The Mind Body Connection and The Closest Thing I’ve Experienced to a Miracle.

For more than a decade, I struggled with crippling food allergies. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a position like this—either with chronic pain, or infertility, or migraines, or hormone imbalance or extra weight that just won’t come off—where it’s clear there is something “off” in your body but nobody can figure out exactly what, and so there seems to be no solution and no end to your suffering.

But if you have, you know how completely trapping it can feel.

And the other thing you know, if you’ve ever been in this position, is how hard it is to talk about what you’re experiencing. I didn’t talk about my food allergies for years. Mostly because phrases like “bowel movement” and “loose stools” don’t exactly seem like polite dinner conversation but also because anytime I tried to talk about it, I worried I was complaining or drawing attention to myself, or making a big deal out of nothing.

It was easier to just say, “no, I’m really okay. I’ve got this covered. Things are under control. My suffering is nothing compared to so-and-so.”

But I was really sick.

Some days I would have such bad diarrhea it would make me afraid to leave the house. Most nights I would lay awake, praying for my stomach to stop hurting. My diet consisted of, basically, Saltine crackers, diet coke, easy mac, french fries and the occasional bowl of cheerios with soy milk. So super healthy, in other words. But these were the things that seemed to cause me the least amount of pain.

mind-body-connection

And still, I made a handful of trips to the emergency room. The doctors would ask me what my pain was like, and the only thing I could think to tell them was, “it feels like I’m digesting needles” or “…I think my insides are bleeding.”

All their tests came back negative.

Celiac and Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis and colon cancer and a number of other things. They even tested me for lactose intolerance, which I was convinced I had, but nope… that test came back negative, too. Nobody could explain what was happening to me.

And then, finally, a glimmer of hope. A diagnosis. A specialist I was seeing ordered a test, just on the off chance, and the results came back positive. Dietary Fructose Intolerance (DFI).

The solution they gave me was to avoid fructose (the sugar found in fruit, most vegetables and of course High Fructose Corn Syrup) for the rest of my life.

I’ll never forget taking the list of “approved” foods to the grocery store for the first time, wandering around for an hour and a half or so, reading labels, and putting everything I was used to buying back on the shelf. After close to two hours, I came home with several bags full of food I had to (gasp) cook myself.

I started watching the food network, learning how to make my own food and finding some peace in nourishing myself.

You would think this would have fixed everything, but no.

When I started following the diet my doctor recommended, my symptoms dissipated. At least there was that. I was able to sleep through the night with very few stomach problems. My chronic migraines stopped. I stopped making those “fun” little trips to the emergency room. Within a few months, I dropped 20 pounds. It’s amazing what your body can do when it isn’t fighting an uphill battle all the time.

But my diagnosis also meant that three times a day—at least—I was reminded of my limitations. This was back before people were talking about things like “Gluten Free” or “Paleo” or GMOs and organic. This was the age of Atkins, people. And the way I saw it, I had two choices. Either I could spend the rest of my life being the girl with food allergies or I could disengage from the whole corporate eating ritual altogether.

So I all but stopped going out to eat with friends.

Honestly, it never felt super worth it anyway. I would order a plain piece of chicken—cooked with no oil or seasoning (because it was too much trouble to ask what was in the marinades and mixtures), on a salad, which was usually a bed of iceberg lettuce, with no tomatoes or carrots or dressing. $15 to be embarrassed and anxious and mostly miserable.

Holidays were also packed with anxiety for me.

Suddenly I became the problem, the topic of conversation, “Can Ally have this? Can she eat that?” Or I would bring my own food, packed into little tupperware, like a total loser, and eat my wierd-o food while everyone else pigged out on pumpkin pie and stuffing. I always felt left out, or like the “problem” everyone else had to solve.

In fact, there were times I just ate what was put in front of me—all the while knowing it would make me sick—just to avoid the public humiliation.

One day, someone I knew suggested my problem wasn’t just physical.

I’ll never forget it. “Have you ever considered…” she asked, “that your food intolerances might be connected to your fear and anxiety?” And while you might think this suggestion would be a glimmer of hope for me, a light at the end of the tunnel, it wasn’t. I found her comment insulting and so completely impolite and out of line, I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days.

And then weeks.

It taunted me. It infuriated me. How could she…?

After that, I didn’t want to, but I did begin to see some parallels between the physical symptoms I was experiencing and my fears and insecurities. For example, I would often think to myself, after refusing an invitation to go to dinner, about how left out I felt—how this “always” happened to me, how nobody really understood what I was going through and how I was invisible and insignificant.

I also noticed how the pain would flare up during times when I was under a lot of stress—one time when I was in a job that was a terrible fit for me and another time when a close friend of mine committed suicide. My symptoms would come back, in full force, even though I was eating all the same foods that had eliminated my symptoms months ago.

This was just enough to keep me wondering, keep me guessing that maybe there might be more to this than just the physical.

But I wasn’t convinced.

I kept the possibility of healing in the back of my mind.

