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The Secret to Happiness: Living for You

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Reprinted from with the kind permission of Christina. To read the original article, click here. 

Here’s one thing you should know about me: I love to eat. The word “hangry” might as well be my middle name, because when I feel deprived of my cravings I get crabby & grumpy fast. Now in contrast, my brother is someone who eats to live. He couldn’t care less about what he eats, he just sees it as a way to sustain life. I on the other hand, live to eat. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember, and when we went on family vacations I’d spend my breakfast browsing through the local leaflets & phone directory to pick out dinner options. I was a bit of an odd ball growing up, but those stories are saved for another day.

I digress..

When I had to go on the Lyme Diet the first 2 things I gave up were gluten & sugar. I remember those next 3 weeks so vividly because not only did I have a heck of a sugar hangover from withdrawal, I was also supremely grumpy. I felt like there was absolutely nothing I could eat because everything I had loved also had gluten in it. I call myself a “carbnivore” because I’d be just as happy eating a loaf of bread and a cheese plate for a meal as most other people would be with a steak. I’ve never been keen on meat, but boy do I adore those sweet sweet carbs. During Thanksgiving I am known to eat all the side dishes while the actual Turkey on the table has 0 priority in my eyes.

Point is, I thrive on carbs. Now another thing you should know about me is that I am very thin & I’ve been this way since I was a child due to my genetics. This can be both a blessing and a curse, because it’s hard work to put on weight yet very easy to lose it. That sounds fine and dandy until you combine it with something like Lyme or Crohn’s & then things get bad fast. I require high calories & high fat or I waste away quickly. My daily worries now consist of me asking myself “am I eating enough?” on a loop 24/7. It’s exhausting.

I love to eat & the Lyme diet was a tough adjustment. I saw other bloggers who did similar diets eating mostly all vegetables, lean meats and green smoothies and I thought, “this is my own personal nightmare.” There wasn’t a carb to be found anywhere & while I tried this super strict “healthy plant based lifestyle” I found that I kept dropping weight, my mood was terrible & I felt completely unfulfilled.

Then my mom (bless her) sat me down and we decided that we had to change how we approached my diet. This was also around the time that Pinterest began picking up steam, and a treasure trove of recipes were at our fingertips (bless you too Pinterest). We decided to take all of my favorite foods & simply alter them to become “Christina friendly.” This way I could still have pizza, pasta, cupcakes & enchiladas, but they would be gluten free, sugar free, soy free, corn free, mostly dairy free etc. And you know what I found? I felt great, I was putting on weight, and I felt happy and fulfilled.

You might ask, “that was quite a while ago, how are you doing now?” Well, I still eat veggies daily, I alternate in lean meat a few times a week & we keep a variety of dishes in rotation; from Italian, to Mexican, to Hungarian, to American & everything in between. I follow my body, listen to how it responds and act accordingly. This works for me, and it makes me feel so good. When we recreate a lasagna or stroganoff that is “Christina friendly” it feels amazing and mentally keeps my spirits up as well.

So what’s the point of telling you this? It’s just to say, you do you. Follow what works for you & don’t ever let the internet shame you into feeling like you have to do something a certain way. It’s nice to see people eating these colorful plant based veggie heavy diets, but realistically that looks like torture to me. I can’t sustain on that & I got tired of feeling like I was somehow not being “zen” or “clean enough” if I ate differently. I got tired of new documentaries preaching go me about what is good and what isn’t good. Truth is I could meet someone and we could both be avoiding gluten, dairy, eggs, sugar etc & it can look 2 totally different ways. That’s fine. In fact for a long time I used milk, cheese & butter in my diet because I didn’t feel better or worse when I did and it helped a lot with my weight. And eventually I had to remove dairy because my stomach said, “enough” and then we changed course. It’s been an ever evolving and shifting diet as I factor in food allergies/intolerances, but I told myself that I refuse to feel deprived. I refuse to be mentally stressed out or shamed for what I do or don’t eat. I have to survive & what helps me do that is my prerogative. What helps you survive & fight your illness is your prerogative. You do you, and if it feels good for your body and soul then keep at it.

I don’t often discuss my diet in detail on this blog because for one, I’m not a chef. My mom is the chef in our household & she holds all the secrets to how she makes the magic work in the kitchen. Two, I eat by my cravings. I follow what I crave & adapt the recipe to fit. No joke I often watch tv and someone will eat something that looks tasty, which then sparks a craving, and my family instantly knows it will be tomorrow’s dinner. Same with sweets. If I had $1 for every time the Great British Baking Show inspired a dessert, I’d be very wealthy. And thirdly, when I have a Crohn’s flare up I go back to a liquid diet (bless you Kate Farms), and that can last anywhere from a day to a week to several weeks. It’s ever changing, and I just go with the flow. Sometimes I have periods where I do half solid food & half liquid shakes. It is what it is. But when I can eat, I go all out.

Moral of the story, while the internet is a great big inspiring place, don’t let it box you in. Eat what feels good, eat what your body allows. And if it doesn’t look picturesque or like someone’s colorful Instagram feed that’s still A-okay. Take it from me, if you focus on living for YOU then life will feel a lot more free.

Christina is the founder of Lady of Lyme, a blog chronicling her journey to find health with Lyme Disease.

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