Life with chronic illness can inspire strong emotions that trigger emotional eating. If the foods chosen are inflammatory, autoimmune flares may follow, turning short-term comfort into longer-lasting pain. This often leads to feelings of shame, guilt, and self-judgment, which can drive more emotional eating, creating a vicious cycle. If you find yourself caught in this pattern, you aren’t alone. Today’s podcast is designed to help. My guest is Tomesha Campbell. She is a fellow autoimmune warrior, as well as an AIP certified coach who specializes in Intuitive Eating. She’ll be sharing her personal experience and professional advice.
Stress is a common trigger of autoimmune flares, and chronic stress leads to chronic inflammation. Thankfully, there are many techniques that can help us manage stress better. You can also quickly browse this topic by resource type: articles and podcasts. Not sure where to begin? Start here.
Can you go a day without complaining? When I first heard of this challenge, I thought to myself: “Oooh! That sounds really hard!” Yet I don’t see myself as a negative person. I have a daily gratitude practice, and it was born from my darkest days with rheumatoid arthritis. When pain seemed to be my whole world, I needed to find a way to still see beauty. That gratitude practice saved me. But that doesn’t mean I have a perfect mindset. I definitely complain. I think most people do. Complaining feels good in the moment, but research shows it increases stress and harms health long-term. So, how can we break the habit? In this article, I share how.
With autoimmune disease, flares are part of the experience, and we cannot prevent every single one. However, that doesn’t mean we’re powerless. Discovering our own flare triggers is a powerful piece of self-knowledge. It can help minimize how often we flare and how severe those flares are. That’s the focus of our discussion today. I’ve invited two other autoimmune warriors to join me. We’ll be sharing our personal flare triggers and how we manage them to live our healthiest lives.
You may know Shauna Ahern as The Gluten-Free Girl, author of the award-winning food blog and cookbook series. Now, her career has gone in a different direction. After experiencing a medical crisis brought on by stress, she started looking at her life through a joy lens, removing stressors and adding more pleasure and peace. Now, it’s her mission to help others do the same. The truth is, it’s often easier to find joy when life is going well, but what if you’re in the middle of an autoimmune flare? What if you’re struggling with depression or anxiety? What if you’re in the middle of a life crisis? Is joy something we can cultivate even during our most difficult times? And what are the benefits if we learn how? These are the questions we’ll be exploring in our conversation today.
If you ask people with autoimmune disease to name their biggest flare triggers, stress often tops the list. And if you ask people to name their top sources of stress, many are overwhelmed by the news. Today’s podcast is a life skill building episode – one that’s very important for emotional and physical health. How do we consume the news in a way that keeps us accurately informed without becoming overwhelmed? How do we discern fake news from real news? And how do we break through feelings of powerlessness to see where we can make a difference in the world? My guest is Sharon McMahon, an expert who shares non-partisan information about news and democracy. She’s a voice of reason in unreasonable times, and I’m grateful to have her on the podcast today.
If you feel overwhelmed in the face of suffering, you aren’t weak, you’re human. If you also have autoimmune disease, you have a body that’s more sensitive to stress which means autoimmune flares might arise alongside. If you have a history of trauma (which is common for people with autoimmune disease), world traumas might feel especially intense, layered on top of your own experiences. So, overwhelm is natural, but it doesn’t have to be permanent. Here’s a step-by-side guide to feeling grounded, replenished, and able to support yourself and others again.
When you have autoimmune disease, it’s common to feel disconnected from your body and even betrayed by your body. Yet we live in our bodies, so this creates a complicated relationship with ourselves. Instead of self-love, we might end up feeling self-hate. How can we change that? How does self-love, or the lack of self-love, impact our wellbeing, both mentally and physically? My guest today is Dr. Shainna Ali, a mental health counselor, educator, and advocate. She is also the author of the Self-Love Workbook series. They are practical guides with concrete action steps. They go beyond a misty view of self-love and teach skills we can apply in our daily lives.
