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EP 13 - Creating Gut Health with Plants and Love with Sarah Dakh

After experiencing several years of frustration, misery and fear regarding food after her Ulcerative Colitis diagnosis, Sarah Dakh finally found liberation and renewed JOY in eating again. Now she coaches and guides other people through challenging gut health issues and helps them fall in love with cooking.

Listen as Sarah goes over her timeline and puts together the pieces that explain why an otherwise healthy young person like her could experience such devastating gut issues.

We explore HOW dysbiosis (gut imbalances) arises and the practical steps you can take to begin to transform your health from the inside out! Follow

Sarah on Instagram @bareroot_

Listen While Reading!

A: Every day there is a forgetting and every moment there is the possibility of remembering. Remembering who you truly are, awakening to your body, to the inner world and experience of being alive. Here is where you find the beauty, the joy. Today here is where you free your Soma. Hello everyone and welcome to Free Your Soma, Stories of Somatic Awakening and How to Live from the Inside Out. Today I have plant-based food coach Sarah Doc, who is here to share about her experience healing her ulcerative... Ulcerative... Say it for me. Ulcerative colitis. I just got to roll over it. Ulcerative colitis, you see, using a plant-based food method that is all about healing your microbiome. So, now Sarah works one-on-one with people to help them use their kitchen as a tool to heal their gut and fall in love with cooking again. She also offers traditional coaching methods around food and lifestyle habits and she supports people who are facing severe gut challenges like the one that she's been going through for many years now. I know from my own experience with food and with healing your body, it's an ongoing process, it's a journey, right? We're never done with it because we're never done being alive and eating food and being human, right? But it sounds like you have come quite a long way from the issues that you were facing and you have some really wonderful tools in your pocket with how to handle things. So welcome, Sarah.

S: Hi, Amy. How are you? I'm great. I'm so excited to have this conversation with you today. Thank you for having me and I can't believe ulcerative colitis is such a tongue-tied word. It's funny because in the medical world, I find that a lot of these diagnosis have such complex names and it's already hard enough trying to explain what the diagnosis is, let alone having this complex scientific name patch to it. I don't get it. I don't get it. Right.

A: It's hard enough already. You've got to make it.

S: Yeah, exactly. Ulcerative colitis is a bit of a mouthful of a word, but I'm glad. I'm glad there's an abbreviation, which is UC.

A: Yeah. So unless I really feel like challenging myself again, we'll call it UC conversation. I'll see if I feel kind of, sometimes I like a little tongue twister. So for a while, I had been following you on Instagram and you share a lot there about your journey with UC and also with the plant-based, whole food plant-based methods that you've learned to help heal your microbiome and heal your gut. And it's been so inspirational to follow your story. And I actually got connected with you through Dr. Will Bolsowitz, who had you featured as one of the speakers during his course that I took last summer. And so it's just, you know, I feel have felt so resonant with your story and so inspired by your compassion and your courage to talk about these things and to let people know who are also struggling with gut health issues that they're not alone. And there are practical things that you can do to make your life easier.

S: Yeah, there certainly are. And I'm so glad that you found me on Instagram. I deliberately created this community where people would feel included and feel safe and nurtured on what can be such an isolating journey for them, especially with gut health issues. And unfortunately for women, we've been heavily stigmatized with this idea that we have to be lady-like. And we can't, you know, these bodily symptoms shouldn't be happening. And so a lot of us press the pain or these symptoms or anything that's going on, which can actually exasperate a lot of the issues. So, you know, that was one of the main motivations behind really wanting to launch this community to remind women and men, of course, that they're not alone and that they can connect with me. And collectively, we can grow together on this journey of identifying why our gut health issues exist. And how to overcome them through these tools that we have access to.

A: Oh, that's awesome. That's tremendous. So, yeah, breaking through that stigma of, I mean, talking about poop, talking about like, arts and like, our body issues. I mean, everybody's having this all the time and you're right. Like, there is kind of a taboo, especially for women, around talking about these things. Like you said, it's not lady-like. And that can be such a barrier in just being able to really share about the challenge you're facing or about the issue that's going on with you, because you feel like it's dirty or you feel like it's, you know, offensive or something, right? Totally.

S: And it's really interesting. Once I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, I had a lot of friends come to me and even family members come to me and start talking to me about their gut health issues that they've had for a really long time. And I wouldn't have otherwise known if I hadn't gone through what I had and launched an Instagram account that made people feel included and like it was okay to talk about. And that's a really beautiful thing because it elevates a relationship with someone to a new level where it's a deep trusting connection that you wouldn't have otherwise had.

A: Oh, yes, totally. There's an intimacy there. Absolutely. Yeah. Well, that's part of what I feel like, you know, obviously you're cultivating with your clients through, you know, this community, but also just through the way that you approach these things, which is so gentle. I love the way that you share about cooking and getting people to fall in love with cooking again and be connected to their food, because I know even myself, we can get very focused on the fastest, easiest thing to eat, whether that's restaurant fast food or processed, you know, foods that come out of the freezer and we just pop it in the microwave. But that's not the way to healing your gut, which is what you're pointing to the way to healing your gut is by really being connected to fresh whole food on a regular basis. Would you say a little bit about that?

S: Yeah, of course, you know, it's funny because whenever I speak to people who are dealing with any kind of health issue, whether it's got hormone, acne, migraines, brain fog fatigue, I always ask them how frequently are you cooking in the kitchen or what's your relationship like with cooking in the kitchen. And for many, many, many of the responses are either I don't really have enough time or alternatively I hate cooking. And unfortunately, for them, unless they recognize that cooking is the biggest thing to healing your body, then they're not going to heal. And there's a lot of tools and processes that we can put in play to help recreate a healthier relationship with cooking in the kitchen. And that was really the only way that I knew that I could could heal was re adopting a new style of cooking, which ended up being whole food plant based but also falling in love with the entire concept of it again. And of course, like I do understand people are very busy, like you, if you know you have a family or you're working full time, but there are little life hacks that you can create in the kitchen that could be meal preference, for instance, or finding a meal service that you know is organic good quality food, where they can deliver food maybe two times a week rather than opting for over eats or if you do want to be eats, how can you balance that out by making a salad while the food that Uber eats is on the way. You know, there's definitely ways that we can come up with strategies that are going to help benefit you and also help you fall in love with what is so easily accessible to us as well. And then over time, the benefits will override anything once you start recognizing that you're healing through the food that you're cooking, then you start to prioritize even more. Absolutely.

A: Yes, when you start to feel and experience the results and, you know, see a shift in changing your body that's so motivating. And what you're speaking to is really beautiful because there are ways of being flexible. It's not just like, you know, we have to avoid all processed food immediately and all restaurant food immediately and go on some kind of like cleanse diet, right, like we can find ways to gradually and slowly make changes that feel comfortable for us. And that's another piece that I really love that you bring in. So for our listeners who may not know about your story, who may not already be following you, would you share kind of where did this all begin this this gut health issue was it going on your whole life or was there kind of a beginning place that you can pinpoint I mean I know you've thought a lot about this.

