The “Healthier” I Ate, the Worse I Felt

When I first started embarking on a healthier lifestyle, I went full-force into it. I basically took the “all or nothing” route, as I tend to do with many things. That’s just my personality – I usually feel that if I’m not giving 150%, there’s no point. However, I have to disagree with myself on this one.

You see, I immediately started eating completely “clean”, whatever that means. Basically nothing processed, nothing artificial, nothing packaged, etc. which was a huge change from my normal diet. Yes, I started losing weight, and yes I did feel healthy and great at first.

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Remember what I said about my personality being full-force? Well yeah, I got SO strict with myself and only ate a select few foods. Not only that, but I basically ate the same things every.single.day.

Something like: oatmeal and egg whites for breakfast, sweet potatoes chicken and veggies for lunch, turkey muffins and almonds for a snack, a huge ass salad for dinner, and cottage cheese with peanut butter for dinner.

I kid you not, I ate this way for probably like TWO YEARS. Maybe even longer, I don’t even know.

The weird thing? My stomach got worse and worse.

I started having IBS issues at this time, I was super constipated (yeah.), stomach pain, gas, bloating, etc. Yes I was running a lot which could have had an impact (read: added stress), but I was literally eating the same freaking thing day in and day out. Not only that, but my fiber count was off the charts. Everything I ate was whole grain, so I was eating upwards of 50+ grams of fiber per day.

“BUT I WAS EATING SO “CLEAN” AND HEALTHY.” “CONSTIPATED? MORE FIBER.” “Maybe I need to cut out gluten? I’m totally intolerant. I need to cut out dairy too, because gluten and dairy together are the devil.”

More restriction.

“I can’t go out to eat, my stomach is always a mess.” “Maybe I need to cut out grains? Or meat? Which one?”

Wrong. All so wrong.

I saw so many doctors, and nothing helped. They would say to either a) eat healthier. b) increase fiber. c) increase exercise. or d) take medicine.

Well, too bad I was doing all of the above so I went the medicine route. None of that worked, and made all of my issues worse.

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No one realized that I was being too strict with my diet. Yes, that’s a thing. I was running a LOT of miles as well, so the stress from dieting and the stress from too much exercise = stress overload.

I’m sure you all know the negative effects of stress, so not only was it causing a lot of other problems, it was directly correlated to my gut issues. It took a LOT of trial and error to figure out what was causing my issues. And honestly, it’s always a work in progress. I can tell you now that my body does NOT LIKE A LOT OF FIBER. Every single time I have too much, I am in pain the next day. And guess what? I’m pretty sure I can’t tolerate oatmeal anymore. Maybe eating it every single day for like 5 years had something to do with it, but it leaves my stomach a mess after I eat it.

Every single person is different and has different things that works for them. However, there is one thing that everyone can take away from this:

The more flexible I got with my diet, the better I felt. That’s right. Once I stopped being so rigid and strict, started introducing more foods into my diet, things got a million times better.

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I re-introduced so many foods I restricted myself from for so long such as: gluten, dairy, bread, processed foods, cereal, sodium, butter, restaurant foods, and so much more.

I ate less vegetables and less fiber and felt SO MUCH BETTER. 

Now? I can basically eat whatever I want and I’m fine. The only things I have trouble with is oatmeal, dairy in large amounts (I can handle cheese everyday and small portions), and brown rice/foods with a lot of fiber, and too much alcohol.

So moral of the story, don’t be afraid to step outside the box. If I kept listening to eat healthier, exercise more, and increase fiber, things would’ve gotten even uglier.

Listen to your body, it’s smarter than you.

 

Have you dealt with something similar?

What did you do to figure out what works for you?

 

Comments

  1. Yes, amen to this all! I did the EXACT same thing, those driven/typeA personalities of ours I have found to be one of my best and most destructive traits. They even put me on a “cleanse” which made me lose MORE weight, instead of treating the real problem..
    xoxo Sarah Grace, Fresh Fit N Healthy.

  2. I can so relate to this girl! I was having awful stomach issues just like you explained and no one could help. But, I have realized as I continue to let myself enjoy food and just eat what I want instead of focusing on always eating healthy, and eating the same things my tummy has gotten so so much better! I am so glad you have figured this out! Thanks for sharing love <3

  3. I’m so with you!!! I did the same thing when I went vegan (no processed foods, etc.) and I felt bloated ALL the time because I was eating so many raw vegetables!

