Here is something you may not hear many nutritionists admit: Eating clean all.the.time is EXHAUSTING.
AND…making huge dietary change overnight is not always a necessity.
In fact, it could be more detrimental to your health than what you are doing currently.
Okay, as a disclaimer: if you have known coeliac, SIBO, or other major gut issues, you’ll have to make those changes sooner than later.
When most people decide that they are no longer going to eat: gluten, dairy, soy, corn, grains, sugar, caffeine, meat, fruit, nuts, seafood, or anything white…well, there’s not a whole lot left. At least, that’s what your internal voice tells you. And if there is nothing left to eat, then you’ll surely die. However, if you don’t get rid of all these “bad” foods, well, you’ll surely die.
That’s a conundrum.
Can you give yourself permission?
Take a breath. You will surely NOT die. Not today.
Have you ever put yourself on a restrictive diet? How about an elimination diet? Now, I will say that there is a lot of good that can come out of such a plan. You can see what foods work and don’t work in your body, when done correctly. However, do you need to eliminate ALL of it at once? Probably not.
In fact, if you are a busy mother who is already so overwhelmed with life that just reading this post is making your chest tight and your heart race, then I would advise against it. The response you are having is fueling the fire to a bigger problem: adrenal burnout and hormonal imbalance.
We do it for our kids
Our children are our world and we want to protect them from it all. Sometimes we revamp our entire diet and lifestyle out of fear and love. Fear of what could potentially happen to our children: asthma, autism, obesity, ADD/ADHD, or some weird mutation. Love so strong that we will sacrifice our sanity and sense of peace to fight a war against our food and environmental toxins.
I hear ya. I did it too.
We get so wrapped up in the “right” way to feed ourselves and our kids. Sometimes we forget they are just kids, and we, are just exhausted-well-intended-loving-mothers-who-just-want-to-go-to-bed.
Our kids need us to be healthy and happy
Being a parent is the worst and best job in the world. It is energetically draining and emotionally filling. It is a mix of sacrifice and survival. Parenting is THE hardest thing we will ever have to do, especially, if we want to do it “right.”
Honestly, I’m not sure what “doing it right” means.
What I DO know, doing ANYTHING “right” it extremely difficult when you are full of anxiety, fear, guilt, and shame. This is what I saw in myself and what I see in so many of my clients, friends, and colleagues.
Can you give yourself permission?
Ladies, we are literally killing ourselves in the name of good parenting.
Last time I checked, Mom is not spelled M-A-R-T-Y-R.
Your children don’t need you to suffer. They need you to thrive. If you thrive, they thrive…even if there is some gluten in their diet.
What are we doing to ourselves!
Sweet mama, take a breath. You are doing a FANTASTIC job just as you are. You really are. Overwhelm is part of the job of parenting, however, it doesn’t have to engulf you in flames either. The trick is understanding how to find the balance between making good choices for your kids and being uber food obsessed. I don’t think that you understand how HARMFUL the instinctual urge to protect your child from every single morsel that goes in their mouth (or yours) has on your unique physiology.
You could already be the walking wounded. Let’s keep you upright and functioning by taking a look “under the hood.”
Here comes the science…
Stress comes in many forms:
- psychological – emotions
- chemical – food or other toxins
- physical – too much or too little physical exercise/movement
All of them can be good and bad. Too much of either can have a serious detrimental effect on your body systems. When you start to feel like you are “losing it,” we want to blame our hormones. You are right! Your hormones are absolutely affected; in fact, the first to be obliterated in their function are insulin, cortisol, and your thyroid hormones.
Insulin – this is the fat storage hormone. Its main job is to shuttle glucose (sugar) into your cells. Whatever it can’t put into your cells, it puts into your liver, to be stored as glycogen and FAT.
Cortisol – this hormone is your go, go juice. It gets you up in the morning and fades off to allow you to sleep at night. It’s an anti-inflammatory to buffer against chronic stressful situations – this can be chemical (like food), or more importantly psychologically (like your emotions)
Thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) – can you say METABOLISM? We all want one that runs smoothly. When this starts to slow down, you may WILL begin to notice pesky pounds and really difficult weight loss.
What these all have in common — STRESS.
I know you are probably rolling your eyes and thinking, “I’m a parent. How will I ever NOT have stress in my life?”
You will have stress. The point is, how much ADDED pressure are you putting on yourself in the realm of food for you and your family? Is it truly warranted? Would you rather relax a little, knowing that you are saving yourself from an unsavory physical future — which means saving your kids will as well?
The body’s stress response to radical dietary and lifestyle changes can be MORE detrimental than NOT making those dietary and lifestyle changes.
Can you feel it?
Lack of energy will begin to affect your blood sugar balance and insulin. This is the beginning of “running on empty.” In order to combat this, your adrenal glands will start to pump out more adrenaline and norepinephrine to give you ‘emergency’ energy to get your through that moment and perceived near death experience — like a meltdown because there is gluten in that cupcake from school. When you become chronically fearful about toxins and food poisons and the horrible ways it can affect your child, your adrenals have to work even harder for the hormone cortisol to buffer the chronic issues that come along with this: the need for stored blood sugar to dump into your system for fuel and/or the inflammation that has your immune system on overdrive because of a damaged gut and broken sugar regulating system.
Once your adrenal glands decide they need a vacation, your thyroid hormone will slow down…and here come the pounds.
Not so pretty, is it?
What’s interesting is this: if you LET IT GO (yes, like the movie says), your body RELAXES a little. Your blood sugar will stabilize. Your stimulating hormones will taper to a maintenance dose, and your thyroid hormones will be easier to bring back into balance.
Release your grip on “DOING IT RIGHT” all.the.time. Start to trust that you are doing the best that you can, imperfectly.
And…It is OKAY – In fact, it may SAVE you
That might seem oddly harsh, but my friends, it is no joke.
Being meticulous about nutrition is EXHAUSTING. Your intentions should be honored, however, your ability to achieve radical change in all those areas should not be scrutinized…especially, from ourselves.
The strain that comes for pushing ourselves too far and being fueled by anxiety, fear, guilt, and shame, can cause that hormonal domino effect I mentioned above and land you in bed for weeks, maybe even months. Autoimmune disease and even cancer are related to hormone disregulation and high stress levels, not to mention heart attack.
I’m not kidding.
So, If you ever needed permission to ease up on those food rules and the pressure to “do it right.” here it is:
Give youself permission to protect your body from severe harm that will affect YOU and the people you are trying to love and protect.
Now take a breath (or 3, or 10), remember you are doing the best you can, and exhale when your kiddo bites into a gluten-sugar-dairy-laden cookie from school without asking you.
I promise, the world will NOT stop turning, your kids won’t sprout a third eye, that anxiety will start to be replaced with energy, and love will overtake fear.
YOU are the BEST MOM in the WORLD.
Love You More,