S: Yeah, and this is such an important question and complex too, because once I established that there were leads that indicated that indicated the the initiation of my gut health issues. I was able to really identify and understand what was going on and it's what I do with my clients as well I asked for them to try and create a history, a history of their health and times within that timeline that they feel as though could have impacted their gut, gut health. And so for me it really started when I was probably three or four years old, and I only my mom only realized this just recently because ever since I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis I've always said to her, you know where like you you breastfed me. We had a natural birth. I always I well you took really good care of me. Why was my immune system never strong enough to combat what I had double pneumonia in both lungs when I was six years old it just didn't make sense like as a child I just I kept getting sick.

And mom said she shot out of bed at 3am one morning with a memory of me falling into a pool with black mold in it. And my dad swears my mouth didn't go under the water but your skin is your biggest organ on your body so even just falling into a pool contaminated with black mold I could have definitely absorbed enough for it to affect my immune system. And that's why when I was in my early childhood days I was unable to combat things like pneumonia. And interestingly enough my mom had me on rounds and rounds of antibiotics when I was in grade one so six years old and it just wasn't working and finally she took me to an iridologist. And the iridologist took a look into my eyes and told me to go off gluten now I don't I've never really looked into the science behind how iridology works.

But interestingly enough as soon as my mom took me off gluten I started to heal and it was at that time in her life as well that she looked in her medicine cupboard and recognize that it was just filled with you know the Tylenols and more bandaid type medicine. And so she changed everything over to herbal like little herbal tinctures and all sorts of things and we're on echinacea every day and she was juicing with beets and ginger and carrot and so it was a complete 180 turn for not only myself but my mom's journey as well in understanding that it was all about preventative health rather than trying to cure me through antibiotics.

A: That's fantastic wow I mean think about like when I think about black mold. I know that you can simply be contaminated by it just by being in the same room with it for a period of time. Like literally you don't have to be touching it or like have your face up against it you just have to be sitting in a room with enough black mold and be breathing it in to get ill you know what I mean. So the fact that you went into water and yeah your body got covered in water that was contaminated with it that makes sense to me that you you know would have a hard time fighting off pneumonia like your microbiome was immediately affected by that.

S: Yeah it certainly was and around the same time before I went off gluten as well I was dealing with heavy bouts of constipation but I didn't know like I only have this one memory where I was at a friend's house and I was on a toilet on the toilet for a significant amount of time. And the friends my friends mom asked my friend to go and check on me to see if everything was okay and it was that moment that I was like oh is it not normal to sit on a toilet for like I don't know half an hour trying to to get your stool out that's not coming out.

And so when also when I stopped eating gluten I noticed that I wasn't having as many bowel issues so it was a really interesting time for such a young child to be already dealing with all of these undiagnosed health issues except for the pneumonia obviously and trying to change my health but through diet. So I went off gluten and all of that fixed that basic that basically healed my body but because of so many rounds of antibiotics I believe my immune health was on my microbiome was certainly disrupted and lacking the prebiotic fiber that it needed. And of course at the time we had no access to this kind of information that like we do now and if I had known back then I would have definitely been on probiotics and all sorts of other things to help rebuild my gut microbiome. Yeah so that was basically the first chapter of my gut health journey.

A: Yeah the the piece about constipation I totally relate to that I was also going through a lot of health challenges that my mother decided to address through food at the time it was the hypothyroidism I was having hormonal issues I went through early onset puberty which was really intense and difficult so I was like basically suddenly having a woman's body and like third grade. Yeah yeah it was intense and I the result of that was that I stayed home from school and I was homeschooled from like fourth grade until about seventh grade. And during that time I my health issues got worse and my mother finally found a doctor who would run some tests and I had food sensitivities as well.

Particularly I was sensitive to dairy and soy the proteins in both of those things and you know for me and that you probably relate to this at the time that basically meant that I didn't eat most processed foods. You know same with gluten right back then it was like Campbell's tomato soup had gluten in it or had you know soy protein isolate or you know casein was in everything you know milk whey solids. So it basically meant I wasn't eating processed food and what was I eating instead I was eating more whole plant foods because I wasn't eating processed food and I think that's true with gluten like when people eat gluten on a regular basis it can just be this kind of filler like everything that they're eating you know involves bread or pasta or something like that right.

And when you cut out gluten because I did that also for many years. It just simply means you're eating other plants besides wheat you're eating other grains you're eating other kinds of things and that alone is going to help I think with constipation right.

S: Definitely and by all means neither of us are saying that gluten is bad for you because there's a lot of studies now suggesting that whole wheat is actually really beneficial for heart health and other other things but unfortunately the same as you I had a sensitivity to to gluten and my body was unable to digest a proper which is causing all of these other symptoms and as you're saying gluten is thrown into all sorts of processed foods or refined white they're refined white flowers and when we cut out gluten we're also cutting out the processed food so we think that it's gluten when actually it's just the junk that it comes with.

A: Well and there's also this piece about you know the way that wheat has been cultivated in this country and the roundup that they use like I've heard people you know little case studies of people who like had a gluten intolerance and then they went to Europe where they don't use glycosphate right on the crops and they don't have an issue with eating a little bit of pasta or a little bit of bread in a country where they don't use glycosphate you know so there's a few layers to this issue depending on like what your health challenges and what you're sensitive to specifically right.

S: Definitely and unfortunately it's the same with soy and corn as well it's heavily sprayed with pesticides and that's why people always suggest or sorry nutritionists always suggest to opt for organic wheat and with these with these grains. I think it might have been worse in America back then than it was in Australia I know that the glycophate is getting predominantly worse in Australia now but we there are a lot of laws and regulations around food and the health of food in Australia especially when we're a lot younger so I did have the benefit of that being born and raised in a country and probably the soil was a lot healthier too.

So yeah there were definitely some significant differences back then but I don't know so much now. But yeah so that was chapter one of my life and then moving into my early teen years it's sort of my health issue got health issues moved away from my direct gut being you know constipation and it led into hormonal health issues and of course I was on. birth control from quite a young age because I started developing acne and maybe even the age of 14. So as soon as I had my period at the age of 13, I immediately started developing symptoms or side effects of being a hormonal young teenager, which was acne. And you know, reflecting back on it, I really do believe that there was some things that triggered it such as dairy and probably also my sugar intake. Not that my mom was feeding me sugar, but you know what you like as a young kid, you'd try and you go down to the supermarket and buy a bag of candy and eat that just because it's fun and tasty.

So yeah, there were definitely a lot of contributing factors, but I also probably still had a lot of food sensitivities that I wasn't aware of, which was also triggering the hormonal acne on my chin and my jawline. And that's been a common theme for me up until basically a couple of years ago when I determined that I had a histamine intolerance. And when I eat too many high histamine foods and my body's unable to digest the foods properly, properly, I end up breaking out with pimples around my jawline. So I'm glad that I've identified what sensitivity is causing the acne because acne can be one of the most debilitating things to experience as a young girl growing up when your physical features are everything. It's embarrassing. You don't want to leave the house. So a lot of people say to me, I don't think I've got any gut health issues and I'm like, well, are you experiencing acne or experiencing these other symptoms? And they say yes. I'm like, well, that's direct correlation with what's going on in your gut. And people say, I have hormone issues, but not gut health issues. I'm like, well, your liver is the biggest powerhouse organ in the body and it detoxes the body and it's cleansing the hormones, especially estrogen out of your body.

