I eat to fuel my strength and well being.
I don’t eat (or not eat, rather) to look like a bronzed barbie in a swimsuit come summertime. I don’t eat for a vascular, display of the abdominal muscles all ordered neatly in a row. I don’t use food as a punishment, nor as a reward. I don’t place negative emotions onto a spoon full of sugar, nor do I strip myself the pleasure of a savory meal out of fear that I won’t be able to burn it in the fiery depths of guilt at the gym the following day. I eat to bring clarity to the mind, awareness of the present moment through the senses, and energy to the body through one of it’s purest (and most delectable) forms.
Just like most individuals, it’s a struggle to maintain this positive relationship with food. But for me it’s not much of a choice, it’s the only choice.
As an athlete, I willingly place an immense amount of stress on the body day in and day out. Without such positive energy I would sink into despair in the grasps of a cortisol overload.
As the only grandchild of five without Common Variable Immunodeficiency and tri-weekly blood infusions, I willingly direct a great amount of awareness to the source of said energy. I fear any ignorance or naiveté would bring weakness to my body and allow this demonic gene to show itself.
So with this choice, I eat, and I eat well. I don’t label this eating as a “diet,” so as not to not place any negative connotation on the act, it is simply what I am meant to ingest. Whole organic foods, minus a few things.
A few years ago I followed the Paleolithic Diet, stripping gluten and dairy from my diet, and replacing it with meat, vegetables, and limited starch, nuts and fruit. I never “cheated,” forging a love for broccoli, cauliflower, lamb, peppers, and berries, expanding my palate for the healthier things. But that expansion was not only limited to my nutrition, but also to my belly.
Now introducing, the “magical belly.” Feed it a tomato or a handful of grapes and this belly will perform a trick, distending to a size that can only be compared to that of the Laughing Buddha. This stomach could perhaps pull a bunny out of a hat, but it certainly can’t tolerate or digest certain foods.
While I battle iron weights daily, my biggest fight is often against horrendous abdominal pain, bloat, nausea, gastric reflux, vomiting, constipation and the alternative (I’ll limit the gross talk). All of these symptoms fall under the definition of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), which is simply a blanket term for unexplained gastrointestinal issues. While my gut may be intolerant to gluten and FODMAPs, it is still full of love for the most delicious of foods.
With the help of the loveliest of nutritionists, Elke Nelson of Whole9, I’ve determined that the best fuel for this body includes gut healing bone broth, lean grass-fed meats, organic poultry, wild fish, good fats, squash, and greens (kale, collards, spinach), supplementing only with fish oil and branch chain amino acids. It provides the perfect balance between strength and energy in my training and health in my body.
And there you go, my belly’s not magical. It’s just an illusionist with a picky appetite, but a wonderful one.
P.S. Here are some of my favorite sites for recipes: