Last year marked a pivotal chapter in my life, particularly in my relationship with food. My journey with restrictive eating, which reached a crisis point in early 2023, was not a sudden development. It was the culmination of a nearly decade-long battle that began innocently enough in 2014.
Back then, I sought help from a nutritionist for bloating and brain fog, believing my diet was the culprit. The immediate advice was to eliminate a vast array of foods, including milk, gluten, fruits, and most vegetables. My diet quickly shrank significantly to a mere 20-30 items. The reasoning was that my "metabolic type" only supported certain foods. In hindsight, there were glaring red flags: no reintroduction plan, no real testing (except for a quiz I took online :/), and accountability calls for minor "transgressions" like eating something with onion or a cookie.
Though I noticed some physical improvements initially, the approach was unsustainable, shaming, and isolating, especially as a social 20-something. After moving on from this regimen, my allergies flared up, leading to a series of allergy tests. The results were overwhelming. According to the first allergist I went to, I was supposedly allergic to a vast range of environmental allergens and foods, including ones I had just eaten 15 minutes before my appointment. I was told once again to eliminate foods (and activities because of the environmental stuff) from my daily life. This "diagnosis" was traumatizing, shattering my self-image as a healthy individual. My second opinion was better--many of the foods I had tested positive for were actually just oral allergy syndrome and weren't serious. Regardless though, the damage had already been done.
The fear and anxiety around food steadily built over the years, exacerbated by personal experiences and stress, and reinforced by the medical advice I received. It wasn't lost on me that the more stressed out I was, the more I would experience physical symptoms when eating. I became increasingly afraid and paranoid when eating, culminating in a mental and emotional crisis by early 2023.
Luckily around the same time, something shifted. I knew I needed help and couldn't fight this battle alone any more. I discovered the Gut Health Agency on Instagram and was drawn to their philosophy of reintroducing foods. Despite initial trepidation, I enrolled in their program. Through testing, coaching, and Orpheus sessions, they addressed not just my physical symptoms but also the underlying fears and traumas.
The transformation was remarkable. Within three months, I was enjoying a more diverse diet, and by the end of six months, I had reintroduced over 40 foods. More than that, I regained my overall self-confidence and reduced my overall anxiety. I began speaking out more and embracing new challenges.
This journey was the most transformative experience of 2023 for me. It was about much more than just food; it was about reclaiming my life from fear and anxiety. I emerged from this program not just with a healthier diet but with a renewed sense of self. I've learned to trust myself again, to listen to my body, and to challenge the fears that once held me captive.
My transformation in my relationship with food is a testament to the power of healing and the importance of addressing not just the physical but also the emotional aspects of our health. It's a journey that I continue to navigate as a graduate of the program, but the strides I've made are life-altering.
Reflecting on this experience, I see it as a cornerstone of the broader theme of transformation that defined my year. It's a journey that mirrors the essence of my artwork – the Transformation Collection – where each piece symbolizes change, growth, and rebirth.
I share this story to encourage others who might be struggling with similar issues. Know that transformation is possible, and there is hope. Your journey might be different from mine, but the destination of a healthier, happier life is within reach.
As I continue to evolve both as an artist and in my personal life, I hold onto the lessons of 2023 – the year I truly transformed my relationship with food and, in doing so, transformed myself.