So if your liver is not operating properly, then yeah, you're going to have hormone issues and the way that you target liver issues is through food and potentially herbal routes and supplement routes. So yeah, that was the second chapter of my journey. It was all hormone focused. Like it was just acne and my menstrual cycles were not regular, but because I was on the pill, which is basically a band aid, I was not really able to identify why I was having the issues I was having. Basically, I just ignored it with the contraceptive pill. Right.

A: That's common. And I would say like everything that you described is really common down to like being a teenager who just wants to eat candy. You know, or for me, it was like, I had this food sensitivities that I got diagnosed with or told that I had with dairy and soy and they were like so effective when I stayed away from them at my body healing. But then of course I wanted to be normal and eat pizza. I wanted to eat whatever my boyfriend was eating or whatever my friends were eating.

And so there was a lot of struggle for me in my teen years of like, yeah, feeling unwell, basically feeling sick, you know, is how it showed up for me in terms of my gut health issues. And you know, what you brought up just a moment ago, so important because people tend to compartmentalize and think that, oh, I'm having this issue, but that issue, you know, this is fine. I'm not having a gut health issue. Like I'm having skin issues and we don't always see how, oh, those things are related. Everything in our body is connected. And especially when we're talking about the health of your microbiome, we're not just talking about your colon. It's your entire body is your microbiome.

S: Yeah. Exactly right. There was something I was about to say on this note. Oh, yeah. Going back to what you were saying is like how you were feeling when you ate foods. Unfortunately, that we're not, well, we weren't taught. I think schools are getting better and parents are also getting better at this to become more body aware and more intuitive with the eating. And if something's not making you feel good, there's a reason why it's not making you feel good. And I remember times when I, during my early, like my childhood, my childhood era and also my teen era where I would eat food and it would make me feel nauseous.

And I thought it was just because I was eating too much, but reflecting on like now knowing the things that made me feel nauseous, it's linked to dairy or it was linked to gluten. But even though like I was in and out of eating gluten, like whenever I got a cold, I would stop eating gluten because I knew it was affecting my immune system. I would still eat it when I was feeling okay. And yet it would make me feel sick, but I would still eat it. And like, and I kept saying, oh, it's just because I've eaten too much. Or, you know, my, I would say to my mom, I feel sick.

And she's like, oh, you've probably eaten too much, darling. Like it's not that she was trying to suggest anything otherwise. She also herself thought that maybe I was just eating too much, you know, and if we had be, if I was more body aware back then, then it would have indicated that there was, there was something going on, you know. Yeah.

A: Well, the, the awareness plus the education, the knowledge about like how your system works and why something might make you feel bloated or nauseous, right? This is, this is so beautiful. What you're pointing to here is just that we can actually develop a moment to moment awareness of our bodies that helps us be guided in what we choose to eat. And then also like understand why we're having an experience we might be having.

S: And this is one thing I practice with my clients now. I always ask them when, when you eat something, how does it make you feel? That is the most important thing because people get into, unfortunately, these cycles where they, they eat poorly and they can't stop eating poorly because it tastes great. And I say to them, yeah, but how does it make you feel after you eat that? It's all good when you're eating it in the moment, but afterwards is it conducive to your life and your wellbeing? Is it giving you energy? Is it making you feel good? Or do you feel like crap after you eat it? And a lot of the time they recognize that there are these foods that are making them feel like crap and it helps them, I guess, recalibrate their minds into understanding how to create better, better food and eating habits.

A: That's great. Yeah. Cause there are things that taste fun. And you know, it's not just the taste. I think sometimes people have memories and they have cultural, like, you know, attachments and they have all this, you know, all this in inner experience that's like going into this choice to like eat whatever they're eating at a barbecue or something. Sometimes it's even just like social pressure of like, like for me, a lot of times it was just, I wanted to be like everybody else.

I wanted to eat what everybody else was eating because they were enjoying it, you know, and so I wouldn't necessarily pay attention to my own reactions to things, you know, wand the moment of consumption of feeling like, oh, this just tastes good or, oh, I'm, I'm being part of the party now. I'm being included, you know, that momentary, like, feeling good. It's, it's not the whole picture. And if we just focus on that, we're not going to be able to feel good an hour later, two hours later, the next day, we're going to be caught, like you said, in this cycle of, you know, that instant gratification versus looking at the long form, you know, path of our bodies and thinking about what's really going to serve us. Totally.

S: And in clues, talking about inclusivity, you know, I've just gone on an entire journey with trying to, not trying to, but quitting alcohol because I know that alcohol doesn't serve my body justice. And I think that was probably more, more challenging than going vegan. Not, not because I need alcohol or want it, but in social situations when everyone else is drinking and you have nothing in your hand or a glass of water, people start asking questions.

And then you feel like you've got this unwanted attention where you're explaining why you don't drink. And although people are very receptive to it and they, they, they appreciate my response, it's just something that you would rather avoid in a social situation. So the, the, yeah, quitting drinking was probably more challenging than going vegan. So we can talk about that if you want.

A: You know, what I'd love to talk about here at this moment is that, you know, deciding to not drink alcohol is actually another layer of healing your microbiome. Oh, 100%. I have had to face because I personally just, I enjoy the taste of alcohol. Like, you know, even if I'm not, you know, drinking to like get drunk, which I certainly have in my past, but, you know, I like stinky IPA beers. Like I like that flavor, you know what I mean? I like the taste of wine. I like the taste of whiskey. But when it really comes down to it, how does it make me feel like, yeah, feeling a little buzz is nice, but how does it make me feel three hours later or especially the next morning, right? Or on the knowledge that I now have about how alcohol affects our microbiome, what's more important to me? Like having a healthy, like vital body and feeling really good, you know, the majority of the time or tasting a cool new IPA beer. Exactly.

S: I guess it's one of those things where you just have to have a few sips.

A: Yeah, yeah, totally. Because that's, yeah, that's a good way of looking at it. Yeah.

S: Have a glass of water in one hand and a beer in the other, sip for sip.

A: Like the spitting thing, you know, when you go to a winery and they're like, you can spit it out, I'll just like swish the beer in my mouth and then spit it out and everybody will be like, what are you doing?

S: Balance is key. Cool. But yeah, so, yeah, so much of my tains was hormonal issues. And then towards my late teens, because drinking, legal, the legal drinking age starts at the age of 18 in Australia, we were drinking probably at 16, 17. So my gut microbiome never really got the chance to get a head start right from the beginning. And I feel sorry for it in hindsight. But yeah, I've had serious gut dysbiosis my whole life, but I said it manifested in different ways. So the drinking started and of course it was more of the binge drinking. It wasn't like, you know, we were sitting down to a glass of wine every night with mom and dad at the age of 17.

It was, we were going out on the weekends and getting alcohol behind their backs and doing naughty things that you do as a teenager, right? And of course, and that the party days probably went through right until my mid twenties when I, I decided that enough was enough. And what I was doing to my body was quite destructive. And of course, when you drink, you eat poorly too, because like who wakes up the next day saying, Oh, I want a delicious salad, you know, you want, you want the hamburger, you want the fries, you want, you want the hardcore food that's going to feel like a big warm hug after, you know, coxifying your body the night before. So um, yeah, the bad, the bad eating and the drinking came hand in hand, but my acne just did not get better. And unfortunately I ended up on Roacutane, which is an extreme antibiotic with high levels of vitamin A that basically strip your gut microbiome completely the good and bad bacteria in hope that your face will clear up. And it's very effective.

