Sunday, February 26, 2012

More than Gluten-Free Living...My Story...

I had a friend ask me the other day why I am gluten-free...which quite frankly is not an unusual question since most people are seeing "gluten-free" plastered throughout the grocery stores and not really sure why it has become so "popular". So I figured, for those that are curious, I would document some of my story here...as you'll see it is not a one sentence answer :).

Back in 2008 after I had my fourth child I started to experience IBS symptoms. Needless to say, this was my first experience with these type of extreme symptoms so I didn't really recognize it for what it was. In addition to my symptoms, my breastfeeding daughter was experiencing extreme colic. When she was around 4 months old I started to seek medical assistance for her but not getting any answers from my pediatrician I decided to take her to a chiropractor thinking that quite possibly she needed an adjustment...lol :)...I was desperate! Well, this particular doctor asked me lots and lots of questions, including lots of questions about ME, and eventually narrowed the problem down to ME and MY gut. I was a little shocked but I was having stomach issues, I was desperate to fix her, and alternative medicine was not new to me so I was open and I agreed to his conclusions and suggestions. He put me on what he called an "anti-inflammatory" diet which was very strict. It was gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, corn-free, plus more "free" than I can really remember all these years later. I was also on a lot of probiotics and enzymes. Well, in a couple weeks my symptoms started dissipating and within about 5 months all symptoms had disappeared. Unfortunately I was under the impression that it was just a temporary issue and slowly but surely stair stepped my way out of the diet.

Several years went by and as time went on my health deteriorated in a slow progression that didn't just smack me in the face...in fact by the usual standards I ate healthy...however, I put on 40 pounds, I had extreme changes in the texture and health of my hair...including loss of hair, my hormones were a mess, I experienced chronic fatigue, bouts of depression and anxiety, adhd symptoms, my IBS symptoms returned but not as extreme as the first time, I experienced bouts of sleep disturbances, my abdomen was bloated, I craved sugar...there's more but that gives you an accurate picture of just how unhealthy I was.

Frustrated with how I was feeling and wanting to lose the pounds I decided to go back on the diet that the doctor had suggested 3 years prior. It was easy and something I knew I could start right away. In addition, I went to the library and the internet and researched and read everything I could get my hands on. Interestingly, I started to lose weight right away...and my energy started returning...and I started to feel better. In 4 months, I lost 30 pounds following a gluten-free, dairy-free, low sugar, nothing artificial diet with probiotics, digestive enzymes, and cod fish oil. I found my body likes that! I became a strong believer that your body will lose weight by following the principles of building a healthy gut...as most overweight individuals do NOT have healthy gut flora or a balanced immune system...therefore neither is there a balanced hormonal system. So another essential piece to the puzzle for me was finding the resources that discussed healing the gut and immune system. This plays a huge role in the development of today's auto-immune diseases both in the child and adult.

SO many people decide for some reason or another, some by choice and some through diagnosis, to go gluten-free...so they don't eat wheat, barley, or rye. They successfully cut out wheat bread or breaded chicken nuggets but they don't want to give up their bread or chicken nuggets so they just exchange the bad in for the bad...they get gluten-free bread, gluten-free chicken nuggets, and snack on gluten-free pastries instead. All of which continues to feed the yuck that is brewing in your gut...therefore, continuing to feed the source and feed the growing disease state of your body...you maybe just slowed it down. The bottom line is not really the gluten. Yes, you've successfully eliminated the gluten but NOOO you are not really changing the health index of your food choices! You are not really fixing the problem just skating around it.

That is not what I did! I completely changed our lifestyle. All of us...me, my husband, and four young children. NO it wasn't easy...it took discipline and persistence!  So our diet consisted of primarily whole foods...low to no sugar and nothing artificial. Our calories came from veggies, protein, yogurt, some fruit, some high quality starches. I also learned to read labels and understand the verbiage on them. This took time...to get used to and to transform our kitchen, recipe logs, fluency at the grocery store, taste buds!! Yes, your taste buds are trained to favor whatever you feed them...they had to change too! Also cravings had to subside and our blood sugar needed regulated and balanced. It was a process.



My inspiration came from websites like:
http://gapsdiet.com/
http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info/

And books like:
Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies
The Amen Solution
Healing ADD

**links will take you to Amazon but they are not affiliate links. I checked them out at the library! Then I bought them!! :))

It has been over a year now since we started on this journey. I have learned SO much. We are all SO much healthier. Do I have Crohn's or IBS? I don't really know....quite possibly. If so, I am in remission...through diet and supplements alone! I never went and got officially tested. From what I have read the tests are painful and not always very accurate. I wouldn't go on medication anyways so why bother. I just know that following a diet plan that includes the elimination of gluten works for me. I also know that my body can't handle carbs or sugar very well...it gets very addicted. I also know that while following the basis of our lifestyle...high protein, low carbs, simple carbs, alkalizing, digestive enzymes, probiotics, whole food supplementation...I lose weight and feel great!

I still have another 30-35 pounds to lose. I didn't give up but I did stagnate and then I did gain 10 pounds back over the holidays...probably one of the most gluten, sugar induced times of year. Excitedly, I found a company that follows these principles in a weight loss system. I already understand the principles and eat the recommended food for the diet so that wasn't a need for me...but I do benefit from the structure of a plan that is laid out and getting the assistance from some needed, high-quality supplementation is helping me boost the process to complete what I started. So far on this plan, I have lost 10 pounds and my clothing went from super tight to very lose and on the brink of the next size. My blood pressure is also down.

I will continue to add resources, my experiences, recipes, etc. I know that I don't have IT ALL documented in this ONE post! Just a quick synopsis...lol...quick, right? :))) I can also answer any questions that you may have so please feel free to discuss your experiences or ask your questions below.

May you be blessed with good health and the motivation and resources to be your best!

xoxo

1 comment:

  1. Very nicely written Halley! The first day we met, I remember you bringing candy for the kiddos' meet and greet. My girls really hadn't had candy, except chocolate:) but i sucked it up and was a good sport, as i knew i was in the minority as a mom like that. Now you are that mom too :) Keep up the great work!!

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