As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been experimenting with the Autoimmune Protocol diet. At first, I was under the impression that it would be a 30-day stint, an elimination phase and then reintroduce foods to get me back to normal. So, after 30 days, I went to see my doctor and she dismissed that. She said, if I’m feeling better don’t change anything and let’s check in again in 2 months.
TWO MORE MONTHS?! Possibly forever??
That was definitely my initial completely defeated reaction, and I had a hard time breaking it to my husband that it wasn’t as minimal as I had let on. I mean, AIP is a huge change. You cut out everything processed – nothing with added vitamins, preservatives, hormones, antibiotics, “chemicals”, stabilizers, or anything else. So everything is from scratch, and with whole foods you’re looking at no dairy, gluten, grains, nightshades, seeds, legumes, processed sugars, nuts (except coconut). So, it’s a big change.
Food is such an intimate, emotional and obviously important part of life. And, I do food marketing as a job – hubby does tourism, so it’s a really big part of our lives especially.
I’ve always had a funny deal with food – until I was 20, I weekly or daily would have what my mom and I had always called “low blood sugar” attacks. My fatigue would be uncontrollable and my mood would swing to grumpy, sad, and 100% indecisive. Eating something would usually make me functional.
Finally, enough was enough, and I saw some nutritionists and doctors in college. They didn’t help all that much. My tests for diabetes all came back within normal ranges, but just barely within normal ranges. A campus nutritionist said that if I ate a hardboiled egg everyday all my problems would be solved. So, I dismissed that right away and gave up.
Then, I had this internship with a food nonprofit based on developing local, organic, real-food economies and I was introduced to a whole new world. Around the same time, I watched Food Inc. And, I gave up meat and slowly began giving up processed, non-organic foods. And, voila! My mood swinging, low blood sugar problems improved immensely and basically disappeared, especially at the frequency I was having them. I really was impressed with the healing power of food and thought everyone should get on board with this new view.
Two and a half years later, I was out of college, and still feeling like there were some problems going on – food related or not. My pain levels were growing, my fatigue was high, and my stomach was always gurgly.
Tests again proved I was just “normal” and maybe it was me having a iron deficiency problem, likely due to my lack of meat. Otherwise, their recommendation was to get into therapy (because it’s all in your head). My then boyfriend, now husband, was happy about eating bacon again, and we went on our way.
After we got married, we moved back “home” to Eugene. For my back, knee, shoulder, ok – maybe just whole body – pain, I went to see a new chiropractor. And, after a few more referrals I learned that Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) was most definitely what was causing all this pain and fatigue, along with all sorts of other things. And, that it was likely another coexisting condition, like dysautonomia or POTS, that was causing my food problems.
That was kind of a devastating blow, to learn that food changes were just helping me because I was basically sick, not necessarily because this is the way the world should work – eating organically and unprocessed. This is something I go back and forth on – are we sick because of the food? I’m not. I have a genetic issue that causes me to react this way. Or, do some people survive just as well as they would on non-organic, highly processed foods? It’s not something I think I’ll really ever know or completely comprehend. And, it makes my job as a food marketer a whole lot more complicated, ethically and passion-wise.
But either way, this diet has been crazy helpful. My dizziness is much more under control. My constant brain fog is minimal now. My energy levels are way up, and my bad pain days aren’t so bad. Really, even my periods and cramps are so much better (perhaps an overshare but I’m here to be real with you). I’m not going home sick or in pain from work, and I can function so much better when I am at work.
As an ex-vegetarian, I’m having a hard time relying on so much meat in my diet. Plus, I know it’s not good for the planet – eating meat like this. But I’m trying to step out of the guilt and over thinking and learning more about why it’s helping and what all I’ll keep permanent.
I’ve found that the online community is so entirely helpful with recipes, ideas, and tips. I know a few others who are experimenting with new diets to help chronic conditions, and that’s been a nice support network as well.
All in all, I think food is healing, but everyone has to find what works for them. And, absolutely I will try new diets and other methods of healing first before diving into pills and other medical treatments. I think the two worlds of “natural healing” and western medicine should work together, not in isolation. If you’re in it for a pill to fix life, you’ll never find a solution. I feel like I’m on a good path towards managing my condition with this now. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it. And, I hope this blog can be a place of resource and community for others.
So, long post out of the way. Here we go! I really hope I can stick with all this.