My brothers both had really bad acne too, and it cleared up their skin and they've never had pimples since. Unfortunately for me though, after a year of taking the Roacutane or otherwise known as Accutane in America, it did come back. And so it didn't matter how much I medicated or whatever band aid I tried to apply to my body, my body was screaming at me, telling me that there was something wrong. And it's not that I ignored it. I just didn't know. I had no idea. And so then I think at about the age of 25, 26, when I slowed down on drinking because I started experiencing chronic occurrence of UTIs, my hormonal health was out of control, my skin was out of control. That's when things really started to turn for the worse. And it's interesting because that's when I really started to try and clean things up. I was on prebiotic fibers starting to really understand why I was experiencing UTIs but never really could find any information online or doctors couldn't give me any information either.

They just said, you know, wash your hands after having sex or something like that. Just ridiculous things like make sure you're hygienic after having sex, like go to the bathroom. I'm like, I'm doing all of that, but it's not working. And I ended up on medication for that as well. Like I was in emergency three times because of these UTIs, it just wouldn't go away. And my food sensitivities were out of control. So at about the age of 26, I was living in a coastal town up in Northern Australia. And I was drinking tank water from the house, which was meant to be filtered. And lo and behold, we ended up finding a toad inside the tank. Because I know I'm laughing now, but really, I think that was the that was a nail on the coffin for me. Because the contaminated water was actually causing gut health issues. So not only was I experiencing hormonal health issues, but it reverted back to the gut health issues. And I had, although I wasn't experiencing blood, I was definitely running to the bathroom with urgencies that was somewhat similar to what you would say ulcerative colitis is.

So I ended up going on some herbal journey to cleanse my body from any parasite that might be in there through a naturopath. Never got tested post the natural herbal healing. Met my now husband six months later, who is an American. And stop me if you have any questions, because it's a very complex time for me. But I traveled to America during this time that I was on just after my herbal cleanse in the start of 2017. And that's when I met my husband and who's American living in America. And of course, when you meet someone, you're in your honeymoon phase. And we were going out and eating everywhere and drinking and having a great time. And then basically a few months later, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.

A: So it sounds like, you know, there's this and I relate to this a lot, you were going through these like, kind of, you know, physical, whether it was gut health or whether it was your skin, these kind of like catastrophes that you were experiencing, and you were doing your best to try to address them. Like you said, you were like seeking the health of a naturopath to try to cleanse out a parasite, you know, you even, you know, it sounds like took the Accutane as a way to try to deal with the acne, you know, you're, you were trying to address all these things, like you were basically doing the best that you could to try to address these things. But there was like a missing piece here of how it was all connected. And what was really going to take for you to heal. And so here you are, you're just arrived in the United States to live. Is that, did you like decide to come live here?

S: No, I was actually on a vacation. So this was in August 2017, I was on a vacation and I met my husband was on this vacation in New York. And we were attached to the hip immediately. And I flew back to Australia and three weeks later, I was back in America staying, I stayed in America for a month and then he came to Australia for a month and it was just back and forth for basically four months. And then in December, I got diagnosed with ulcerative colitis while I was in America. And it just turned my life upside down. That diagnosis changed everything for me.

A: Talk about a level of intimacy with a new person. Yeah, it was a lot of work.

S: Because the symptoms started, so I got diagnosed in December, the symptoms started happening in October. It was a very quick diagnosis was end of October, I started experiencing symptoms and it was like really terrible constipation. And I was like, okay, I'm dealing with constipation, I'm going to go off gluten and do everything that I used to do. And it wasn't working. And then I but I had urgencies, I was running to the toilet and then nothing was coming out. And it was really weird. And so of course, because I was living with my husband at the time, boyfriend at the time, now husband, he, he started to become like concerned, like I'd be just hanging out with him. And all of a sudden I'd be like for the bathroom.

And he was like, what is going on? And I said, I don't know, but I'm really scared. And anyway, within within weeks, I went to a gastroenterologist and he was with me the whole way through that and very supportive. And he has this this this ability to anything's wrong, he just goes straight into clinical mode, like how can we diagnose is what's going on, like, let's get to the root of this. So he's not very emotionally reactive to very high extreme situations, which is great. And so I got diagnosed and and yeah, it changed a lot for our relationship. It changed a lot for my life because I was living a very free spirit life. I was doing anything and everything whenever I wanted.

And I had no limitations. And the gastroenterologist told me that I was going to be married to this for life. And that was tough. That was really, really tough to hear. And I didn't realize the severity of what he meant by that. And but I use that as motivation to prove him wrong because I knew that the life that I had been living, although would be different, there was no way that I would deal with these symptoms daily. And so I use that as an incentive basically to prove him wrong.

A: Yeah. And, you know, before you discovered the methods that you practice now, you tried other things. What what other things were in your toolkit before discovering what you do now?

S: Yeah, that was a wild journey. So for the first six months of my diagnosis, I went on medication and I preventative medication and it cleared up the ulcerative colitis immediately. So through those first six months, I was basically in denial that it existed. I was like, well, I've already overcome it. I just have to take this pill every day and I can continue living the life that I was living, which was, you know, going out to eat, going out to drink, doing whatever I wanted, not really taking, not really prioritizing my body on my health. And and this is like part of a journey that's so important for people to understand that if you've been diagnosed with something or you've got gut health issues, deny, although denial can happen, it's so important to mourn the pro like mourn that process and be kind and nurturing to yourself and understand that it's going to be okay.

And it will be okay. And there are people out there that can support you through this. Because without overcoming the diagnosis, then your body can't heal. It just won't. Because you're holding on to some, a person of the past that no longer exists. And that leaves a huge burden on your shoulders. And so after the six month period, I ended up falling up into a pretty bad flare up. And that was when I recognized that I couldn't just prove us rivulously. Thank you. I talk about what tongue twister will add that one to the ulcerative colitis list. Yeah, I couldn't just run around doing everything that I wanted. I had to really prioritize my health and it started with a supplement journey. I was like, I think that there's going to be a pill out there that'll be just a quick fix. You know, like, and so I tried everything. I tried vitamin E enemas. I tried taking these random Chinese probiotics that were really hard to locate.

And then I also went down like these dark alleyways in New York City and, you know, sat with Chinese herbalists and I didn't even understand what they were saying. And I was trying to describe what I had. So I really tried hard to just find something that I could implement daily that was easy, that wouldn't take away too much of the experience that I was having with my husband in New York City. And none of it worked. None of it worked. You know, like it would work for maybe a few weeks and I would feel like I'm getting better and then I would just go back to the same situation where my symptoms started surfacing again and, you know, I had urgencies and whatnot. And so it was like basically walking a tightrope. And so finally I pulled a pin on the whole supplement route and I decided to work with, I guess let's just call him, and he was a nutritionist, but I don't even know if he was certified.

