Bone broth helped me to heal my gut after an injury!
In this blog post I will share my gut healing after an injury, my emotional struggles, my physical sensations, my past and present approaches to healing with foods, what I’ve cut out, how I work with sticking with myself through the hard times, meditation, yoga, and my teacher Pema, practices, new revelations, how my injury unfolded, and how to carpe diem!
Other people feel this ~ ruminating
I was face timing with my loved one last night. Until I had my own gut discomfort I didn't realize that another one of my people has struggled too. I've been thinking a lot about how Pema Chodron writes about fear and fearlessness. Pema inspired me to consider: if I don't know my fears how can I become fearless? Fearlessness might look like having our fears not rule us and design our lives. Dear beautiful readers: I want to shed the shit holding me back. If you're with me, can I get a hell yes?!
It's tricky because healing with foods isn't fast. I was answering questions about what I've done to help my own bloating and general digestive discomfort with my loved one last night. We talked about how it was going and to be honest it's not been easy. For me it's been over a year. There have been huge improvements and slower times with feelings of stagnation. I am amazed by the healing powers of the human body. Man is she magical and transformative. At times it is hard to keep the faith and to not just want to quick fix. In the past I may have reached for some tums, mint or ginger tea, or something that would relieve my symptoms. Now I know that even if the symptoms go away there is still an underlying issue that may not be completely addressed. Healing is multi faceted, a life long journey and that’s alright. I am not doing anything wrong. Even if it's not fast. Even if they're still the subtle or strong discomfort as I drink bone broth and I eat fermented vegetables I know I am taking a step towards myself as opposed to hiding. It took me months to go to the doctor after my injury so believe me, I am not above hiding. I was embarrassed about that for a while and now I am ready to let it go as I am not trying to change myself. I want to stay with myself.
I am conscious of cutting out certain foods that may be aggravating me even if the symptoms are better. I now live in the idea that I am doing something to address the underlying issue and that I have the power to do this myself and with support. There's no drug company, no doctor, or other practitioner that I'm dependent upon for my healing. I believe they can support me and yet ultimately the healthy life style choices are up to me. It’s time to treat myself with the worth I have.
I'm trusting the inherent capability of my body to know that my core will move towards balance. This is the nature of being if I practice getting out of my own way. And it's really cool. I think it's a great opportunity to learn how capable and strong we are. I have a habit of trying to make things rosy and of sugarcoating things. I just admitted this to myself recently and it was hard for me. I realize I have a whole storyline behind certain charges emotions and yet I'm kind of done labeling everything. Figuring myself out. Right now I want to move forward. Let things be as they genuinely are and just do my best with what I have. So for me that's bone broth, that's preparing my own foods, that's taking what I can do into my own hands, and being: hey she's going to try to relax and we'll see how things go. I hope that you can find support here at selkskin and some inspiration towards your own power and what you can do for yourself! Healing with food Is real.
In meditation we discover our inherent restlessness. Sometimes you get up and leave. Sometimes we sit there but our bodies wiggle and squirm and our minds go far away.
“This can be so uncomfortable that we feel it's impossible to stay. Yet this feeling can teach us not just about ourselves but also about what it is to be human. All of us to derive security and comfort from the imaginary world of memories and fantasies and plans. We really don't want to stay with the nakedness of our present experience it goes against the grain to stay present. These are the times when only gentleness and a sense of humor can give us the strength to settle down...
...The pith instruction is, Stay…stay...just stay.”
stretch and take breaks while writing journal posts ;-) The everyday
Even just as I was writing this blog post about staying with myself, my injury, and my path of healing I just had to stop. I need to get up and stretch now much more than I used to when I write. This is annoying. I don't like the feeling of being interrupted. I want to get in the flow of writing and I want to do what I want to do.
So when I have to stick with myself and stay I find it frustrating that I get irritated. And I can see that this is a cycle because when I get irritated, I notice I get more tense in the place in my shoulder area where my injury first was. And so it is more important than ever to notice how I've had to slow down and adjust my behavior. Pema teaches me that staying with myself (getting up and stretching and taking a break even when I don't want to) is learning to be flexible and that's why I meditate. I train in being flexible andI sit to remain curious. I train in being in the present moment and the idea is that flexibility comes from my ability to be here more often. I feel this.
I think it's so funny that even when I write about how I adjusted after an injury I notice the areas where I still don't want to help myself. I notice where I wish I was different and what I wish I could magically change. This makes it more clear the importance of staying with myself. If I don’t to live in fear, i can cultivate being gentle and kind to myself - what else is there? What else is there besides this life but cultivating the willingness to take care of myself? I feel like such a silly lady writing all these things down when I can't always practice them myself. I don’t think that’s the point. Being honest about where I am is for me right now. I write this down, I write to you now because I want to remind myself and you that we're not alone. Pema reminds me: other people feel this way. I say that to myself when the going gets angry or tired or just done and it helps.
