Food is a really big part of our lives. Trying to live without it is impossible, but what we choose to eat can determine what kind of a life we live. Choosing the “wrong” foods can bring a lot of physical satisfaction, but terrible consequences leading us to a life wrought with ailments and suffering. On the other hand, eating the “right” foods is not always so much fun. Its hard socially, and our taste buds seem to naturally desire foods that are highly processed, high in fat and sugar – that’s why there’s so much of it. Yes, we can retrain our taste buds to some degree, but if it wasn’t so pleasant to eat, it wouldn’t exist in such abundance.
Other than weight, I never gave much thought to what I ate. If it tasted good I ate it. And when I restricted what I ate to try to lose weight, I was miserable.
I actually don’t plan on detailing my weight loss journey in this blog, but it might be helpful to my readers to at least know my background because it plays into my health issues today.
So in 2004, I had reached the enormous weight of 365 lbs. Even though I was hypoglycemic, I was showing symptoms of insulin resistance, I had very bad osteoarthritis as a result of the damage my extreme weight was causing on my joints and I could barely walk.
I made the choice to have gastric bypass surgery and I believe it saved my life. I lost 200 lbs and began exercising and my life changed drastically. In 2007 I moved overseas and began to be less careful about how I ate. By 2014 I had gained back 40 lbs and was concerned – something had to be done, if I didn’t want to end up back in the same situation.
I’m a big researcher, I don’t do anything if there isn’t a lot of evidence that it legitimately works. So, I did a lot of research and decided that the best way to loose the excess weight was to go on a low carb high fat diet. Well, it does work for weight loss. I lost 50 lbs and got to 10lbs below my lowest weight after surgery. I was thrilled.
But then it happened.
I had been eating the ketogenic or LCHF way for nearly 2 years. We were moving, and I was under a lot of stress – both emotionally and physically. I began to have pain in my hands, which I chalked up to the osteoarthritis and the strain of packing a house (and then unpacking). I was more tired than I had ever been, but that also could be a symptom of the stress of moving.
Soon after we moved I began getting these strange rashes. The first one was on my outer thigh and I thought maybe I had brushed up against some poison ivy or something similar. But then I got the same itchy rash on the other thigh, then on an elbow, then near my opposite shoulder.
At this point I thought, each of these things by themselves is explainable, but all together, they may be telling me a different story. So, I went to my Doctor, who suspected it could be something rheumatological. So, she ordered bloodwork.
The bloodwork indicated Lupus and Rheumatoid arthritis – both autoimmune diseases. So, I made an appointment to see the Rheumatologist. After a 3 month wait, the rheumatologist confirmed the diagnosis and prescribed me the medication with the least possible side effects. It helped, a little. But not enough. So, I started researching the next level of medication and was scared of what I read. I decided I would rather live with the pain than risk destroying my body. Not everyone has that option. I was lucky that my symptoms were mild compared to what some other people suffer.
But then I came across a TED talk by a man named Clint Paddison, who explained how he healed himself from crippling rheumatoid arthritis and was helping thousands of others do so as well.
If you would like to watch his talk, you can do so here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G96U17hA-FI
The Paddison Program is a very aggressive approach to healing the gut and ridding the body of autoimmune disease. And it works, for almost all of the people who follow it strictly. I read the program and felt like I wasn’t sure if I could do it. I just love food too much. But at the end of his book, he states that it is possible to do the program backwards, that is, to begin with the broadest variety of foods permitted on the program and then eliminate things as needed.
I decided to try a modified version of this.
The diet that I embarked on was a Gluten Free Vegan (plant based) diet. I also eliminated: Coffee, caffeine and artificial sweeteners and I severely limited oils and sugars.
After a few weeks I began to notice a decrease in my pain, but then I was not being too careful with the program and the pain increased again. After 5 months I decided to become really careful and within 2 weeks the pain in my shoulder, elbow and arms disappeared! I then tapered off my medication. I have now been pain free (except for the damage done to my wrists) and medication free for over 2 months (as of the writing of this post).
Now that I’ve experienced what its like to be pain free without medication and my energy is increasing daily, I’m on a new journey. That is, to eat a plant-based gluten free diet and to actually be able to enjoy the food I eat.
I’m a bit of a foodie, I’m also a bit picky, so while on the one hand enjoying my food will involve teaching myself to like different things, it also involves learning how to make dishes that are satisfying to my palate and still healthy for my body. I will be sharing these discoveries with you, here.
Not everything I share here will be appealing to everyone, and not all of it will work for everyone’s diet, but hopefully you will be able to find some inspiration and I hope that your life will be better for it.