I don't know what he was, but he was came highly recommended, biochemist. And he took my blood work and my DNA and he merged it together to formulate a very restrictive paleo diet. So with a paleo diet, it's already, it focuses on eliminating whole grains, sugar, what else is there? Legumes as well. Some fruits, I think too, right? There's some fruits as well. And then I was even more restrictive with the fruits and vegetables because if there was any roughage, then it would cause irritations on my intestinal lining, which would trigger a flare up. This was his theory. I don't subscribe to this now. And he increased my meat intake. I was eating meat basically twice a day, if not three, animal products three times a day, eggs for breakfast, meat for lunch, meat for dinner. And it actually, although like my symptoms were somewhat clearing up because fiber can aggravate any intestinal problems down there, like IBS and whatnot. So when people eat meat and they're like, oh, I didn't really, didn't experience any gastrointestinal symptoms when I ate it, it's because there's no fiber in me. But it doesn't mean that fiber is bad for you.

Fiber is actually really good for your gastrointestinal health. And that's what your microbiome feed off so that they can create nutrients and fight off pathogens and support your immune system. So you can eat meat. And for the first few months, you'll feel okay because you're not, you know, there's no fiber in it. So it's just basically going straight through you. But it's actually causing a lot of long term side effects and increasing inflammatory bacteria in the gut that are directly linked to colon cancer. And of course, with ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, we have four times more likely of the chance of having colon cancer now because of the inflammation of the colon.

Wow. Yeah. So and I didn't know any of this at the time, I was just basically shooting in the dark and hoping that what this man that was telling me would work would actually work. And eventually it actually, although like the first few months were okay, it had exasperated also my symptoms. You know, my acne started getting really bad. I was I had awful, awful fatigue. I was so tired every day. And then again, like I was in and out of flare ups and it just was not working for me. How long did you do?

A: Oh my gosh, you did it two years.

S: You were committed. I know. And I know it's scary actually, like 2018 to 2020. Yeah. Maybe just under two years, I reckon. And I always thought that if I ate outside this list of foods that he gave me, then that was the reason why I was not getting better. And what it ended up developing was an unhealthy habit with healthy foods. And I was reading, I spending hours in supermarkets, reading every label, trying to avoid all of these ingredients. I was scared to eat out at dinner. And I would basically just sit at home most days because I was frightened of anything that was going to end up hindering my gut health.

And orthorexia is just it's something that's only just been recently coined as obviously it doesn't, it's not the same as anorexia or bulimia, but it's now considered in sort of a category of unhealthy habits with food that can cause some serious mental health issues. So that was a scary time. That was really scary. And I think that is the reason why I'm so obsessed with what I'm doing now, because when you're in a dark cage for so incredibly long, or you feel like you're trapped in a jail cell of your own body, and then you finally see an experienced light at the end of the tunnel, you feel really free. And that was that was unbelievably empowering the moment when I recognized that what I was doing to my body was actually making it worse.

A: When did you realize that? What was the catalyst for this?

S: So I fell into a flare up in 2020 in July. And I jumped on Instagram and Dr. Will Bultzwitz was doing a live with Dr. Vanessa Mendez, who were both very reputable gastroenterologists who both practice plant nutrition. And I was God smacked that there was a gastroenterologist out there that was talking about nutrition, let alone that it being plant based nutrition, because every gastroenterologist that I'd seen over the course of my ulcerative colitis had said, oh, diet might have something to do with your disease. But you know, you can try. But I don't know if it's actually going to do anything, but it's worth a shot. So they're very blasé about the whole food approach. And I just knew that that wasn't the answer.

I knew that there was definitely more to what was going on inside of me. And so I listened to his live and I was just so overwhelmed with this like, but in a good way, like overwhelmed with joy and happiness that there was there was an alternative out there. And because he was a gastroenterologist that worked with patients like me, who have healed through eating and lifestyle changes, it gave me hope that I could do the same and I would see results too. And I'm so grateful for him and what he's doing to help change change others and the world and the people around him. And he's, I don't think he realizes the great impact he's creating on people's lives that they feel free again, you know, from these uncontrollable symptoms,

A: not just the controlable symptoms, but the prison of your body can also be like that orthorexia or thinking like, I can only eat like this small list of foods and anything outside of that is going to hurt me. You know, being afraid of our food, being afraid, like taste something or experience something because it's, you know, suddenly going to cause, you know, gas or bloating. And that means that all of my problems are coming back, right? Like there's a level of freedom that he's inviting people into. And I would love to explore that with you in a moment, but you know, what you're saying really resonates with me. So you saw his live and then you read Fiber Fuel. Yeah.

S: So while I was bedbidden, I read his book and I cried like chapter after chapter, I just, and I get emotional talking about it now because I wasn't aware of how much damage I was doing to my body and the way that he was describing how easy it is to take control back of your health was just so, it was just so impactful for me. And what really stood out for me was that we have trillions of microbes in our gut and these little guys need Fiber in order to survive.

And when we starve them of Fiber, they die off. And when they die off, that's when we start experiencing all of these symptoms that I've been talking about. And I just thought we have such a huge responsibility to take care of our health. It's like taking care of a bunch of puppy dogs, you know? Like we really, and when people say treat your body like a temple, now I really understand what that means, you know, like they need us. And if we starve them, then they're not going to be around to help us.

And basically the whole methodology behind this is the more Fiber and more diversity of plants that we eat, the more that the more we'll multiply and they will come back and they'll grow and eventually our health will be happy and we will be symptom free again. I was like, wow, that's really easy.

A: Yeah, you know, I had a similar like, aha moment when he's talking about all these bacteria and for me, the analogy, strangely enough of angels came to my mind. I kept thinking of these like beneficial bacteria and this like chorus of all these different different microbes that did like, you know, that do all these amazing things. They like help, you know, they make our nervous or our immune system function, they regulate our hormones, they, you know, digest and break down our food, they reduce inflammation throughout our bodies, they feed our brain cells, like, you know, you name it, like these bacteria are doing all these wonderful beneficial things.

And I was just like, wow, like angels, angels are here right now inside my body helping me. That's how it felt. Like I was like, they're, they're these wonderful, like beneficial creatures that are here alongside me this whole time. And I like you said, I hadn't been feeding them, I hadn't been taking care of them. Yeah.

S: And I felt like I was abusing them. And that made me sad. And I know that it wasn't intentional abuse, but it still made me sad that I was abusing my body. I thought I was doing everything right, when in fact, I couldn't have been any more opposite if I tried with this high meat diet. And so, and what I love about his approach as well, and we can get into it is that he's all about just adding more plants, adding heaps of diversity and more. And I was like, so, you know, so onions not going to hurt me, garlics not going to hurt me. And all of a sudden I realized that all of these foods that I was restricting out of my diet weren't going to hurt me.

They were actually there to help me heal. And although I was experiencing digestive discomfort with them, that was just because my body was saying to me, hey, Sarah, I don't have enough gut microbiome to break this down right now. But this isn't such a bad thing. Maybe eat it in a smaller dose, go low and slow. And so, over time, I will rebuild the gut microbiome that I need to break it down. Like, oh my gosh, this is amazing. Like just because I feel a little bit gassy or bloated from eating onion and garlic, it doesn't mean that I've aggravated my body. And now I'm in a state of inflammation. It just means that it needs more bacteria to break down that fiber. And it was such a beautiful thing, like so cohesive. And yeah, it was lovely.

