Ep. #54: Non-Restrictive Approach to Food Intolerance with Susie Garden

A non-restrictive approach with Susie GardenIn this episode, I interviewed Susie Garden. She helps women with stress, anxiety, and fatigue find their way back to a clear mind, healthy body, and a life that lights them up. Susie is fascinated with the mind-body connection and how it influences mental and physical health. She’s also a big proponent of the non-restrictive approach. This makes her a wonderful supporter of intuitive eating as well!

No Concept of Self-Care

While traveling, Susie realized she was constantly eating in airports, missing out on sleep, and pushing herself too hard. Basically, she wasn’t really practicing any form of self-care.

Eventually she hit a breaking point and was forced to stop. Although it was hard, it was also a gift. The time of rest gave her a chance to consider what she actually wanted in life. She didn’t have to think too long to realize that the life she was living was not the life she wanted.

After being laid off from her corporate career, Susie pursued education and yoga. Having experienced working herself into the ground while having an extremely unhealthy work/life balance, Susie loves helping women who want to experience something different.

And speaking of self-care…

Dealing with food intolerances (and eliminating certain foods) is something to do with a clear mind and a healthy relationship with food! Personally, I utilize elimination strategies as the final phase of my program. This helps you keep a healthy perspective. It also saves you from the “diet mindset” that can creep in when dealing with intolerances and elimination!

Is a Non-Restrictive Approach Possible?

I found Susie after listening to an episode on how to go about healing your seasonal allergies naturally. Perfect timing, as I was suffering from them at the time. She also talked about healing food allergies and intolerances. I also saw that she has a very non-restrictive and holistic approach to health. That’s why I wanted her to teach us about how to deal with food intolerances in a loving and non-restrictive way.

This non-restrictive approach is especially important, as there are lots of diets popping up that are connected to food intolerances. Sometimes people feel that a restrictive diet is the only way to handle an intolerance, but this simply isn’t true! You can absolutely use a non-restrictive approach.

Susie also shares how food intolerances don’t have to “just” manifest in the gut. For example, she experienced joint pain in her hand as a result of her intolerance. Once she realized that she could greatly improve her own life by recognizing intolerances, she wanted to share that with others as well.

Another tip: even if it’s hard to imagine giving a food up, you might end up loving it. Once your body starts to heal and you feel better, you might find that you don’t want to go back to eating a particular food! Focusing on how you want to feel (rather than what you want to eat) can help you feel great about the change. If this is the case for you, you’ll find that abstaining from certain foods can easily be a non-restrictive approach to eating in a way that complements your body!

The goal isn’t to create a regimented or legalistic approach. You’re not creating rules for yourself! Instead, you’re genuinely checking in and noticing how you feel. Once you find what makes you feel good, you get to do that!

Intolerances vs. Allergies

An allergy is not the same as an intolerance! We aren’t talking about those today, and you do need medical management for those. Allergies tend to have very specific symptoms, such as hives, breathing/airway restrictions, or other immediate physical responses.

An intolerance is a low-level inflammation that tends towards a host of generalized symptoms. For instance: brain fog, joint pain, bloating, or other digestive discomfort. As you continue to eat foods that you have an intolerance to, you fuel the low grade inflammation that the food creates within your body. This leaves you in a constant state of inflammation, which doesn’t feel good!

If you believe you may have an actual food allergy (or already know you have one!), don’t attempt to reincorporate that food. That’s not what I’m talking about here. Also, if you plan to be tested for celiacs disease, you should not be midway through an elimination process prior to testing. Doing that will reduce the accuracy of the test results.

Temporary Elimination, Long Term Relief

When you stop eating a food that you have an intolerance towards, you can allow the gut to heal. It only takes 6-8 weeks to reach a baseline of no inflammation. At that point, you can attempt to reintroduce the food/food group and see what happens. Many people find that, once they’ve healed, they can consume the food at a later point without issue.

Susie shares that she often starts her clients on a dairy elimination, as that tends to be a common issue for many. Rather than attempting to remove dozens of major food items, you can start with a single food group. Try it out, and see what the impact on your health is. It takes about 2 weeks to know if the elimination is making a difference. If you aren’t seeing a result, you can continue to eliminate other food options until you find the food or group that’s impacting you.

Remember that the way your body FEELS is the indicator of whether an elimination has been successful. Pay attention to subtle changes in your mental clarity, joints, digestive function, energy level, and more!

Food Intolerance Mindsets – A Non-Restrictive Approach

It’s important to remember that mindset is really important here! Elimination is not meant to be an exercise that creates a dieting mindset. It’s also not meant to be a weight loss tool. Rather, it’s a way to help your body feel really good. (And the wonderful news is, the elimination is often temporary! Once you’ve healed your gut and gotten in tune with what food is creating problems for you, you can often find ways to reincorporate it.)

Susie gives great tips on the mindset you need to approach food intolerances, as well as some scientific reasoning to practice self-care.

Taking a moment to look at your food, smell your food, and otherwise get your body excited for what your about to eat can do wonders as well! Do your best to eat mindfully, and to pay attention to how the food you eat impacts the way that you feel.


It was such a joy to talk with Susie and hear her unique perspective on taking care of the mind and body as one. I would love to connect you with her. Below, you’ll find a few important links to her Facebook group, program, and podcast!

Join Susie’s ‘The Wellness Glow‘ Facebook Group: http://bit.ly/GlowGroup

Check out her program, The Anxiety Taming Method: https://www.susiegarden.com/the-anxiety-taming-method

Listen to Caitlin interviewed on Susie’s Podcast: https://www.susiegarden.com/thewellnessglowpodcast/episode33-caitlinball

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