A journey to health through diet.

Hi there and welcome!

Today I’d like to talk about what’s been going on with my new diet.

To preface, I should say I had to get pretty sick and hit a real low in my health before I took this plunge. In the past, I’ve tried to cut one thing or another out but never gave it 100% until I HAD to. The message here is that prevention is the best medicine. If you’re already experiencing fatigue, low stamina or any number of illnesses or symptoms due to your diet, no matter what you weigh, the time is NOW to make the change. The reality is that this IS your second chance right now. You may end up in an irreversible situation if you wait. I’m suffering now because I didn’t do this sooner. What I didn’t know DID hurt me.

I changed my diet due to gluten intolerance. But that doesn’t mean you have to have gluten intolerance to cut out grains. Grains are full of GMOs and some are hard for anyone to digest. A lot of food products made with grains are just not good for you such as cakes and cookies. I cut out refined sugar and high FODMAP and high glycemic foods due to candida overgrowth.

So here’s what happened when I went cold turkey on all of the things listed on the first graphic…

First, I cried. I admit it. Not just once but a lot. I was overwhelmed and had no idea what to eat. Everything I went for had at least one of the off-limit ingredients. I wasn’t eating right, so all the familiar foods to me were more of the same.

I quickly realized I need to just stay away from processed foods. Too many ingredients like maltodextrin (corn or wheat based), soy or starches in many forms, preservatives and chemicals to add flavor and color, just to name a few. So called “gluten free” products still have grains or corn so those were out. Be advised that products labeled gluten free are also high in sugar or fat to make them palatable. Marketing has not been lost in the food industry. They are thriving just as well making products “gluten free.” They have no intention of actually making you healthier.

After a few slip ups, and some serious disappointment in what prepackaged foods are out there and in myself for not eating better in the first place, I made a list of the things I CAN eat and re-started from there. It was much easier than trying to avoid all the things I can’t eat. (I know it’s kind of the same thing but the mentality is positive rather than negative and makes a huge difference!)

I’m not gonna lie. The first few days were extremely difficult. I was so worn out I had to stay in bed. I was already sick with bad GI symptoms and they didn’t just magically go away overnight because I ate some vegetables. I had a constant headache for days. I felt completely exhausted and weak. I think my body was in “diet shock” (a made up term). Lack of caffeine played a part in that. I just had a major crash, I think, physically and emotionally.

It sucks to find out you can’t eat the foods that you’ve known to give you satisfaction and that you truly enjoy. I attached myself to food more than I ever thought. I decided that this is going to be a good lesson in non-attachment and I’m going to accept this challenge life has given me. I know that it is ultimately for my highest good. There is a silver lining on every dark cloud if you look for it. I know I needed to be patient. I have a lot to learn about diet and it’s effects on health.

I didn’t feel like spending hours in the kitchen making homemade meals at first because I just didn’t feel well, so I stuck to salads with a simple, homemade vinegar and oil dressing. (EDIT: since then I think I’m having a reaction to vinegar so cut that out for now also). I opted for organic vegetables and meats without antibiotics or hormones. My favorite is a homemade Greek salad. Though I can’t have feta cheese, I can have Kalamata olives which give it a really good flavor (their salty, strong flavor replaces vinegar for me).

I had ups and downs for the first full two weeks. In all honesty, mostly downs. Though I do like salads, I craved the foods I was used to and was sad I couldn’t eat them anymore. It may sound pathetic but we are creatures of habit and I hadn’t fully changed that habit yet. Plus, sugar and other foods can truly be addictive. I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel though.

I added a good quality multivitamin, pre and probiotics, B vitamin complex, Vitamin D, potassium (because I personally tend to run low), calcium (in the form of almond milk which I drink daily) and tons of water to flush out the toxins. I believe those supplements helped A LOT. (If you go grain free, consider asking your doctor about adding a B complex because grains are a source of B vitamins). I also really pushed the water. I wasn’t used to just drinking water so I don’t think I was drinking enough at first.

Side note: 40% of Americans are low on B-12 and Vitamin D.

I was detoxing. I have an overgrowth of bad bacteria and candida from years of eating poorly which were dying off. So many people have an imbalance of good and bad bacteria. It’s caused by taking antibiotics too often. (At one time I was on Doxycycline for acne and took it often). It’s also caused by eating too many carbs. It’s what makes you feel that you need carbs like you need air (because that’s their food and keeps those little monsters alive). If you carry weight around your middle you may want to check into dysbiosis (the term for imbalance of good and bad bacteria) with your doctor. I know I have an overgrowth of bad bacteria and candida from seeing a naturopath who did lots of testing on me.

The severity and length of detox will depend on your level of bad bacteria and/or yeast. If you’re a snacker, drink pop regularly, have a sweet tooth, I’m almost positive you’ll have some detox symptoms. Just prepare and get ready for them. I, personally, don’t advise weaning off of each thing one at a time. You won’t see progress and it will be harder to stick to for that reason. At least for me, I need to see something happening or it doesn’t feel worth the effort. Even though going cold turkey is hard, I just find it easier than waiting months and maybe years to see results. That’s why I did it this way. I’m on a mission! It’s kind of like ripping a band-aid off.

