This week, health coach Michael DeSanti and I had an interesting “which comes first” conversation. When it comes to my anxiety and my diet, which is the chicken, and which is the egg?
By the time my appointment rolled around, I was finally coming off of what can only be described as a three-week long, self-induced anxiety attack. I get these every once in a while. If on the normality scale slightly stressed is my normal and a panic attack is cray-cray, my anxiety attacks tend to be longer than a true panic attack but way higher than slightly stressed. It’s like a long, drawn out, low-grade panic attack that leaves a pit in my stomach, a tightness in my chest, and an inability to sleep through the night.
So last week, we spoke about the emotional triggers that might cause these things. Monday was really bad for me — then I called a friend, made her go to the mall with me while I spilled my guts about how crazy I am, and I felt better immediately. By the next morning, when it was time for my appointment with Michael, I felt like I could finally breath. The difference truly was physical, like a suddenly loosened corset.
As we talked, Michael and I discussed how my diet might be causing and/or affecting my anxiety. The truth of my emotions is simply the truth of my emotions. But if my body is feeling good, I’ll be so much better prepared to deal with that truth than if I’m feeling sick, inflamed, or in pain. Think about it: getting cut off in traffick after an awesome night’s sleep is way easier to handle than after a rotten night’s sleep, right? Same idea.
This week, because of that anxiety attack, I became more aware than ever about the mind-body connection. While I always knew that emotions can manifest themselves physically, I never really understood that my diet can cause emotions. If my body is constantly stressed due to toxicity and inflamation, it will create a generalized anxiety that has a physical cause, but for which I will look for an emotional root. When I find an appropriate emotional root cause, I can fixate on it until it becomes bigger than it needs to be, and now I have a REAL reason to emote. Then I can use all that emoting to justify some self-medication in the form of a nice carb-laden Aunt Annies pretzel or a tub of Ben and Jerry’s.
I need to digress, though, because here’s the thing (and excuse me while I get on my soapbox): Long before I ever met Michael, I started reading a whole lot about nutrition and weight-loss. The truth is, weight loss in this country is big business — almost as big as the drug trade. We’re in this crazy cycle of get fat, get sick, buy drugs, then join Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers for convenient weight loss in a box.
But there is a small voice of research that’s out there that’s saying we’ve got it all wrong. They’re trying to talk over the food lobbyists and the drug lobbyists and the GMO agricultural lobbyists, but they’re there. They’re trying to tell us that simple, whole, non-GMO foods can get us off this cycle. Books like Wheat Belly, The Smarter Science of Slim and the one Michael just told me about, The UltraMind Soluion, can solve a lot of our problems — from mental disorders to learning disabilities to the pudge around our middles. The truth is, we live in a pill society when a leaf of lettuce would serve us better.
But a simple head of lettuce is a lot less expensive than a bottle of Metformin or Prozac, and I’m guessing it doesn’t have the same profit margins as wheat. It’s also a much bigger pain in the butt to chop up that lettuce and make it into a nice salad (I know I have a problem with this) than it is to slap some bologne on two slices of bread and call it a day.
I think of my friends who have suffered true mental illness — anxiety ten times worse than mine. I think of the kids I know who have learning disabilities or behavioral problems. I think even of my own kids — who by comparison, probably eat pretty well compared to many — but are still carb-laden and dairy-fed. How much can we fix our brains, our thyroids, our depressions and our thick middles by simply changing our diet, removing foods to which we are sensitive, and creating awareness of the mind-body connection?
And how much is Big Business fighting to keep us from doing it?
As I write this, I have just come back from running a mile in 9.07 minutes, and I am drinking a kale/spinach/berry smoothie that has coconut oil and ground up flax seed in it — and I actually think it’s delicious.
Four weeks ago, if you had told me that I would be drinking a kale/spinach/berry smoothie that has coconut oil and ground up flax seed in it, thinking it was delicious, I would have told you to quit smoking crack.
Twenty years ago, I was an overweight smoker with a disdain for exercise, but a desire to kick butt, so I was pondering learning martial arts. I did eventually start learning martial arts, and that’s how I got started on this upward spiral toward health. I’ve learned so much since then!
And I’m still learning. Everything that Michael is teaching me is ringing very true — I’ve already read a lot of the research that supports what he’s saying. But he is helping me to make a direct connection between my mind and my body, helping me to take control by making choices that will lead me to gratification, not just immediate pleasure. Contentment, not momentary happiness. Life-long health and well-being, not a food-induced coma.
I wish everyone could have a Michael to help them understand that they don’t have to live the way the food industry wants us to live — wearing a corset of anxiety, balancing chickens in one hand, eggs in the other, and stuffing red dye number whatever into the mouths of our children.
Learn how to take off your corsett and put your chicken and eggs down for a bit by reaching out to Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.