Research shows that affirmations can help people cope with life’s challenges, an important skill when living with chronic illness. They boost problem-solving in stressful situations, and they lead to better health choices as well. There is a risk with affirmations, however. Sometimes they backfire. In that circumstance, your brain disagrees so strongly with the affirmation that it strengthens your negative thoughts instead. Has that happened to you? If yes, you’re not alone. In this article, I share tips for quieting your inner critic. I also teach my favorite technique for overcoming the mind’s resistance to affirmations – Iffirmations!
Today we have a very special episode. I’m celebrating the publication of my new book: Healing Mindset. It’s a guide to the mind-body connection for people with autoimmune disease. The mind-body connection isn’t just an idea. There’s an entire field of science called psychoneuroimmunology that studies this connection. How we feel in our body affects how we feel in our minds, and our thoughts and feelings impact our physical health. Today, we’ll be talking about specific mind-body techniques, science-based benefits, and how to harness this connection for autoimmune health. My partner for this episode is Donna Jackson Nakazawa. Many of you know her as one of my most popular podcast guests. She’s an award-winning science journalist, author of 7 books, a fellow autoimmune warrior, and an expert on the mind-body connection. Today, we’re trading places. She will be the host and I will be the guest!
It’s not surprising that the mind-body connection can reduce stress, but what about pain, fatigue, brain fog, and other symptoms of autoimmune disease? Can it reduce those too? The answer is yes! That’s because stress has a huge impact on autoimmune disease, increasing inflammation and flare activity. When we harness the mind-body connection for our health, we have the potential to soothe our inflamed bodies and calm our overactive immune system. In this blog post, I share 10 science-backed benefits across a wide variety of autoimmune diagnoses. I also feature different mind-body techniques. Meditation is wonderful, but it’s not the only way to tap the mind-body connection.
This is the project I’ve been working on for the past few years, and I’m so excited to share it with you! What is a healing mindset? Simply put, it’s the practice of harnessing the anti-inflammatory power of our minds to support autoimmune health. It’s realizing that some thoughts and behaviors ramp up inflammation and others tone it down. This book is a roadmap to doing less of the former and more of the latter. Inside, you’ll find over 90 mind-body techniques written specifically for people with autoimmune disease. It also includes beginner tips, advanced troubleshooting, and testimonials by fellow autoimmune warriors who have felt the power of the mind-body connection in their own lives (including me)!
Did you know that digestion starts in the brain? When we don’t pay attention to our meals and instead multi-task at mealtime, or eat under stress, our digestion becomes suppressed. This can lead to uncomfortable gastroinstestinal symptoms and also increase food intolerance. In this article, I share simple ways to harness the mind-body connection to not only digest your meals better, but enjoy them more too!
Before autoimmune disease, did you have a yoga practice that you loved but can no longer do? Do you struggle to find a way to adapt your practice to your ever-changing autoimmune body? Do you miss yoga and want to make it part of your life again? Or maybe you have never practiced yoga, but would love to try and don’t know where to begin. This podcast is for you! My guest is Jivana Heyman, founder and director of the Accessible Yoga Association and co-founder of the Accessible Yoga Training School. He has over 25 years of experience teaching yoga to people of diverse abilities. In this episode, we’re going to troubleshoot a wide variety of autoimmune symptoms and talk about how to develop a personalized yoga practice.
This is one of the most popular podcast episodes – for good reason! If you think you can’t meditate, this podcast is for you. Do you picture meditators sitting quietly with completely empty minds – something you could never do? Let me tell you a secret: those people don’t exist. Even the Dalai Lama has thoughts while he meditates. The mind is designed to think just like the heart is designed to beat. Meditation isn’t about stopping thoughts; it’s learning how to notice and detach from them. There are also many different ways to meditate, including moving meditations, or cultivating mindful moments in everyday life. My guest is Jeff Warren, who is known as the “MacGyver of Meditation”. He excels at fixing people’s meditation problems. In this episode, we talk about common meditation obstacles for people with autoimmune disease, and how to overcome them.