I would research and try a new diet where you’d be really strict for a few weeks or months and then re-introduce the problematic foods. I worked with a naturopath who walked me through an elimination diet and suggested I cut out gluten for good, so I did that.

I tried a product called Juice Plus—a whole food supplement that contains the real, whole fruits and vegetables, which are picked at their optimum freshness and then condensed down to capsule form. I thought maybe this would be a good way for me to get some of the nutrients I knew I was lacking, without the fructose itself. I also hoped it would bring healing for me, as it had for so many others.

I tried acupuncture and essential oils and yoga and probiotics and a dozen other things. I drank bone broth. I did fermented foods and all-organic and paleo and a Whole 30.

This went on for a decade. I tried everything I could think of.

And yet nothing worked. Progress, maybe, but no real healing. My hopes were always dashed. Each time I would feel more demoralized than the last.

A little over a year ago, I started seeing a therapist.

And about six months into our time together, she told me something that piqued my interest. She said, “I work with clients all the time who work through their emotional symptoms and then their physical ones all but vanish.” It felt reminiscent of the phrase that woman had said to me so many years ago—about my food allergies being connected to my emotional state. Except this time I knew she was right.

Why is it that the most helpful thing we can hear in the moment is also the most difficult?

As she and I talked more about this, I realized that so many of the emotional things we were working on together mirrored the things I had, for so long, experienced with food. Feeling invisible or “different” or constantly left out translated to never being able to participate in this those holiday get-togethers, dinners or group gatherings.

People-pleasing or always deferring my own needs for the sake of others translated into my tendency to eat foods that made me physically ill just so I didn’t have to bring up my food allergies or draw attention to myself.

A fear of being vulnerable or asking for help translated into my inability to talk openly about the struggle I faced with food on a daily basis.

The more we talked, the more I began to see the direct connection between what was happening with me physically and my emotional struggles.

Can I be honest?

There was a tremendous amount of fear in this realization for me. If my external world reflected my internal one, and if I had the power to shape my physical symptoms by addressing my emotional ones, what did that mean for me? It meant I had a huge amount of responsibility, first of all, and activated all my insecurities about not being good enough.

Could the reason I hadn’t found healing, despite all my effort, be because I was somehow fundamentally flawed?

What if other people deserved to be healed but I did not?

The more we talked about this, the more I realized my fears were keeping me from the healing I desired. And when I could calm my fears and actually listen, what I knew—deep, deep down, was this: healing is not a passive event but an active one. We must participate in our own healing.

It’s a “get up and walk” kind of thing.

So I made a few commitments to myself.

First, I told myself I was going to believe for my own healing, no matter how long it took. I would continue the things I had done before—acupuncture, essential oils, good diet, Juice Plus, etc—because I knew they had helped me with symptoms and pain and I knew they were part of my progress. But I was going to incorporate an emotional aspect as well.

I was going to work through what was happening inside until it showed up on the outside.

I also committed I wouldn’t do this alone, so I started talking to my closest friends about my allergies and their symptoms.

Two of my friends specifically—Betsy and Katie—would call me each time before I came over to their house and say, “now, remind me: can you have carrots? I’m making soup, but I want to make sure you can eat it.” I’m not sure they’ll ever know how healing it was for me that that was their response to me. I was terrified of being an inconvenience, of being left out, and their gestures of love showed me my fears were unfounded.

I belonged. I was welcomed. Even if my food allergies were an inconvenience, I wasn’t an inconvenience.

I committed to celebrate even the smallest victories in my healing, something that did not come naturally for me. I would not undersell myself or expect too much.

I refused to feel defeated.

I told myself, over and over, “you deserve to find healing.”

And only as I felt compelled, I began reintroducing foods, one at a time. I started really slowly at first—just a bite of a banana one day, and then another small bite the next. I reminded myself that I was in control of this process and that I could stop anytime I wanted. “You have choices” I would tell myself, which was something I was telling myself in my emotional healing, as well.

I had luck with a little bit of banana, so I moved on to blueberries. Then tomatoes. Each time I would eat something that used to make me sick, I would say to myself:

“This is good for me and my body knows exactly what to do with it. My body will take what’s good and get rid of the rest…”

As soon as I started having some success, I gained some momentum. I tried more and more foods, without any problems. Pineapple and honey and peppers and tomato sauce and orange juice and everything a little faster and in bigger quantities. And before I knew it, I was eating nearly everything again.

Foods I hadn’t touched in fifteen years. A miracle.

But to top off everything, after more than a month of eating all my new foods with no symptoms, I found myself in a particularly stressful circumstance—one that triggered all of my fears insecurities—and within seconds, physical symptoms returned.

It wasn’t until I removed myself from this situation, set a boundary, and talked to a friend about what I was going through that my symptoms eased again.

Why am I telling you this?

Not only that, why am I writing the longest post I’ve ever put on my blog to tell you this?

Good question.

