Eat like you love yourself: how my health changed my relationship with food

Exactly 7 years ago, when I was 19 years old, I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. If you have never heard of it, "Crohn's disease is a long-term condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive system. Inflammation can affect any part of the digestive system, from the mouth to the back passage, but most commonly occurs in the last section of the small intestine (ileum) or the large intestine (colon)"(source). It has nothing to do with something bad you ate. Even though science hasn't clearly found the cause, it is believed (on a scientist/physical point of view) to be related to a problem on the immune system attacking its own body or possibly the environment. What do they mean by that? Pesticides, non-organic food, pollution? Who knows? 

Before doctors finally found out about my disease, I suffered very severe symptoms for 6 months straight. I lost more than 10 kilos in a few weeks. My doctor kept trying to convince me (and himself I suppose) that my symptoms were caused by stress only (because I was in my first college year and symptoms started after the first exam session). Even today I still believe stress is a huge factor but, along my journey, I have learnt one very important lesson: while I admire the progress of the modern/Occidental medical field, as it has proven to be able to cure many diseases and save millions of lives across the globe, I've learnt at my own expenses not to trust and rely 100% on doctors. Why? First of all, doctors are simply human beings. Human beings make mistakes. Everyone has their own belief system which makes their judgment biased, no matter how professional. I don't blame them for that. On the second hand, doctors can't possibly know everything, and even specialists can only answer questions regarding their field of specialty, according to what they were taught. What I blame them for though is their difficulty to say "I don't know", as if it is forbidden to admit there's something they don't have an answer to. On the contrary, I think it is sad that they think they know your body better than you. Rather than to work together, the patient and the doctor hand in hand, the latter gives off an attitude of "shut up, I know better, do as I say" which I think is not the most effective way toward healing. 

The logic has it, for a disease which causes troubles to the digestive system, you would want to improve the way you eat, right? However, as crazy as it sounds, doctors expected me to "recover" eating the same way as I always did, the only difference being various medicines and intravenous injections every month at the hospital of something called an immunodepressant. As you may have guessed by its name, this liquid reduces the effectiveness of your immune system, which has shown to calm Crohn's effects down. But your immune system is weakened. I've hated for a long time to admit it, but the truth is I am weaker than an average person. I get tired easily, I get sick easily, I have a hard time fighting against sleepiness, I get lightheaded, I get inflammations on my skin, and more. What an unnatural way to fight a disease if you tell me.

For almost 6 years, I have listened to every advice I was given by my doctors (I've seen five gastroenterologists, some of them being specialized in Crohn's disease and very famous for it). I have followed their advice and ate more vegetables when I could (when Crohn's wakes up though, I can't eat fiber at all). For what results? In the end, it got worse and worse. I was hospitalized so many times. I got surgery several times, I lived with plastic pieces in my body in places I am still ashamed to tell, until it got so bad they had to remove 40 cm of my very damaged intestine. At that time, I was already fed up with their inefficiency. During my hospital days, my belly was hurting so much from the surgery I couldn't sit up to eat, I couldn't bathe myself, I was in so much pain even breathing hurt. The pain was so unbearable I wanted to die. But then, the days went by and my wound started healing. For a month, all I could do was lying down all day, so I spent time thinking about what I should do from that moment on. The doctors' way was efficient for a while then everything collapsed worse than before. It was a never ending cycle of hell, and I was tired of it. When their way did work, I would travel (to Japan, mostly haha), I would do great in college and because of this, it took me 5 years to get my diploma instead of 3 years. I refused to give up and I am proud of myself for that. On average, every 6 months or so Crohn's disease would wake up and I'd have to pause my life again. But I was so tired of this life and I was determined to end this circle my own way. 

Around that time, I had already made a lot of research on nutrition, health and further down the road, I encountered veganism. When Crohn's is "awake", pardon my language, you've got so much diarrhea all the water in you just leaves your body. So all you can eat is rice, white pasta, white potatoes, meat,  poultry, baked cheese and yogurt (according to my doctors and the hospital's nutritionist) so for a while not only your body lacks nutrients because you don't eat fruits and veggies but you're still doing harm to yourself by eating animal products. So after my surgery, I decided to go all the way with what I had decided and became a plant-based vegan. I first started avoiding animal products for the animals themselves even before my surgery. But then, the more I read about health and nutrients, the more I realized how eating vegan was the closest you can get to "eating like you love yourself" (while also having a light impact on the earth and its resources but that's for another blog post). 

"Eating well is a form of self-respect."

And then it hit me.