So I take a break. I thought if my muscles are feeling a little bit exhausted from typing I should take a break sitting. So I decided to read. And then after reading for a few minutes I noticed that it wasn’t utilizing the resources I have. In the note app on the iPhone one can speak and the App will write our words down. Yeah Amelia, this has been around for a while ;-) ha! And just giving myself a moment to consider another option I found one that was different. When I'm so harsh with myself that I see only one way: no you must finish writing that's what you really want to be doing right now! I miss other options. When I push myself I notice my old injury spot gets worse. And yet when I take a break another option arises. I notice I can trust my own mind.
So much of my healing has been about trusting that I am 100% capable, right now of doing what I need to do. I'm good.
Emotions come up
The things that came up for me around this injury in my gut health has been embarrassing. I notice a lot of self-worth and body image issues. I feel not-good-enough, overweight, and unattractive. This is interesting considering that I've lost weight. I felt like I couldn't even enjoy it because my stomach was sticking out several more inches then the space I actually take up when I'm not bloated. That has been hard for me. When it was extreme I was frustrated that I couldn't enjoy all the work that I've done and the weight that stabilized. Through this all there was for me to do was to just stay with myself. I mean this has really taken a year at least to start to feel better. That's due to so many things. If you're in a similar situation I don't want you to feel that's the same for everybody. I acknowledge that I was in school until October, my partner bought a house, I have been in a day job that isn’t stimulating or challenging for me. There are many factors that contributed to this. And I share with you now to show you that I'm human. I'm nutritionist who is continually trying to be honest with myself. I am healing and challenged with foods. You're not alone and neither am I :)
What got worse before it got better?
I also noticed that my anxiety would get worse sometimes throughout this gut healing. Because I'm a Nutritionist I know digestion is the process that allows me to absorb and use the nutrients in food. I find myself getting really nervous thinking I'm spending all this money on organic, local, happy meat and veggies and eggs and various expensive foods. And I would feel frustrated because I was concerned I might be wasting them. I now know that I was not. I wasn't putting harmful pesticides into my body and I've been putting my money where my mouth is in the sense that I support the part of the food industry where I would really like to see more changes. So while I would notice my anxiety would get heightened I can also see how eating better made me feel better. Over my moods and hormones started to stabilize and I wasn’t as reactive. I can think clearly and I committed to my meditation in the still of Chygam Trungpa and I'm listening to Pema Chodron talks while I take breaks. I am putting things in place that support the direction I want to be going.The other option is to do nothing. That made me worse and my physical therapist reminds me that I have an active role to play. Yes it takes work, it takes time, it takes money, it takes attention, and it takes cultivating love and gentleness. I feel like where I was before I was putting my attention on healing was worse. There was a small voice that was like: if I hide and hibernate the reality won’t find me. It seems it often does. Even though this takes attention and practice it has become the only way now that I want to go and continue to go.
The foods and services that of been the most helpful
I started making broth sporadically last year and then started feeling like it was too much work. I was frustrated with the whole process of storing it and having enough when I wanted it. So I stop for a few months. And then I realize this really isn't that hard to figure out how to keep bones in my freezer at all times. I needed to think it through and be prepared. I started buying meats like whole chickens. Even if I wasn't ready to use the bones right after I baked the chicken I started putting them in the freezer in a bag or a container.
Also every time I was at whole foods I would pick up some beef bones if I had room in my freezer. I try to always have bones around now. I discovered a online delivery service where they will deliver local meet to my door and you can add bones. It’s all meat and animal products from Pastured, organic, local farmers and bones are an add-on item. It took research and time and yet now it's habit in my life to always have bones. So now I find I make bone broth and I drink it every day. For more information on bone broth I have a recipe in the recipe section of this website www.selkskin.com.
I become a huge fan of fermented foods and that's a tricky subject with gut healing. Cabbage is often fermented in sauerkraut or kimchi. Cabbage can also cause bloating and it did for me. I found this with beats too unfortunately. I looked into some of the foods on the GAPS, IBS or food maps diets and some of those vegetables were also aggravating to me like cauliflower, legumes, and broccoli. So the fermented food that works best for me is fermented cucumber/pickles. It's really important to get these organic because of how cucumbers are heavily sprayed with chemicals and pesticides.
I fermented pickles now from my vegetable delivery service which is great.
