Updated: January 2020
When symptoms flare-up, most people get stuck in worrisome thoughts and make haphazard treatment changes. A better approach is to pause, observe the symptoms and allow them to subside naturally. If the symptoms don’t subside, pausing will help you make thoughtful treatment changes.
Flare-ups often lead to haphazard changes. What happens when your symptoms get worse? Typically, this triggers a panicky reaction to find a solution. Example of haphazard changes include:
- Internet research
- New treatments – e.g. supplements, medications, diets.
- Appointments with health professionals
- Eliminating suspected foods
Haphazard changes may lead to unnecessary diet restrictions, especially if it is a repetitive cycle. My specialty is helping clients calm their food fears and expand their diet. When I first meet clients, I ask how their diet became limited. A common scenario is an ongoing cycle of eliminating foods after a symptom flare. Joe is a good example. He suffered from bouts of acid indigestion, which usually lasted for about two weeks. After the first bout, he eliminated dairy and gluten. A few months later, he had another bout and eliminated a long list of foods based on food sensitivity testing. This pattern continued until his diet was restricted.
When symptoms flare-up, they often improve on their own. Symptoms fluctuate for most people. Unfortunately, people often start new treatments or diet restrictions when their symptoms flare-up, and they may incorrectly attribute the improvement to the new change.
Pause and observe symptoms before making changes. A better approach is to pause when you have a symptom flare-up. Resist the urge to react and make changes. Easier said than done! Here are some tips to put this concept into action:
- Expect fluctuations. When your symptoms flare-up, it does not mean that your condition is permanently worse.
- Observe your thoughts. Common thoughts include – “What caused this flare-up? How bad is it going to get? I was doing so well; it’s not fair that I am feeling lousy again?” These thoughts create anxiety, which can make your symptoms worse and lead to haphazard changes.
- Calm your body and mind. Rather than making haphazard changes, focus on self-care. Take more time for gentle breathing or other activities that calm your body and mind.
Make thoughtful changes when you are calm. If your symptoms don’t subside, treatment changes may be necessary. However, taking the time to pause, observe your symptoms and wait until you are in a calmer mindset will help you make rational, systematic treatment changes.
Need Further Support?
Do you need help with practical tools to calm your mind and body when your symptoms flare-up? We can help you break out of the Food Fear & Symptom Cycle and expand your diet.