  4. I literally could’ve written this. So crazy and I advocate this ALL THE TIME. I had so many stomach issues when I ate super healthy and stressed about my diet and for a while I thought that meant I had to be even stricter and never go out to eat and eat only the same few foods every day…and it just made it worse. As soon as I started to relax and include anything I wanted again in my diet, my symptoms practically went away (with the occasional issues kind of similar to the foods you can’t tolerate). I actually have less stomach issues the days I go out to eat for all of my meals and have wine and dessert… go figure. Love this post if that wasn’t obvious already 😉

  5. So glad you were able to figure this out for yourself. Many people don’t realize how much jeopardy you can put your body in by restricting it. For me, going Paleo seemed to work at first, but the restriction made me crazy. I stopped immediately and slowly started to eat more grains; because of lactose sensitivity/intolerance, I stay away from dairy. When I started Zone? The same thing happened. So now I’m on the road to flexible dieting, and I am SO EXCITED about it!

  6. wow go you for figuring out what works best for you and doing what makes you happy! I’m always trying to diet and exercise and your right, it honestly is way to stressful! I’ve learned to work with what makes me happy eating wise and go off from there.

  7. thank you so much for posting this. so many people who think they need to cut out more foods because they’re having issues with their gut don’t realize that eating too healthy and exercising too much all play a role in that. everything in our bodies is a lot more connected than people think! ++eating too many vegetables is a surefire way to get your gut to hate you, haha.

    so glad you’ve found what works for you! our bodies sure are smart 🙂

  8. I literally could have written this post myself. I am also all or nothing when it comes to basically everything, and have had periods of needing to eat super clean since I was 12. For me it was about the need to feel pure and I know this is ridiculous. But my stomach was ALWAYS sore. It was remarkable for me to step back and realise that white rice made me feel 10x better than brown ever did, and that pumpkin really makes me bloated (which I hate because I love the stuff ): ) I am still working really hard to make sure I don’t load up on the vegetables, which hs become a comfort to me despite the fact I am eating enough calories. But I notice that when I eat a meal out, or something delicious that doesn’t necessarily have vegetables or is healthy, I feel such a nice satisfaction that a lot of vegetables could never give me!

  9. I’m so similar! I had terrible digestive problems when I ate super strictly. While things have improved a lot, they are still not perfect – and I blame my stupid “clean eating” past for that! I still can’t eat oatmeal more than once a week.

  10. I can completely relate. I’m pretty much still dealing with the same thing, especially the constipation. Eating nothing but salads for months will do that to you. It’s kind of funny now that I didn’t connect my “healthy” (disordered) eating with my issues. I was eating “clean,” so that obviously wasn’t the problem, right? Loosening up my diet has helped a lot, and watching fiber like you said is a biggie. Better a little now, but I still have to make sure I limit my raw veggies (even though I love them) because my stomach doesn’t agree with it.

    • brittanylesserfitness@gmail.com says:

      Yup, same here! Have you tried drinking more water for constipation? Also magnesium supplements help a ton!

  11. Hi Brittany! Too much of a good thing, I guess? I definitely think it’s better to give our bodies variety, so it’s good you figured that out and can share your story with others. I’m all for eating with moderation — and that means mostly clean, but not ALL the way clean! 🙂

    • brittanylesserfitness@gmail.com says:

      Yes, variety is SO important! I am too! I love clean, whole foods mostly, but also other not so healthy foods 😉

  12. Colleen says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! I never comment on blogs but I felt compelled to this time. Your old meal plan that you ate for 2 years is pretty much EXACTLY what I have been eating day in and day out for the last 3 years. I am always making sure that I get all my vegetables and way over do it. It is ridiculous hahaha. I do like what I eat (yams, chicken, etc) but it would be nice to feel a bit more free with my choices and eat them because I want to and not because I am scared to try anything else for fear of gaining fat. I would love to try to incorporate different things and more “treats” but tend to get overwhelmed and just forget about it. I love watching your videos because it shows me that you don’t need to be so restricted to look, be, and feel fabulous! :). I can’t get enough of them! You are a huge inspiration for me 🙂 Thank you again!

    • brittanylesserfitness@gmail.com says:

      Thank you so much for commenting! That means so much to me <3 It's so true though. I love those foods, but I eat them because I WANT to - huge difference! 🙂

  13. yes to all of this! I definitely eat my veggies, but I’m the same way – too much fiber and my body reacts in a negative way. I definitely did the ‘too healthy’ thing for years, even in advanced recovery from my ED. These days, I keep nutella, pretzels, ice cream, chocolate, etc around and eat them regularly because I love them! health is definitely a balance thing.