A: Yeah, I feel you on that. I mean, it's funny because it for me, it explained a lot of one of the experiments that I did in my 20s was I experimented with raw foodism, you know, doing a lot of green smoothies and like, you know, big like portions of certain types of vegetables like kale, you know, and I would not do very well with it. And I had that going on, you know, since my childhood, I hadn't ever really given my gut an opportunity to fully heal. So here I was going into a raw food diet with dysbiosis, and then not digesting that giant kale smoothie very well, you know, not feeling like it got broken down, feeling like it made me bloated, feeling like it, you know, gave me a little bit of the runs or something, right.

And I didn't know that it was because my microbiome was off and I didn't have the, you know, quantity, the population of bacteria to break down that amount of kale, you know, so when I learned that from him, I was just like, Oh, okay. It's like a giant pile of kale might not be the best thing for my body compared to just like a small handful with many other plants in the salad. It doesn't just have to be this large dose of one thing. In fact, what I learned so much about, you know, from learning with Will Bolsowitz is that your body needs a bunch of different tiny little things, all these micronutrients and these small amounts of things are actually what our body knows how to deal with and handle really well, you know, and that's what's so powerful about diversity of plants is you get a little bit of a bunch of different things and then your body just knows exactly what to do with that.

S: Exactly. Yeah, no. And I remember I just after reading the book, I walked into my kitchen and I just like, I just took in a deep breath and it was almost a sigh of relief and I just saw it finally like it all makes sense and I don't have to avoid legumes or whole grains and I conveniently had oats in my kitchen and I don't know how because I wasn't definitely not eating them at the time. It must have been for my husband and I made myself a bowl of porridge and I used to eat porridge all the time growing up as a child but of course on the restricted paleo diet I stopped eating oats and I ate a bowl of porridge and my body was screaming for more.

I ate a whole bowl and it was just like, I want more and I'd never felt like unless it's a piece of chocolate or something, I'd never felt such a pull towards wanting food that was healthy for me. It was crazy. So I was like, all right, I'm going to make another bowl of porridge. And so that week, I think I ate two bowls of porridge a day and it just made me feel so damn good. And I was like, there's just so much in what he is saying just by making even these small changes right now. Like why would we stop eating something that we know is making us feel so good? And all of a sudden I started experiencing a little bit more energy and less brain fog and you know, my ulcerative colitis symptoms weren't as aggressive. So just by making these small changes immediately, I already knew that I was on the right path to healing and it was really beautiful.

A: Well, and oatmeal, what a perfect food to start with because it's generally pretty easily to easy to digest and it has compounds in it that are specifically nurturing to the lining of your gut. Yeah.

S: And it also has a pre, well, it acts as a prebiotic fiber. It's called beta-glucan and it's specifically helps rebuild gut, the gut bacteria in your colon. So, and here I am not eating oats. So now I eat oats every single day and I love oats and I celebrate oats. I've got to keep rebuilding that beta-glucan, you know, in every way I possibly can for my colon health. So yeah, there's actually a lot of powerful benefits to eating oats and same with brown rice and quinoa and buckwheat and all of these whole grains that we weren't eating. And you know, it's the same thing with legumes, like the whole lectins conversation or we shouldn't eat legumes because it has a toxin in it called lectins or when we cook the legumes, it cooks the lectins out of it.

And if you look at the blue zones, which are like, I think five or six different places around the world where people have lived to over a hundred, the consistent theme throughout all of these cities is that everyone has been eating legumes. I don't tell me that legumes are bad for you when these people are living to over a hundred. You know, obviously there's other elements to why they're living to over a hundred, but diet was predominantly studied specifically to figure this out. So it's really interesting, you know, then you read these books like, don't eat legumes, don't eat this, and it's scare tactics. And you become fearful of food again. Right.

A: Well, I think a lot of times, you know, if it's a doctor or a scientist of some sort, and they're embracing this, it's very, they're taking a limited view of like maybe a specific mechanism that has been studied in like a limited way most of the time. When I actually take a look at like the data that they are drawing from to look at why they're saying this thing, like don't eat, you know, beans and worry about lectins.

Personally, my intuition from the start, when I first heard about this whole lectins thing, you know, and then looked at like the long laundry list of like foods that have lectins in them, I was just like, this makes no sense to me. Like why would this be the thing that's causing so many people's health issues when I know plenty of very, very healthy people who eat all of these things all the time. You know, you know, where I kind of land on it, if I meet someone who's really focused on lectins and they really think that that's the thing, it's like, well, maybe it is for them. Like maybe they have a specific sensitivity, it could be possible. Like I don't know for sure.

But I do know that, like you said, when you cook the beans, you cook out the lectin, when you cook, you know, and soak the grains like soaking quinoa, there's another like compound that people are sensitive to in quinoa. Well, if you wash your quinoa, you wash off that compound before you eat it, I can't remember what it's called right now. But there are these very simple ways to like, if that's something you're concerned about, to eliminate that worry, you know what I mean, and still be able to receive the benefits of these foods. Totally.

S: And if anyone does have a legume sensitivity, it's worth looking into histamine. Correlated with legumes, unfortunately, but there's ways around it. Like, for instance, I have a histamine sensitivity, but I cook my lentils, I don't eat canned anything, specifically to avoid the sensitivity. And lentils ended up being one of the reasons why I healed from my most recent flare up, which was last year in July. And I think that that was triggered by COVID and I had a viral overload in my body.

And of course, my immune system reacted really badly to that. And it triggered the inflammatory response being the ulcerative clitoris. So that was an interesting journey. But yeah, so, and I healed my body again with plants, I was eating, I was eating lentils every day coming out of that flare up. And I can guarantee you that was one of the primary reasons why my body was healing for sure.

A: Yeah, it's really fascinating when you start connecting with food in this way and developing this like like sensing and feeling like, how's my body responding to eating this, you know, in this deeper way than just like, how does it taste, you know, and what is it supposedly like do or have in it that somebody told me, but how do I feel? Like, how did you feel when you ate that oatmeal? Like, how do I feel when I bite into an apple? And, you know, if you can start connecting with that and feeling when your body's saying yes, right? Then it's gonna be easier to understand when your body's saying like, no, or that's enough, you know, because dosage is really important. Like, you know, you're saying you're eating lentils every day.

Well, you might not have been eating like two pounds of lentils every day. You're probably eating a normal, you know, cup, half a cup of lentils, you know, the amount that you felt was like the best for your body at that time, you know, and you have a really clear handle on how to kind of measure those things with your body because you've done the experimentation to figure that out, right? And so for someone who's coming into all this stuff new, I like to talk to people about the process of discovery, figuring out like how much of, you know, this kind of vegetable or that kind of bean that you haven't easily been able to digest in the past.

Can you experiment to figure out like, where's that zone where this is like actually, you know, beneficial and like easy for you to digest? Cause there's probably a zone there, you know, maybe you can't eat like an entire bowl of black bean soup, but can you eat like a small like handful of beans on, you know, the top of your salad, probably, and not have any issue with that? Well, there you go. You're going to be building up your microbes to be able to eventually digest a bowl of black bean soup and, you know, build up that population that breaks down black beans. It's going to do all these incredible things for your body.

