Struggle and Success Saturday

As excited as I am to write my next post on the book, I wanted to share a peek into my life. Because it’s the real-life story that truly inspire us, is it not? Normally I plan share our current successes and struggles with switching to more nourishing eating habits and lifestyle changes in these posts, but for this first one, I figure I should just give you some background on our health and eating habits.

In all my life, I have never been in what one would call “tip-top” condition. At my best, I’ve had mild digestive issues, some fatigue and moodiness, mild hay fever, neck and back pain, mild acne. At my worst, I’ve had worse digestion (a lot of bloating, constipation, and heart burn), chronic yeast infections, a lot of fatigue, extreme mood swings, hay fever bad enough require antihistamines throughout the season, demoralizing acne, more neck and back pain, regular headaches, highish blood pressure. I’ve been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic depression and anxiety, and self-diagnosed with Candida (yeast over-growth), adrenal fatigue, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). I also had kidney failure when I was five due to an E. coli infection, from which I recovered but apparently have residual scarring, which causes me to have proteinuria (protein in urine) and is the reason I have slightly elevated blood pressure right now.

The interesting thing is that all of these issues can be improved with the right diet–some can even be eliminated. Decreasing processed foods and increasing fiber in my diet reduced my acne dramatically (after I did a bowel cleanse, too). Over time I’ve noticed that sugar and dairy can also cause acne flare-ups. Four years ago I did a Candida diet for a few months and it helped a lot, and since I’ve been mindful of my sugar intake. These days I rarely get a yeast inflection, but I don’t think my yeast is completely in balance yet. Heart burn went away with reducing sugar as well. Increased fiber and reduced processed foods also improved my bowl habits dramatically, and the Candida diet helped even more. Recently I find I am having occasional problems again, which is a signal that I’ve not been eating right.

My depression and PMDD improved to a certain extent after I started taking cod liver oil. I also took zinc for a few weeks because I suspected a copper/zinc imbalance. I now I try to eat more beef (great source of zinc) as it seems to help my mood. Keeping sugar intake down also helps with my mood and energy levels–possibly even my hay fever as well. I have recently begun seeing a naturopath, and the herbs she has given me to support my kidneys seem to also be improving my energy and mood (and the B-complex supplement I started taking seems to help even more). I recently was required to take a drug to control my blood pressure for a kidney biopsy, and that drug completely drained my energy and made me irritable. After I went off, I recovered with CoQ10 over the course of a few weeks (this is an enzyme found mostly in organ meats, and muscle meat to some extent). But most interestingly, my naturopath told me that my poor digestion was affecting my kidney health!

And so it all comes back to food: Let food by thy medicine (Hippocrates)

I’ve managed to improve many of my conditions by slowly steering away from the American Diet, and moving closer to what is termed a “paleo” or “primal” diet, even though until recently, I had never even heard of it, or a “traditional” diet. It’s a struggle, to say the least. Sometimes I feel like I move in imperceptible baby steps, and sometimes I even feel like I’m moving backward, but when I see how I am eating now compared to a year ago, or the year before that, and especially the year before that (pregnancy and new-mama life wreaked havoc on my eating habits), I can see a huge improvement. But always…never there…yet.

What’s “there”? Did you ever see the Disney movie Atlantis? Or know anything about Atlanteans in general? They are a mythical people supposed to be a superior race–highly intelligent, never get sick, live hundreds of years, etc. Not saying I ever expect to be that healthy, but I imagine what it feels like to be that healthy, to have tons of energy and to feel good as a general rule, rather than an exception. That’s what I want. That’s where I want to be. Being sick is not normal!

Then there is my little boy. He’ll be three next month. I have breastfed him from birth, and when we started “baby-led weaning” (an introduction of solids that allows baby to self-feed from healthy options) I felt we were on the right track. I still believe BLW is the way to go, but there is a catch–you have to have healthy food options available constantly and you have to set a good example. Still being in a state of improving our diet, and figuring out just what we should be eating, meant that our son has had the opportunity to develop a taste for a few certain things that he really shouldn’t be eating a lot of. Like chocolate-chip pancakes (ahem). He still eats better than the average American toddler, enjoying meat, fish, fruit, small amounts of select vegetables, whole grains, beans, and select dairy. But I don’t feel he’s getting enough of what he needs, and sometimes I feel his diet may be affecting his behavior and his immunity (he got sick so many times this last winter, and even caught something just recently). I admit I’m a bit jealous that my friend’s two-year-old has taste for more nutrient-dense food than mine does (they eat a more “primal” diet).

