The Low Hanging Fruit of Self-Help

Updated: Jan 1

These are (most) of the things I’ve tried in an attempt to address my chronic stomach pains, anxiety and severe eczema: yoga, walking, running, stretching, diaphragmatic breathing, weight lifting, meditation, talk therapy, physical therapy, journaling, reiki, acupuncture, paleo diet, keto, carnivore, veganism, food combining, food journaling, allergists, dermatologists, general practitioners, enemas, infra-red sauna, ice baths, adaptogens, probiotics, and vitamins (according to bloodwork).

This is what worked: avoiding dairy, refined oils, gluten and added sugars. That’s it. I could eat anything else, neglect exercise for days or even weeks on end and everything else on that list^. I didn’t need any special recipes (I still don’t), a diet plan, a food journal, an app. I use the acronym DOGS to remember.

(added) Sugar and (refined) Oils It may sound drastic but here’s the truth: added sugars and vegetable oils are two things no one should ever eat regardless of the presence or absence of any health issues. There is no “recommended daily allowance” or minimum amount anyone “should” be eating of them. Added sugars (ones that are not naturally occurring in single-ingredient foods like fruits and vegetables) and vegetable oils (sometimes referred to as RBD oils- Refined, Bleached and Deodorized- how’s that for an acronym?) do not agree with us. Science has now proven over and over again that they both wreak havoc on our systems- biologically (hormones, metabolisms, bones, skin, etc.) and, therefore, psychologically (emotions, moods, mental health). They block the beautiful systems that are our bodies from running smoothly, efficiently, quietly and sustainably for the long-haul. There is no coincidence that their increasing ubiquity in packaged, processed foods (and restaurant meals!), and rates of chronic disease, perfectly coincide.¹

Gluten and Dairy Scientific opinion on gluten and dairy is still very mixed- so this is just my personal recommendation, especially if you are having stomach and skin issues (eliminating sugar helped me more on the emotional front, although it is truly ALL connected). Gluten can, for some of us, be particularly irritating to the lining of one’s stomach, causing something called “leaky gut” or intestinal permeability.² I remember hearing this term for the first time and it just sounding like the culprit behind my bloating and indigestion- even painful, deep belly breaths (which, at this point, I thought was normal and experienced by everyone).

Despite its popularity, dairy is one of the most common food intolerances (*not allergy). “Only about 35% of people worldwide can digest lactose (the main, naturally occurring sugar in milk) beyond the age of about seven or eight”.³ This is because our bodies typically stop producing the necessary enzyme to digest it (lactase) around the time we would stop breastfeeding- makes sense right? Personally, dairy never agreed with me. I would always notice a slimy film coating the inside of my mouth and tongue, especially when waking up in the morning. I’d also get pimples on my face, which I no longer do. And the gas (both frequency and smell)- forget about it. I apologize if this is TMI. Trust me, it’s harder for me to put it on paper than it is for you to read- and the difference in how I feel is too staggering not to explain, and the “prescription” too simple not to share.

In the end, many of the things I initially tried helped me feel even better, after eliminating DOGS. Attempting to do them through my chronic pain and discomfort turned out to be unnecessary and unsustainable.

For the record: I’m not saying No DOGS is a panacea by any stretch of the imagination. If you’re experiencing severe emotional or physical distress, please pursue help from a medical professional. Prescription drugs, for instance, are not something I have tried but not because I do not think they work. I see them as a last resort and am grateful every single day that a mere change to my diet is all it took to make a world of difference. I think most people are looking right past this one, either out of denial or lack of information or patience. This is not a diet plan; it is a way to live your days without any ambiguity.

References [1] Rico-Campà Anaïs, Martínez-González Miguel A, Alvarez-Alvarez Ismael, Mendonça Raquel de Deus, de la Fuente-Arrillaga Carmen, Gómez-Donoso Clara et al. Association between consumption of ultra-processed foods and all cause mortality: SUN prospective cohort study BMJ 2019; 365 :l1949 [2] Bell, B. (2016, December 08). Does Gluten Cause Leaky Gut Syndrome [3] Campos, M. (2020, January 30). Food allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity: What’s the difference, and why does it matter Originally published on

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