I started my health journey in 2011. I had been on a severely low fat/whole grain diet for years. I believed the diet dogma that red meat is bad for you, only fat free or low fat dairy is good for you and that you must eat whole grains to achieve superb health.
I did not consider myself on a diet, but I bought and consumed these foods all the time and incorporated them into my cooking. I thought I was eating a perfect “clean” diet. This way of eating made me very sick.
I found out I was severely anemic at the end of 2010. I was at the level where I should have gotten a blood transfusion. My hair was thin and kept falling out rapidly, my nails were brittle, my skin was terrible and my digestion was a nightmare.
I have also suffered with asthma and food and seasonal allergies since I was a child. On top of that, I discovered shortly after that I had severe digestive problems that turned out to be IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). I also had irregular menstrual cycles since I started at 12. At least 3 doctors have told me what I have is PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome).
After getting my blood results, I started eating eggs or red meat with every meal, eating greens every day, eating full fat dairy, taking iron pills and cooking in a cast iron skillet. My energy improved rapidly and I was shocked at how I could have functioned before on such little energy.
At this point, I had not taken anything out of my diet. However, my nails, hair and skin kept on improving and getting much stronger, thicker and fuller. Lent came around and I decided I would give up cow dairy to see if my digestion would improve (I still had pretty bad bloating, gas and all the symptoms associated with IBS). My digestion, sadly, did not improve and kept on getting worse.
I had gotten a sensitivity test (swabbed the inside of my mouth and sent to lab) for dairy and wheat the previous year. My acupuncturist had said I need to stay away from wheat and dairy. I was devastated and said, “what am I supposed to eat?” He said, “meat and vegetables.” I thought he was crazy at the time, but if only I had listened to him then…
After Lent, I decided I would give up wheat/gluten. Almost immediately, all of my digestion improved. Most of my bloating and gas disappeared. I was a little sad, but really motivated! I felt so much better, and I thought the way I was feeling before was normal.
I happened to come across the movie Fat Head on Netflix. I saw it and I could not believe my ears. My plan had been to return back to the way I was eating before I became anemic (once my blood numbers were back to normal).
I was shocked that all the people, even scientists, in the movie were saying that fat and meat are good for you. It is the sugars and starches that raise your blood sugar. It is these foods that clog your arteries, not saturated fat! It is a lot more complicated than this, so I recommend that you watch the documentary to understand the science.
I started doing a lot more research and discovered the paleo diet. It sounded impossible to me for me to give up grains, legumes and dairy. However, I decided to start eating this way. I also included only raw dairy, so this would be considered a “primal” diet. After about a week of eating this way, I was convinced this is the right way to eat. I decided to stick to it.
My health continued to improve. At the end of 2011, I received a job offer. I was to start at the beginning of 2012. This job would require 80-100% travel. I began my new job and found out I had to immediately start travelling to Memphis, TN. I was determined to stick to “paleo” principles when eating out there (e.g., ordering a salad with meat/fish at lunch, burger with no bun, etc.).
The first day there just about killed me. Memphis LOVES to fry and bread everything. I am extremely sensitive to gluten and vegetable oil, which was in EVERYTHING I came across at their restaurants. I got the runs by the end of that day along with the horrible painful gas and bloating (sorry for TMI!!). I kept on trying my best, especially when going to chain restaurants, to order from the gluten free menu.
I still was not improving and kept on getting the runs with every meal I ate out. I could not figure out why, as I was eating from the gluten free menu, and only eating the “paleo” part of the meal. I finally figured out that it was in the oil they use, in the sauces and dressings that was causing me to get sick.
I was so desperate. I mean, I was getting the runs almost every time I went to the bathroom! It was so depressing. I knew it wasn’t normal.
I knew about the GAPS diet for quite some time. However, I thought it would be nearly impossible to follow with a job where I had to travel all the time. I decided that I was going to do it anyway, somehow.
I reached out to the local Weston A. Price Foundation chapter in Memphis. I told them how I had to travel for my job and I really needed to start the GAPS diet to heal my gut. I asked for their help on how to do this in Memphis and where I can obtain the foods I need. One very generous person reached out and said she makes all this food for her family and I can pay her the cost. I cannot thank her enough.
She was my salvation from my health problems. I am so grateful and words cannot express what she has done for me. From then on, she provided all of the food I needed while I was in Memphis. I was there for all of 2012. Thank you so much Meryll!! I miss you!!!
From the end of 2012 up until now, I have been truly blessed. I have been able to stay home for work the past couple of months. This has made my life so much easier and decreased my stress greatly.
I have also seen much deeper healing on the GAPS diet. My breathing/asthma has improved. I almost never hear myself wheezing, and I can tell my lung capacity is much greater. I know it sounds minor, but I do not sneeze as often. Before, I could walk into a room and start sneezing. Now that almost never happens. I have also noticed that my digestion has gotten much better. I rarely feel the bloating and gas, and I have become “regular” every day.
I am still looking for my PCOS to improve. My cycles have gotten pretty normal, about a 35 day total cycle. However, I am still dealing with the severe pain, nausea, headaches and weakness. This actually only happens on days 2-3 of my cycle. It does not happen every time. In fact, it had not done this to me for a couple of months. The last time, I experienced all of these symptoms. This may have been triggered by stress.
I realize I have more healing to do. I have to be patient. Deep healing takes time. I have no problem continuing with the GAPS diet until I am fully healed. I hope you are encouraged to at least begin a real foods diet/lifestyle from my personal healing story. I will keep you updated with any improvements.
What health problems do you suffer from? What are you looking to improve or heal from? Please share any personal healing stories!