Dining with Lyme can be challenging, but it can also be enjoyable and even fun. It doesn’t have to be a drag your feet and grumble experience. You should enjoy food, and in return, the food you eat should be nourishing and healing. On the other hand, processed food and bad nutrition can be such a detriment. It is important to understand that nutrition is a big part of successful Treatment.
If I told you that you could feel better, have more energy and vitality, and possibly get your life and health back once and for all by changing the way you eat and adjusting your lifestyle, would you be willing to try it?
Without proper nutrition and attention to overall health and well-being, you cannot adequately monitor the progress of your treatment. You will ultimately fail in completely healing your body and getting your life back. This is the single most important part of treating Lyme disease in my opinion. You can take all of the antibiotics, tinctures, and therapies you can think of for the rest of your life, but if you fail to do this one part, you will not succeed. What’s the worst that could happen? You could get healthy.
When being treated for Lyme disease or Candida it is important to adhere to a strict diet. Some people will have sensitivities to certain foods, and some will not. I cannot stress enough the importance of learning and understanding this. The Elimination Diet has helped me in my healing more than anything else. And, it forced me to learn about food and how it works in my body.
See below for more on the What, When, How, and Why of eating habits.
What We Eat
Diet is often thought of as a dirty word, a temporary way to lose weight. Consider instead, that it is more of a lifestyle for overall health. Diet is the first line of defense in prevention and successful treatment of all illness. It is a critical part of keeping our body and immune system fully functioning. We always hear our doctors say “Eat right; exercise, and you’ll stay healthy.” But what exactly does that mean?
Our modern culture is no longer conducive to “eating right” or “staying healthy.” Besides our over-scheduled, over-stressed, and over-priced lifestyles, most of the food that is available is not really what I would consider food. And it’s making us all sick.
If you go to most grocery stores, the majority of what you will find on the shelves is not fit for human consumption. If you start to read the ingredients and look into manufacturing processes of the companies that provide our “food” you will be shocked at what you find. Even the “healthy”, “all natural”, “whole grain”, “low fat”, “low sodium”, “sugar free” and “gluten free” products are usually full of unhealthy and unnatural products.
Any pre-packaged food is full of sugar, MSG, and chemicals that we would not voluntarily put into our bodies if we had the individual ingredients sitting in front of us. The dairy and meat that we eat is often full of hormones and antibiotics. The produce is laden with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. If it isn’t organic, chances are it is genetically modified, since labeling is not required by the FDA at this time.
This is where we need to literally put our money where our mouth is.
I often hear “Organic is so expensive.” And believe me, I understand this, but hear me out. Is it really that much more expensive when you are instead spending money on doctor visits, hospital bills, and pharmaceuticals to treat the symptoms and diseases caused by a diet of bad food? Chances are it is actually cheaper in the long run. It is also more apt to be self-sustaining for the environment. If you stop buying junk food, fast food, processed and freezer aisle food, you’d be surprised how much money you can put towards food that heals you.
I could go on and on about this, but I encourage you to do your own research into this and find out the truth behind it all. If you truly cannot afford Organic or do not have it available, try local farmers that don’t use synthetic pesticides and fertilizers on their produce.
At the very least, avoid dairy and meat products that contain hormones and antibiotics. This is one of the single most detrimental habits of our food industry. Above all, stop eating fast-food and sugar! Stop eating non-food.
When We Eat
We often don’t pay attention to when we eat, or an eating schedule unless it is imposed upon us. There are many opinions on this, but I have found common sense prevails. It is common to eat the same types of meals at about the same time every day. Our bodies get into a natural rhythm when we do this.
However, eating when you are not hungry is not a good idea. Your body does not need any help telling you when it needs food and when it doesn’t. Instead of trying to master your body with the latest dietary trend, learn to listen to it. Occasionally skipping a meal is good for you, and allows your digestive system to empty out before piling more food into it. Often if you are not hungry at a normal meal time, it is because your body is asking for a break or more time.
Some people believe small meals throughout the day are better than 3 full meals a day. It truly does depend on the individual person, their level of activity, and their metabolism. Some people only require 2 meals per day.
There are a few key things to note regarding this:
Eating only one meal per day, which workaholics tend to do, is not a healthy schedule. This puts your body into “starvation” mode, and what happens when you do eat is your body stores as much of it as reserves (fat) as it possibly can to prepare for the next starvation period. You do need a regular input of nutrients to create a regular output of energy.
Constantly eating and snacking stresses the system and does not allow for proper digestion. Eating large quantities of food too close together is not healthful. Your body needs periods of rest between meals so it is able to produce the digestive enzymes required when you eat. This allows you to assimilate nutrients and process food efficiently. Consequently, taking vitamin and mineral supplements when there is not a lack causes cravings for more food to balance the excess.
Snack Wisely. Eat when you are truly hungry, not out of habit, boredom, or as a substitute for happiness. Not everyone needs snacks. Some people with a high metabolism may need a snack to get them through the day. If you are hungry, eat. Snacks should consist of easily digestible foods like fruit, raw veggies, or a small amount of nuts. Avoid high carbohydrate and high glycemic (sugary) foods for snacks as this causes spikes in the blood sugar. If you tend to crave sugar and junk food, try incorporating more essential “good” fats into your diet.
