I’m not Vegan. I’m not Paleo. I’m Jordan.
I won’t ONLY listen to functional medicine practitioners or ONLY listen to MD’s. I’ll listen to anyone and everyone, and choose to absorb what makes sense to me.
I also don’t believe that everyone could benefit from a juice cleanse. Or benefit from eliminating grains.
I believe that if someone is satisfied with their health while acknowledging and understanding the consequences of their choices, who is anyone else to preach to them about what they’re doing wrong?
I came across a practitioner’s website the other day that made me wonder how many people actually “get it.” This person billed himself as running an “Alternative Integrative Functional Medicine Practice.”
Someone’s a little buzzword-happy.
I’ve seen it a lot. People get caught up in one way of thinking and begin to live by that one particular method or way of life. They become so devoted to their cause that it becomes almost more important to be a part of something than to be doing it for the driving reason that you dove into it for in the first place.
I’ve got a friend of a friend who’s been a committed cross-fitter now for about four years. He initially got on the wagon to lose weight and get in shape. About two months ago, I ran into him.
He looked heavier than I recalled him being and he was complaining about a sore back, letting me know that he was popping a few Advils a day so that he could stick to his workout routine. And he couldn’t tell me enough about how amazing Crossfit is and how it’s changed his life.
I learned my lesson long ago about getting into pissing contests with staunch advocates of ANYTHING and so I let it go. But I couldn’t help but think to myself: how does this guy not hear the message that his body is sending him?
The short answer, in my opinion, is that he’s happy to be a part of something. Nobody really likes feeling alone in the world.
Believing in a cause, be it Veganism, The Paleo Diet, Alternafunctionaturopathic Medicine, Crossfit, Yoga, The Grateful Dead or anything else close to your heart can make you a part of a community. And listening when your body is screaming for a change, and leaving that community, can be very difficult.
Just ask Alex Jamieson. When she came out as no longer being Vegan, the internet health community nearly exploded. And since she anticipated that would be the case, it made her “coming-out” process even more difficult. But her body was demanding that she make a change and so she finally listened.
I highly encourage you to not let your desire to be a part of something cloud your judgement concerning what your body is in need of. Just because your body feels wonderful on day three of a juice cleanse doesn’t mean it’d feel so wonderful on day eleven.
Here are several instances where you need to recognize the warning signs and take a step back.
You’re Constantly Sore or Injured
I admire people who try to push through pain. In fact, I’ve been one of those people many times. But often times, you’re likely doing yourself more harm than good.
If the simplest movements start to require effort, or if you’re getting hurt a little too often, it’s time to rethink your exercise regimen. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place for those Crossfit deadlifts or clean and jerks, but perhaps a break might do you well.
Take a few months to try something that will use different muscles and allow your body to heal.
Your Months-Long Health Protocol is Yielding No Results
It’s important to give any root-cause treating health protocol several months to produce results. But If you’ve been spending your time and money on something that just isn’t creating any positive change for you, there comes a point where you need to take a step back.
The protocol itself might be a good one, but far too often the cart’s been put before the horse, as other factors that have yet to be addressed are limiting your ability to improve.
Sometimes simply hitting the reset button and surveying the landscape will give you proper perspective on what your next steps should be.
Your “Die-Off” or Herxheimer Reaction is Seemingly Never-Ending
While practitioners often warn patients that they may experience die-off (The Herxheimer reaction) at the beginning of treatment, there’s a big difference between die-off and an allergic reaction, food intolerance or health setback.
The former is your immune system’s reaction to toxins that are being released when large amounts of pathogens are being killed off, as it’s unable to eliminate these toxins quickly enough. The most common causes of die-off include:
- Starting or increasing the dosage of an antibiotic, anti-parasitic or anti-fungal medication, which can be like pulling the pin out of a grenade and watching everything in its immediate vicinity go up in flames.
- Shifting from a processed food diet to a real food diet, which can starve pathogens.
- Increasing your probiotic dosage, which can crowd out pathogens.
True die-off symptoms usually present in one or more of these forms:
- Skin Issues
- Brain Fog
- Fever and Chills
- Muscle Aches
Pay attention to not confuse die-off with:
- An allergic reaction or intolerance to a new supplement: Read labels carefully. Supplements often contain fillers that your body might not agree with.
- An allergic reaction or intolerance to a new food: The most common allergens are dairy, nuts, eggs and grains. Start off by eliminating all four of those for 2-3 weeks and adding them back in one by one. Pay attention to how your body reacts.
- Excessive inflammation: Take inventory of other factors going on in your life and look to resolve issues such as stress, lack of sleep and poor dietary choices before simply deeming your symptoms a byproduct of die-off.
The key here, as always, is to listen to your body and not be afraid to take one step back in order to take two steps forward.
Your Diet is Paralyzing Your Social Life
This can easily be a whole topic unto itself, but the short of it is that the stress that you’re creating from your desire to adhere to your diet can easily produce negative effects that far outweigh the benefits of the diet itself.
I’m not saying “screw it, go for pizza,” but I’m definitely encouraging you to make an effort to occasionally escape your comfort zone.
There’s always a way to make your social life work. Good friends will bend for you, and in turn you can do the same.
While sticking to a healing diet can be challenging, the positive effects of being amongst loved ones certainly outweigh the inconveniences of bringing your own food or asking a restaurant kitchen to modify their menu for you.
Diet can only take you so far, as you’ll need to optimize other aspects of your life, especially your sense of community, in order to truly heal.
Keep Your Eye on The Prize
You’re chasing health so that you can be happy. Don’t lose sight of that.
Doing something or being a part of something that provides you with hope is great. It’s really great, in fact, and I’m not discouraging it. But don’t let the rose-colored lenses of hope prevent you from being aware of the reality that you’re living.
Most importantly, keep your eyes and ears open for the signals that your body is sending you.