October 17, 2016

Everyone has a food story... Here is mine



Where it all began...

I have never been a super naturally thin person but I have been in the "healthy" range for most of my life.  Like everyone else I thought I was too heavy in high school but I was really not.  It did not help that someone in my life kept telling me I needed to stop gaining weight when I literally weighed 110 pounds at 16, 17 and even 18 years old.  I began to put on extra weight in college but by my senior year I was engaged and stopped eating to fit into a wedding dress.  I was very thin and, I would say, almost anorexic by the time I walked down the aisle.  I lost about 30 pounds over 6 months for my wedding.  I was 117 pounds on that day.  I spent an entire semester living on baked potatoes and salad to get there.

Once I was married I quickly put 15 pounds back on but felt guilty the entire time I was gaining. I come from people that are not thin and I have feared for most of my life that I would wind up like that, too.  The fear just made it worse and I finally topped out at around 170 pounds before I grabbed the reigns and started researching how to take better care of me.

Taking the Reigns in My Own Strength...

I tried everything over the next 20 years to get control.  I ate vegan and raw vegan and then I added eggs and cheese back in and ate vegetarian for awhile.  My life without meat left me with a lot of nutritional deficiencies that took their toll on my body.  I counted calories and weighed food like the weight watchers program (but never went to meetings).  I tried super low calorie diets and had a period of time where I was actually an aerobics instructor and personal trainer.  I worked out for hours each day and then I became a runner and started with a few 5K events.  Nothing seemed to keep it off long term because I always gave in and put junk back in.  I would be really "good" and then binge on whatever I could find in a moment of great weakness.  The scale was my enemy and the mirror mocked me.

It was interesting that I never felt that fear when I was pregnant and I was very healthy for all of my pregnancies.  I ate healthy and stopped sodas and coffee for the majority of the time that I was pregnant.  I walked or did water aerobics during those times, too.  Other than end term preeclampsia I was really healthy throughout those pregnancies.

As I moved into my 40s I was diagnosed with Hashimotos Hypothyroidism, Fibromyalgia and Lupus and my body started to rebel against just about everything I was putting in.  I had done some allergy testing when my children were small so I knew I was allergic to soy.  I also knew that bread and sugar were triggers for congestion and earaches.

I spent some time with a gastroenterologist who tested me for Celiac Sprue because there were some symptoms that lined up with this diagnosis but I tested negative with a simple blood test.  I knew, though, that I had gut issues but could not point to the cause.  The doctor was not really helpful... he just wanted to stick me on medication instead of finding out what was causing the issues.  That seemed to be the pattern for all of the doctors I saw over the years.  I would ask why and they would just write a script and send me on my way with no explanation.

Chemicals played a role in making me feel achy all over, giving me headaches and there were some I could not even keep down when I ate them.  MSG, nitrites, sulfites, and others were making me sick and I did not feel like I could eat anything prepackaged any longer. I had rashes, itching and my face would be flushed and hot with no explanation after eating certain foods.  We were at a friend's home having dinner when they served red wine and two sips in I broke out in hives from the sulfites.  Arthritis pain and Fibro pain were continually set off with bad food days.  I could not put a finger on why I was so miserable!

Where it All Changed for Me...

I did a 21 day Daniel Fast and noticed that I felt somewhat better.  That surprised me!  I was hungry a lot on that plan and suffered with some blood sugar lows pretty drastically.  I needed more protein than I was getting but this was for a spiritual journey so I hung on for that three weeks.  Taking wheat, sugar, caffeine and dairy out did make a difference but I was not sure how to apply what I had learned diet-wise during that time.  It was, however, a very encouraging spiritual time for me as I sought to pray and focus on the Lord more.  I believe fasting is not about diet but about spiritual growth.  I was not expecting to feel better, though, so I knew God was telling me something in the midst of that revelation.  That sent me on a new journey nutritionally.

I finally did a Whole30 in May of 2015.  As I moved through the elimination part I started to come out of the fog for the first time in my adult life.  As I started reintroducing foods I immediately had a reaction to wheat, soy, dairy, and corn.  I could not eat anything with chemicals and I noticed perfumes and certain smells really bothered my allergies.  As I got clean I started to be more sensitive to just about everything.  I felt like I had nothing I could really eat that did not make me sick but whole food.... real food with no chemicals and additives made me feel better.

Where I Am Now....

I am still struggling with pain but when I am adamant about sticking to the program of no sugar, wheat, soy, corn, dairy and chemical laden foods I feel so much better.  My weight is easier to keep under control when I eat this way.  It also helps to get plenty of water and watch my caffeine intake.