From a very distanced point of view, I thought "How can I heal my intestines if I give them what's the hardest for them to digest: meat?" My intestines were designed to eat a mostly frugivore diet full of food from the earth. I have been fed since I was a baby and kept feeding myself dead animals, milk with molecules unfit for me because I'm not a baby cow so how did I expect for my body to feel good? Most people can take it for a while, but at some point, your body can't take it anymore and cancer cells start developing in your body (sorry to put it so bluntly). You end up with organs the size of a baby cow, stomach ulcers, colon disorders, and much much more. Was it really loving myself (and other living beings and the planet) to feed my body with garbage (fast-food, processed food, frozen food, white-sugary food, oily food)?

It seems so logical to me now.

I had never loved myself before that. I had always hated myself and compared myself to others for most of my life. We are taught to be nice to others, yes. To be polite, generous, kind. I want to believe I am not so bad at being nice to others. But nobody teaches you to be kind to yourself. To take care of yourself. To forgive yourself and not be so hard on yourself. Even when I knew something I was about to eat was bad for me, I thought "Whatever, it won't kill me. Nor make much change for the planet or animals. It won't change a thing". Don't you, too? What an unloving way to think. The only reason I was sick in the first place was because of me and only me.

Along my journey, I was lucky enough to be guided by an amazing friend of mine. She knows who she is. She was so aware already of many things and gently opened my eyes, little by little.
Among all my reads, the book "Quantic Quantum Healing" (Le corps quantique : le fabuleux pouvoir de guérison de votre esprit") by Doctor Deepak Chopra truly changed my life. 

Is disease, any disease, only a warning call from you to you? A sign that you are not aligned with yourself, with what you stand for? Only a "side effect" of your inner unhappiness? 

Now I am convinced it is. My disease appeared for me to stop doing what I was doing to myself, a blessing, a tool to start looking at myself, take care of myself so that I can finally learn to really be happy. Does your body not deserve all your love and care? For when it bleeds, it works hard to heal itself and then transport you to the places you want to go, where you can dance, laugh and be free? Our bodies deserve so much more than all the torture we inflict on them (just because some third party taught us our bodies should all look a certain way...).

Have you ever heard of the "inner child"? This child in all of us who we stop listening to as we grow older? The things we liked when we were younger, the things that make us laugh out loud, the things that give us butterflies in the stomach. We are taught it is "childish" of us to keep liking them, right? 
Well, that's one of the biggest mistakes in human kind. The band you used to scream for in your teen years? All the drawing, the singing, the playing around with colorful clothes, the innocent jokes and goofiness? Never give up on what makes you happy. Happy as in "happy-when-you-were-a-child" happy.  

Now, I have my technic that I try to use every day: I try to do more of the things I used to to do when I was a child. For me it was: singing my lungs out, drawing, watching Japanese anime or documentaries, playing in nature especially in the sea, being crazy and joking around, dancing to loud music pretending I'm in a music video, eating plenty of strawberries, daydreaming at night while watching the moon, talking to animals and eating yummy food to nourish my body without food being my enemy.

Before I eat something, I ask myself "Would you give this to your child?".
If the answer is "no", it's not good enough food for me to eat it. 
When you look at yourself in the mirror and think "I am so ugly, or fat, or too skinny, or too something", beating your self-esteem down. Would you say these words to your child? Then don't tell yourself these ugly things. Of course I am still learning every day, and I am not a master at this yet. But it has improved my life and happiness so much.
Now I feed myself what I would give to my children: colorful and healthy, nutrient-dense food from the earth, as organic as possible with plenty of water. Why? Because I love my inner child. I love myself and I deserve the best food available. And so do you! So does everyone. 

Quinoa salad with beets, avocado, sesame seeds, cashew nuts, lettuce, tomato, cucumber with lemon and mustard seasoning

And if I want to eat French fries with my friends when I'm out? I'll eat these fries, not because "whatever, I'm already fat/unhealthy, it won't make a huge difference" but because "I love myself and I deserve to have a little fun and eat yummy-greasy food once in a while with the people I love". That's my magic formula. 

I don't know what tomorrow is made of and I try not to care and focus on the "now" but I can say that, now, I am the most healthy, physically and mentally I have been ever since I finally understood I am the only one creator of my own reality, right after I got surgery one and a half year ago.

"The only disease we have is the inability to realize we can heal ourselves."

PS: I want to talk more about nutrition on my blog but for the ones who are scared to lose too much weight and be "sick" on a plant-based diet, you just have to eat enough calories according to your body weight, age and activity level which you can find out online like here (you can use apps to track your calories at first to make sure you are eating enough).

With love,

What are your thoughts on this subject? 
I am really curious to know other point of views and experiences.


Popular Posts