Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or nutritionist so always consult your doctor before doing anything diet related. What I write in the following blog is my personal opinion. I am a mental health professional and am writing with the purpose to educate on the link between diet and mental health.
How is your diet? The Lord has been walking me through a new layer in my journey of optimal health over the past month. Three weeks ago, I prayed and was lead to do some big changes in my eating habits. Since then, I have learned recently how important it is to eat super clean if you want to have a peaceful mind. Did you know that 95% of serotonin is generated in the gut? I have also learned about a bacteria that if it grows out of hand can cause ALL SORTS OF MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES. It’s called candida and I kinda poo pooed it for a while, but I have been eating a candida-free diet and I have taken my mental health optimization to the next level. You don’t want to miss out on this freedom. You know in the Bible how Daniel and his men ate really clean before battle and it strengthened them? Well, it turns out that the foods that are man made, you know, processed food, dairy products, sugar…FEED CANDIDA. Cravings for sugar and carbs and alcohol can come from the hungry little bacteria living in your gut who want their dinner.
I also learned where EMDR can be handy because eating can often be wrapped up in both our identities and our maladaptive coping mechanisms. I used to have the belief that I “have a sweet tooth,” “I eat anything,” “I’m not picky” and when stressed I am someone who found chocolate and TV to be a really good combo. Who am I going to be apart from these things? I feared losing myself as I let go of food item by food item and finally gave up coffee (gasp!). I have fasted before but I’ve never made a life long commitment to eating clean and adopting a new identity alongside it. “I am healthy” is my new main belief when it comes to nutrition. If something doesn’t go with that, then it doesn’t get to go in my body. You do you, though. I’m just saying that depression, pms, anxiety, mood swings, irritability, etc. can all be linked with candida. All of our bodies have candida but some of us, especially those of us that eat a ton of processed foods, have an overgrowth of it and it’s my opinion that it could be worth reading up on it and perhaps taking some baby steps (or big leaps, in my case) towards eating clean to kill off the candida in your gut.
The initial downside of the process that I experienced was that just like kicking drugs, my body went into full detox mode when given the opportunity to get rid of the candida and when the candida is on its way out it emits A LOT of toxins that can produce all sorts of uncomfortable symptoms (to name a few: headaches, itchy skin, lots of going to the bathroom). This is totally normal, but there is no guaranteed time for how long the detoxing process takes. In my journey, one night I had some pizza and it almost felt like I had to start the process all over again, and every time I gave something new up, like coffee, the detox symptoms revved up. I keep reminding myself that detox is good because I don’t want to have toxins. It also gave me compassion for people who I might view as toxic. Perhaps, I wondered, they might unknowingly have candida overgrowth that is causing their symptoms.
The other thing that happened that totally surprised me was that as I was letting go of “comfort foods” I was really, really emotionally sensitive and easily triggered. As the triggers came up I was able to do EMDR on myself and float back to memories that I think might have been stored in my stomach. Traumas can be stored in the body, and in my case, I used to eat sugar and carbs to “feel better” growing up quite a bit after trauma occurred which may have paused the emotional processing experience needed to move through.
After about three weeks of detoxing my gut and killing off the candida I feel so much calmer and have energy that lasts all the way through the evening. When I feel tired I rest, when I’m hungry I eat. I feel more in tune with myself, God and others as I eat what is nourishing to my body.