  14. Katie Mitchell says:

    I’ve had the same problem the past couple years and have been told the same thing. I think constipation completely baffles doctors. I’ve had to figure it all out for myself. I have definitely found that too much fiber doesn’t work for me either. I’m glad you mentioned the oatmeal thing because I think that may be part of my problem too. How did you figure out which foods trigger it? I’ve had a hard time narrowing done specifically which foods cause the problems.

    • brittanylesserfitness@gmail.com says:

      It’s SO hard. I still have trouble, but you just have to look at consistencies and trends as well as trial and error. I used to think I couldn’t eat dairy, but now I can it’s just small amounts. and as for the oatmeal, I didn’t eat it for weeks and my stomach was fine, but then I ate it and I died lol

  15. LESS FIBER/ NO FIBER = THE PERFECT COMBO FOR ME!!! The only thing I can eat is FAT and PROTEIN. Fiber, nope! I can’t do it without blowing up like a balloon!

  16. Such a great article that I think a lot of people could learn or benefit from. Thank you for sharing your story Brittany.

  17. Caroline says:

    Brittany…I happened upon your blog as this post was tweeted by Hollie (fueled by LOLZ). Seriously…I could have written this myself. It is me EXACTLY! Tons of miles…and eating almost the same things every day. Although I basically eat whatever I want, truly enjoy my meals and have a lot of variety in what I eat, I just seem to crave the same darned foods day in and day out.
    Oddly enough, it is when I either have a cold or change up my workout routine tht my body starts craving different foods.
    I have the same reaction with oatmeal. My body just doesn’t like it! I love how you said you died when you ate it again…that’s just what it feels like! Haha!
    Thanks for sharing, it’s comforting to know I’m not the only one that is so strict and hopefully it will help me to initiate a change.

    • brittanylesserfitness@gmail.com says:

      Thank you so much for sharing!!! That’s crazy we went through such a similar experience. I crave the same foods every day as well 😉

  18. I could relate to this post so much it’s insane. Every single word.
    Great post — thanks for sharing.

  19. I found this post through Running With Spoons link love, and I’m so glad she shared it. I do think flexibility with diet, lifestyle, exercise, and pretty much all aspects of life is key. It helps us change, grow, adapt and say healthy. Good for you for realizing being so strict was actually doing you harm. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Totally yes!! When I had a trainer he had me on a cookie cutter meal plan and i hated it. Same thing week to week. In all honesty it really didn’t do much for me. Went back to flexible dieting, and just watching my macros!

    • brittanylesserfitness@gmail.com says:

      Oh my goodness, cookie cutter meal plans are no good. So glad you found flexibility again!

  21. Brittany says:

    Me too !!!! I could have written this myself.
    I have also had IBS for many years.
    About two years I went vegan and only ate whole foods. Nothing processed. I felt great at first. Then I started feeling worse. My IBS came back, and I became anxious and depressed at the same time. (I’ve always struggled with anxiety on and off but it got worse than ever during this vegan time). I thought it was because I needed to cut out more ! Gluten-free became my new obsession. Then it was cutting out histamine foods. Then the auto-immune protocall. At my lowest point I was 98 pounds (I’m 5’4) and depressed and anxious constantly. I had no life. All I was focusing on was making sure I was eating 100% organic, vegan, gluten free all the time.
    It was a nightmare !!! I don’t even know what woke me up ! I guess I had become sick of feeling sick (physically and mentally).
    I came to a realization that I wasn’t doing anything I loved anymore and had become obsessed with restrictive eating. I knew I had to make a change when I would almost faint a couple times a day.
    I started eating what I wanted again (this was hard because my stomach had shrunk so much ) I had to go slow. I added back in some meat and some dairy. I let myself have some processed foods. In about two weeks time I noticed I was becoming less anxious. I wasn’t getting heart palpitations and dizziness. I started feeling mentally there again.
    FF a month and a half .. and here I am. I’m gaining, (104) and back to bodybuilding ! It’s a slow process but I’m so much happier. I think I was going through a rut in my life (had a couple serious things happen the year before) and maybe restrictive eating was my way of subconsciously controlling it. Either way I’m so happy I took the steps to take care of myself. I am no longer obsessive about food, I eat when I am hungry and choose mostly healthy things with cheats when I please ! IIFYM has been a blessing to me.
    Thanks for sharing your story Britt !!!! Your openness makes others able to share theirs too. I’m sure you’ve already helped a lot of people … you definitely motivate me ! XOXO
    Brittany Swanton

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