I’ve been posting a lot of sweets lately (Grain Free Chocolate Chunk Blondie Bread, Grain Free Snacking Cookies, No Bake Chocolate Chip Cookies). I’m not sure what to say about that, other than I like chocolate treats, and I’m fine with eating them on my Erin Plan.
What’s the Erin Plan?
My diet has gone through lots of twists and turns and shifts and shimmies over the years.
When I started Erin Holt Health, I was a real food vegetarian. After I had my daughter, I needed to add animal products into my diet to feel well, and I slowly shifted over to more of a paleo template. Once I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, I went through many iterations of different healing food protocols. I've since landed on a way of eating that works really well for me right now. I call it the Erin Plan, because it's not based on anyone else's rules, only what's right for me.
Today I’m going to share with you the four ways I’ve been able to gain enough confidence to develop my own Erin Plan - and how YOU can find your ideal diet.
1. Realize that diet is a helper, not the center of everything.
Because I have an autoimmune disease, I do need to be exceptionally conscientious about food.
Modern “food” is refined, processed, hyper palatable and addictive. It not only trains our brains and hormones to crave more and eat more, it also messes up our guts and trips up our immune system.
The first step for many of us in feeling better is to shift away from potentially problematic and difficult-to-digest food and embrace whole foods.
Dr. Mark Hyman says, “Food is the foundation of feeling good.”
Food matters. But it’s not the ONLY thing that matters.
When I found out I had an autoimmune disease, I was determined to heal myself. I tried many elimination diets over the course of 2 years (AIP, low FODMAPS, GAPS), but ultimately I realized the healing work went deeper than diet. Diet didn’t put my autoimmunity into remission; reconfiguring my life did.
The way I live my life trumps whether or not I adhere to a strict food protocol. My Erin Plan includes lifestyle medicine as much as it includes diet. That’s why my nutrition programs always involve alternate healing modalities.
I currently eat a primarily paleo diet, but I’m not dogmatic or rigid about it. In fact, I'm consistently eating foods outside the paleo template. You can hear my thoughts on treating Paleo as an exploratory lifestyle on Episode 20 of the Funk’tional Nutrition Podcast.
Diet is a helper, it's not the center of everything. Keeping this truth in mind helps to take the stressful, frantic energy out of any dietary approach.
2. Understand that you’re not broken.
In America, girls connect over what parts of our bodies need to be fixed. We connect over our feelings of brokenness. The belief that we are broken runs deep, and it’s consistently reinforced by diet culture.
It’s no wonder so many of us fracture (overtaxed adrenals, thyroid issues, autoimmune disorders, utter depletion).
No matter if your own personal brokenness comes in the form of body hate, or binge eating, or constant dieting, or disease…
You must release the idea that you are broken in order to find your true north.
All diets and healing protocols are tagged with an Alice in Wonderland-esque “fix me!” label. If deep down you think you are broken, you will be swayed each and every time. You’ll never be able to lock down your ideal diet if you approach food from that frantic, needy place.
While you may fracture from time to time, you are not broken. You are - and have always been - whole. It was when I was finally able to grasp this that my true healing set in.
3. Get curious. Stay curious.
Now I’m not saying you can’t attempt positive change in your life. I’m suggesting that instead of feeling pressure to be fixed or healed, look at it as an adventure: fun exploration up ahead!
Change is the only constant in life, so you want to be able to adapt when your life and/or your body changes. You don’t do this by blindly following a set up rules that someone else crafted up. You do this by being curious.
A good part of my personal Erin Plan involves self experimentation, or n=1.
A year ago, I attempted a ketogenic diet for this exact reason. (You can learn about my experience - and more about low carb and keto diets - here.)
Because I approached it with curious investigation (I wonder how my body will respond to this?) instead of dogma (this diet is the only way, this diet will fix me, this diet MUST fix me), I allowed myself to gracefully bow out, rather than beating myself up for being a failure.
I gathered information (my body feels a lot better with carbs), and now I can use that information moving forward.
And if something changes in my body or my life (and it will because I am human!!), then I will keep using that curiosity to explore and adapt.
4. Learn to listen to your body.
Ultimately, we have to get to a point where we’re listening more to our body than we are to diet culture, or the media, or what people on Instagram tell us what to do.
But in order to listen and respond to our body, we must first understand that diet isn’t everything. We must know that we are not broken; we do not need to be fixed. We must then be willing to get curious about ourselves, our desires, and our bodies. THEN - and only then - can we trust our body.
That trust is hard earned because we’ve been told NOT to listen to our bodies for a long, long time.
Our bodies communicate with us via symptoms. We are taught - from a very young age - to ignore those symptoms.
If we have a headache, we take Tylenol. Heartburn? Tums. Constipation? Laxatives. Eczema rash? Steroid cream. Moodiness? Prozac. Fatigue? Caffeine. Menstrual cramps? Birth control.
Yep, we even shut down the vitally important mechanism of menses.
When we suppress symptoms - with medication or disregard - this puts the body’s communication on MUTE. We expect a lot of our bodies, yet aren’t willing to commune with it.
To build self trust means we must turn our body’s communication system back on. We must reacquaint ourself with our body. Self trust asks you to rewrite a contract you made long ago with your body. It might even ask you to trust the parts of yourself that you’ve always warred against.
Like hunger or cravings.
Yes, these too are your body’s communication.
Yes, these too need to be heard.
Self trust is earned, but it’s SO worth the work - and patience - it takes to get there.
Because once you get there, you can stop second guessing every food decision you make. You realize YOU are the expert on you. No guru, coach or influencer can tell you what your ideal diet is. Only you can do that.
Does telling you this make me a rich woman? It hasn’t yet! But I keep championing this message, because it’s the truth.
My nutrition & wellness program doesn’t ask you to blindly follow rules, or question “what does the master say?”. It promotes self trust and self efficacy.
You stop seeking out a savior because you realize you are your own savior.
My program gives you the tools to figure out your own ideal diet. And it allows you to navigate your food around life, not the other way around. It's the last time I will offer Fueled+Fit as a live program, so be sure to sign up for the March 12 start date!