Okay, so I don’t think I’ve ever really taken the time to share the full story of my health journey. This is definitely going to be a “read” so this is only for those who are truly interested :).
I’ve always had a taste for healthy food. Even as a child a preferred a smoothie over a milkshake, and cheerio’s over fruity pebbles. I was labeled as “picky”, but I think even at that time I was able to discern my bodies needs.
In elementary school I began having terrible stomach pains that would keep me up all night vomiting. All testing came up negative, so I would just take proton-pump inhibitors or anti-acids such as prevacid, tums, etc. This seemed to work for the most part! It was manageable.
At age 23 I got pregnant with my dear little one, Shilo. A couple months after he was born, I started experiencing weird health problems, one after another. It all began with me choking on foods & experiencing my throat closing off at seemingly random times! I went in to a gastroenterologist and got an endoscopy done to biopsy my esophagus. It was then that I was diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EOE).
What is EOE?? So, in laymans terms… EOE is an auto-immune disease where your body elicits an auto-immune response to anything that you eat or breathe that your body perceives as a “toxin”. The response symptoms are that your esophagus hardens like a PVC pipe and narrows. This makes it almost impossible to swallow!
SO what was causing it?! After discussing it with my gastro… I was told that they don’t know where the disease comes from. It is likely a reaction to food sensitivities. That I would have this disease for the rest of my life, it is a chronic disease like cancer that cannot be cured, and that there is only a 25% success rate for figuring out how to keep the symptoms at bay. I was so discouraged. I couldn’t believe that I would have this random disease just “happen” to me and that my health was suddenly out of my control! The only solution I was offered was to take steroids & have my throat dilated on a regular basis… As well as a life-time of taking anti-histamines and proton-pump inhibitor medications. I was like…. Hail NO.
THIS was my turning point. I decided to change my life and begin altering my lifestyle. After hours of research and reading the stories of others I felt empowered that I could tackle this disease and heal my body with food. I started with a step that many have found success in! VEGANISM.
I ate a Vegan diet for about 4-5 months. It was amazing. The food is delicious and it taught me so much about vegetables, fruits, and how to cook! The great thing was, I knew I had an allergy to dairy and most meats made me feel sick. So it was the perfect diet… For a time. I started to get more sick and I lost hope in my ability to heal with food and just wanted answers. I kept trying to eat a vegan diet, but it just wasn’t working for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the vegan diet isn’t good. I think it is wonderful and successful for many people! For me, I realized later that I was eating so much sugar and grains while eating vegan, which are terrible for your digestive system if it’s not healthy. I also became very deficient in protein & b12.
My health began to get worse. I began feeling symptoms of post-partum depression and anxiety with my then little 7 month old. I was also extremely fatigued, began losing an excessive amount of weight (I dropped down to 95 lbs at one point), tingling arms and legs, achy joints, headaches, terrible bloating and stomach pains (after every meal) and I just did not feel like myself. I felt like a 90 year old lady, with no ability to do the simplest things.. Even holding my baby or walking across my house! I couldn’t recognize myself in the mirror. I felt downright horrible.
I went and saw a naturopathic dr. and did some bio-meridian testing. It is a machine that can measure your body’s frequencies to help measure the health of your body in various areas as well as test for things like food sensitivities, parasites, etc. After getting the testing done, I found I had sensitivities to dairy, wheat, corn, soy, peanuts, chicken and beef. I also was deficient in protein, b12, vitamin d, and folate. I was offered a bunch of supplements/homeopathic drops from the naturopath and still no answers.
I lived like this for a few more months, taking a million supplements that I didn’t know why I was taking, I was bloating after every single meal even if I was avoiding my intolerances, and everything in my body just felt WRONG despite the fact that I felt like everything I was doing was right! Clean eating, supplements, exercising, meditating, etc!
