Love can heal. Say it with me, "love can heal."
I realize this may sound ridiculous, but those of us in the medical world have seen so many patients who are doing all the right things with their diet, supplements, medications and other therapies and still not feeling as well as they should. Does this sound like you? Or someone you love? If so then you need to read The Loving Diet. And this doesn't just apply to those trying to heal from an illness. If you have recently lost a loved one, or had a relationship end, or if you are struggling with any other kind of adversity or hardship you could benefit from this book.
The Loving Diet came to me at the perfect time in my life. Like the author, Jessica Flanigan, who discovered the healing power of love after the devastating end of her marriage, I received this book just after my relationship of nine years ended. Now I don't tend to discuss my personal life very often on the blog, but I felt it was important to do so for this post for you to really understand how powerful the messages in The Loving Diet can be.
So here goes (please go easy on me, this was extremely difficult for me to write)....
It's hard for me to put into words just how devastated I was when my relationship ended a few months ago. I was not at all prepared. Here was the person who I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with telling me they didn't want to be with me anymore. Just like that my world came crashing down. I know it sounds dramatic but I was honestly devastated. I cried everyday, multiple times a day for months. I would be at work and start crying, I would be driving and have to pull over because of the crying, I couldn't sleep because the tears just wouldn't stop. It was horrible. I have never felt emotional pain like that before. I was also in the middle of studying for the most important exams of my life, and between the stress of the two it was just too much. I have never felt so helpless and overwhelmed in my life. I am normally a very organized, driven person, who is able to juggle many different things and still feel great. This girl that was crying everyday and no longer thinking of the future with excitement wasn't me. But I couldn't stop the overwhelming sadness that I was feeling all the time. It still brings tears to my eyes with I think back to how I was feeling during those few months. I hated the sadness, I resented the sadness, yet I couldn't escape the sadness. Fortunately, then I started reading The Loving Diet.
From the opening of the book where Jessica describes how completely devastated she was when her husband left her for another woman, I was hooked. Her pain was so familiar. If she could move past that heartache and learn how to heal and benefit from it, so could I. The first lesson I learned was to accept the sadness, love the sadness, and believe that the sadness could teach me something. Yes the sadness can teach you something. This same message goes for whatever it is that is causing you pain. Your illness can teach you something, the loss of a loved one can teach you something, losing your job can teach you something... the list goes on. To quote Jessica, "when I stopped fighting so hard against life not being what I wanted or thought, I had longer stretches without crying... And in my dedication to trusting life and loving the grief, an amazing upside started to surface. Life falling apart did not equal life falling apart. Life meant trusting that every single little thing that was happening to me was for my benefit. And even though I had no idea with the benefit might be, I just kept trusting it... when bad things happen now, I take the perspective that there is a deeper purpose for it coming forward than a bad deal or disruption. It comes forward because it can help me grow deeper into my life and a loving state." This change in mindset is the premise for The Loving Diet. And it is this change in mindset that has really helped me heal over these last few months. I still feel sadness, but I no longer fight it, and I am once again starting to look to the future with excitement. Jessica has taught me how to change my negative, non-loving thoughts, into positive messages. And while I have no idea what the future will bring, this lack of certainty which once terrified me, no longer is so overwhelming. I am now starting to imagine all the amazing things that could potentially happen in the future. It hasn't been an overnight transformation, and I still have bad days filled with grief and sadness, but by practicing the methods in The Loving Diet over the last few months I have been able to change my outlook and start to heal.
Okay but enough about me. Now that you know how The Loving Diet has helped me, let me give you a little preview of what exactly you will find inside the book.
The book is broken into various chapters, starting with an education on what autoimmune diseases are, how and why they occur, the stages of them, and other factors that can influence autoimmune diseases such as gut dysfunction and inflammation. Jessica outlines the tests that she typically performs and recommends for patients presenting in the various stages of autoimmune disease, and her approach to treatment. She teaches you the power of mindfulness and meditation and provides resources to teach you these powerful healing tools as a way to help accept and deal with your illness or hardship. Next Jessica teaches you how to truly let love into your life. The majority of the book is dedicated to these lessons.
Jessica has found great success in treating her patients once they are able to accept and love their diseases, rather than try to fight them. And it is much easier to accept a hardship or illness if you believe that it truly has something to teach you, and that the suffering is just a path to joy. There are multiple exercises and quizzes throughout the book to help you learn these lessons and ultimately help you heal. Jessica also provides many examples of patients she has successfully worked with using the strategies in the book. Some of the tools you will learn about include avoiding againstness, coming into cooperation with your illness, redefining happiness, appreciating the struggle, avoiding the victim mentality, trusting your life, and releasing the unconscious beliefs that are impeding your progress. The final portion of the book is dedicated to the diet that Jessica uses to help her patients heal. It is a modified version of the well known Autoimmune Paleo Diet that she has had great success with. By combining both the diet and the mental strategies in The Loving Diet, Jessica has seen patients have amazing success.
I am sure by now you can tell that I think The Loving Diet is an amazing and powerful book. I have read so many health and wellness books over the years, but none of them have resonated with me the same way that The Loving Diet has. I could rave about the amazing messages in this book for hours, but I realize this post is already getting pretty long so I wanted to leave you with just a few of my favourite quotes from the book:
"You might not be able to change your illness, but you are completely capable of changing your relationship to your illness to create more happiness in your life."
"It's about taking the approach that the very thing that is afflicting us is doing so for our benefit."
"I have found that love and loving our challenges is the most rapid form of change both in our hearts and lives. When we develop skills to increase self-compassion and tenderness toward ourselves and our circumstances, life transforms itself to meet us with joy, abundance, and health."
"We are all trying to run away from the things that we don't like, or others don't like, in ourselves and trying to be perfect. But the imperfections are opportunities for being vulnerable, building courage, and ultimately increasing wisdom. We choose to decide if we will love them. And when we do, when we love the difficulties in our life, they open a door to the idea that we are already whole and perfect, and adversity was just the way we came to understand that truth."
Until next time, happy eating everyone!
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