First, I know I’m not the only one who is feeling trapped by some kind of physical ailment—migraines or endometriosis or Cancer or food allergies. And I know physical illness, along with it’s obvious physical symptoms, comes with many emotional ones as well.

Hopelessness. Vulnerability. Fear. Distress.

And while I am not making any direct comparisons from my unique and specific situation to yours, I do want to say: our outer world so often reflects our inner realities. The connection is not always direct or specific, but if you’re like me, considering the connection might give you some insights you weren’t able to see before.

Also, one of the greatest lessons I learned through this whole process was this: we have power to shape and shift the world around us. We don’t have total control. But we have more control than we give ourselves credit for. And the physical world we experience is often a reflection of the emotional world we carry inside.

Finally I want you to know, if you’re on a healing journey (aren’t we all?), don’t give up.

It may take so much longer than you ever imagined to find your healing, and healing my come in a way you never imagined or expected, but that’s okay. You have time. And the journey itself is so important. You’re learning and gaining along the way in ways you don’t even realize. You’re growing and changing and becoming along the way, and people love you so much—enough to call you and ask you about carrots—if you will let them.

You deserve to find healing. So don’t give up.

80 comments on “The Mind Body Connection and The Closest Thing I’ve Experienced to a Miracle.

  1. “I have choices.” A powerful realization for me lately also. I remember making the choice several years ago to pick up my bed and walk. There’s still stuff but I’m a little more free every day.

    • I love that Marcy. What you said about still feeling “stiff” some days reminded me of one thing I am learning about the healing process—it’s a process. So hard to keep that in mind, but so helpful when it comes to keeping me from feeling like I’m “doing it wrong”.

      Thanks so much for reading and sharing.

    • Yes! This has been a huge lesson for me in the past five years. Makes so much sense but I missed it for so long. Thanks for sharing.

  2. thank you for sharing this. My precious 20 year old daughter suffers from anxiety and physical aches and pains. She is doing all of the right things to have a healthy life. I really believe her joint pain and fatigue is connected to her stress and anxiety.

    • JoAnne—I am so sorry to hear about your daughter. She is lucky to have a mom like you who will support her as she is on her own healing journey. I’ll pray she finds the way to healing sooner than later so her pain can be eased. I’m sure it’s hard for you to watch as her mom, too. Maybe this post can even be a glimmer of hope for her.

      All the best to you both. Thanks for reading.

  3. Thank you, you are very brave.

    I have several members of our family who are dealing with a very similar situation. I’m going to discretely share your article with them.

    All the best!

    • Oh, thank you Keith! I hope it will be an encouragement to them and maybe even bring some clarity. Appreciate you reading and sharing.

  4. Hi Allison,
    As I was reading your story, I exchanged “allergies” with “low back pain.” I’ve tried the same range of alternative practices…still, I lived in chronic pain. Like, which came first the depression because of the pain, or the pain because of the depression. This past year brought me close to total burnout. That’s when I gained the strength to invest BIG in my health and me. I signed up with a personal coach, started seeing an alternative chiropractor, read Mind Over Medicine and The Fear Cure, and set my goals on a my new business. My pain has decreased! It’s still there, but I now use pain as a signal, a barometer. I schedule daily self-care, personal development, and keep moving toward my truth, my passion, my calling. Our bodies tell us a lot, if we’d only listen! Thank you! 🙂

    • Kelli—I absolutely love what you said: “our bodies tell us a lot if we’d only listen!” I am learning how true that is in my own life and it sounds like you are too. Thank you for sharing and all the best to you in your continued healing.

  5. This mirrors my own struggles for so long. Food intolerances growing by the day, nothing has worked 100{9ac618bfda39dd0c8c9a0232963cb9a2adfe54a7367c2d4954ad9e847b2e5305}, struggling to maintain…but I know that there’s a whole ton of fear within me that hasn’t been resolved yet. There’s a reason why our gut is called our 2nd brain. It affects our emotions/thinking so much more than people know.

    Definitely “food for thought” 😉

    • Christine—wow, I hadn’t actually heard the gut called a “second brain” before (or maybe I have. It sounds vaguely familiar) but that makes so much sense. Thanks for sharing that!

  6. I have struggled with migraines, for several years now. No amount of Dr visits or tests run showed anything. But in the past several months, I have began an emotional healing. Drawing closer to God, and relying on him more completely. My headaches are worlds better, then when I was just trying to deal with everything myself. Thanks for your post and sharing your journey.

    • Denise—I’m glad it could be an encouragement to you. So thankful to hear that healing is coming to you as you work through the emotional side as well as the physical. Wishing you lots of continued momentum in your healing journey!

  7. Wow, Ally. This post is so timely for me. Different struggle, but same issue at the core. I’m a singer who has lost my voice. Over the past decade I’ve tried every physical treatment out there. And yet I still can’t sing. Only recently have I realized how it is connected to deep-seated emotional fear, fear I thought I had dealt with already but obviously had not. Just last week the truth of it hit me like a ton of bricks, and this post of yours is just another confirmation, a Godsend. Thank you for your vulnerability and honesty. I needed this today.

