult acne, stomach pain each time I ate, a range of digestive issues, low energy and insomnia. Years of working as a professional ballerina made me attuned to my body’s various signals and deep down, I knew these symptoms were an indication that something was deeply wrong.
As I began to study holistic nutrition and learned about food allergies, the bigger picture started to unfold. Something inside of me clicked as I intuitively recognized that food had to be playing a huge part in this drama.
I dedicated many months to experimenting with different elimination diets — ways of eating that focus on unlocking food triggers by removal and re-introduction — transforming the way I ate and how I felt in the process. My experience was empowering, transformational and spiritual in nature.
Here are 7 big lessons I learned during my investigation:
1. No one diet works for everyone.
As I uncovered which foods were causing the majority of my symptoms, I recognized that there wasn’t really anything wrong with my body. I came to realize that I was feeding my body food it didn’t tolerate very well, so when I began to provide my body with foods that agreed with my particular chemistry, everything changed. My skin cleared up, my energy doubled, I began to flourish physically.
To figure out which foods work for you, start to pay attention to how you feel before you eat and then check back in an hour later to truly notice how you feel. If you find you’re not feeling so hot, the food you just ate might not be a good choice for you.
If you find that you feel great afterward, this food is probably something you want to eat more of. The more you practice tapping in to your body’s response to different foods, the more you’ll learn about which foods to incorporate and which to avoid.
2. Beauty in equals beauty out.
When my physical symptoms were at their most present, I looked unhealthy and didn’t enjoy being seen. I had dark circles under my eyes and acne all over my face that I would try to hide with makeup. My stomach was constantly bloated, making my clothes uncomfortable to wear and overall I just felt ugly.
But as I began to change my diet and my body began to heal, I started to look different, vibrant even, and others began to notice. I even received compliments on my skin for the first time, which seemed surreal. When the food you choose to eat is literally beautiful and full of brightness and texture, it translates into a glowing outward appearance.
3. Given the chance, your body will thrive.
I didn’t recognize how bad I actually felt each day, until I experimented with eliminating certain foods. While my diet and lifestyle were pretty healthy as a professional ballerina, I was only giving my body half the chance to thrive by eating the foods I reacted to. My food allergies were constantly depleting my ability to show up fully each day and once I stopped ingesting them, my entire being changed.
Consider what guidance you offer to your body, so that it may shine. Are you providing yourself with enough rest, water, joy and healthy food? Notice where you can make shifts to give your body the support it deserves, even if it’s just getting an extra hour of sleep at night or drinking more water throughout the day.
4. Being in partnership with your body creates joy.
For a while, I began to think of my body as an enemy, not to be trusted, and this suspicion resulted in a deep disconnect between my body and my mind. Through my elimination diet experiment, I was able to witness my body’s remarkable healing potential and I recognized that together, we are a team.
Creating a partnership with my body, versus running my life from the neck up, has created a much more expansive and joyful existence for me each day, because I’m listening to and fulfilling my own desires.
With romantic partners, we often make time to do special or important things for one another, but when it comes to ourselves, we are often found at the bottom of our own to do lists. Try to take small moments throughout your day to experience pleasure, spend time in nature, or to simply do things that feed your soul.
5. Empowered, mindful eating creates freedom.
As all of my favorite foods and drinks got stripped away during my elimination diet, I was forced to become more fully present in my life. During moments that I would normally eat dessert or guzzle wine to feel connected to people, I had to fully participate in conversations and find enjoyment out of just being. I was forced to see what was really happening in my life without food as a crutch or alcohol for social courage.
By simply noticing how and why we eat, we allow ourselves the opportunity to create freedom from mindless practices. Try to observe your daily habits more closely, particularly around food. When we increase awareness, we invite the opportunity for ourselves to awaken to a deeper experience of presence, joy and connection within our lives.
6. Weight loss doesn’t have to be a struggle.
During my elimination diet experience, I was eating way more fresh produce and whole foods. In fact, I ate more on a daily basis in general than I ever had. I was shocked when my regularly fluctuating weight became stable and those “last five pounds” came off without the obsessive effort I was used to.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to become diligent about what your food is made of. In other words, read ingredient labels. Do your food choices contain ingredients you recognize as food, or artificial items you can’t pronounce? When you fully commit to eating the lovely, healing, whole foods your body needs to thrive, maintaining a healthy weight isn’t nearly as daunting as we think.
7. We are our own greatest muse.
The more my body began to heal, the more I became in awe of the human form. I felt like I had been given a second chance at experiencing my life and the more I realized the power of my own body, the more this power and beauty was reflected to me in others.
I realized that if I could experience such a powerful shift in my body, that others could experience similar shifts in theirs and that we all can become reconnected to ourselves in a way that is truly inspirational. Helping other women awaken to their own empowerment in their bodies has been the greatest gift.
Each body is unique and as such, offers its own genius to the world. Begin to take note of what your particular brand of awesome is. How can you use this trait even more to enliven your experience of life?
In my work as a holistic health coach, I’ve seen women shed stores of unwanted weight, leave behind a lifetime of prescription acne medications, heal eczema, balance emotions, find more focus and open their hearts as they discover their body’s unique formula to thrive through an elimination diet.
How do you experience your physical being? Are you inspired by your home in this lifetime? Where could you shift habits to better support your unique body? How would your daily life change if you created more focused intention around your diet?
I invite you to love the body you call home.