Finding Balance in My Food Choices
Nutrition is a loaded topic - there are umpteen million diets out there that promise agelessness, weight loss, glowing skin, more strength, better performance, and more. I have probably been on almost every form of diet there is, due in fact to my Crohn’s disease. I have suffered with this disease since my mid 20’s when I was diagnosed, although it’s likely I had it since my teens. Crohn’s can be quite challenging; rendering me weak, malnourished, grumpy and irritable at times. For those unfamiliar, Crohn’s is an autoimmune disease that affects any area of your intestines and causes large and small ulcers throughout your digestive system. At my worst, I haven’t been able to eat anything other than broth and doubled over in pain afterwards, running to the bathroom. My weight has fluctuated between 5 to 15 pounds lighter or heavier depending on how I am absorbing what I’m eating.
It’s a real pain in the butt as a disease (pun intended!) and as most autoimmune disease sufferers know, it’s unseen. The good AND the bad news is that I always look fine, barring some obvious things like looking fatigued or overtired; you can’t see my Crohn’s. I can feel awful and yet I look completely normal. I take that as either good or bad, depending on the day.
I found relief post an intense abdominal surgery to remove a foot and a half of my diseased intestines in late 2016. I was able to start from scratch, so to speak, with only the healthy parts of my intestines remaining. I had no more inflammation and I could work on preventing any further inflammation from starting. I worked with a nutritionist to eliminate a lot from my diet that causes inflammation (for me that was corn, soy, high fat proteins like beef, eggs, dairy, and unhealthy oils like canola or palm). Eventually I became fully vegan and stuck to it for almost 3 years. I also eliminated alcohol and lived happily and soberly for that important healing time post surgery. It’s amazing how eating cleanly can really change your life and allow your body to heal.
This year with more time on my hands, I started working out more and surfing a ton and I wasn’t feeling as strong as I wanted to feel. I wasn’t getting the nutrients I needed. I was feeling weak consistently post a two and a half hour surf session and I’d have to get out of the water to refuel. I didn’t feel like I could keep up or surf to my full potential. Food is fuel and with my increased activity, I needed more of it. I recently reintroduced selective lean animal proteins back into my diet to help keep my strength up (fish, turkey, bison, and others). It’s super important to me to feel strong and confident, in both my professional life and in my athletic life in and out of the water.
My education on nutrition is ongoing and I’m excited to listen to this week’s upcoming seminar “Nutrition Secrets for Surfers”, presented by Yoniswell and Leah Donatiello. Her tips are for anyone with a super active lifestyle, not just for surfers. I’m anxious to hear her advice for additional nutrient dense, digestible, and non-processed foods that I can add into my regimen. To sign up for the seminar, click the orange button above this text - we'll gather this Wednesday, 1/27 at 5pm PST to learn more.
I always see my symptoms subside when I am taking care of myself with what food I put in my body. The side benefits are pretty spectacular too: better surfing, more confidence, better feelings/less emotional, and feeling healthier. It’s essential that I make food that allows my health to be the priority.