    • Sheri—oh wow. So glad it was encouraging to you. Thank you for sharing your story too. Our bodies are so amazing in how they speak to us and show us the way. Wishing you all the best in your continued healing.

  8. Thank you for sharing this and finding the words to describe the shame that i felt for the years I struggled with food allergies and chemical sensitivity that came on seemingly out of nowhere. I eanted food to be the only culprit, it was too traumatic to think that I couldn’t control all my symptoms, I could control what I ate, but I couldn’t I couldn’t control my mind. I’d been living a very emotionally superficial life, just skipping along the pond. I too had to make some radical lifestyle, emotional and dietary changes to get healthier and some not so extreme. I remember taking a bite of a new food, journalling, watching for symptoms. I have two allergies – I’d given up eating those foods long before the tests. My body knew what what wasn’t good for me, but my mind and spirit took over and took me on a very extreme path. Thanks again for sharing.

    • You’re welcome Jennifer! I’m so glad it was encouraging to you. I love what you said: “I wanted food to be the only culprit…” I can totally identify with that. Food is so much easier to control.

  9. This resonates with me so much. I have dealt with stomach issues my whole life, but in the past 3 years, I have developed gastritis, and like you, I found myself saying often, “I can’t eat that, it makes my stomach hurt” over and over and feeling like a stupid inconvenience. And recently, I’ve struggled with swallowing my food, like I get afraid I’m going to choke.

    In talking with several people, including a therapist, it was mentioned that my food issues are related to my anxiety and I have had a lot of anxiety over the past 3 years between working at a job I hate with a boss who’s critical of me, my boyfriend-now-husband moving in with me and the stress of two people working together as a couple, and me supporting him while he goes to school full-time. I didn’t even realize how stressful all of that was on me until lately.

    But you know, as I’ve begun opening up to others about how hard the past three years have been on me and how I feel like I’m suffocating so often, the stomach issues have subsided some. I still can’t go overboard with acidic foods or alcohol, but I can tolerate them more than I could. And the swallowing issues are slowly getting better.

    I think a lot of it is because our gut is a second brain, and many of us (myself included) internalize all of our stress and anxiety and guilt deep down in our guts and we ignore what our guts are telling us. When we do this, they lash out to remind us we can’t keep functioning this way. We have to speak up. We have to validate our feelings. We have to fight to have our voice heard. We have to do what’s right for ourselves even if it’s the hardest thing we’ve ever done.

    That’s where I am right now. I hope to continue healing and I hope you do the same. Thank you for sharing such a vulnerable post. It’s one many more than you realize can relate to.

    • Amy—you’re the second person who has mentioned the gut being the “second brain” which I either hadn’t heard, or had forgotten about. Makes so much sense.

      I’m so glad to hear you’re on the path to healing and will continue to believe for even more healing for you. Thanks for sharing your story and I’m really glad mine could connect with you and bring some encouragement.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing this vulnerable part of your life. It helped me make some connections I was missing in my own life!

  11. Thanks, Allison. Great post and hits the nail on the head – I am in a very similar situation. Sounds like fructose (or in my case all FODMAP foods) are the current favorite culprit. I havent had onions or apples for 2 years and I have a feeling that is not my body talking…

    • Gillian—oh yes, I know that apple-less life so well. Praying with you that you’ll be able to get to the root of the issue and eat apples and onions (and whatever your heart desires) again. Thanks so much for reading.

  12. It’s so strange, this is the second thing I’ve read today with regard to healing our bodies and the mind/body connection. I’ve been going through these same issues (not food allergies specifically) for years and with no real diagnosis. Doctors have been prescribing things, shaking their heads, not sure what’s really going on, but nothing ever seems to be the right “fix”. I’m encouraged by your story. I know it couldn’t have been easy to share, so thank you, you were right in thinking that it might help someone else.

    • Jessica—I am so glad it’s encouraging to you. You’re right, it’s never easy to share. But I am so encouraged at how encouraging it has been to others. So sorry to hear about your current confusion with what’s happening in your physical body. I pray you’ll find clarity very soon. Thank you very much for reading.