Adding exercise and time to relax are crucial, too.  I cannot run anymore.  I ran for several years but tore a tendon and know that I won't ever run again with the Lupus issues.  It is too taxing on my body and extended hard exercise is out of the question completely.  I won't be doing any P90X or Cross Fit. Things like short walks, Pilates and stretching are much more doable for me.

My life is very different now but I can honestly say I like the way I have begun to eat and the simpler lifestyle that I am able to enjoy.  I don't stress about the number on the scale anymore because I am looking for other results that are now more important to me.  My mirror is no longer mocking me.  I know my triggers and I really take care to avoid things that bring days of pain and exhaustion.  My focus has completely changed.

As I continue to shape a plan for better health I am currently reading a few things that are about gut healing and nutritionally dense foods.  I read a lot by Amy Myers, MD.  The Whole30 books are also very helpful for a healthier mindset.  I try to stay current with research on foods for those struggling with autoimmune issues and am an avid cookbook collector as I try new recipes all the time.  I love my time in the kitchen as I prepare healthier meals for my family and me.

I have also added supplements to ensure I am getting what I need.  When you have Lupus and other autoimmune issues you often have deficiencies that contribute to the struggle.  I take mine in the form of Vitamin D, Magnesium, Cod Liver Oil, Vitamin C, a daily Multivitamin and Valerian Root to aid in sleeping more deeply at night.  I end my day with an herbal hot tea to help with the fibro tension before bed.

A New Focus... 

My goal in sharing any of this is that I hope that someone else can know they are not alone.  I want to be able to share my story to help someone else.  I don't know why I have what I have or have to struggle with so many health issues but I do know that God has been faithful through it all.  I have lost count of the ways that God has taught me to trust and lean hard into Him through this.

We are not made to live here forever and our bodies wear out.  There is no perfect formula to live a happy long life with perfect skin and perfect bodies that belong in a magazine.  That does not exist and, need I remind you, that those pictures and lifestyles are not real anyway.

Sometimes bad things happen and we get sick or struggle physically.  None of this is punishment... it is just a result of living in an imperfect world.  This life is not the forever part.  I have learned that even as I care for my external shell and failing body I should also be working through my salvation with fear and trembling and preparing for eternity.  There are lots of things in this world that do not matter.  Me looking like a supermodel is one of those things.  LOL

There is no diet that has brought me peace.  I have gone to God with all of it and used real food that He has created to work through this process.  I do believe that "real food" is what we ultimately need to focus on as we make food choices.  There are no quick fixes or powders and potions that really make us healthy.  God's design is the best way in everything.  Romans 14 tells us to stop passing judgment on other people's choices.  We need to find the foods that nourish our bodies and stop expecting the world to follow us or dictate our path.  We cannot expect everyone to do as we do or expect that someone else's plan will work for us.  If you cannot eat sugar or have certain foods then don't eat those.  If eating vegetables makes you feel better then do that.  If eating paleo is what makes you feel better then do that.  If you need to spend some time working through a gut healing program because you abused your gut with junk and endless diet schemes for too long then do that (this is where I fall) I am continually in the process of shaping a plan that makes me feel better and better so that I can live a life that glorifies God for as long as He will let me be here.

A New Mindset...

I have stopped the insanity.... I am no longer binge eating or starving myself.  I stop when I feel satiated and not "over full" - and I think healthy food helps us to know the difference.  I don't count calories even though I do still get on a scale once a week to check water retention because that is a thing with autoimmune sometimes.  The scale is not really necessary, though, if you just pay attention to how your clothes fit and how you feel.  I read all the labels and ask all the questions when I buy something new to avoid stuff my body rebels against.  I am trying to find new favorites and new comfort foods because I think that is important.  I do believe God wants us to enjoy what we eat but still be wise about putting in "good for us" stuff.  I believe eating is about more than the food, too.... I believe that sharing a table with friends and family is very important and good food just makes it more enjoyable.  I think our society worships food and diet and unhealthy unattainable goals and I don't think that helps any of us to have a healthy relationship with it.  Food is not sexy nor should it elicit those feelings.... it's purpose is to nourish and provide sustenance to keep us healthy and strong to better serve Him.  I think it is time that we change our thinking... that we seek out what God has to say about food and eating instead of what the world shoves at us.  I shared a graphic yesterday with one little verse on it.... whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.  I say we start there.

An Added Bonus to Share...

I recently watched a video by Joy Forney about this very thing.  I had started this post (because it takes me a long time to write something like this) when I saw it and loved what she had to say.  She also shared an inexpensive quick read that helped her to overcome the lifelong struggle.  You can check her out here... and here is the link to the book.  It is available on both Nook and Kindle.




2 comments:

  1. I love this post. Thanks for sharing your story!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Suzanne... I am so glad you stopped by and that you took the time to comment! :)

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