If you’ve spent time with me in the last two years (enough time together to eat a meal) you would know that I’m on a pretty restrictive diet. Most people who see what I eat (fruits, vegetables, herbs and meat) shake their heads at my apparent iron will. They can’t imagine anyone voluntarily restricting their diet that way. What they don’t know is that this is not about just losing 10 pounds. This is about getting my life back.
I’ve struggled with chronic fatigue and depression for 16 years, chronic headaches and migraines for 14 years, anxiety for seven years, pain in my knees, elbows, and hands for two years, and bladder inflammation (I know, this is very close to TMI for a blog post but this is for those who know the struggle) and difficulty with my memory for two years. The point is this, through all of this, no doctor or medication was able to stop my symptoms.
I went to medical doctors, neurologists, chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists, and optometrists but none of them were able to help in spite of the thousands of dollars I spent looking for a cure. What was most helpful? Making big changes in my diet.
Three years ago I went to see a naturopathic doctor. After hearing my symptoms she suggested that I get tested for food sensitivities (similar to allergies). I was tested for over 200 foods and the tests showed that I was significantly sensitive to 46 foods. The foods I was sensitive to included staples such as dairy, gluten/gliadin, corn, soy, sugar, potatoes, and eggs.
If you pay attention to food ingredient lists you will see that corn, soy, and sugar are in a huge majority of processed foods. I was also sensitive to a good number of healthy foods such as avocado, bell peppers, cucumber, cantaloupe, olives, turmeric, and coconut. That was a very sad day for me. I won’t lie, I cried…a lot. I was overwhelmed at the idea of living without all my favorite foods. I cringed at the thought of not being able to go out to eat with my friends or worse, having to sit and watch them eat food I could no longer eat.
I valiantly tried it out for three months…until Thanksgiving. I was so unhappy watching everyone else eat foods I couldn’t have! Not surprisingly, even though restricting my diet relieved a lot of the pain in my joints, I wasn’t able to stick to the diet through Thanksgiving and Christmas. The honest truth is that I gave in and ate everything I had craved during the three months I stuck to the diet.
By the time my birthday came around I was miserable enough that I decided to start the diet again. I was so sad at the thought of missing so many culinary pleasures but I knew that I had a choice, I could either eat whatever I wanted or I could do the things that I loved.
I hope that you never have to make the choice that I had to make and continue to make on a daily basis. I’m not perfect and there are definitely times when I choose to jump off the wagon (then suffer the consequences). But the silver lining is that I have a choice, and you do, too. If you have a chronic health condition educate yourself about the condition, the traditional treatment options, and the alternative treatment options. If one option doesn’t work, rest if necessary, but then gather your strength and try again. Don’t let anyone tell you what is possible. It’s your life that is at stake.