I’ve been asking myself this question a lot lately. It all started the other day when my boyfriend asked me what I would truly want to eat if I wasn’t following an anti-inflammatory diet to support my healing. I told him honestly I have no idea. I’ve had a disordered relationship with food for most of my life. I can’t actually remember a time when I just ate what I wanted, without “shoulds” or shame or regret or overthinking. I was on my first diet before I was a teenager. I would obsess about food all day and beat myself up if I “failed”.
As I’ve gotten older, I have done a lot of deep inner work to develop a healthier relationship with food and a much stronger sense of self that isn’t tied to what I eat. I mostly enjoy eating healthily and at the same time life is too short to never eat cake! I really resonate with the idea of intuitive eating, which encourages us to overcome chronic diet mentality by finding pleasure in eating, honouring when we are hungry or full, and making food choices without guilt. And yet, I also know that certain foods create an environment in my body that supports healing while others can create an environment that supports inflammation and disease. Life is also too short to mess with my health when I’m finally (gratefully) feeling good again following my natural healing plan.
So, is there a middle ground here? Well, I still intend to eat mostly the anti-inflammatory diet: no gluten, dairy, red meat, alcohol or eggs. However, I don’t want to be afraid of food and I know that feeling restricted and obsessive about eating healthily is not good for my mental health. If I’m going to focus on my wellbeing I cannot look after my physical health at the expense of my mental or emotional health. They are all equally important and interconnected – to the point that as soon as I feel stressed, my pain levels increase. So, the perfect middle ground for me where I can look after my mind and body is learning to cook yummy recipes that are still anti-inflammatory. Luckily, I love to cook and there are many creative wellness peeps out there offering anti-inflammatory alternatives to every meal you can think of.
Right now I am undertaking a big adventure with the Gluten-Free Baking Academy bread making course. Some of my dessert favourites are The Fit Foodie’s Rhubarb & Apple Pie and Jessica Murnane’s Chocolate Chunk Ice-Cream Sandwiches. Jessica is a fellow endo sister and has an amazing talent for creating delicious anti-inflammatory recipes. If I don’t feel like cooking my favourite go-to treat is Pana’s incredible new salted caramel ice cream sticks. Heaven!
Having said all of that, if I am really craving a croissant or a hamburger or chocolate cake I’m going to eat it. And for the sake of my mental health I will make sure I joyfully savour every bite!