Don’t Eat and Sleep. Eating late, or napping after eating is also not good for digestion. Your body slows the digestive system while you sleep, especially at night, to allow for rest and rejuvenation. This is when your body heals and produces new cells. If you keep it busy digesting food because you eat too late or wake up and have midnight snacks, you are preventing the natural healing process.
This allows food to sit too long in your intestines causing fermentation and creates a breeding ground for pathogenic microbes. In turn it disrupts sleep patterns. If you don’t sleep well, you don’t heal well, and this negatively affects your body, mind, and emotional state. All in all, it’s just not a good idea. If you feel tired after a meal it is usually because you’ve overindulged. Try taking a walk instead as this helps with digestion.
Intentional fasting , on a yearly basis, can be very good for you, so long as you drink enough water. One word of caution, however, not eating for extended periods of time due to an eating disorder, stress or high emotions is not a good thing. In these cases, you must force yourself to eat at least a little and get help. The longer you go without food, particularly 4 days or longer, you will begin to hallucinate, which can further your mental or emotional state. Start with fruit, to kick-start the digestive system gently after any extended time without food.
Care should be taken in water only fasts. If there are large amounts of toxins present in your body, they can be released when the fat reserves are tapped and can be dangerous depending on type and quantity of toxins. Also, medications generally should not be taken during fasting unless approved by your doctor as their effects can be enhanced or altered. There are many types and methods of fasting. Choose one that is appropriate for you and always consult with your doctor first..
How We Eat
What we eat is certainly important, but we tend to overlook the importance of how we eat as well. There are some basic biological functions of food and nutrition that can be used as guidelines to make intelligent choices in how we eat:
Don’t eat and run. Your mindset and even where your thoughts are affect digestion. If you’re stressed, in a hurry, preoccupied, watching TV, working, driving, arguing with someone or having an intense conversation while you eat, you are negatively affecting the digestive process.
Relax and enjoy your food. Your state of mind and relaxation while eating is equally as important as the food you put in your mouth. You can eat the highest quality organic ingredients available cooked by a 5 star chef and presented on a gold plate, but if you are stressed or unhappy, your food will not be digested properly and can cause disease.
Gratitude or “Saying Grace” has been in many cultures all over the world in one form or another for a reason. It doesn’t have to be religious, or done in any particular way. But taking the time to look at your food, smell it, and be grateful for it begins the digestive process and puts the mind and body at ease.
Your focus should be on the food and nourishment, not on all the other things that can wait until you have eaten. If you digest your food well, you will have more energy and a clearer mind to do all of those things more efficiently.
It helps to understand the process your food goes through before it gets to your table. Anyone who has grown their own tomatoes in their backyard understands how much time and labor goes into producing even one tomato.
Giving your food the respect and appreciation it deserves gives new perspective and allows you to enjoy it more. It also tends to diminish the habit of overeating. If you had to hunt and grow your own food, I doubt you would pile your plate so high.
Portion sizes have far exceeded what the human body needs and our modern culture encourages overeating. Because we don’t chew our food and we feel the need to empty our plates, we tend to eat long past the time of actually being full. This also taxes the body, creates more waste, and encourages fermentation, toxins, and bad microbes to inhabit our insides.
When it comes to food, less truly is more. Choose to eat quality food as opposed to high quantities of non-food that feeds microbes and leaves you craving sugar, salt, bread, snacks, and things that your body doesn’t want.
“Chew your food!” We’ve all heard this saying, and it is highly underestimated. This is the first step in the process of digestion. Food should be chewed into tiny bits and mixed with saliva, called mastication. This is where important enzymes go to work to begin digesting foods that are difficult and take time to digest, like fatty or starchy foods.
Without this process, you are missing vital nutrients and slowing down your digestive process overall. This often results in fermentation and putrefaction which supports the growth of pathogens. One way to ensure you do this is not to drink excessive liquids during or immediately after a meal (which is important for proper digestion anyway). Drink your water first, then eat. If you don’t have liquids to wash down your food, you have no choice but to chew it! If you must drink, drink water and take only small sips, but don’t use it to get the food down.
Choose Whole Foods. Whole Foods is not equivalent to raw foods. Whole Foods are as close to their natural state as possible. Other than cooking foods and combining them, there is no reason this is not achievable. There is no need to eat highly processed foods. Contrary to popular belief, you can make whole and healthful foods convenient and palatable with a little bit of foresight and creativity (see the Recipes page)..
Why We Eat
We covered the what, how, and when of eating. But how many of us ask why? Sure there’s the obvious you have to eat or you die answer. Did you ever ask why? Food is our main source of healing. Every cell in our body is made from the food we eat and the water we drink. Every biological function starts with our food.
If we do not eat quality whole foods, the food we eat quickly changes from a source of healing, to a source of damage and illness. When you really get down to it, the food we eat can either make us healthy and happy…or it can kill us.
We may not have a choice as to whether we are infected with the Lyme spirochete, or any other infectious disease if we are exposed to it. But, we DO have the choice as to what we put in our bodies.
Those choices significantly affect our ability to fight diseases when we are exposed to them, and to heal our bodies when they are injured. Those choices are often the determining factor in treatment success. They certainly affect the quality of our daily lives and our longevity.
Dining With Lyme Can Be Healing…