Let me preface this whole story by saying that I don’t think I have an autoimmune disease. I have lived like a celiac for the last eight years because I exhibited textbook dermatitis herpetiformus when I was eating gluten, because I had a nutritional panel done before and after getting off gluten demonstrating how the simple removal of gluten made me go from malnourished to pretty darn healthy, because I had a positive antibody blood test, because I have a big forehead (fun fact- forehead size can be a more reliable indicator of celiac disease than many other symptoms), and because about a million health issues cleared up when I got off of it. This past year, my 23andme genetic test revealed that I have neither the variant HLA-DQ2 allele nor the HLA-DQ8 allele, which makes it nearly impossible for me to have celiac disease. There’s a small chance I do and I feel no urgency to return to eating gluten (unless I’m in the presence of a Chick-fil-A chicken biscuit), but I think this is still extremely relevant to anyone who does have an autoimmune disease.
Despite having been skinny my entire life, I’ve always been kind of obsessed with food. Always looking forward to the next meal, relishing my time in Whole Foods, baking muffins while listening to Fiona Apple…so naturally, the obsession got cranked up a few notches when I got off gluten. I had to pay even more attention to food than I ever had before. Even seeing the word “wheat” on a label set off alarm bells in my head, triggering an emotional response.
Over the years, I mysteriously started reacting to dairy. I developed chronic sinusitis that wouldn’t go away after six ENTs and about a thousand rounds of antibiotics. It went away when I removed dairy, but then I began having reactions to eggs. I was a little worried, but I didn’t really start freaking out until my fourth food sensitivity came along. That was when I learned about leaky gut and frantically started trying to heal myself. Instead, I ended up having to add several more of my favorites to the banned food list. Desperate, I went on the autoimmune protocol after reading sections from Sarah Ballantyne’s terror-inducing book The Paleo Approach. Nightshades do WHAT to my gut??
This is where things got really weird. After a few months, I started trying to reintroduce foods on the AIP, but anything that wasn’t on the safe list caused intense joint and back pain. I began to develop arthritis EVERYWHERE at the age of 27. My hands hurt, my knees hurt, my wrists and hips had started cracking with every movement – but all this disappeared when I returned to the AIP. Now, AIP enthusiasts will tell you that these foods were bothering you before, but your body had so much inflammation you didn’t notice. I’m here to tell you that they are missing an extremely important factor: the mind-body connection.
Our emotions are energy, and this energy can have an extremely strong impact on our physiology improperly dealt with. Our society tells us that emotional expression indicates weakness, so we repress them – compartmentalize the situation and move on with our lives. When we repress our emotions, this energy can manifest as a cold, back pain, arthritis, even cancer. Big pharma isn’t going to tell you this, but science is catching up – think about all the studies on how stress impacts the body.
I had developed such an emotional connection with food, my body literally started using food as a way to distract me from dealing with emotional “traumas.” My sinus infections developed during the time immediately following a bad breakup when I was still working side-by-side with my ex on a daily basis in a conservative office setting. My egg sensitivity developed when I was living with a passive aggressive roommate who constantly sought out ways to express her disdain for Americans such as myself. My body took the cue that I was a sucker for this method of distraction and began reacting to all the foods I most feared losing. And finally, I developed an intense fear of seeds, nuts, grains, nightshades, and coffee after reading The Paleo Approach and my body responded accordingly to mirror this fear with symptoms.
Can I prove this? No. But I can tell you that a week before I implemented this technique I’m about to share, I had tried reintroducing some non-AIP foods and was in so much pain I could barely walk. Two weeks later, I was back to eating everything with almost no symptoms.
First of all, working with a naturopath to clear these foods energetically did not work because I wasn’t reacting to the foods themselves. What worked was clearing the energy from the emotional situations that occurred around the time that I lost the foods. After my naturopath cleared me on the ex, I could eat dairy for the first time in four years without intense sinus pain or throbbing ears or fits of sneezing. After he cleared me for eggs, I could eat eggs for the first time in three years without these symptoms. Then we worked on my fear of never getting better, and of eating itself.
I read Dr. John Sarno’s book Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection, which postulates that chronic pain is simply the result of repressed emotions and that once you truly believe it’s not a structural issue, your pain disappears. Dr. Sarno instructs those with chronic back pain to forget the warnings from their doctors about exercise, start running and lifting weights, and the pain would disappear. Since my symptoms were food-induced, I decided I had to disassociate the food from the symptoms.
I reintroduced everything at once – seed based spices, nuts, nightshades, coffee. the works. The pain came back, but I told myself it wasn’t leaky gut – my gut is healed; there is nothing to fear. I began doing a kundalini meditation every day for clearing the subconscious mind because I knew that in order for this to be effective, my subconscious mind had to get the memo. First, my back pain went away. Then my knee pain. I went back to the gym where I used to lift weights and worked through some painful lunges. Then the pain in my toes from the arthritis which had been diagnosed by a foot doctor went away. The pain in my arms and hands hung around the longest – my hands felt numb and my wrists were crackling constantly. After reading that this can be related to an emotion around disliking the work you’re doing on a computer, that finally disappeared as well.
I’m still working on achieving my dream stool on the bristol scale and fully kicking a histamine intolerance, but I am confident that these are emotional issues as well. My entire perspective on myself has completely changed through this experience. I went from viewing myself as a weak, genetically inferior weirdo to a strong, healthy woman who’s basically just like everyone else. I’m beyond thrilled and feel incredibly empowered, and wanted to share this story with the world in case it helps someone…because MAN do I wish someone had told me.