I returned to my gastroenterologist to see if there was anything we missed. We tested for celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, parasites, cancer, inflammation markers, and more… Everything came up negative! This was one of my darkest moments. I wanted so badly to have answers and I was running myself into the ground trying to grasp ANYTHING that might work. I was taking random advice from anyone – people from podcasts, from instagram, my grandma, my parents, my friends cousins friends acquaintance! Just anyone.
I finally hit a point of being so overwhelmed that I had an anxiety attack that rendered me almost paralyzed and lasted for days. I actually called 911 because I thought I was having a stroke (haha, I am so dramatic!). The point is – I was doing all the wrong things. I was looking in all the wrong places. I was trying to get answers from everyone else, taking the advice of every doctor, and looking for someone else to heal me. Looking for someone else to give me all the answers! We live in a society where we live unhealthy lifestyles, but then when we don’t feel well we go to a doctor and get a medication to manage symptoms of unhealthy living. The cycle goes around and around. I am a product of this system. I’ve been medicated from a young age and never took the initiative to figure out my own health until I hit rock bottom.
When things started to change
After that point I finally realized something. The only person who can truly heal me… is ME. I live in MY body, and WITH my body, every. single. day. I should be aware of every feeling physical and emotional that I’m experiencing. I have the most power of ANYONE to experiment and do trial-and-error while listening to my body and seeing the results.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely think doctors are vital for anyone experiencing health problems, and testing as well. But, you cannot rely on them to heal you. They are simply a tool to help you reach your destination… The healing needs to come from within.
After trying a million things from eating vegan, then adding meat, then cutting grains, cutting sugar, trying a million supplements, fermented foods, sleeping extra long, not sleeping enough, exercising too much, not exercising at all, changing the type of water I drink, improving the air quality of my house, throwing away all my toxic house supplies, doing 10 types of different cleanses, etc, etc, etc… I think I have finally found some things that have WORKED for me and my body! So I wanted to share them with you. Keep in mind that everyone’s body is different. What works for you, may not work for me and vice versa. What is important is the PROCESS.
What I’ve learned in the process
- It is so important to love yourself. Above all… You cannot heal if you do not love. Learn to love your self mentally and physically no matter what state you are in. This is absolutely key.
- Listen to your body. Take what others say as a grain of salt (including me). You must learn to listen to your bodies needs and act on them. The only way to do this is to practice… But if you’re trying to always do what others think is best for you then you won’t be successful. Do what is good for YOU.
- Make sure your mental health is in check. I spent months pretending like I was fine emotionally, and I was NOT. You don’t have to label yourself as someone with anxiety or depression… But it’s okay to accept that as humans we will all experience stress and that we need to be real with how we are feeling. Then gingerly nurture your mental health by talking to someone if necessary and being positive.
- Take time to rest and heal. As humans we are always going, going, going. It is absolutely vital to REST if you are going to experience any healing. This means adequate sleep, taking “you” time in the day to unwind, and being willing to say “no” to things if you’re just not feeling your best.
- Eat a healthy, balanced, diet. For me this was very difficult because I have so many sensitivities, but “balanced” is different for each person. I have learned that if I eat what I feel like I need and have lots of veggies at each meal, I feel good.
- Eat probiotic foods. I made my own fermented foods to eat or I drink kombucha or water kefir several times a week.
- Keep a food/symptoms journal. I saw the most improvement when I started writing down what I was eating and the symptoms that followed. I was able to see exactly what to avoid and what to eat more of.
- Exercise in a way that feels good to you. I am still not at the level where I can run or lift weights. But I try to walk, do yoga, or even just stretch… every day.
- Take high quality supplements. I used to be very against supplements because I felt that I could get ALL my nutrition from food. The fact is that the quality of our food and our lifestyles today don’t always allow us to get all the nutrients we need, and if we do, we can’t always absorb them.
- Get outside! The power of the sun is greater than we know. Even when it’s cold, spending at least 15 minutes outside every day has improved my mental and physical health.
