Written by: Kayla Bittner, SCNM 1st Year Medical Student
In our current time, we’re privileged with the power of choice. We can shop at various grocery stores, farmers’ markets, local co-ops, and health food stores. We have more options than we’ve ever had to support every eating style – standard American, gluten-free, paleo, vegan, dairy-free, vegetarian, low-carb, high-fat, low-foodmap, keto – and the list goes on.
However, 10-15 years ago, we didn’t have these options. We had one type of gluten-free bread available at your local health food store. Restaurants didn’t have special gluten-free menus. Ordering a meal out without “bread” was considered a “pain,” and servers didn’t express concern or compassion. For those avoiding dairy, it meant going without yogurt and cheese and pretending that it didn’t matter.
We are privileged to live in a world that’s become so in-tune with various eating styles, food allergies, and food intolerances and sensitivities because it’s given life back to so many people who enjoy cooking, baking, and eating in a way that makes them feel good. And there shouldn’t be any shame in that.
The hardest part isn’t finding specific foods or brands in your local grocery store or finding recipes among the millions of food blogs, cookbooks, and recipe sites. It’s finding the foods that WORK for your body, rather than work against it.
You may be wondering – how do I know if food works for me? What if I don’t have any known food allergies, and I don’t have any digestive issues after eating? I’m here to tell you that there’s so much more to it than that.
Our naturopathic doctors at Living Wellness Medical Center uncover the foods that work for you through various tools:
- Food Intolerance Testing
- Stool Analysis
- Elimination Diets (with Reintroductions)
- Food Journaling
And most importantly, we listen to you, the one consuming the foods regularly. By combining these various testing methods, our naturopathic doctors can help you uncover what foods help your body get out of an inflammatory state and into a state of healing and nourishment.
Food Intolerance Testing
Although testing seems to be the most accurate way to get detailed information about your body, food intolerance testing should only be used to support or complement other hypotheses. Our naturopathic doctors will test up to 100+ of the most common foods through our IgG Food Sensitivity panel to see what foods elicit a reaction in your body. This is done through blood work, and it will give you a better indication of what foods you need to avoid (for the time being).
Stool Testing can be a helpful model for uncovering how your body processes the nutrients you’re consuming. With 75% of your stools composed of water, the rest is a mixture of dead bacteria, proteins, and fibers. These can be indicators of how well you’re digesting food particles, how hydrated you are, and how your internal GI environment is functioning.
Are your stools floating? Are your stools oily, greasy, or black? Are your stools pellet-like? Are your stools liquid? Are you not going to the bathroom? These are all things that our doctors take into account when considering whether a stool analysis is right for you.
Even though this diet is usually everyone’s least favorite (hello, brunch without waffles and happy hour without beer), it’s one of the most trustworthy diets due to our naturopathic doctors’ phased approach. By removing potentially problematic foods in a phased and calculated manner, we can walk you through an elimination diet that will ultimately help you figure out how you feel after you consume a particular food, and we can discuss the “whys’ with you afterward. Don’t worry – the elimination diet is only for a short time, and it isn’t meant to “restrict” your eating past the testing period. You may be surprised at how amazing you feel once you eliminate certain foods (that you’re probably eating every day). Our doctors will take you through a gut-healing program to help heal your gut, with the intention of reintroducing foods later on down the road.
Being in tune with your body and having the ability to listen and learn is highly underrated. Although doctors are extensively trained to help you, they’re not living in your body every day. No one is feeling the signs of you overeating eggs, except you. No one is feeling sluggish after eating a mid-day sandwich, except you. No one is feeling the side effects of your nightly glass of wine, except you. Food journaling can be an immensely helpful tool in figuring out how you’re feeling at different times of the day, in the context of everyday life. This approach takes into account many lifestyle factors that you might never have paid attention to. Bringing awareness to our everyday actions is sometimes the key to healing. According to this article, forming new habits can take up to two months, depending on the individual person, which means that the things we’re eating, drinking, doing, and believing affect us on a repeated basis.
So, what’s next? Well, take inventory of how you’re feeling. Are you feeling tired, fatigued, sluggish, constipated, digestively unwell, bloated, water-logged, uncomfortably full, irritable, anxious, depressed, and/or intuitively “off?” If so, it may be time for you to see a professional who can help you find a way of eating that works for you, which makes you feel alive, and contributes to your goals.
At Living Wellness Medical Center, our doctors offer FREE, brief meet and greets for those with questions, complaints or concerns that they’re hoping to address. Call our office to set up one today at 1-480-588-6856.
Eating is how we supply our bodies with the energy and nutrients needed to carry out our everyday responsibilities. Think of your body as a “vehicle.” When we feed our car bad “fuel” or fuel that doesn’t work for us (i.e., putting diesel in a regular car), our “vehicles” won’t operate as they’re supposed to.
Getting to the root of the problem is a key principle in naturopathic medicine, and it is something that we strongly believe is key to healing. In a world full of options to support all different styles of eating, the hardest part isn’t finding foods to replace your beloved morning bowl of granola, weekly pizza outing, or mid-day sugary coffee drink; it’s finding nutrient-dense foods to replace your old favorites, but that work with your body and not against it.