Making natural choices to eliminate chronic pain and other symptoms of inflammation can be easy once you know how. Yes, you need to make smarter choices to support your healing, but there is wiggle room, and you can still enjoy a cocktail or favourite treat once in a while. Once you’ve achieved balance, you can use the 80/20 rule to maintain your health while enjoying the good things in life.
First: Become a Diet Detective
When I began my healing journey, I was surprised at how quickly my pain improved with just a few changes. The changes appeared to be minor, but for me they were actually major. The first thing I did was begin writing down everything I ate, and when. I noted my pain, mood, sleep, digestion, energy levels, and any other symptoms that may or may not be related.
I became a diet detective, analyzing the facts and coming up with some theories about what may have been causing my chronic pain, brain fog, and other seemingly unrelated and random symptoms. Then I tested my theories, and this led me to understand and clarify just what my triggers were.
Once I knew what my triggers were, I was able to go to make changes in my food, lifestyle, and habits. As I removed foods from my diet, I was very diligent about it, with no room for sloppiness — and the changes began to happen! I felt better and better. As I implemented the changes, I followed the clues, tweaking as I went, and gradually honed an effective strategy for healing.
I did the same with my lifestyle choices and routines: work-outs, sleep, meditation, qigong, journalling, and other mind-body habits. I added in a few pharmaceutical grade supplements — just some basics — and they stepped the healing up to another level.
Surprise! Unexpected good results
I was very happy to see that some unexpected results occurred as I began to heal and find relief from chronic pain. I was amazed at how much energy I had, and I felt positive and clear-minded and motivated to get things going in my life!
To start healing your chronic condition, you need a clear understanding with some solid facts about what is happening in your body. Why do you have acne or eczema? Why are you awake half the night? Why do you feel great one day and have a ton of pain the next? Why are you depressed and then not? Why are you exhausted when you’ve slept well? Even the niggly little aches and pains are a message to you.
Your symptoms are messages. They are your body’s way of communicating to you that there is an imbalance in your body, mind, heart, or spirit. Symptoms are a way of catching your attention. Pay attention, make the changes, and you will be rewarded with better health.
How the 80/20 rule applies
Following your healing lifestyle choices and dietary guidelines 80 percent of the time will reap huge rewards for you!
I followed my anti-inflammatory diet and body-mind-spirit (holistic) program carefully so that I could really see that it that made a difference. So at first, 100 percent of the time I ate only anti-inflammatory foods and followed my special supplement protocol, I meditated or did qigong every day, and I journalled, walked in nature, and took some “me time” to read or knit, and slept 8 hours every night.
I felt great, but I had to admit that I felt restricted when it was time to go out with friends, drop into the neighbourhood pub, or if I just wanted to kick back and not work so hard at healing.
My anti-inflammatory program had allowed me to reach homeostasis, to balance my system. I had achieved my goal, and was maintaining it. Now it was time to relax the rules a bit! This is where the 80/20 principle comes in.
Now I felt balanced and ready to relax the rules a bit
Creating balance starts with changing your diet and life habits and seeing how you feel. Then, once you have achieved balance, you can ease up a bit on the rules — but you have to do it like a detective!
If you do it with care, you’ll be able to enjoy social events and have a date night that includes some fun indulgences as you maintain a pain free and happy life.
Here’s what you do: gradually re-introduce some things into your diet and lifestyle to find out what was actually causing the inflammation. A warning, though: after all of the diligence and dedication to remove inflammatory foods and lifestyle patterns, you might realize that it is pretty tough to maintain that level of experimental balance. This is where you might need support.
The sweet spot
Let’s say that 20 percent of what you are eating results in 80 percent of your symptoms.
And, if you stay on track 80 percent of the time, you will feel great.
But staying on track 20 percent of the time — nope! That won’t work.
There is a sweet spot where once you are crystal clear on what you need to eat and how you need to live to feel balanced and to heal, you can get away with a little wiggle room 20 percent of the time.
This is true only when you are feeling symptom free, the inflammation is gone, and you know what is triggering your pain and other symptoms. Only then can you begin to experiment.
For example, I know that potatoes leave me feeling achy and my knees stiffen up and throb. I also feel like I have the flu. So I rarely eat them. However I have made a conscious choice to enjoy every bite of the mashed potatoes and gravy at Thanksgiving and Christmas, or if I am having dinner at a friend’s house and potatoes are served. I know I will feel rough a couple of days later, but I know it will pass. When I indulge occasionally it can be worth a day of discomfort.
There are some foods I will never eat because it is not worth the chronic pain or exhaustion that they cause. I have found that of the foods I have eliminated, eating 20 percent of them sometimes can work for me. I have done this for years, and I’ve helped others gain a clear understanding of their aggravating factors and eliminate them.
Lynne came to me with eczema, asthma and sinusitis. These conditions made it hard for Lynne to sleep, to think, to enjoy life. She was in misery. The first thing I recommended was that she begin to journal about everything she put into her mouth and to pay attention to ALL of her symptoms, no matter how minor they seemed. And of course the first step is a simple start with high quality pharmaceutical grade suppelementation to reduce Lynne’s inflammation, and related symptoms. I began with the affordable and effective Usana Starter CellSentionals and BioMega.
After 2 weeks we had a look at her journal and found a few commonalities regarding her health and symptoms. There appeared to be a few triggers. At this point I gave Lynne her personalized autoimmune/anti-inflammatory diet plan and suggested other important lifestyle changes for her. Lynne was very dedicated, and before long she was feeling relief. Her eczema had settled down, and her other allergic reactions were much improved as well. She was happy and feeling great!
Although Lynne was feeling so much better, she found it very challenging to stick with her plan when spending time with friends in social settings that included food, as most people do. She was also finding it a lot of effort to maintain such a strict program. Some important things came forward. If Lynne ate as planned and walked and meditated daily, she could also indulge a little and still feel great.
We decided that after a month of living free of eczema, and with her asthma and sinusitis much improved, it was time to begin to find some wiggle room by introducing some foods and lifestyle choices. This is where most people fail!
Don’t get me wrong: Lynne did not go out and have pizza and beer night. She ate a good quality meal and added in a bit of something she enjoyed — a cocktail. She still felt great. She also enjoyed time with her friends!
Lynne continued to experiment and now she can make a wide range of choices, and because she knows how great she feels, when that changes she gets back on track, notes what it was that aggravated her, and avoids it in the future.
You need professional guidance and supervision with this stage or you might end up back at square one.
A detective does not test all of her theories at once, or the result is unclear and chaos sets in.
This is where things are very tricky. Everything Lynne reintroduced had to happen with awareness. Lynne discovered that she was able to reintroduce 20 percent of the foods she had eliminated and remain symptom free, and she knew which foods she could not eat without having her skin and sinuses flare up.
The bottom line is: 80 percent of Lynne’s chronic pain and other conditions and symptoms were caused by 20 percent of what she was doing. By changing the 20 percent, she was able to find relief.
Once balance and healing have happened and you are creating a life you love, you can usually follow the plan 80 percent of the time, allowing for a bit of wiggle room.
This is not true for everything. For example, I cannot and will not EVER eat shellfish. If I do, the result is so devastating that it is never worth it. I have learned where my 20 percent wiggle room is, and by honouring that, I am able to live a life of joy and purpose and feel free.
I’d love to hear your story. Contact me and find out how the 80/20 rule can apply to you and how easy it can be to Balance, Heal, and Create a life you love living!