  13. Seems a little odd being the one male so far to comment from his perspective. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 25 years ago, that used to be know as juvenile diabetes. It is the kind of diabetes you instantly are taking injections of insulin because your body no longer produces it.
    About 3 years ago I started experiencing symptoms that you described having struggled with. I was stuck at home from work for almost a week, during which I went through cycles of being mostly “OK”, to being very ill. I found for me it was triggered by all “artificial” sweeteners, which for most wouldn’t be a big deal, but the diabetes makes it excessively difficult. Things I had been able to eat for 12+ years suddenly I had to remove from my diet. It was difficult to explain to family members who had made the switch to when I was coming over, to having a dessert he could have or diet soda on hand. To me saying, “Thank you for caring enough to have these special things, but I can no longer eat those.” Makes me feel very ungrateful when I have to do that. Eventually I found that there are some bottled drinks that most convenience stores/gas stations carry that use Stevia, a natural 0 calorie sweetener. I learned to start carrying my own bottled Stevia and there is another person at work who has similar issues so “the department mom” made sure that Stevia is in the cupboard at work. There are still days even on this different diet that I have problems, and it is possible it is tied to stress, so I may need to chat with someone, not certain how I will fit that into my schedule but from the sound of your experience it may help. Ignoring it would be a time honored “man” thing to do, but I try not to be too cliché. I’ll get it done, though I may drag my feet.
    Thanks for getting me to think outside of my usual box. (I’d love to comment on my opinion of what we “deserve” but that is too tangent to this topic to add any real value at this time.)
    Thank you again, I hope your healing continues.

    • B—wow, thanks for sharing your perspective. I can so identify with the feeling of going to someone’s house who has worked hard to have things on hand they THINK you can have… and then you have to say, “no, sorry, I can’t have that…” Worst feeling…

      As far as finding a connection between what’s happening physically and what’s going on emotionally, it can be difficult to find a practitioner who is both qualified and also open to alternative medicine/mind-body connection, but it is absolutely worth the search. Our ailments are BOTH physical and spiritual/mental/emotional. It’s all connected.

      Wishing you all the best in your own healing journey. Thanks for reading and sharing your story here.

      PS) I dragged my feet in my healing process for YEARS. It’s all part of the process 🙂

  14. The quote “nobody is a island” is because your never really alone. Your also not the only one with that problem. You can either control it or eventually it will control you. That is the advise from a accute asthmatic. Kudos to you for finding the real cause of your health problem. Maybe it is fructose for me too.

  15. I was diagnosed with IBS-D when I was ten years old, and have suffered from it on and off my entire life. It has been such a source of shame for me, and like you I have tried every diet and healing plan out there. Just this past year I started therapy, and even did EMDR for some trauma I have experienced. And what do you know… the physical symptoms are clearing up. I didn’t believe my therapist when she told me it was possible. It’s like the disorder becomes part of your identity and shapes you to the point where you don’t know how to be without it. But I am getting there. So thankful for your honesty and bravery in writing this Allison.

    • Hilary—what you said about these diagnosis becoming a part of you identity has been SO true for me. There were moments when I would think to myself, “I don’t even know who I am without these allergies…”

      Love that you are “getting there”. Aren’t we all? 🙂 Sending love and light and healing energy your way.

      Talk soon.

  16. Thank you for your courage in sharing this difficult journey. I was diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome years ago–autoimmune disorder that attacks all the moisture producing glands in the body. The biggest challenge is the fatigue that I had to just push through when raising children, and the 2nd biggest challenge is the comment that would inevitably come when I would dare to share how crappy I felt some days, “You look great!”. I could work on the outside and be presentable when I really wanted to curl up in bed.

    After trying all kinds of supplements and health professionals (I got tired of the rheumatologist that said to rest when I felt tired…which would have been all the time), I sought out a nutritionist when our youngest left for college 6 years ago. I’ve been gluten free ever since, and it has helped my energy tremendously by working on healing my gut. Yet some close to me still do not “get” that this is not a fad diet for me–it is my medicine–and bring gluten “full” treats when they visit or for Christmas gifts. Sigh.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Kathy—wow, so brave of you. Fighting through pain to do what we are called to do is part of this life and something we must accept if we want to live a life of meaning. Your kids will appreciate your courage in this forever.

      And the gluten thing is a tough one. Honestly, I still avoid gluten (even though I can tolerate it) because it seems to do more harm than good and most of what you find today is genetically modified anyway, which isn’t real food. My research seems to suggest we’re mostly better off without it.

      Stick to your guns on that one—and find yourself a good gluten free cinnamon roll recipe. I’ve started bringing GF goodies for everyone to holidays!

  17. I’ve experienced healing like that before. Not with a food allergy but it was an emotional problem presenting itself as a physical injury and healed by God through proper (emotional) diagnosis and prayer.

  18. It would seem from all the comments that this post has certainly been eye-opening and confirming to many. Two years ago I was diagnosed with an L4/L5 herniated disc and encouraged to have surgery. My husband and I decided to pray and wait. God did do a miracle in that the chronic pain left and surgery wasn’t necessary. However, I have “flare-ups” from time to time that are frustrating. To avoid them, I frequently tell myself, “I can’t do _____. I’m just not strong enough.” After reading your story, I found myself asking how the physical pain in my back might be a symptom of a deeper spiritual issue. Sure enough, there are SO many times that my internal dialogue says the exact same thing about areas I feel called to serve: “I can’t do ____. I am just not strong enough.” Thank you for pointing out this connection. I am praying that all of us can recognize the symptom and grow in our understanding of how to overcome it.