I currently do not have a car and I live in a major city in the East Coast so it makes sense for me to do a lot of things as a delivery. Especially when working a full time job and having my own part-time business! What's great about these services is that they deliver in containers that are reusable so there's not a lot of waste. It works for me because of my injury because of not being able to carry groceries for a long time as easily. I'm really grateful for this. I can now carry a bag of pretty heavyish groceries for about a 5 minute walk where as I couldn’t before so that’s freakin’ fabulous!
Also through the help of one of my favorite nutrition, body-work, herb friends I discovered that cooking my food thoroughly especially in the winter really helps with digestion. It's hard for my body to digest foods that are raw at every meal. I alternate between raw and cooked foods. I can do soft-boiled eggs and a cucumber or a cut up pepper for breakfast and then I find if I try to eat a salad for lunch it's a bit too harsh, too much fiber for me so alternating between a cooked meal works really well. I keep a small crockpot at work that's about 1.5 quarts and that really helps if I put it in on warm an hour before I want to eat. Then the food is warm at work without having to use a microwave.
I found the Whole30 program was a good way to go for me. I cut out grains, sugar, legumes, dairy, and processed foods/oils out. These foods are common aggravates a lot of people. Today is the 60th day that I've done this and I've noticed a huge benefit. I think when it comes to digestive issues it is hugely beneficial to cut foods out so that we start from a neutral ground in the gut to know what foods make it worse. So I did the cutting out for 60 days. I want to keep going with the no foods and yet I might add ones as I go along and I feel it makes sense. When I do want to try a food group, I'm going to add them back in very slowly. I've been keeping a journal of what my body feels like. I write everything down as in my mood, if I feel irritable, stressed, good, or too bloated and my other actual physical responses. In 1800s and some of the 1900s before Northern America had a lot of the food/allergy testing we now have this is what doctors would do with their patients.
The whole30ers recommend adding one food group back in at a time one food. So dairy for instance you would eat at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I'm going to try it with raw cheddar cheese and see how I feel after I take that day of eating dairy. Then take two more days off of not eating anything else new. The goal is to see the effect of a particular food. So I'm going to leave two days of very clean eating between adding something else back into my diet. At first doing this whole process was unattractive to me. It seemed like way too much work. At the idea of it I was exhausted so I didn't push myself. I started to do this when I had exhausted every other option. I had a lot of resistance. I'm really glad I did. It’s like any other accomplishment that is completely working. I believe I’ve got to love the body I got!
Another post specifically on the whole30 to come!
The injury and the secondary imbalances
The injury I sustained did not allow me to do a lot of cardio, yoga, or chopping of food that I love to do. I had to learn to ask for help - man was that embarrassing to realize how hard that is for me! I felt the judge rise up inside me and say, what’s wrong with you? The reality: nothing. A real woman knows how to ask for help ;-) I figured out what I COULD do in the kitchen and with exercise and I chose to move forward. I walk 4-7 miles and am now up to 30-45 minutes of yoga a day so don’t loose hope if you are in a similar boat! I am paying attention to portions of fat and yet I have lost weight eating mainly veggies, protein, and quality fat.
When I first was injured my doctor explained I could take aleve as it is a muscle relaxer and I sustained a muscle injury and more. I followed because I was in a lot of pain. And secretly, I thought I was above the negative affects of NSAIDs because I have been very active and healthy in my life. And I'm just soo coo as an alternative lady, raised by hippies on the sea, lived in Colorado and Northern CA ~ I'm untouchable right? ;-) You know that kind of new age high? I thought: they won’t be that bad. I was cocky. I was WRONG. Two aleve twice a day for three months destroyed the inner lining of my stomach and that was over a year ago. Still healing! I am getting a lot better and yet my alternative route has not been simple or easy. And I have made peace with that. Ultimately I can’t deny that I am starting to feel stronger and like I have a capacity for more emotionally despite the rough patches I go through. And I know the physical strength will come. I do feel the return of more movement and strength every day. I still have the fire in my belly and the curiosity of heart! That basic goodness and inherent capability is always there even when the clouds devour temporarily.
I experienced a lot of bloating, gassiness, and pain after eating. Sometimes I would look pregnant! Not that I don’t love pregnant bellies and yet it was scary. My doctor told me you’re young, you’ll heal. And I just wasn’t.
Feeling knocked down by an injury and not being able to digest well as a nutritionist feels bad to say the least ;-) I felt I should be better, I should know better, and I was harsh. Meditation has been a helpful friend to these experiences of self-deprecation and hopelessness. There is healing. Reach for vitality with me!
“Anytime you want to make something out of it, let go more, soften more...” ~ Pema