For those that don't know, I have been sorting through an autoimmune issue for years. I use the word "issue" because I hate doctors and every time I go, my blood work comes back normal. And because of said disdain and my stubbornness, I am a nomad in my health and trying to figure out how to best heal.
With that said, this all started after I had my daughter. Pizza Fridays has been a staple in my life for as long as I can remember. We would order pizza, maybe some salad, and a glass or two of wine. This has been fine (and delicious) until it wasn't. I started to feel awful on pizza night. Like I was hungover only hours later. I thought it was the wine so pulled back there. But then I had all of these aches, what I have come to find out are more tissue related, but so hard to describe to a health professional. "It's kind of muscular, kind of joints, idk..." I started seeing chiropractors and acupuncturist with no avail. I was also exhausted and my anxiety started climbing the charts. Looking back, I chalked that up to sleep deprivation of motherhood, but these are also big symptoms as well.
By chance, I decided to cut out gluten to see if that would help and it did! Pretty much every symptom cleared up. Until I had my son. Dairy was the next culprit that I have identified. But damn if giving up cheese isn't hard. I had cut back dramatically, the only dairy in my life was the occasional cheese (hello GF pizza friday!).
As the years progressed, it's been harder to really even keep up with the triggers and the symptoms. All the while, you feel like a crazy woman. I mean all of my symptoms are invisible - joint/muscular/tissue pain, anxiety, and fatigue. Oh! and the definition for autoimmune disease is basically that your body is attacking your own tissue. And it's triggered by food. Do you have any idea what it feels like to think that your body is attacking you when you eat food. Scary AF. Talk about anxiety and exhaustion just from that.
This past year, I have really tried to get a hold of it. I have picked up the Medical Medium book series and follow him on Instagram. I have tried his protocol twice, but both times I blew up like a bloated balloon. In defense, it's also because I tried giving up meat at the same time, which drastically increased my bean and grain consumption, which are triggers as well. For the love....
OK! That gets us up to date. It's January 2019, I am in the post holiday -I ate whatever I want and feel like shit- coma and have jumpstarted the medical medium again and feel like an Oompa Loompa. Identifying that grains could be a culprit and needing some sort of accountability, I jumped on the Whole30 train. I just needed something. I needed something to commit to with a start an end date, to get the dairy out of my life, to stop using wine as a crutch for the witching hour, and to really figure out what my body needs.
Here were my biggest takeaways:
1) Week one I felt amazing. it felt like the easiest thing in the world. I was completely gluten and dairy free. My energy was through the roof, my balloon belly went away, and I was so happy that we committed (yes, I drug my husband and neighbor along with me). The kids were eating healthier too, because the daily Christmas treat habit had faded for them, and most of our meals were just more nutrient-dense. This was exactly what I was looking for. Praise Be.
2) I had also picked up that eggs, pork, and even some FODMAP veggies were big no's for me. Identifying my food triggers before whole 30 was starting to feel impossible (because there are lots of them) but by clearing out all of the other damaging foods, it made it very clear which ones I had aversions to.
3) I love to cook. I like it more with a glass of wine. I hate cooking 21 meals a week. It was a lot of fun trying some new recipes in the beginning. I was having fun pinning new recipes and following new accounts on Instagram. But the meal planning and grocery list process became incredibly time-consuming and tiring. It's hard when you have to re-learn all of your foods, the ingredients, and where to go for your specialty needs. And by the end of the whole30 haul, I was just tired of the work. My cooking suffered and then so did my desire to eat the food. I like good food. Don't we all. I have to enjoy the process of making the food and give myself more breaks for this to be sustainable.
4) I have other issues. I check out around 3-5pm. It's the witching hour. The kids are crazy and whining and fighting and tired and hungry... and I am about 1/3 of those. And I am just done with the madness. So I check out. Wine was my checkout tool and when I don't have an evening glass of wine, I usually have an after dinner sweet treat. Now that both of these were gone, I went to social media. I would scroll in the afternoon and then usually when the kids went to bed. This stuff is like crack. I get that sometimes we just need to get though the day, but this is not the life I want to live. I don't want to be dazed under booze or social crack. So somehow, I have to find a way to make that time more enjoyable. I'll get back to you.
5) So now what. In the last week, I started fantasizing about pizza night and a heaping plate of nachos with an extra large marg, but I can't. I didn't start this for some kind of crash diet, I started this to launch me into a new phase of my health. I have got to say good bye to the foods that hurt me. I literally feel like I am breaking up with cheese and could cry. CRY. In the upcoming weeks, I will start to slowly reintroduce beans and grains and see which ones are my nemesis, but then I have to say goodbye to those foods...
6) The hardest part about saying good-bye to these foods is that now I'm that person. I was an incredibly picky kid and used to get so much grief for it. When I opened up my pallet in early adulthood, It was so liberating. I liked just about all foods. Some I would rather not eat, but for the most part, I didn't have special requests and never complained about food. This is a fun way to live your life. And now I am the girl who can't eat anything... because there are very few meals in this world that are gluten, dairy, and egg free. Sharing a meal, attending a party... all of it just got a little more complicated. And well, I just don't like being an inconvenience. It's like here's me: I don't want to take up too much space, be too loud, or off-put anyone in anyway. But this is my health. And when I am triggered, I can be a heaping mess who's too tired and too weak to really be productive. The anxiety can make it feel like my head is on fire and my face is too heavy to move. My body can ache so much that it hurts to stand up straight...
7) Food is absolutely my biggest trigger but it's not the only one. Stress will trigger my symptoms in a flash. Priding myself on being able to function under chronic high stress has caught up with me. High stress triggers high anxious symptoms. Anxiety triggers my aches. My aches trigger the fatigue, and the fatigue brings on the brain fog. It's like my body has finally said, enough already. Stop fucking around. Live a beautiful life, not one that you grind out.
So I am sorry. I am sorry that my food is now an inconvenience. I say this in a genuine way, not in a #sorrynotsorry way.
But I want to live. I want to take up space. I want to be seen in my greatest expression of myself. And so I am going to work very hard to stay away from the foods that will dim my light.
I think the most powerful part about Whole30 for me was seeing these opportunities for growth in my life, beyond food. Ever since I first identified a mind/body connection with food, I became obsessed and it's always been my first line of defense (or attack). Let food be thy medicine. But sometimes there are circumstances outside of food. I'm achy because of the dairy or I'm tired because of the wine... maybe. But what I saw was that I'm achy from anxiety too. I'm tired from boredom too.
So here we go. My diet will probably mimic a more paleo-style. I am excited to have a glass of wine this Friday. And I am on a mission to decrease stress and increase joy.
I'm a messy hair lovin' - soulful book junkie - mompreneur who's totally addicted to helping women design a life they lovI'm here, simply, to share my truth so that it inspires you to live yours! To be your boldest, most authentic self, to find your tribe that supports your soul, and to go after success in every area of your life. e.