When you first experience the connection between the food you eat and how you feel, that can be an empowering moment. But when certain foods cause you to flare, that can also inspire a fear of food. This is a natural reaction, but it also has consequences. The fear itself can cause autoimmune flares and also increase food sensitivity, creating a vicious cycle. Suddenly, all food feels dangerous, and we over-restrict our diets, which harms our health long-term. There is good news! We can overcome food fear, replacing it with a deep knowledge about our bodies and enjoy eating again. That’s our goal with our conversation today. My guests are fellow autoimmune warriors, Nitika Chopra and Alison Marras. We share our own experiences with food fear and tips for overcoming it.
Human beings depend on each other. Sometimes we give help, and sometimes we receive it, but many of us are much more comfortable in the giving role. Autoimmune disease can turn the tables quickly. Suddenly, we’re in a position where we need help more often. If we were the caregivers before, how do we navigate this change in identity? How do we face the fears that may arise – of vulnerability, feeling weak, being seen as a burden, or people saying no? If you took pride in your independence, do you feel shame if you need help? There are gifts that come with learning to receive: a deeper intimacy in relationships, a greater sense of self-compassion, a more expansive sense of identity, and a stronger connection with humanity. But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy transformation. My guest is Kalene Khan, a licensed therapist who specializes in self-compassion. She helps people learn to be as kind to themselves as they are to others. She is our guide for this conversation today.
One thing I love about the autoimmune community in general and the Phoenix Helix community specifically is that we care deeply about each other. We lift each other up, with the goal of living our healthiest and happiest lives. Health involves both self-care and community care, and today’s podcast is a blend of the two. I’ve talked about the impact of racism in two prior podcasts. Episode 153 focused on racism in healthcare. Episode 178 focused on racial trauma. In both episodes I mentioned that overcoming our own unconscious biases can be a powerful first step in helping overcome racism within our society. There is much beyond our control, but this is something we can change. We’re approaching this conversation with love rather than judgment. My guest is Anu Gupta. He’s developed a compassion-based, scientific approach to overcoming bias and addressing the root causes of racism and other inequalities within our culture. He is a research scientist and educator, and simply a warm, wise and wonderful person.
With an autoimmune diagnosis, we are told that we have a disease for which there is no cure. It can be shocking and immediately change how we see ourselves. It’s not uncommon to feel betrayed by our bodies. Symptoms can also dramatically change our abilities, impacting careers, hobbies, and roles within families. Many of us go through an identity crisis – no longer feeling like the person we were before. Then there’s the impact of having a visible vs. invisible illness. Some autoimmune diseases change our physical appearance and how others interact with us. Whereas others have symptoms that are hidden, often inspiring disbelief in the pain that can’t be seen. Today, four people with autoimmune disease (including myself) share our experiences with how our body image has changed since diagnosis
People with a history of trauma are more likely to develop autoimmune disease and to experience more severe symptoms as well. In today’s podcast, we’re focusing on racial trauma. One of the ways it’s unique is that it’s ongoing. It’s not an event from the past that is now over. It’s something experienced repeatedly in unpredictable ways. Over the past year, a number of listeners have reached out to me to share their experiences. Racial trauma isn’t new, but it has been amplified during the pandemic. Our goal with this episode is to help anyone navigating the double challenge of autoimmune disease and race-based trauma. My guest is Dr. Letitia Browne-James. She’s a mental health counselor and educator with expertise in trauma, multi-cultural counseling, and the intersection of mental and physical health.
We all know that life is uncertain and many things are beyond our control, but that doesn’t mean we like it. The flare-based nature of autoimmune disease embodies uncertainty. When will the next flare come? Can it be prevented? How can I love my body when it’s so unpredictable? That’s health uncertainty, but there are other types of uncertainty as well – economic, political, societal. During the pandemic, we’ve been faced with all of these things at once. Now, it’s 2021, and there’s a new type of uncertainty as we approach the world opening up again. How do we balance enjoying new freedoms while continuing to make safe decisions? How do we move forward in an uncertain world? My guest is Dr. Damon Silas, a psychologist who specializes in anxiety, grief and trauma. He’ll be sharing techniques for staying grounded when the world around us shifts.
