Please Support our Nonprofit Magazine!There has never been a time when our community and content was needed more. As a nonprofit online community and magazine, we provide FREE articles, videos, and other content that is available worldwide, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Due to the global pandemic, we’ve had to put events, collaborations and business sponsorships on hold, leaving us to rely exclusively on online donations from our community (aka YOU!) We want to be here to support you all through this pandemic and beyond, which is why we are asking you to consider donating whatever you are able. A single (or monthly) donation of just $5 will make a difference and will help keep our nonprofit running so we can continue supporting you and others.
I have been recovered from an eating disorder for 9 years. A few years ago I stopped eating gluten and dairy. It was completely for health reasons and filtering it out of my diet was incredibly difficult, but it was done from and with a completely healthy mindset. However, it has slowly become increasingly more difficult to maintain that lifestyle. At some point, my mind labeled all gluten and dairy foods as “bad” since I’m “not supposed to eat them.” So the more time that goes by in which I can’t eat these foods, the more I want them. Sometimes I give in and then I can’t stop eating them and it’s followed up with my head tearing me apart for having these foods I shouldn’t eat. Listing to myself all the terrible physical repercussions of eating these foods is no longer effective and it seems impossible to separate food choices made for healthy reasons from the disordered thoughts that my mind remembers too well. I tried planning out meals in advance, but that wasn’t helpful either. How do I continue to cut out the foods that I’m intolerant to, yet maintain a healthy relationship with those foods?
Thanks for reaching out and asking your question. This topic of eating disorders and digestive health seems to be coming up more and more with my clients, so I am sure your question will benefit a lot of other people!
There are a few different ways to go about this. I do recommend you talk about these options with a primary care physician or a dietitian so you can decide what is best for you.
1) Get tested: If you haven’t been already, it’s really important to be tested for sensitivities and intolerance.
They have genetic testing available, which can be important to see if you have the gene for gluten sensitivity. Also, you can get hydrogen breath testing for lactose intolerance. Having the evidence for the intolerance will assure that ED is not running the show. Remember, unlike a food allergy a food sensitivity is not life threatening and depends on the dose. Your dietitian can help you determine how much you can tolerate. Variety plays an important role so you are not having a large amount of any one food.
Are you enjoying this article? We are a nonprofit and rely on donations to run our magazine and community. If you are enjoying this article, would you consider making a $2 donation?
2) Eating mindfully: This idea of mindful eating is important when also struggling with intolerance and sensitivities.
Depending on where you are in recovery, mindful eating can support you in further building that healthy relationship with food, especially when dealing with food sensitivities. Part of mindful eating is asking yourself how you are going to feel after having a certain meal/snack. Before each meal and snack, practice asking yourself how you will feel emotionally and physically before/after eating the food item(s).
It is important to note many of these questions may be difficult to answer depending on where you are in your recovery journey. I encourage you to work through these with a dietitian.
Here are the questions: Will it fill you up to your desired fullness? How long will the item fill your for? Will you make it to your next meal/snack? How might your digestion feel after eating it? Is there another option that might make you feel better and will have a similar taste?
Again, I recommend working through this exercise with a dietitian who is experienced in mindful and intuitive eating a few times before trying it on your own.
3) Does your intolerance have a threshold? This tip is especially important for dairy products.
For some people, it is possible to eat dairy up to a certain point. I have some clients with lactose intolerance. They can have a small serving of ice cream, but anything more might set off their digestive symptoms. So, we talk about how to enjoy that small serving of ice cream.
It can be similar to other types of foods you are sensitive to, so definitely get a dietitian who specialises in food sensitivities and eating disorders on board.
4) Medications: Taking certain medications or over the counter supplements can relieve some GI upset, depending on the intolerance you have.
For many people, Lactaid pills work wonders for lactose intolerance. I have also had clients who have had success by taking digestive enzymes, probiotics or certain vitamin/mineral supplements to relieve digestive issues.
Of course, it’s important for you to discuss with a physician or a dietitian to assure you are taking the correct dosage.
Alex Raymond, RD, LD
Disclaimer: This column is meant to serve as a safe place to ask questions and get opinions from educated professionals; but please always consult your own team before making any changes to your medication, activities, or recovery process. Although our Experts are certified professionals in their area, their advice may not be suitable for your situation, and thus is not to be taken in place of that given by your recovery team and/or family doctor or personal therapist. Please use your own good judgment, and consult a licensed mental health practitioner for specific treatment. In the case of a crisis, please do not rely on this column, as answers may take several weeks to be published, and not all questions will be addressed. Please contact one of the Helplines listed in our Resources section if you feel you are a harm to yourself or in need of emergency support.
Have a Question for our Experts?
Our Ask an Expert Column is a way for our Community to reach out to professionals in the mental health and medical field related to recovery and overall wellness. All questions are submitted anonymously and answered publicly to offer tips, information, and advice related to mental health and recovery.
If you have a question you wish to submit, visit: liberomagazine.com/ask
You can read our archives of answered submitted questions HERE.
Support our nonprofit by shopping from our NEW Giving Shop!
Click Here to visit the shop!