Breaking Painful Habits
I get so many emails from readers who have learned how food and lifestyle affects their body, but continue to make choices that cause autoimmune flares. When they email me, they’re in a lot of pain physically and emotionally, and they’re desperate to stop this pattern. It breaks my heart. So, this podcast is dedicated to all of you. I’m joined by two guests who have both personal and professional wisdom to share.
Dr. Judy Tsafrir is a psychiatrist who specializes in nutritional approaches to healing, using the GAPS Diet and the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol with her patients. Today, she’ll be teaching us what’s going on in our bodies and brains, when we sabotage our own health. Rory Linehan is the blogger behind The Paleo PI (since retired). He has personal experience overcoming self-sabotage and will be sharing his story with us today.
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- Intro (0:00)
- Meet Our Guests (3:01)
- Rory Linehan is the blogger behind The Paleo PI. He got mononucleosis at age 18, that set off health symptoms that never fully recovered: fatigue, facial flushing, and severe dry eye. It took years before he was diagnosed with facial and ocular rosacea. During that time, his health continue to decline and symptoms expanded to include depression, anxiety and digestive distress. Paleo finally turned his health around, particularly the work of Terry Wahls and Sarah Ballantyne. Rory found that focusing on lifestyle and mindset was a key to his healing. Rory’s self-sabotage pattern was hoarding junk food that he would store in his bedroom, and then secretly eat whenever he had a bad day. The way he overcame this pattern was a combination of: (1) changing his mindset and beliefs about himself, (2) creating a vision board that represented his goals which he hung in his bedroom, and (3) making up a list of “safe” paleo treats that would satisfy his need for comfort food on occasion, without sabotaging his healing.
- Dr. Judy Tsafrir is a clinical psychiatrist and also a teacher at Harvard Medical School. Her personal health history and that of her family, taught her that there was more to mental health than medication. She focuses her work on gut health and the gut-brain connection.
- Possible Physiological Triggers for Self-Sabotage Behavior (19:05)
- Brain fog makes it hard to effectively implement a big diet and lifestyle change. Ironically, it’s diet/lifestyle that can eliminate brain fog.
- Inflammation can make us seek comfort through food, and we get trapped in a vicious cycle of increasing inflammation.
- Gut Dysbiosis: sugar is the preferred food for a lot of pathogenic bacteria, and that can drive cravings.
- Excess carbohydrates in the diet cause blood sugar imbalances that lead to more sugar cravings, another vicious cycle.
- Vitamin deficiencies can affect brain function and decision-making. (Walsh Research Institute.)
- Hormones affect food cravings – both sex hormones and stress hormones.
- Possible Emotional Triggers for Self-Sabotage Behavior (32:13)
- Feeling deprived leads to feeling rebellious, even when we’re the ones setting the rules.
- If we lack meaning and purpose in life, we can feel “empty” and fill ourselves with food.
- Childhood issues can manifest as self-sabotage behavior.
- Negative thoughts and beliefs often lead to negative choices.
- Feeling betrayed by our bodies can lead to a desire to “punish” our bodies.
- Fear of change can be a root of self-sabotage, even fear of wellness if we’ve been sick a long time.
- Sometimes we choose “fitting in” over taking care of ourselves. Healing diets are well outside of the mainstream, and our friends and family often tempt us to go off-diet.
- Practical Tips for Overcoming Self-Sabotage (interspersed throughout podcast)
- Write a list of activities that soothe you, which you can choose to do instead of eating unhealthy foods.
- Find foods that still comfort without triggering inflammation. The AIP Recipe Roundtable is a great resource
- Make changes in small steps: If you aren’t ready physically or mentally to embrace something as big as full paleo or the AIP, just give up gluten first. Then dairy. Then sugar. Then alcohol. As you start to feel better, you can embrace bigger changes.
- Get tested for gut dysbiosis and if you have overgrowths of pathogenic bacteria, follow a treatment protocol to eliminate them.
- Get tested for vitamin/mineral deficiencies and correct them, ideally through nutrient-dense food choices.
- Make sure you eat plenty of fat and protein throughout the day, to keep your blood sugar balanced.
- Walk barefoot in nature to “ground” yourself.
- Write in a journal, to explore some of the emotional triggers for self-sabotage and see which apply to you, and how you can overcome them.
- A dream journal can be very insightful.
- See a therapist to explore some of the childhood and/or emotional roots of your personal habit of self-sabotage. An outside perspective can be very helpful.
- Pay attention to your thoughts and beliefs, and work to change negative perceptions into positive ones.
- Work to love your body and see it as your partner in healing.
- Find a support system for making healthy choices, either locally or online.
- Practice assertiveness when being pressured by someone else to make a choice that will hurt your body. The more comfortable we are with your choices, the less other people challenge those choices.
- Try the emotional freedom technique or loving kindness meditation to stop a self-sabotage impulse.
- Work to balance your circadian rhythms, which in turn can balance your hormones.
- Forgive yourself for your mistakes.
- Helpful Podcast Episodes:
- Outro (57:34)
- Dr. Judy Tsafrir has a clinical practice in Newton, MA and also writes a blog. You can find more information about her work through her website.
- Update 2020: Rory Linehan retired his blog, the Paleo PI. He’s still passionate about living a healthy and vital life, but no longer writes online.
- Eileen (your podcast host) is the author of multiple books, written to help people thrive with autoimmune disease. Learn more on the Books Page.
- If you like this podcast, follow or subscribe through your favorite podcast app. You can also subscribe to Eileen’s biweekly newsletter.
- Check out the entire archive of podcast episodes.
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