How I’m doing now
As of the past 3 weeks or so I have felt amazing. I haven’t had an auto-immune flare up for months, and each day I’m bloating less and less, which makes me feel that my leaky gut is getting better as well! After learning a lot about myself and my body and making changes I’ve slowly been improving and returning to health again. I didn’t even realize how far from myself I was until I started feeling better. I am still not in full health and I do have health problems I am still dealing with. But I feel very optimistic that I’ve finally found a method that works for my body and I’m going to continue evolving in my health journey to help me reach my best self!
Specific changes I made to food/diet/supplements
(keep in mind this is just what worked for ME)
Healing foods to eat:
- Greens (spinach, kale, spring greens, sprouts)
- Green juices (low in fruit, mostly green)
- Veggie smoothies
- Steamed/roasted veggies
- (broccoli, green beans, asparagus, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, zucchini, squash, sweet potatoes, cucumbers)
- (all veggies are good but those are my favorite!)
- (in moderation – potatoes, peppers, tomatoes)
- Fruits (only 1-2 servings a day)
- blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, lemon
- (in moderation – banana, grapefruit, dates, goji berries)
- Pasture-raised eggs
- Wild caught Salmon
- Organic chicken breast
- Organic turkey
- Sprouted nuts & seeds
- almond, cashew, chia, hemp, flax (ground), sunflower
- Homemade nut milks
- Organic unsweetened coconut milk
- Lentils & beans (in moderation)
- Herbs (organic)
- turmeric, ginger, reishi mushroom, cacao
- Sea salt, black pepper, garlic, nutritional yeast
- Fermented foods
- Saurkraut, kombucha, water keifer
- Coconut oil, Avocado oil, Olive oil
- Natural sweeteners (in moderation)
- raw honey, pure maple syrup, stevia, monk fruit
- Spring water, filtered water
- Probiotics – Helps to restore good bacteria to the digestive system
- Digestive Enzymes – Helps body break down food and absorb it without causing excessive pain and bloating. I like to use “garden of life” Omega-zyme.
- Bone Broth Protein Powder (or collagen) – Contains healing proteins such as glutamine, glycine and proline. Also very rich in minerals to help heal and seal your gut lining. I like to use “ancient nutrition” brand from Dr. Josh Axe.
- Fish Oil – Helps to reduce inflammation by restoring Omega-3 / Omega-6 fatty acid balance. I use “good earths” brand.
- Multivitamin – Ensures that you get all the vitamins that you need! I personally take b12, vitamin d + k2, methyl-folate, and L-glutamine all separate. But that is just because of my personal needs.
- Mediterranean Herb blend – Helps to remove toxins/parasites from the body and regulate bowel movements. I like to use “experience” & “clear” from PureTrim.
Foods that make me sick & cause inflammation:
- Gluten – For me personally cutting gluten was the #1 thing that helped me.
- wheat, cereals, pancakes, rolls, dressings, soy sauce, etc.
- Grains – Corn, rice, oats, bran, quinoa
- I have to eat these in moderation but not avoid completely! 🙂
- Soy – its a GMO crop, try to find non-GMO
- Corn – also a GMO crop, try to find non-GMO
- Dairy – milk, cheese, butter
- Meats – any meat that is not organic, especially beef
- Added refined sugar – sugar, cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, cane syrup, etc.
- Vegetable oils – vegetable oil, canola oil
- Caffeine – Soda, coffee
- Xantham gum
- Anything processed
- chips, crackers, breads (even if they are gluten free)
- there is a difference between “packaged” and “processed” just read the labels!
- Ingredients I can’t recognize as food
- If you can’t recognize the ingredients then you shouldn’t eat it 🙂
- Poor quality supplements
- Tap water
So, that is my story (so far)! I’ve come a long way and been through a lot in the last 7-8 months. I am still pretty low in body weight and am working on restoring some muscle wasting. I am also working on managing stress and anxiety! But I would say that all-in-all I am feeling much better! I hope to keep evolving and learning more about digestive health, real food and wellness that I can share with you. Thanks for those who have taken the time to read this! I’d love any comments you have about similar experiences or tips/advice! Much love. Xoxo.