I am going to try to give as brief of a history as possible of some of the issues I have had over the last 10 years and my eventual discovery of food sensitivities so bare with me! For most of my 20's I battled with constant fatigue and body pain, constant bloating and mild stomach discomfort, a compromised immune system (I got sick all the time!!!) and horrendous hormonal issues. For anyone who knows me, they know that I used to live by a calendar that revolved around my cycle and in that 31-34 day period (that is how long my cycles used to be!) I would get about 7-10 good days. I was also easily susceptible to bouts of anxiety and depression. Not to mention a host of other random symptoms that would come and go throughout the years. I had been to every type of doctor you could think of and always came back with a bill of pristine health...great!!! except for the fact I was only in my 20's and felt awful the majority of the time! I started getting regular massages, which my husband tended to think was a luxury, but I knew it was necessary to keep my body pain in check. I took up yoga, the real kind, in a studio that incorporated many other yogic philosophies than just being a form of exercise. Yoga definitely changed my life and my perspective and taught me wonderful tools of healing and transformation. I read every self help book I could get my hands on that might give me some insight on my issues. So as you can see, I am extremely proactive when it comes to my health and am willing to put in the work! All of these things made an incredible impact on my life and has helped shape me into the person I am today, but none of them made the mysterious, plaguing symptoms go away. I often thought I had fibromyalgia or some other auto-immune disorder because they run in my family, so many symptoms were the same, and I really seemed to experience worse times then others or "flare-ups".
In October of 2010, I went to a Homeopathic Dr. who told me to get off gluten, dairy, soy and peanuts. I kind of suspected food so I was not surprised, it was just bad timing for me to commit. Cutting out staple foods in your diet and completely relearning how to cook is not an easy undertaking, but 5 months later I had had enough and was ready to take the plunge. I started by doing a 3 week cleanse (I followed Alejandro Jungar's cleanse from his book "Clean" which was incredible!) Then, I committed to staying off of my main culprits. At this time, I decided to delve into the plethora of resources on the market today concerning our food industry. I watched Food Inc, read Alicia Silverstone's book, Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and The China Study, plus started following numerous bloggers with food sensitivities. Without being a nutritionist, I am an expert on food!!! But the information completely overwhelmed me and next thing I know I am vegan, buying everything organic, introducing super foods, all while not eating gluten, soy and peanuts, plus I was convincing myself that I had lots of other food sensitivities because others I read about had them. Not too surprising that I developed major food anxiety!!! I stayed quite strong for almost a year with only a couple short bouts of "cheating". It was an incredibly transformative year that will forever change the way I look at food. But it was hard to sustain.
Recently I have given into my cravings for all the foods I have denied myself this last year and have discovered some interesting things. I definitely don't feel as good when I am eating bad, but I have noticed that a lot of my issues are much better. My cycle has been exactly 28 days for the last 5+ months with only a week of mild pms (my husband would beg to differ!) And though I still suffer from body pains and low energy now that I am eating the enemy (see how my brain works now??? I am working on that!) , it is not to the same extreme. Bloating isn't as bad either but definitely gets me after a glutenous meal. And I have barely had a sick day this last year (with a toddler to boot), and when I do, it is mild and short lived. So now I am trying to find the balance. I know that if I continue eating this way, I will put myself right back where I started and I've come too far to let that happen. I deeply admire the people that choose a lifestyle that suits them best and sticks to it, but the majority of us American's struggle with doing what we know is right when what is wrong is just so darn tempting!!!
But it is all about moderation and giving our bodies a break sometimes. It is also about finding healthy alternatives so that we can still get joy from eating without the toxic overload. I thoroughly enjoy eating a whole foods based diet. I have learned to cook incredibly healthy food that is amazingly delicious. But I still have associations with food that will take time to debunk. Everything revolves around food in this country and I just haven't developed enough experience yet to live without certain indulgences without feeling deprived instead of feeling empowered by saying no to a food that does not serve me. But I do have patience and perseverance. I know I will have periods of going astray, but I also know I will eventually find my way back. One thing I have learned in life when trying to make lifelong changes is you will always take two steps forward, and one step back. The much needed break I gave my body last year had a drastic effect on my health. The foods I have come to view as "the enemy" do not have the same effect on me as long as I eat them sparingly. It is the sparingly thing I am working on, but I'll get it eventually!!! Sometimes I think I know too much about our food industry but knowledge is power and once you know, you can't unknow. In the case of my health and the health of my family, I choose to know!!!!