I’m now two weeks past the detox and here’s where I’m at…

I have more energy. I still get tired and need to build up my stamina. I want to start incorporating exercise soon but feel I’m still healing and getting used to the new way of eating. My energy isn’t 100% and I know my body is using energy to heal my gut (by that I mean that if you’re gluten sensitive but have been eating gluten for a long time, your intestines physically change. The villi flatten making absorption difficult. It takes time to heal. I am doing this through better diet, taking pre and probiotics and intermittent fasting).

I’m down ten pounds (so far). I have more to go but it’s the first time in a very long time that the numbers are going down instead of up. It isn’t from not eating. It’s from eliminating unhealthy foods.

I got used to drinking water only. I still crave pop once in a while but have no problems reaching for water now. I drink a lot of it! I also enjoy hot herbal tea now that it’s cold outside.

I’m listening to my body. I used to ignore the connection that my symptoms had with the food I ate. It’s embarrassing to admit as a nurse but I honestly believed my stomach and GI system were just changing and getting more finicky as I got older. I thought it was going to be a new norm for me like creaky joints or wrinkles. (By the way, my knees feel so much better!)

Almost all of my GI symptoms have resolved (unless I accidentally ingest something I didn’t realize I had a sensitivity to). No more bloating or nausea. No more abdominal pains. I still have constipation but am not fully healed yet and expect that to resolve.

I still occasionally crave carbs. I know it takes a long time for the bacteria and yeast overgrowth to die off completely and that may be ongoing for quite a while. I’ve talked to others who said after a few weeks they stopped craving carbs and some said it took 8 months. I’m learning that I shouldn’t wait until I’m too hungry or that’s when the craving is the worst. I have not cheated on my new way of eating though and have no intention of adding traditional cookies and cakes ever again, not even occasionally. I simply can’t because my health depends on it and I refuse to go backwards.

All of my symptoms aren’t gone. I still have a lot of secondary symptoms from gluten sensitivity such as depression, fatigue, rashes and poor sleep; however, I’m hopeful. I look forward to all of them disappearing one by one and feel really confident they will. The fire in me is just to live my best life. I won’t lose sight of that.

If you’re considering a drastic diet change due to weight gain and general poor health, I encourage you to go for it. If you have health conditions that require a special diet like diabetes, kidney disease, etc, you’ll need to work with a nutritionist.

Since I didn’t have a restricted diet originally, I’ve been following Dr. Peter Osborne‘s advice on his website, YouTube and purchased his book, No Pain, No Grain. But there are many other nutrition experts out there too. I find it easier to stick with him. I like that he explains everything in scientific detail. He also has gluten sensitivity so I feel he really gets it. Dr. Josh Axe is really popular for his healthy diet recommendations as well. He is very fond of bone broth which I’m not a fan of, though I know has good results in collagen formation and healing. I just don’t like the taste. Maybe I’ll add that eventually in some recipes though. I’m considering adding a collagen supplement.

I’m starting to find recipes. The keto diet is similar to what I’m doing but I have to make some modifications for the sugars. I can’t do the full keto diet which is high in fat and low in carbs. I did start using more coconut oil though for it’s good properties. (Note: I would NOT just partially do the keto diet. If you’re going to eat carbs you’re body will use that for energy first and store the fat you’re eating. You can’t just add fat and expect to lose weight. Stay away from the keto diet if you’re going to cheat at all on it).

I’m learning which kinds of flour and sugar to use for cooking. Coconut sugar is more like brown sugar. Monk fruit sugar is good for sweetening tea (though I got used to tea without sugar now). Almond flour can be used 1:1 just like all purpose flour (if you add a little xanthum gum) for examples. It’s going to be trial and error and just take practice. There are some resources online that explain the differences too. Some of it will be a matter if personal taste.

All in all, I’m in it for the long haul now. I feel I’m over the huge hurdle of starting. There’s no looking back for me. I feel more confident knowing I’m in charge of my diet. I feel positive and really good about my choice to make this major change. I don’t worry about what anyone else thinks of it because I know how I feel. Something good is happening. My body is changing for the better because I’m eating foods that will nourish and heal.

Are you on a Gluten or grain free and dairy free diet?

Many people with gluten intolerance or sensitivity have lots of GI problems, like constipation, diarrhea, intense painful bloating and nausea, if not at first, eventually. But that’s not all.

Do you have a lot of vague unexplained symptoms like fatigue, general pain or fibromyalgia? What about headaches, mental fog, rashes, histamine reactions after eating, acne or weight gain or loss? Even depression, dizziness and insomnia can be signs of this condition.

If you’re wondering if you’re gluten sensitive check this out.

Thanks for following along. When I reach my optimal health I’m going to be posting before and after photos so stay tuned.

Let me know in the comments if you’re either on this type of diet or are thinking about getting on it. If you’re in it, what kind of improvements in your health have you noticed?

May you be happy and well.

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