As a chronic multi-decade sufferer of acid reflux disease, I grew weary of the fact that increasing my dosage of omeprazole seemed to be the only solution (outside of surgery). Omeprazole 2x daily plus antacids as needed didn’t appear to be solving anything. About 3 months ago I started feeling a new pain associated with the reflux problem, likely the beginnings of an ulcer. Either that or an aortic aneurysm. Any stomach pain that you look up is automatically terminal anyway, so might as well try something outside the box…
I stumbled upon a couple of blog sites that indicated ketogenic dieting as a viable option. They were right. Other than the occasional antacid, I am basically symptom free. The bonus is that 15 lbs fell off in just a few weeks. I wasn’t really trying to lose weight (though it didn’t hurt). I was just hoping to fix this lifelong problem. The eating style is not without its challenges. Cinnamon rolls are not on the menu. At family gatherings while people are chowing down on my Mom’s world-class meatloaf, I’m eating sliced turkey and salad. But it’s a worthy trade-off from where I was before.
The point is this — we’re all a bit different, and there is no one-size-fits-all dietary regimen. The generic food pyramid, along with a primary care provider’s advice, is a good place to start. But ultimately you have to determine whether or not what you are eating is causing you problems. Some people can’t drink milk. I can’t have grains or sugars. Some with gall bladder issues have to watch fat intake. But we have a tendency to overcomplicate things and then stress about it.
When I was living in LA, just about everyone was gluten-free or vegan. While there is no doubt that some people do have a legitimate intolerance for gluten (including me, apparently), following a dietary trend just because it comes out of LA is unwise. I remember a woman asking me if the fish on our restaurant menu was a good vegan selection. Wisdom about your diet comes from consciously evaluating how you personally feel after you eat. Until I started using the Headspace app to meditate, I don’t think I ever “scanned” down my body before. Sure, some days we feel like crap, but what is the cause? It could be pain, exhaustion, stress, illness, etc. Until we really examine how we’re feeling and begin experimenting with ways to remedy the situation, we’re stuck. It’s a fairly easy thing to do. After a meal, do you feel unworthy of love and generally disgusted? Might be worth taking a look at making some changes.
We have a tendency in our culture to live in extremes. Part of this is evolutionary. I really can’t recall where I read this, but the reason we’re compelled to stuff ourselves with sugar comes from a time when we lived a feast or famine existence. If we found a fig tree, we ate all of the figs. Now that food is abundant, we can eat as much as we want all the time. But the survival mechanism to do so no longer serves a purpose, and it is actually killing us. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be all or nothing. We just have to make a conscious effort to determine what our own personal dietary needs are. Secondarily, we have to recognize why we are eating what we are eating. If every meal is functioning as a tool to fill up an emotional void, it’s probably not meeting your nutritional needs. If every meal is an attempt to achieve immortality, you probably never feel the joy associated with a pizza buffet. Here’s a scientific diagram that illustrates the spectrum.
abc </= lmnop
(bad) cyanide — oxygen (good)
^die now^ ^die later^
Everything else we do falls somewhere in the middle of this spectrum. You’re allowed to enjoy a chocolate shake from time to time (unless you are me). But you should also be eating more vegetables than you probably are. This isn’t ground-breaking news. But it is something that we have to be more conscious of (of which we have to be more conscious, yes I know but it sounds pedantic). So take a day and pay attention to all of your meals. Focus on eating the meal instead of focusing on something else. You’ll begin to automatically sense whether what you are doing is helping or harming you, and very small changes really do add up.
If you feel bloated and tired all the time, try a ketogenic approach for 10 days. It won’t be for everyone, but it has changed my life without question. For instance, I have become much more smug. I appear much taller while lying down. The gifts just keep coming.