How Allergies Help Me To Be My Best Self
Food Allergies Make Themselves Known
Food allergies are so prevalent in our society now. I bet you or someone you know has an allergy or an intolerance to something, be it peanuts, gluten, eggs, or dairy. Sometimes it is just one. Many times, it is several allergies at the same time.
When I first realized my young daughter had a gluten intolerance, I had no idea what the heck gluten even was! Nor did I know how many different names it could have either. I used notes and guides to help me grocery shop, I tried new recipes and I learned how to cook in new ways. As I learned and changed what we ate, I realized gluten wasn’t my friend either. Then it became apparent that gluten wasn’t my only concern; dairy and corn didn’t work for me either.
The way I used to think ….
I used to think ‘we can’t have this’ or ‘we can’t eat that’. Even though we would feel pretty yucky after eating those things that we knew weren’t the best for us, they still were things we couldn’t have. That was the language I was using. It’s no wonder my young daughter used to feel slighted at birthday parties and school parties (even though I made and brought yummy allergy free options for her). That’s the way I felt about it too!
Then it slowly occurred to me that I was actually feeling better without those allergens as part of my food choices: my thinking was faster, my eyes were brighter, my joints felt looser and not as achy, my skin was clearer, and my sleep was deeper. I started to change my wording from ‘I can’t have that’ to ‘I feel better not eating that’ or ‘my body works better with another option/choice’.
I also started listening and asking my body what it wanted in that moment. For example, I’m hungry right now and I have pasta and rice in the fridge. The truth is that my growing teen needs those carbs, not I. Even though those options would be a quick lunch that would get me back to finishing this blog, I stopped and tuned into my body – what did it need? That avocado half left from yesterday’s lunch would do immediately. Then a quick fried egg with some veggies would top me up. Both are quick, would fill my hungry belly up and fuel my brain so I can finish this blog. More importantly, both are better choices than even the gluten free pasta and the rice that was also ready to eat. The more I tune into my body and ask, the easier it becomes at hearing the answer. The key to this is being quiet and listening to your body and to not act on your old patterns.
A Surprising Bonus!
Here is a bonus that happens as I start to listen to my body: I am becoming a better more authentic me throughout all of this. Wait what? How in the heck do my food choices impact being my best self? Let me explain how this works for me.
Remember before when I was talking about feeling so much better and thinking clearer and sleeping better when I started making different food choices? By not ingesting the foods that don’t resonate with my body, I am a better, more brilliant me. I am starting to come out of my shell. I am more present with myself, my family, and the world. I am truly starting to blossom. Now I understand the role my food allergies play for me and I am grateful for their role: they are a way for me to either shine or hide my true self.
Truth Time ….
Do I always tune in to my body and stay away from those foods that are not ideal for me? Truthfully – No. Read on as I explain why I sometimes don’t.
When I make food choices that are not in my best interest, the issue is not ‘I want to be like everyone else and have what they are eating’ even if I try to tell myself that. Instead, the core question for me truthfully is: why don’t I want to shine in a particular situation? As I write this question, I hear the answer clearly … because I’m afraid of being my true self (I will address that in a future blog – I promise!). When I look at those times when I didn’t eat what was best for my body, I was simply dulling my shine, afraid to be my best self.
Being My Best Self is Reflected In My Food Choices
The idea of being my best self as a reflection of my food choices is new to me and I’m still figuring it out. Yet it makes sense doesn’t it? How can I be my best self for not only me personally, but for the world when my body is not physically functioning at its best? If it’s processing food choices it doesn’t like that is kind of like putting poor quality gasoline in a car. The car will run but the engine might knock and the gas mileage won’t be the best. With poor food choices, I’m simply a duller version of myself.
It is no wonder that when I wasn’t ready to be my best self for myself or for the world, my language about my food allergies was ‘I can’t have that’ and ‘I shouldn’t have that’. Now, my language is ‘This is a better choice for my body’, and slowly I am incorporating ‘This is my best choice so I can be my most brilliant self’.
Back To My Daughter, with her permission
As a young teen now, she has a clear understanding of which foods work best for her and which foods don’t. However, she is currently in middle school. Remember those middle school years when you were trying to fit in? Figuring out who your friends were? Deciding who you wanted to be? It’s not exactly the most supportive place for her to shine her most brilliant self. Nor is she ready too either. Which is reflected in her current food choices. Here’s the thing ~ I support her choices. I understand why she wants to dull her shine a bit. When she’s ready, she’ll make different choices. In the meantime, it’s important that I become more comfortable shining my brilliance with the world to show her how, when she is ready.
Yes, I get the irony that I am sharing all of this in a public forum … but I also figure it’s time I own my brilliance and shine for all the world to see. I’m ready ?.
As you digest the idea (pun intended!) that food allergies could actually be helping you be your best self, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Try the sway test
As a side note, to help you start to hear your body more clearly, you can try the ‘sway test’ to start. Once you’ve cleared your head and are centered, simply hold the item in question to your belly and ask yourself ‘is this a good choice for me?’ Then wait for your body to naturally sway either backwards or forwards. If the item is supportive for you, your body will sway towards it; if not, your body will sway away from it. It doesn’t need to be a big sway; you’ll know as soon as your body starts to shift. I often use this is at the grocery store when trying to pick a whole watermelon or cantaloupe by asking ‘is this one ripe and good for me?’; it works brilliantly!
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Shedding the shyness of my youth, I cheer exuberantly for my daughter, her teammates, and even the opposing Field Hockey team! Their pride & heart filled smiles beam in appreciation regardless of the final score.