Releasing a burden we’ve been carrying too long can lighten both body and soul. Yet this can be one of the hardest things to do, even when we want to do it. Why is letting go so hard? Are there things we can do to make it easier? In this episode, we talk about fostering a letting go mindset, goals for letting go, techniques for doing that successfully, and knowing when NOT to let go. My guest is Courtney Carver, the woman behind the website Be More with Less and the author of the book Soulful Simplicity. She’s one of the leading voices in the minimalist community, but today we’re not talking about letting go of material things. Courtney has a lot of wisdom to share about letting go in general.
As many of you know, trauma increases the risk of developing autoimmune disease, and it can also increase the severity of symptoms. It changes the way your brain is wired and can trap your body in an inflammatory cycle. This online course uses neuroscience, expressive writing, and mind-body techniques to rewire your brain for health. The creator is Donna Jackson Nakazawa, a leading expert on the science of the mind-body connection and its effect on the immune system. She condenses 30 years of expertise into this transformative program.
With autoimmune disease, habits have a big impact on our health, yet 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail. Why is this so? Should we give up? Or are there things we can do to make us more likely to succeed, whether we make a resolution on January 1st or any other day of the year? That’s the topic of our podcast today. My guest is Dr. Shainna Ali, a mental health counselor, educator, and advocate. She’s an expert at helping people make positive changes in their lives, and be compassionate with themselves while they do it.
This is one of the most popular podcast episodes – for good reason! If you’re experiencing symptoms without a diagnosis, or symptoms that remain in spite of all the interventions you’ve tried, this episode is for you. DNRS is a therapy based on neuroplasticity. With chronic illness, symptoms can actually become wired into our brains, even when the triggers for those symptoms are removed. DNRS is a therapy done at home, that rewires the brain (and body) for health. What types of conditions have been helped? Post-COVID syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic Lyme disease, multiple chemical sensitivity, irritable bowel syndrome, mold toxicity, chronic inflammatory response syndrome, mast cell activation, food sensitivities, chronic pain, mental health issues, and more. In this podcast, I speak with Annie Hopper, the creator of DNRS. She explains what this program is and how it works.
Often, perfectionism is seen as a positive trait. What’s wrong with striving for excellence? Nothing, but there’s a difference between healthy striving and perfectionism. Healthy striving is a self-compassionate mindset that allows for mistakes, learns from them, sets challenging but achievable goals, and adapts as needed. Perfectionism fears failure, despises mistakes, sets unattainable goals, and feels shame and self-judgement when those impossible goals aren’t met. When you apply perfectionism to autoimmune disease, your diagnosis may feel like your fault, and every flare may feel like a failure. You may believe that if you just lived your life perfectly, you could cure yourself. I am a recovering perfectionist, so I have felt all of these things. Don’t judge yourself if you have felt this way, too. In this podcast, we explore the connection between autoimmune disease and perfectionism. My guest is Dr. Judy Tsafrir, a holistic psychiatrist who approaches mental health from a functional medicine perspective. She strives to treat root causes in her practice, rather than just symptoms.
In the research, they call it expressive writing or art therapy. At home, we call it journaling. This simple practice is an amazing stress management and self-awareness tool. It helps release emotions that are difficult to let go, gain clarity to make difficult decisions, uncover hidden parts of yourself, express gratitude, discover playfulness, and simply honor and accept where you are in the moment. You don’t have to be a writer or an artist to keep a journal and gain these benefits. In this podcast, we’ll be focusing on using creative journals for autoimmune health. My guest is Olwen Wilson, a woman with autoimmune disease herself who also teaches the art of journaling.
We hear a lot about the mind-body connection, but what are its uses and what are its limits? Are there techniques we can use to minimize pain and manage it better? How does the stress response increase pain’s intensity? How does guarding against pain add a second layer of tension that can make pain worse? Vidyamala Burch has lived with chronic pain for over 40 years. Learning how to survive and thrive started as a personal goal and later became her professional mission. She’s an author, educator, and cofounder of Breathworks, a non-profit organization that teaches Mindfulness-Based Pain Management to individuals and organizations around the world.