    • Jennifer—aren’t those parallels just amazing? I remember when I began to see the connections between my emotional world and my physical one, I was just totally overwhelmed and excited and afraid. Hoping you find this new realization a hopeful one and that this post brings some clarity and encouragement to your healing process.

      Sending you love and light and wishing you the best in your journey.

  19. Allison, thank you so much for this post. I’ve had chronic intestinal issues my entire life and it is not until the past few years that I’ve been able to recognize that my symptoms often “flare up” due to stress and anxiety. The first time someone suggested that to me, I was pissed. I remember screaming in my mind, “You think I can control this?!” There is plenty I can’t control, but it turns out, as you so beautifully put it, our outer world reflects our inner world more than we realize. This post made me feel understood (sans condescension) and empowered (sans guilt trip). Thank you!

  20. This is so perfect. I have been dealing with food “allergies” for quite some time–but mine present themselves in the form of full body swelling. NOT FUN. As I started removing things from my diet I went through that same feeling of being the outsider at any occasion that centered around food. But I have also come to realize that no matter how perfectly I stick to my diet, if I am not in control of my environment (whether that’s exercise, chemicals, stress, sickness induced by any of the former), I will still have flare ups. I just recently started sharing my health journey on my blog–because too many people spend 15 years thinking they are alone in this, but I want them to know that they’re not–there is hope and healing!!

    I have so many friends who are going through the same thing and I plan to share this with all of them! You are the best, Ally. Thanks for always being honest and vulnerable. Even when it comes to “bowel movements” 🙂

    • Oh thank you, Lindsey! I’m glad you are going to share about your struggles, too. We need more people talking about these things, like you said. No one should have to spend 15 years thinking they are the only ones 🙂

      Thanks again. Wishing you all the best in your continued healing.

  21. Hi Allison, thank you so much for sharing your experiences, this has really resonated with me. I think it is hard in a world where medicine looks at and treats individual symptoms (I have a few different things going on which means different specialists and conflicting advice) and if only there were someone to treat you as a whole. You have inspired me to look more at the emotional side and expressed something I have been feeling for a while. Have you heard of the book “Heal Your Body” by Louise L Hay? I think you would find it interesting – all about affirmations to treat particular ailments – or more accurately the thought patterns that may be contributing to them. Thank you, Jillian

    • Jillian—I’ve just started reading Louise Hay (I read “The Power Within You”) but haven’t gotten to the one you mentioned yet. Adding it to my list. Thank you so much for reading and for your response. Hope my story was an encouragement to you!

  22. Thanks Allison for your post.

    I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, a low thyroid autoimmune disorder, and food has been a huge part of my healing-but so has talking with my therapist for the past 2 years. The physical symptoms and the emotional wounds run deep and they are related. Thanks for writing honestly about the connection, recognizing that there’s no quick fix.

    • Alyssa—yes, learning to overcome the “quick fix” mentality of our culture has been a huge hurdle for me, as I imagine it is for so many others. Healing is a process. Thanks for reading and for your response. Wishing you lots of love and progress in your journey.

  23. Thank you for sharing this. I’ve experienced the same struggle, but with chronic pain, and this is an important reminder of how important it is to share my journey with others in case it might help them. I know you are leading people to self-healing through this post!

  24. Hi Allison, my difficulties started out with physical injuries from workplace injuries. The treatments that helped most and got me back on my feet were too expensive per the insurance carrier in the beginning. Hence they started with all kinds of narcotics and more. Some developed a heart condition and so I had 5 MI’s amoung other maladies like yours. Stress too, is really a ‘killer’. Eventually the medications destroyed my gut. I almost and probably should have died. These cheaper methods of treating the symptoms instead of the causes resulted in a sigmoid colon resection taking a huge chunk of my lower gut. Nevertheless all these years I kept saying something is wrong which you’re familiar with. It’s often to the point you’re labeled unkindly. Trust you’re gut in many ways. I also trust my God more and more and of course He’s helping too! All the damage totaled – too much! Happy you found truths you can depend on, learn more of, and leave the past behind. Indeed it is a miracle as my God is in the business of! I am happy to hear of your journey. It is stories like yours that helps to give hope to others rather than depression! Thank you truly Allison for doing so. Yes? Sending hugs, smiles and blessings too! Rick =)

    • Rick—thank you for sharing all of that. It is so tempting—for all of us—to focus on treating the symptoms and forget about the root cause. But it isn’t until we get to the root cause we find the emotional, mental, spiritual and physical healing we are craving. Sound like you are embracing that which is amazing.

      Hope my story is an encouragement to you! Thanks for reading and sharing.