S: And going on the blended black bean soup, it's actually blending the plants that you're having trouble tolerating is actually a great way to digest them. I remember when I had a sensitivity to onion and garlic being in the high-fod-matte group of fructans. And so what I did was I would cut down the onion and cook it really well through, say, a stir-fry of vegetables. And it wouldn't be much onion at all. And I would do the same with the garlic as well. It would only be like a quarter of a clove minced into stir-frys. And that's how I built up the tolerance to finally eating it again. And whenever I start to feel a little bit gassy or bloaty from eating raw onion or raw garlic, I will cut back for a day or two and, you know, start again. And so that's really how you identify how to work with your food sensitivities and how to work them back into your life again. Yeah.

A: Oh, that's beautiful. So you're giving people an example here of just kind of the knowledge and the information that you have that's so important for people who are on this journey who are trying to figure this out. Would you speak a little bit more about, you know, the flare-up you've had, what you learned from it, and then like how that experience, because I'm sure it has helped you support people even at a more deeper level who are experiencing gut health challenges. Because like we were talking about at the beginning, like this journey's never over. We're never like done healing our gut, right?

S: No, you're totally right. I feel like every time I've had a flare-up, I've shed a new skin and evolved to another level. There's something really powerful about, and it sounds weird that I'm talking about something that is so traumatic, but there's something really powerful in experiencing a flare-up because you, not that you become complacent when you don't have one, but you sort of, you stop doing the deep diving research that you normally would do because you're focusing on other things in life, whether it's business, whether it's clients, whether it's your family life, whatever it is. But when you're in a flare-up, you basically have tunnel vision and all you're focusing on is how to heal your body.

And so you begin the research phase again. And it's so fascinating because the research phase is constantly updating with new information all the time. Doctors are surfacing with new content or new studies or new developments around how we can heal our bodies when they're in such a hectic state of inflammation. And also it was a beautiful time to reach out to my community and let them know what I was going through. And they followed me on this healing journey and some of them reached out to me and said, hey, I just had a flare-up due to COVID as well, which was really interesting. I've had like maybe five or six people reach out to me and say, hey, I had COVID and a trigger to flare up.

And this is what I did. And so they suggested herbal tinctures like cat's claw to help mitigate the viral overload in my body. And so I was taking cat's claw every day. And I was also recommended something else. And I don't know why I can't think of it right now. And if anyone wants to talk to me about it, just DM me. But basically it helps heal your intestinal lining. And it's a powerful anti-inflammatory too. Yeah, it's bright blue. It's like, it's a Chinese name and that's why I'm having a mental blank. But yeah, it's a powerful blue herb that I was a little bit apprehensive about taking. But interestingly enough, within 48 hours, the pain that I was still experiencing in my stomach, although I had been on medication to heal the ulcerative colitis, it completely disappeared within 48 hours.

So like these powerful tools that I've now also implemented into my life, and I'm not taking it anymore, you're only meant to take it when you're in a state of inflammation. I now have in case I start to feel any oncoming symptoms with ulcerative colitis, but not only that, like I went on a whole, like a health journey through making soups every day with plenty of vegetables in them, but blended down so my body could tolerate them. I was eating the lentils. I also integrated like a healthy mindset routine in the mornings where I would meditate and stretch. And it was, everything was dedicated to my body and it was such a beautiful process.

And with all of these new tools that I've learned, I'm happy to be able to share this with my clients and also red flags, like things that you do in lead up to what could trigger a flare up of any kind. Like are you eating out too much? Are you drinking alcohol? Are you taking medications that you shouldn't take? Like write these down as red flags because they are such a good reminder for you to look back on and be like, oh no, I have been eating out a lot lately. I have been under a lot of stress. I've been taking a lot of medications that I shouldn't be taking.

And this is why I'm feeling like crap and I need to focus on all of the things that make me feel good. So I get out of that red flag category so that I can focus on health and healing again. So that was also really cool. So I've just learned a hell of a lot. Yeah, oh man.

A: I love flare ups. I relate to that so much because the work that I do as a somatic educator with releasing neuromuscular pain and tension, that came from my own struggles with chronic tension and pain in my body. And so I use the methods that I teach to help myself when I have, I guess you could call them flare ups too. Like during my younger years, I practiced a lot of hot yoga and there's this whole locking your knees thing like in Vikram yoga, lock your knee, lock your knee.

They don't talk about it as much anymore but basically it's making your legs super tight and hard and straight. And it's funny because I have so much muscle memory there that when I will get into a high state of stress like my nervous system gets tuned way up because of something happening. Maybe I get sick or COVID or there's some kind of family catastrophe. The place that'll show up is like my quads. Legs will get really tight. And I know that it's because of the muscle memory. Like based on what I know about neurophysiology now like I know that that's an area that I trained to stay really tight. And so it's interesting when I've had my own kind of, I guess flare ups around muscular tension and pain. It is the opportunity to deepen my personal practice of what I teach. It's my opportunity to really step once again into how this healing thing really works which is dedication, consistency and gentleness with myself.

S: Yeah, it's so true. Yeah, and what I absolutely love now is like, I've recognized that like the tools that I use to heal I just need to revert back to as well. You know, like using the kitchen as a tool cooking as a tool and lifestyle changes as a tool like something that I guess we haven't addressed yet is the discussion around stress and how stress can also aggravate or exasperate any sort of flare up or symptoms that people might be experiencing. We don't realize how much our environment plays such a huge impact on our health. And I can give you an example.

My husband and I had a bit of a disagreement on the weekend and interestingly enough that afternoon I started experiencing like, I would call it bubbly guts where you just feel a little bit rumbly down there and it just doesn't feel right. And like that's just like a direct indication to recognize that like the relationships that you have around you and the environments that you're in can play a direct impact on your health. And that's another thing that you really need to focus on where you can improve in your life. You know, as your career is stressing you out, are your significant others stressing you out? You know, all of these little things that really play a part in the overall health and healing journey. Absolutely.

A: You know, that's something that I was so impressed with Will Bolshewitz for actually addressing in his book and in his teachings as he talks about stress and talks about trauma. He talks about unresolved trauma having an effect on your microbiome and your ability to heal. And to me, that makes so much sense because, you know, our nervous system and our gut health system, they're right alongside each other. They're interacting with each other all the time.

You know, and I know for me with the anxiety that I used to have around food because of my food sensitivities, I now recognize that sometimes I was having a hard time digesting something because I was eating in a state of anxiousness and fear about whatever I was eating and that that was actually putting me in a sympathetic nervous system state where my digestion wasn't gonna work as well, where my body wasn't actually gonna break things down because I was experiencing fight or flight. You know, so if you think about someone who's experienced different traumas in their life and they have not really resolved or, you know, calmed their nervous system significantly enough, like, yeah, that makes sense that they're gonna have more gut health issues as a result because they are constantly in a state of, you know, an up-regulated, fearful nervous system.

