Diet for Narcolepsy – With a secret ingredient

I’ve talked plenty about using diet for narcolepsy, and specifically the keto diet. But recently I realized I have been missing the whole point!

Nutrition isn’t Everything

We are conditioned to believe that when it comes to food, the equation is simple, you get out what you put in. If you just could have enough willpower to eat the right foods, you would have the body you want, with the right amount of energy and no illness.

We push ourselves into so many different diet programs trying to fit into an equation what it is our bodies want. Do they want less carbs? Maybe there are just too many calories and we need to cut down? But something about all that doesn’t resonate with us. We have seen too much evidence that it’s not true.

We have all seen people who eat an insane amount of not-so-healthy food and they still don’t gain weight, right? And we have friends who have done EVERYTHING with their diet to try to shed some pounds. Now bear with me here, this isn’t about weight loss, it’s about how we think about food.

fresh carrots, spinach, tomato, walnuts, and other herbs

Food is Fuel

Food is fuel for our bodies. Most of us can agree with that. We also have a basic understanding that fresh fruits and veggies are good for us. The details of the rest of it vary depending on your experiences and beliefs, but you do have some idea of what is good for your body and what isn’t even if you aren’t a nutrition expert. But when we choose what to eat, we are not choosing based on what would make the best fuel.

So imagine you are going to put fuel in your car. Your car is having a bad day, so instead of gasoline or diesel, you decide it could use some chocolate milk instead. It makes no sense right?

But that is what we are doing to our bodies! When we eat based on our emotions, we are filling the tank with pollutants we know do not lead to our optimal performance. We do it when we experience negative emotions, AND when we experience positive emotions. We eat sugar (AKA poison) to celebrate occasions as well as to “treat ourselves” when we are feeling low.

Can you imagine if you did the same to your car!?!? You wouldn’t do it because you care about your car. But do we not care as much about our bodies? Or we just expect them to be able to handle whatever we put into them? Perhaps we can claim we just don’t know enough to design our own diet for narcolepsy. In that case, you can talk to a health coach or learn about nutrition to get to know more about what your body needs.

Woman feeling guilty eating french fries
Image from Pixabay

Eating out of Self Love

So if we love and care for ourselves and our bodies, what foods would we choose? Would we give ourselves “treats” that provide no nutrition to our fantastic human bodies? Would we “indulge” in things that we know increase our inflammation because it’s a special occasion? I hope not!

Some of us have no idea what it feels like to love ourselves. That is okay, it’s a journey. I can recommend books like Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle, or the one that inspired this article, Becoming Aphrodite by Lorrie Gray. But in general, learning to love ourselves is a journey inside. If you would like someone who can be beside you through the process, you can consult a therapist or even a coach like myself. I promise you, when you love yourself your whole life changes. I know it sounds cheesy. It is still real.

But even if you aren’t there yet, you can “cheat” the system by finding a model that works for you. For example, I have many clients that are dog lovers. They tell me all kinds of stories about the things their dogs do, and how busy they are walking their dogs, preparing their dog’s meals, and grooming their dogs. I look at this with amusement and no judgment by the way.

I ask them, “what if you put as much love and attention into caring for yourself, as you do your pet?” Think about how uncompromising you are with the things your dog needs. They only get “the best quality” foods. Their exercise plan is non-negotiable. You wouldn’t dream of feeding them junk food because everyone knows that’s not good for dogs! But what about yourself? Do you stick with your own diet for narcolepsy?

The Emotions of Eating When You Diet for Narcolepsy

When we have struggled for years to find the right diet for narcolepsy and stick to it, we may have a lot of anxiety and stress around food. Many of us can even lean toward disordered eating if we are not careful, becoming overly obsessed with what we eat and how it makes us feel. We pile on shame and guilt, judging ourselves for our choices and expecting ourselves to be perfect.

Woman indulging in chocolate pastry
Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay

One of those systems is the digestive tract. If you are eating while the nervous system is activated, your meal will not be digested as efficiently as if the same food were eaten in a calm state.

Mixing those emotions with eating is a big problem. While your brain is busy in this fight or flight mode dealing with the anxiety or stress you have presented it with, it doesn’t have the energy to focus on digestion. The brain doesn’t know the difference between your anxious feelings about food, and say your anxious feelings about a tiger waiting to attack you in the jungle. It reads the signals the same, so based on survival, it allows certain systems to go offline while it deals with the threat.

The Self Love Diet for Narcolepsy

When we eat food out of love for our body, the body’s systems are relaxed. Your nervous system is not freaking out about if you are following “the plan” or how many of which macro you have on your plate. Having a relaxed nervous system when you are eating allows the whole digestive process to begin in a healthy way.

Image by Francine Sreca from Pixabay

When we are eating out of love for our bodies, I imagine we also slow down and take some moments to be mindful. It seems like eating would be less stressful if we weren’t doing it to change our bodies or force them into something they are not in the present moment. Eating while accepting and loving my body is going to be my goal for the coming weeks.

I am new to this concept, and I am excited to see where it takes me in dialing in my own diet for narcolepsy. I would love to hear about where you are on your journey! Share in the comments, or reach out to me using one of the many options below!

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