  25. Allison, you have shared something so personal and you have done it beautifully. And yes, it is a miracle!

    Now, I’m going to share with you and your readers. You did ask us to, didn’t you? I’m 69 and for quite a few years I struggled with the chronic pain of fibromyalgia. I’m sure some of you are familiar with it. Nothing fun about feeling like a Mac truck ran over you first thing in the morning and knowing you had a full day of work to face as well as your home chores. Only by giving in to the rigorous regimen a rheumatologist recommended did I become free of that pain. But I had to believe in what he offered me, and at first I didn’t want to … until the day at work I began to do things that could have cost the law firm I worked for a lot of money. It’s called a “fibro fog,” mentally fading in and out. I decided the doctor’s regimen should probably get a test run. I began to eat, sleep, and exercise every day just as he told me to, whether I felt like it or wanted to or not. Soon I noticed improvements, and today I’ve been free of my pain for over 20+ years.

    I’ve suffered other types of pain, all of which were more easily resolved than the pain of fibromyalgia. But I count each step toward freedom from pain or illness a miracle. Why not? There is a power God possesses to heal us, and I consider His healing miraculous.

    Also, Allison, I know the difficulties of those irrational “needs to hit the bathroom now” kind of moments. My husband suffers from IBS and although it has been controlled for quite some time, his doctor recently prescribed a medication to which my husband had an allergic reaction. The reaction? Diarrhea! Yep, and now we don’t leave home until we now for certain, it’s OK to go.

    Loved your post–always do!

    • Sherry —Wow, thank you for sharing. The pain you’ve suffered is so much greater than mine, which is a gift in that your faith is greater as well. I love what you said, “But I count each step toward freedom from pain or illness a miracle…” Beautiful. A message we all need to embrace.

      Thank you for reading and sharing your story.

  26. I was born allergic to seafood and it’s smell, all dairy products, nuts, watermelon, strawberries, oranges, grass, cat and dog hair and their scratches, with asthma, and eczema.
    So, as you can imagine, a hard life. My mother tells me that I spent a lot of in the hospital.
    As an adult, I no longer have eczema. I can eat some dairy but not most. Still can’t eat seafood but can smell it. Nuts make my lips swell and throat itch. No more asthma but labored breathing that fixes itself when I’m active.
    I’ve dealt with shame over my allergies from family and friends and internalizing burdensome and fear of enjoying food.
    As I started to gain a little freedom in eating I wanted to try seafood and I heard God tell me not to eat it but I wanted to anyway. I nearly choked into a fit and my stomach felt like I was being stabbed.
    So this encourages me and makes me scared honestly. I’ve stood on the side of wanting so bad to be normal or to not feel my husband’s frustration or rejection when I have to turn away all the food he wants me to try. But when I’m ready I believe I’ll give your miracle challenge a try. I’ll believe for a freedom in my diet.

    • Jessica—thanks for sharing. I can’t imagine how the process would be different if you were born with such severe food allergies. One thing I’m learning is that, when we focus on the emotional, the physical doesn’t always completely change (we have a lot of control, but not total control). But finding the emotional and spiritual healing we need satisfies that craving and gives us the grace we need to embrace a physical reality which isn’t ideal.

      Holding onto both of those—fully believing for healing and also trusting a greater purpose when physical realities may not change—is such a challenge. But it enriches our faith!

      Many blessings to you. Thank you for reading and I’m praying for continued progress for you and lots of grace for yourself in the process.

  27. Thank you for sharing this. I have been struggling with my weight for years and have stopped and started so many times. I finally came to the conclusion this year that it was the mind and the spirit that needed healing. I’ve started the Daniel Plan and while it has been bumpy, I now understand the “why” and that’s half the battle. Thank you for being brave and putting this out on the world.

    • Julie—that’s so great! Having a “why” behind what you’re doing always makes it so much easier to stay committed to it. Wishing you all the best in your endeavor.

  28. Allison — a million thank yous for sharing these words and the vulnerable parts of your story. Looking forward to passing it along to a few friends. I write about helping people create lives of fellowship and restoration one meal at a time. Excited to see how my readers respond to your words on the mind/body connection + flex their compassion muscles when it comes to cooking for and lovingly including people with food allergies in their gatherings.

    Your blog has been refreshing and meaningful to me over the last few weeks!

  29. Thanks for sharing that. It is very true how we’re doing emotionally can result in physical problems, and it’s wonderful to know we do have choices.

  30. Powerful post Allison. I’ve had food allergies for years. I totally understand feeling like a burden with others. Thanks for the reminder that we have more power than we think and that the journey is part of the process.

  31. I used to have debilitating stomach pain. For years it went on. lt wasn’t until I got out of a relationship with someone who hurt me and I was afraid of that the pain abated. I never made the connection until one day my mother said, “do you realize that every time you see or talk to that person your pain returns?”.

    • Wow, isn’t that amazing? Thanks so much for sharing Carrie. I wonder how many of us would be able to end or improve our physical pain by simply ending toxic relationships.

  32. First time reading your blog. Wow, this is me. Thanks for writing about it, because those of us struggling with this feel so alone. (Why does every social event have to be centered around food!?) I need to re-read this and explore your blog. I hope there is more on this topic.

