Leaning into Primal

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A little over four years ago I discovered that I had an issue with Candida albicans overgrowth in my body. That was a pivotal time in my life. It was when I began to realize that the American diet was full of pitfalls, a major one being sugar. I eliminated sugar from my diet, as well as some other foods, and began to realize health. Then I got pregnant and it was all over, since morning sickness made me want to gag at every nourishing food. I had to go into “survival mode” eating, which brought about constipation and heartburn very early on in my pregnancy. I felt ill the whole nine months, and was not able to have the drug-free, nutrient-rich pregnancy I had planned on.

Ten months ago, when I got my forth and worst thrush infection from breastfeeding, I knew it was time to get my body in order. We were planning to try for another baby in the not too far future, and my body needed serious help. My midwife that I saw for the thrush told me to cut sugar from my diet for a month. I don’t deal well with restrictions, so I responded by eating more sugar. Soon after, I got very stressed out over something I was going through, and suddenly I was having hot chocolates every day to soothe my soul. Yet at the same time, I knew I needed to get back on the Candida diet.

Then my friend (my most loyal reader here) started telling me about The Primal Blueprint. The “primal” diet wasn’t too different from the Candida diet. I thought if I could move my way towards a primal diet (which actually seemed doable somehow, while the Candida diet felt very restrictive to me), then after I was eating primal, if I still had time before getting pregnant, I could jump in and do a Candida diet for a bit.

Then I got caught up in diet philosophies. There are some ideas about the paleo/primal diet that I just can’t get on board with. Like grains not being human food. Or that humans haven’t evolved at all in their diets in the last 10,000 years (just look at Weston Price’s studies and you’ll see that various cultures have adapted to thrive on various diets, many of which include grains). I started resisting the ideal of primal diet. And yet, I was still moving closer to it, because I knew it was what I needed to do. I wasn’t trying to be “primal.” I was making decisions based on various articles I read, considering some things my naturopath said, and listening to my body.

I returned to a very low sugar diet. I increased my meat consumption (originally because I needed more zinc, and more so later when I decided I needed more protein). I slowly began to eat fewer grains. It happened so gradually that I never felt deprived. One day I just noticed that I was having days where I didn’t eat any grains at all. I had started reading Nourishing Traditions. I wondered if I prepared grains properly if it would help. So I started switching to more “traditional” grain, for the grain I was eating. I did see improvement.

But then I had sort of an epiphany. It happened a week or so ago, after I had read maybe three or four different articles from different sources about different diet topics, and yet they all somehow seemed related to me. Basically my mind put them all together and deduced that if I have a gut problem (even though it’s improving), if I really want to heal then I’ve got to remove grains.

Even though properly prepared grains are much more digestible, they still aren’t the easiest thing on the digestive tract. My weak GI doesn’t need to be troubled any more than necessary at this point. That’s really the main reason I feel I need to drop grains from my diet. Maybe when I’m all healthy again, I may add some non-aggravating grains back in. Maybe. See there are a couple of other reasons, too. The other one is my vanity. Even though I think I look perfectly great the way I am, a part of me that’s always wanted to be lean and ripped still exists within. I would love to burn off some body fat. I noticed when I was having more grain-free/very low grain days, I was dropping weight. When I used to be very skinny, moving around took so much less effort. I miss that. I like feeling light. And lastly, the glycemic factor. If I eat too many carbohydrates in one meal, two things happen: I feel an energy drop, and I get hungry again sooner. I’d rather not be tired and I’d rather not snack. I have so much more time to do things if I don’t have to worry about resting or eating another meal. And oh, just kidding, that wasn’t the last one. Lastly, when I eat grains with my meals, there is less room for veggies. I don’t feel I eat enough vegetables half the time, so it makes sense to skip the bread and leave room in my tummy for salad or something.

I don’t think grains are necessarily a problem for every body (assuming they are of ancient variety and properly prepared), but my body doesn’t care about philosophies. It only cares that I put in it what it needs to be healthy. So more accidental than intentional, I am falling into the primal diet. I guess if you lean toward something long enough, it’s bound to happen.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Cassie says:

    I think you’ve got it, I think a gaps/paleo approach can heal your gut and help you. Maybe after your healing adding some grains back would be nice too. But then you’ll have a really good baseline about how feeling good feels and then you can avoid what makes you sick.
    This is a great post but I was really hoping for the nut soaking one haha

    1. Lisa C says:

      Lol. All in due time, Cassie.

      I was also thinking that about getting a baseline. One of those articles I read–the one about how some people are carb types and others are protein types–made me think more about it. It said for a mixed type like me to cut out all these things: grains, dairy, legumes, etc. and then start slowly adding carbs in until you figure out where you stop feeling good. But not just a macronutrient baseline, but specific foods, too. I think we just learn to tune stuff out–the gurgles, gas, fatigue, etc. But when you haven’t had those issues for a while, and suddenly one day you eat something and you get a reaction, you notice it.

  2. Lisa,

    You’re right when you say that Paleo doesn’t make sense. How can so many of the peoples that Weston Price studied eat soaked and fermented grains with no problem?

    The answer is that they didn’t have industrial foods to undermine their health in the first place. Yes, Weston Price worked with children to reverse nutritional deficiencies but he wasn’t working with people like you and me. Back in his day there wasn’t heart disease (first heart attack was diagnosed in 1931), they didn’t guzzle chemicals in their drinks, they didn’t eat packaged unlimited shelf life food, they didn’t eat wonder bread and jiffy peanut butter. Our terrain is much different today than it was in his time.

    For us, grains have turned out to be bad (there are some theoretical reasons to believe that they are bad for humans in general, but that’s another discussion). You have candida, you cannot eat grains and you cannot eat fruit. Rob Wolf will tell you the same. Don’t cheat either, if you want to combat those nasty bugs. And once you start feeling good, don’t think you can add them back in right away. It may be years. Or it may be never.

    And as a side note, grains are often responsible for those nagging pounds that you don’t want. Going primal will usually lean you out a bit. 🙂

    1. Lisa C says:

      So true about industrial foods. And I’m sure what my parents ate affected the development of my body and my own ability to handle certain foods. I’m scared to think what is going to happen in the next generations if our society doesn’t do a whole heck of a lot of wising up.

      I’ve been lowering and lowering my sugar, grain and fruit consumption gradually. Hopefully it won’t be too hard to say goodbye.

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