Now my husband I can’t quite understand. I think he has better genes than I do. He can eat crap food and not feel the effects of it. Perhaps his superior digestive tract allows him to extract every tiny little nutrient that he ingests. I don’t know, but it’s totally not fair. I think it will be harder to get him to eat a traditional diet than my almost three-year-old, because he’s a “selective” eater, and is less likely to notice benefits, but I need to him to help set an example for our son.  I’m not going to force anybody to eat food they don’t like, but I am hoping he will accept some of the new foods. He tells me all fermented food gives him indigestion, when the opposite should be true. Apparently yogurt makes him “gurggly” but pasteurized milk causes no problems. I’ll never understand his digestive tract.

So I’m eager to see how my health and wellbeing improve as I improve our diet. And to see how my little boy manages the new food and if his health and mood improve. I’m hoping my husband responds well–particularly with his taste buds. Because, you know, he’s not picky…he just “knows what he likes.” Ha.


4 thoughts on “Struggle and Success Saturday

  1. I’ve been waiting for this post as I’ve been nursing for like the last hour. Haha.
    Isn’t it hard to be a good example? When I ate ice cream on a more regular basis around when Luke was 1 I felt so guilty because I hadn’t given him any sugar yet and he really wanted my ice cream. So I let him have some but I hated that he ate it. Now we just don’t keep stuff around like that, or at least try not to.
    When I was reading the part about Philip it sound like that every day paleo lady’s husband. She had all these auto immune issues and stuff with her kidneys and so when she changed her diet all her issues went away. But she said her husband is like fine no matter what they eat but he’s like super human when try eat paleo. Maybe that’s like Philip.
    And if you don’t like what Michael eats, just don’t give him things you don’t want him to have. And if he doesn’t like what you make he’ll eventually get hungry and eat it. There’s a lot of dinners Luke has skipped.
    Anyway good post!

    1. LOL, having a super human husband would be nice.

      Thing about M is I didn’t want the change to be too dramatic. When you cut a person off of carbs, they go through withdrawal. You can go gradually and get the same result without torturing the child (or yourself, because just imagine the withdrawal symptoms of a three-year-old). And considering he will sometimes ignore his hunger until he is in a state of high distress, I don’t like giving him reasons to skip meals.

      The problem all started, I think, because if he didn’t eat, he nursed extra, and I didn’t have the patience for extra nursings. So I would sometimes fix meals that I was sure he would eat. I think I put us on a slippery slope and didn’t even realize it. But I’ve read in Little Sugar Addicts of the horrendous things that some kids eat, and he’s like a super-star eater compared to them, so adjusting his eating habits shouldn’t be too daunting. But it isn’t just about what I serve him, it’s also about what we have in the house–he will look for snacks while I am trying to cook dinner, or he’ll skip dinner and look for those snacks afterward. So obviously part of the solution will be to keep certain foods out of the house. But he loves fruit to no end–how do I not buy fruit? So even though you are totally right, it’s just really challenging for us (doesn’t help that I’m married to someone who likes to bring home high-carb goodies).

      I actually think that preparing foods from Nourishing Traditions will help. I believe I will be able to replace some of his meals and snacks with more nourishing alternatives that he likes.

  2. It will be so interesting to see how this works out for you I know that for me eating a low carb high fat diet has been incredibly helpful; I don’t suffer IBS anymore (that alone was worth switching my diet for), my period pains are not as intense, and I’m more balanced moodwise (though I still get some PMS, but hoping it will get better with time). I’ve only recently starting eating like this again. I did have a break during pregnancy and breastfeeding because I craved, and could actually handle, more carbs then. As soon as I had to stop breastfeeding, my body started reacting badly to the carbs again. .

    Support is important. My hubby is stuck in the meat and two veg mentality and still buys some “light” products even though I tell/ show him how blooming evil they are. He likes real food though, and totally supports me in what I’m doing. Some compromises have had to been made. Aoife sees and eats real food most of the time.

    1. I was thinking that would be the case with pregnancy and breastfeeding, since you are burning more calories than normal. I’ve heard that other women crave carbs during that time, and many vegans and vegetarians become omnivores when they are pregnant or lactating. The body definitely demands more nutrients when it’s sustaining another life. It’s so interesting that your body handled carbs better during that time.

      Support really is important. He grumbled a little when I first started spending more money on food, but recently acknowledged that the better food was better for me. That meant a lot to me. Every little thing helps.

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