Yesterday, I spent most of the afternoon going to an appointment with a wonderful doctor who specializes in functional medicine and works with participants from Green Mountain at Fox Run when the folks here think it would be appropriate. Last week I went to a class here about functional medicine and how it might help us in our quest to become fit and healthy, and something about what I learned resonated. Specifically, one of the points presented was that this approach, which deals with systemic imbalances in gut flora and hormones can explain difficulty losing weight and eating in a way that feels like emotional eating but can't be associated with any specific emotion. I figured that I've been working so hard on this process for the past four and a half years that I really owed it to myself to check out this possibility, especially since it feels as though my immune system is currently teetering on some brink.
It was a very interesting, informative, and possibly overwhelming visit; I find that despite feeling at the time that I understood everything I was being told, now, a day later, a lot of it seems to have flown out of my head. When I get back home, I have to have a bunch of blood tests done and collect spit and stool samples to send in and get some blood drawn to send off for food sensitivity testing. All of those tests should give the doctor a better sense of what's going on in my digestive tract and with my insulin, thyroid and cortisol hormones as well as helping her figure out what to do next.
The functional medicine approach, at least as my doctor explained it, involves the 4 Rs:
Removing from my digestive system any toxins, bacteria or other bad stuff that might be causing problems
Replacing anything digestive requirements missing or present in less than optimal levels , through supplementation
Reinoculation with good bacteria, by taking probiotic supplements
Repairing the damage and imbalances in the digestive system by eating healthy foods and avoiding those to which I might be sensitive.
Of course, after my years of working very hard to get out from under the specter of deprivation, the idea of needing to restrict my food choices, even for reasons of promoting good health, made me a little anxious. That anxiety blossomed into full-blown dismay when the doctor told me that her preferred clinical tool for assessing food sensitivity is having patients follow an elimination diet, which involves a few weeks eating from a fairly limited list of food groups and then gradually reintroducing them one at a time to assess any reactions. This is where the advantage of working with someone who knows the Green Mountain program becomes very clear. I told her of my concern about undoing the progress I had made in eliminating deprivation as a motivator to non-hunger eating, and we agreed that I would do the food sensitivity testing instead.
As if to prove my point, when I stopped for gas on my way back to Green Mountain, I felt the junk food calling to me from the attached convenience store, and it was immediately clear that that was because of my fear of feeling deprived during this whole process. So I told myself to get a grip, since I wasn't going to be doing random deprivation but rather only avoiding things proven to have an ill effect on my health. After the test results are in, I'll have to work with a dietician to add foods back gradually based on my degree of reactivity, but at least I won't have to give up anything that doesn't seem to be a problem. I seem to be able bear restriction if it has a direct effect on how I feel physically. The hope is that if I can give my GI system time to heal and reset itself, I may be able to reintroduce some of those foods to which I had developed a sensitivity.
This feels like a new adventure, and it's a little scary, but something about it feels right as well. This just makes sense to me. Call it a "gut feeling."
I'll let you know how it goes.
A hui hou.