What Healing From An "Incurable" Disease Taught Me About Food
The direction life takes us in is never predictable, yet it's often entertaining and somehow ends up making perfect sense at various points throughout. According to plan, I was supposed to be a fashion designer — that’s what I studied as an undergrad.
How I ended up as a nutritionist writing books and teaching courses is a bit less linear.
After graduating from university, I went traveling across Africa and developed some mysterious health problems. It took three years, and in the summer of 2006, I was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s is classified as an incurable auto-immune inflammatory bowel disease.
I knew I was ready to defy the "incurable" part of that classification. I decided that I would make healing from this disease the most fun adventure possible.
I turned to my kitchen. I had never cooked, or even had much of an interest in health, until life gave me no other option. One month later, I began to notice major changes. My symptoms started to regress, until they were gone completely.
It felt as if I had exhaled after holding my breath all my life. In addition to transitioning to a more whole, real-food-based diet, I began a meditation practice. I also traded in my gym membership for a yoga mat, went for regular acupuncture treatments, and dove deep into studying nutrition.
More than anything, I sought out to experience moments of happiness and learned how to appreciate and be grateful for those moments. Happiness became my (mostly!) constant state.
Question the paradigms of systems that are broken.
This approach to healing — the concept of tuning in, turning down the volume on the world around me, breaking the rules that I’d been expected to follow, and looking at the world through a fuchsia-colored lens — are ultimately what formed the foundation of what I call UnDiet living.
UnDiet isn’t about following any one guru or diet. To UnDiet is to know that labels (whether it be a label like vegan or Paleo, skinny or fat) are for tin cans and tin cans are best left on grocery store shelves.
UnDiet invites us to question the paradigms of systems that are broken and that are failing all of us as individuals and collectively as a population. UnDiet frees us from the limitations we let hold us down and keep us from living our most healthy and awesome life.
Now, over nine years since my diagnosis, I remain completely symptom-free without any medical interventions. I even went back to school to study nutrition and understand how it was that I had seemingly achieved the impossible.
What I have come to know is that no matter what we read, what worked for someone we know, or what the newest trending nutritional wisdom tells us, there is no secret, no magic diet, or pill or yoga pose that will heal all our woes.
There isn’t a quick fix. The key ingredient to healing the body is finding, enjoying, and being grateful for the things that bring us those moments of calm, happiness, joy, and celebration. And then learning to adapt an ongoing lifestyle that can sustain and maintain our health.
UnDieting is living the life of our dreams and knowing without a doubt that absolutely everything is possible. The good, clean food enjoyed at a table intended for dining is simply fuel for this most awesome life.
The UnDiet Cookbook, my second book, is a collection of 130 gluten-free and dairy-free recipes that invite customization to suit your ideal diet, whatever that might look like today.
Photo courtesy of the author