The following post shares tips and personal experiences being on a healing diet. If you’ve never heard of this, know that it is simply a shift in eating less of what my body can’t handle and more nutritionally dense, healing foods. I am in no way advocating fad diets that are superficial and look at calories or weight alone. A healing diet should be deeply nourishing and the real focus is eliminating foods that can harm the body such as refined sugar and processed foods, replacing them with healthier options. (*This article contains affiliate links.)
So what do you do when you’re a mom of four and on a strict healing diet? Well, first, you might cry a little for the foods you have to give up temporarily. And then, you get a plan.
I’ve been down this road before, so it’s not the first time I’ve had to manage major food changes in the home with young kids and a baby. It’s not easy, but I’ve found some tips and tricks that make it possible.
(Let me preface this all with a note: I don’t think healing diets are a fad, they are powerful ways to heal if that’s what you need. But they are not for everyone. I’m also not here to dole out advice or promote radical diet changes in your life – you can chat with your doc about that.)
The first go around was pretty painful. I was addicted to certain foods and didn’t quite realize the extent until I removed them from my diet. My body let me know real quick what was up. After I got through that initial shock, healing came steady and fast. But it was laborious. It often felt like learning a new language. I had never been great in the kitchen (read me: I didn’t know how to cook basic white rice when I got married), my favorite dining establishment was Taco Bell, and I lived off of Coke. Wildly shifting gears to home cooking in traditional ways was a lot to learn.
The hard part about it both times is that when I first start, I don’t really have the energy to be in the kitchen and do the work for the diet. A double edged sword since the diet helps my body heal and regain strength and energy. The thing I’ve learned with my body is that there’s no halfsies. I can’t go 80/20 on things and still feel okay. It’s all or nothing – no cheats or I’m back at square one.
St. Irenaeus said “the glory of God is man fully alive.” If I’m sneaking foods I know will make me achy, tired, depressed, and sick, I’m not giving God glory. When I care for my body the best I can, I’m freed up to serve God as He calls me to in my vocation.
My good friend Meagan over at Whiskey and Rosary shared her story this week on discovering this truth – giving God our best often means making hard changes. It’s hard, but usually worth it in the service of God as a mother.
Through it all, I’ve learned it’s vital to keep a little toolbox handy at all times so I can weather cravings, schedule changes, and stress without too much extra work to stay on the diet and continue healing. Here’s my toolbox – the things I keep around and handy so I can pull out when things pile up and try to derail my healing.
MY HEALING DIET TOOLBOX
10 things that help keep me on track when on a healing diet.
Stock up on LaCroix sparkling water. These gems helped me kick the Coke habit. They are sparkly, tasty, and easy to get. I buy them by the 24 pack at Costco to last me. Totally hits the spot when I need something refreshing or when others are drinking around me and I want a special drink.
Splurge on Epic bison bars. These are pricey so I only use them when I really need them, usually while traveling. They are meat bars that taste mostly like a beef jerky stick (sans preservatives and harmful ingredients). We’ve traveled 3000 miles (twice) while I was on a restricted diet and these puppies saved the day when traveling through rural areas with minimal food options.
Get a Thrive Market membership. Friends always ask me if it’s worth it. For me, ten times yes. It’s $59/year for the membership and you’ve got a goldmine of natural/allergen free foods, products, supplements, and more opened up to you all at half price or more of retail. That’s about $5/month for the membership – I easily save more than that shopping there so it’s definitely worth it. The best way to test it? When you sign up with my referral link, you’ll get 15% off your first order and a whole month free. Cancel if you don’t find it’s worth it. That’s what I did and found it to be overwhelmingly worth it while on AIP and keep up the membership.
Eat before events. This takes a little planning ahead but is easy. Whenever we are invited to an event, whether it’s a party, potluck, or bowling party, I eat beforehand. That way it’s easy to pass on tempting foods that could derail my healing progress. Another tip is to offer to bring something and cook a dish you love so you can be sure to safely eat at least one item at the party.
Bring snacks in your bag. I always keep oranges, an Epic bar, and an applesauce pouch in my purse or diaper bag at all times. That way if something doesn’t go as planned and I get stuck out of the house longer than expected I’m not starving or tempted to eat out. Here’s the diaper bag I’m currently using and it’s glorious. Tons of space, simple, easy to carry, and a lot of random pockets to hide snacks for both me and the kids.
Find your sweet treat. Life can be stressful and there’s something cathartic about digging into a bowl of ice cream at the end of a long day to unwind. Some Saints have even commented on the goodness of a glass of wine to treat yo’self. When on a healing diet, it’s easy to overlook this and just try to will your way through it. Which usually ends badly. No matter what my restrictions are, I try to find that one food combo that hits the spot. My current faves: bananas with coconut butter (I use this brand) or whipped coconut cream with a touch of raw honey over fresh berries. It seriously fills me up like a bowl of chocolate ice cream used to.
Schedule events that don’t involve food. It’s hard enough to eat this way, but trying to explain why you brought your own food at a dinner event is just awkward. Sometimes it has to be done, but it’s a welcome break to plan events that don’t involve food or not as directly. I recently scheduled some friend BYOB picnics: bring your own basket. Each family brings just what they want for their family to eat, then we all just hang out. It’s also appealing since no one has to host or clean up afterwards.
Make it a fast. Instead of feeling sorry for myself or focusing on how difficult eating right can be, I’ve found that making the struggle a type of fast and prayer helps sustain me and bring eternal value to this temporary limitation. I try to remember to unite myself to the poor who have no choice in what they eat most days and refrain from complaining, even internally. Because let’s be honest, scarfing down bone broth, veggies, and meat while my kid is chomping on a gluten free chocolate chip cookie isn’t the most fun thing I’ve ever done. God and souls, God and souls.
Buy the books. Figuring out what to eat can be so hard at first until it becomes routine. I’ve definitely had days where I’ve eaten the same five things on repeat because I just can’t think creatively what to do with everything in the kitchen. Buying some reliable cookbooks by experts on this diet has been invaluable. When I’m in a rut, I just pull them out and try new combinations to keep things fresh. Without some decent cookbooks, I wouldn’t last more than a couple weeks eating this way. (Here’s one I’m using a ton lately).
Meal plan. The first time I ever did this I sat with my forehead on the kitchen table and cried. I was inept. I literally had no clue how to meal plan. Now, it’s second nature. My more detailed ones at first included every meal for every day written out for the week. Then I would make my grocery list based on what I needed just for those meals and snacks. I hung it on the fridge and stuck with it for the week. I’m a little more relaxed now and can grab things without too much planning and still have a good week, but whenever things start derailing or I’m not eating as well, this is one of the first things I get back to. It also helps keep me in budget.
There are so many other great tips out there – but keeping these particular ones in my toolkit help get me through the daily grind of being on a healing diet.
Have you ever been on a healing diet for medical or personal reasons? What did you keep in your toolkit to stick with it and find healing on the other side? Hit me up in the comments – I’d love to hear what works for you!