As a nutritionist and certified GAPS practitioner, I work all the time with people who want to improve their health.
In general, these are people with chronic conditions – usually related to poor digestive health – that make their lives miserable and harder, but that don’t impair them physically to the point that they are hospitalised.
Some are very sad about how sick they are.
Others are frustrated because they can’t eat many of the foods they used to enjoy.
Many tell me they crave their former healthy self.
And, of course, there is a fear of the future, the ever-present question: ‘What will happen to me next?’.
I understand these feelings, as I have been there myself. The thing is, there is a tendency among people suffering from chronic conditions to put their lives on hold until they become healthier. It’s as if life will only restart when they are perfect again, when they can eat those foods again, have the same energy levels again. They hide in their homes, becoming more and more socially withdrawn and sadder, and eventually depressed. This, of course, only complicates their condition and diminishes their chances of recovery.
Here’s a little secret I’d like to share with anyone who feels this way: You will become healthy again if you act like you already are.
If you’re constantly beating yourself up, thinking self-defeating thoughts, punishing yourself for your bodily failures, or feeling unworthy of love or friendships because of your health troubles, you’re going to have a difficult time getting better. Change is more likely to happen if you can start from a positive place. It’s only when you feel like you’re sitting in the control seat that you really believe change is possible. When you are a positive person, positive things happen.
Wherever you are in your healing journey, don’t let the sickness prevent you from living a full life right now. Go to the gym, go on a date, go shopping, attend a party, jet off on vacation, start a new hobby, meet new friends … Try to do all the things you want to do, regardless of the apparent limitations of your body, diet or energy levels. Live fully and you will build the confidence you need to make positive changes. You may not eat the same food that others eat when you are out, you may leave a party earlier than others, but that is just an adjustment that you’ve had to make as you heal. Don’t cut fun out of your life – engage, participate and mingle with people.
How do you do this? Here are a few suggestions:
- Realise that the story you tell yourself about yourself is powerful.
Always think about yourself in positive terms. Always imagine yourself as perfectly healthy and fit. Don’t allow even one negative thought or image of yourself as disadvantaged. The moment you do this, you lose. Keep your thoughts optimistic and focused on an ultimately healthy outcome. This is the number-one strategy for regaining your health.
- Practise loving yourself as you are right now, with all of your body’s current limitations. Live and breathe positive affirmation every single day.
Every morning, stand in front of a mirror and repeat to yourself: ‘I am on the way to regaining my health and I honour my body for doing all this wonderful healing. I have achieved and improved a lot. I am getting healthier day by day. I love my body and I love myself’.
- By all means set health goals, but make them realistic.
Setting goals is very important. Write down your health goals on a piece of paper and give yourself deadlines for achieving them. Try to be realistic, though. Keep this piece of paper visible at all times, to remind yourself that good health is achievable and that it is going to manifest itself in the near future. This action alone will set you on a healing journey. It will prompt you to visit a health practitioner and stick to your treatment plan.
- Plan your meals.
Undergoing nutritional treatment often means you have to eat certain foods that are hard to find when you are out and about. To simplify your life, eat just before a social event. Take some healthy snacks with you and nibble on these.
- Finally, heed what Buddha said:
‘To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind, he can find the way to enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.’