S: Totally, and one recommendation I always have to people is never have a heated or intense discussion with someone while you're eating because your body will digest that food differently. And whenever or if I get into a heated discussion with my husband while I'm eating, I'll stop eating. I'll actually stop eating and I'll eat later because I know that my body will not digest that food that it needs, the way that it needs to to heal my body if I'm in a heated discussion with someone. So, yeah, that's all, that's, you have to be in a good environment when you eat and be sitting down and really be mindful about the food that's going into your body and how it's gonna heal. It's a very important part of the process.

A: Yes, you know what I'm immediately thinking of though? Two things. One, Kuknat Han has this whole thing about mindful eating that I remember from one of his books, and he talks about that the only things that should be being discussed while you're eating is how lovely the food tastes.

S: I love that because I'm the one who cooks.

A: Yeah, yeah, there you go. But the other thing... That's the most amazing I am. How do you like it? How do you like what I've made? But the other thing is that I was thinking about this habit that I've had most of my adult life that I know is like a stress eating pattern that I have. And there are days when I, it's such a habit because it's invisible to me until all of a sudden I'm like, oh my God, I'm doing this again. Like it's, that's how habits are. We don't see them until like we do. We're like, they're invisible to us, right? What I will do is I will eat while driving. Yeah. I will eat like a snack. I will stop at the store and I'm hungry, you know?

And I don't wanna wait to get home to like actually eat a meal. And so I'll have whatever the snack is. And it could be as innocuous as like a bag of carrots or it could be as like naughty as like, you know, chocolate peanut butter cups or like popcorn or something. You know what I mean? But I will catch myself doing this. I'm like, wait a minute, wait a minute. This is not really the most peaceful calm time to eat while I'm like navigating traffic and like, you know, leaning forward with my body in this like tense position driving, do you know what I'm saying? Like especially since I live near LA so traffic can get really wild.

You know, what am I doing? Like shoveling popcorn in my mouth. Well, I'm like trying to drive this giant piece of metal through time and space. Like I will catch myself and just be like, okay, cool down girl. Like I know you're hungry, we're gonna be home soon. Go ahead and roll up the bag of popcorn or like the bag of carrots or whatever it is, you know? So I mean, for sure you always go ahead. I'm gonna say we all fall victim.

S: I've been there, I've been there. Actually, in fact, I do my grocery shops on Mondays and what are at Whole Foods and conveniently they have a little buffet area where you can select food and eat it. So if I'm hungry, I'll do my shop and then I'll go and eat at the Whole Foods buffet area specifically to avoid eating like buying a bag of like healthy version of chips that I can eat on the way home or like get home and be frustrated that I'm hungry and I have to put the groceries away and I won't be able to eat until the groceries away.

So yeah. Damn it, you're all. Yeah, it basically is. Yeah, I've learnt like a lot of tricks and tips to navigating life through like meal prep and shopping and enjoying the process of grocery shopping and you know, filling the fridge with food that's gonna help you when you're on the go. And yeah, but it takes a while to get there but once you figure out you're like, shit, yeah, I've got this.

A: Yeah, or for me, I'll like, I'll pack, you know just a couple pieces of fruit or like a snack and what I'll do is I'll just remind myself that instead of trying to scarf down this apple while I'm driving, like why don't I just pull over? Yeah, just sit calmly and like actually like enjoy what I'm eating, you know what I mean? It's like, it doesn't take that much time to just stop and slow down and like, you know, eat the food.

S: We always feel like we're in a rush everywhere. Yes, totally. I don't know why we do that to ourselves.

A: What's that you said? I don't know why we do that to ourselves. It's conditioned into us, you know, like from an early age, I think like we are thinking that we have to just get as much done as possible in a day or something, right? Yeah. Otherwise we don't feel productive. We don't feel productive, exactly. We feel like we're behind, right? Maybe it's something from being in school, I could imagine if like feeling like you don't wanna get behind all the other people in the world who are going and doing something, right?

S: Yeah,that'strue.Verytrue.

A: Well, it's been such a pleasure talking to you and I really appreciate you sharing such a beautiful timeline with us of your process through this because, you know, starting from that moment that you fell into the pool as a kid and then everything that transpired since, like you were, I guess, destined for some kind of major health crisis and then coming out of that major health crisis, you've been able to actually persevere and thrive and that's so inspirational for people who might be somewhere else, like on their timeline at this moment listening.

S: Thank you, Amy. I honestly really appreciate those words and I do feel healthier and happier than I've ever felt before in my life and more in control of my bodily symptoms. So there's true power to focusing on the food that you eat and integrating more whole food plants into your diet. They're there to heal your body and it's, yeah, it's a beautiful thing.

A: You also have a really cool project that you've started in the last year or so that you were telling me about. Would you tell our listeners about it? It's something that you're doing in person, right?

S: Yeah, I am in real life. So it is called Plant-Based Supper Club and it is an educational dinner discussing how to heal the gut through plant-based foods and it is a four-course dinner where people will sit and enjoy these delicious plant-based foods made by a chef while I talk them through all the healing benefits of the food that's on their plate. And this is a real sensory experience for people because I want them to not only understand the education that I'm teaching them, but also visualize and taste and feel the food as it's going into their bodies and how it could be healing whatever element they might have. And also on the other side of that, it's also a great opportunity for people to connect to who have health issues and network with each other so that they feel like they're connected to a community that will help them continue with their healing journey.

So I'm very passionate about this and yeah, I can't wait to host the next one. I have something similar in the works at the moment. It's called Breath Work and Brunch and I've teamed up with a Breath Work healer and also a trained plant-based chef and it's gonna be a two and a half hour workshop of Breath Work as well as journaling as well as eating a brunch to help heal the body. So I plant-based brunch obviously, so I'm really excited about that as well.

A: Oh, those are super fun. I would love to attend one of those sometime. And somatics goes great with food because we down-regulate the person's nervous system and then usually people, they feel like either ready to take a little catnap or they feel ready to eat or both right after somatics because their bodies are just ready to receive. So I'd love to talk about doing some kind of collaboration in the future because what you're up to is really, really cool.

S: Yeah, thank you so much, Amy. I would love to collaborate with you. That would be awesome. Special star guest from LA. Woo!

A: So tell me, where can our listeners connect with you if they want to learn more about working with you or about plant-based supper club or they just wanna hear more about your journey and see your posts?

S: Yeah, of course, so Beirut, B-A-R-E-R-O-O-T with an underscore at the end is the best place to find me. That is my Instagram account. Yeah, I don't really use any other social account. I also have a website which is my Instagram, the link is attached to my Instagram account so you can find a lot of blog content there to support you on your health journey. And you can find out all about my events and my services also on my website. So, but you're more than welcome to reach out to me, just DM me and I'm happy to have a conversation with you regardless of whether we're gonna be working together or not. So I'm an open book and I just wanna help support anyone and everyone that I possibly can.

A: Oh, I love that, that's so wonderful. Thank you once again for coming on and sharing your incredible story and just sharing your beautiful heart with all of us today.

S: You're saying me, I so appreciate the time. It's been great chatting with you. Yeah, we'll talk again soon. Thanks Amy.

A: You've been listening to the Free Your Soma podcast. Subscribe now to hear more stories of somatic awakening and gain knowledge and tools for somatic living. If you'd like to learn more about me, Amy Takaya, Hanosomatic Education or the Radiance Program, please visit www.freeyoursoma .com.

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