  33. Thank you SO. SO. SO. much for this post! I have several physical difficulties that I struggle with. It is so easy to slip into depression. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told, “oh, just eat xxx, it can’t be THAT bad” or “why do you carry meds in your purse, that’s weird” or “I’ve never taken anything for a headache before, what’s your deal?” or a multitude of other painful things. It can feel so very lonely, and misunderstood, and frankly, it feels like life just really, really sucks.

    But this post brightened my evening. It’s nice to feel understood, and hopeful! Thanks again, Allison.

    • Amanda—I’m so glad I could be a bright spot in your otherwise difficult day. Sending lots of good healing energy your way and praying for your continued health. Thanks for reading and for your comment. Love and light and hope to you.

  34. Coming over from Tsh’s cuppa reads.
    Love this post, thank you. I’m intrigued by your biblical references like “take up your bed and walk” without citing. My food allergy was milk, and not lactose but casein, and for a year when my husband was between jobs I had yeast infection. But I was slow to make the connection. The milk allergy grew so slowly, I didn’t recognize it from college to 38! 20 years? Then I recognized it and did avoidance, for another 10 years. Finally at 48 years old we were planning to go to England, leading a group of students on a CS Lewis study tour in May and in February I asked God, “could you just heal me so I don’t have to worry about this and can eat whatever in England?” You don’t reference God directly, so I don’t know how you’ll feel about that, but here’s two things that happened: I drank only water during lent (ate as usual) and sent $100 for a well in India, and somewhere around that time I felt convicted of and confessed idolatry of my husband. (That means that I looked to him for the good that only God can give, seeing him as of superman-importance to my happiness.) My stomach is well, my husband is still a happy man, and when we have conflict it’s not such a big deal anymore because I can let him be a normal person! England was marvelous and my stomach for milk has been fine since. But yes, the healing of emotions, that’s important work. Guard your heart, scripture says, for it is the wellspring of life.
    Books I loved:
    Dance of Anger, by Harriet Lerner,
    Lord I want to be Whole journal and workbook, by Stormie Omartian
    Thin Within, by Halliday

    • Beth—thanks for sharing those books! And what an encouraging story. I think more people need to hear stories of healing so they know it is possible for them, too.

  35. Yes, the spirit-soul-body connection is definitely a thing. Usually a result of some break between you and God, you and yourself or you and someone else. Notice the connection between that idea and the greatest
    ommandment–which is love God, and love yourself and others. Great to read your testimony—yes, fear is the spiritual root of allergies.

  36. That is my life, thanks for bringing it out into the open. Especially the frightening and constant diarrhoea. I have been better in the last few years as I gave up a stressful job and became a stay at home mother. I have been wondering if my constant anxiety affects my physical health- I’m sure it does and I’m taking steps to deal with it.

  37. Hey Allison, I hope u r doing fine.
    Your post almost made me cry. Because I am on the same journey and in a month it occured to my mind that maybe my IBS wgich has ruined my 4 yearswhich I also grew and learned alot, but not healing, was because of a body mind connection. So I started searching. And today I reached your post..
    And u almost made me cry.. bbecausethey all were true…
    I pray for your complete health and everybody else including myself who is sufferibg althought they have the inner power to change their whole world..
    Love u all
    May God help us true our journey abd coplete healing, Amen

  38. Thank you for sharing this – I have been coming to terms with my own digestive intolerance and it seems I am always explaining myself and getting looks of disdain and “just get over it already”. It’s as though I have to prove it somehow to people who don’t see digestive challenges as valid conditions. It’s tiring and lonely.
    Thanks for the insights.
    Kacy

  39. Thank you for taking your time to write this post. I recently grew a greater understanding and realisation of this exact “condition” a while back (I have known on a subconscious level for a a very long time but finally I tried LSD to help me and it actually showed me just how much our mind effects the body – It gave me this enormous and very obvious sense that my physical ailments stemmed from a deep seated emotional state that I wasn’t letting go of. I could feel how much I was holding on to emotional dis-ease and mental anguish. I could literally feel its weight upon me) You described in a very similar way what I have experienced. For me my greatest issue has been joint pain – especially my knees. So bad that I had to stop my very active life style and quite my careers. Yet on days when my mind shifts to a different (more relaxed) state of being (less internal thinking) my symptoms can all but diminish). It can be tough because folk see you as being fine and i feel think it is all in the head (which is is in a sense – but not in a way they can understand – we are not crazy) It has been a battle and an onwards journey towards healing but, like you I feel everyday I am getting a little closer. Small victories and even the smallest epiphanies are worth their weight in gold as each and every revelation leads us closer to a point of complete healing, wellbeing and quality of life. I also had to do an ellimation of so many foods (FODMAP) but remarkably have re-introduced many after a period of time. I very much empathise!

    Thank you again for sharing this. It reminds me that I am not the only one but also further confirms my own ideas and feelings towards something that no doctor, specialist or family/friend can understand or can offer any help towards. The idea of speaking to a therapist to help work through my emotional disharmony will be my next step. I wish you all the best of luck with your journey and the very best for the seasons ahead. Maybe strength remain with you at all times.

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