July 2, 2021

Is it Gluten or Is it Grief?

Experiencing loss is well researched to be one of the most traumatic events we can experience.

Loss of a loved one. Loss of a job. Loss of a lifestyle. Loss of a pet. Loss of a home. Loss of a body that we used to have.

Loss is heavy, and when the emotions that accompany loss are suppressed or unprocessed we may find ourselves living in a body that feels reactive and symptomatic.

A tweet about unprocessed emotions and how the body stores it.

So, what if the solutions to healing your gut discomfort lied outside of solely focusing on your food.

From a brain based lens, we must look at the “gut flare ups” from a whole human lens.

Why? Well, the brain is unable to compartmentalize stress, and as a result, we may notice emotional stress like grief and sadness be processed physically in the body and expressed via symptoms (i.e. painful bloat + laundry list of food sensitivities).

All too often we are given the same protocol to “Remove gluten. Cut out soy. Get rid of the dairy,” yet time and time again, I’ve met clients in the same exact spot..

✔️“My food sensitivity tests didn’t indicate anything specific, that doesn’t make sense.”
✔️“I completed the 21-day detox perfectly, and I still feel inflamed.”
✔️“I’ve tried every elimination diet and my gut is still angry at me all the time.”

So, what if it’s the deep sadness, grief, or anger that has been occupying space and creating distress in your gut and body?

If you have ever exhausted all avenues to heal your gut and are still left nursing a distended tummy with a short list of “acceptable” foods, you’re not alone.

In some cases, healing the gut includes holding space for the emotions we’ve intuitively shied away from for fear of what will come up (I do want to mention that the natural tendency to suppress emotions or not wanting to feel into them is a protective response by the brain. You are so validated in protecting yourself from feeling into emotions that are scary, vulnerable or overwhelming).

Gut health, is a nuanced and complex system.

From a brain based lens, we can approach healing the gut from assessing your threat bucket (please feel free to visit www.coachalyssachang.com/threat-bucket to download your free guide), your inner ear (vestibular system), how you’re breathing, your brain’s gps system and so much more.

Just know that solely focusing on what you put into your body (food), is not your only option.

Healing your gut can be accessed through other avenues like gently attuning to your feelings in therapy, holding spaciousness for grief and loss, being listened to and validated in your emotions, and working with your nervous system’s needs for safety.

Disclaimer: I do want to mention that food sensitivities exist. You may have a food sensitivity. This blog is to highlight how the nervous system interprets threats (stress) and the compounding effect it can have our our body. Too much stress (emotional, relational, environmental) will alter the way our body feels physically.

I wanted to share some additional information with you regarding this topic with additional references below:

Bradbeer M;Helme RD;Yong HH;Kendig HL;Gibson SJ; (n.d.). Widowhood and other demographic associations of pain in independent older people. The Clinical journal of pain. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12840619/.

Seiler, A., von Känel, R., & Slavich, G. M. (2020, December 3). The Psychobiology of Bereavement and Health: A Conceptual Review From the Perspective of Social Signal Transduction Theory of Depression. Frontiers in psychiatry. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7744468/.

When Grief Gets Physical. Whats your Grief. (2021, March 2). https://whatsyourgrief.com/physical-grief-symptoms/.

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  1. Rania says:

    Thank u