Remind me, how is it that next year is like… this week?
This is a post I’ve been thinking about for a while. As we approach the New year, I have been planning some changes. Not like, New Year’s Resolutions I’m going to break in a week changes, but hopefully changes that will bring actual improvement into my life.
See, for at least the last three years (I’ve kind of lost track of exactly how long), I’ve been dealing with some medical issues, mostly related to my GI system, struggling with constant nausea, chronic pain, bloating, all that fun stuff. I’ve been to doctors, I’ve been to specialists, and all I keep hearing is that there is nothing wrong with me. The tests come back negative. Over and over. I’ve tried probiotics, elimination diets, digestive enzymes, therapy, everything I can think of that might point me in the right direction toward better health. I’ve given up on going to the doctor because I feel like I’m not being listened to, and I’m tired of hearing that the pain and nausea I deal with on a daily basis is all “in my head”.
Lately, I’ve been having horribly painful flare-ups in my gums, which (as a dental assistant) I am entirely sure it’s not a hygiene issue. I take very good care of my teeth, and yet every other week a different part of my mouth is raw, red, and swollen. It hurts to eat, it hurts to brush. Along with this, I’m exhausted all the time, I’m constantly breaking out, I get headaches that last for a week.
A woman I work with has two daughters with autoimmune disorders, and asked if I have looked into that being a possibility for all my problems. I’ve been reading up on autoimmunity, inflammation, the autoimmune spectrum, leaky gut, and how the paleo diet can help to heal your stomach and make you healthy again. In case you aren’t familiar with the paleo diet, the premise is simple: eat like a caveman. This means removing inflammatory foods including dairy (which I already do not eat), soy, gluten, all grains, refined sugar, legumes, and basically anything processed. If a caveman couldn’t eat it, then don’t eat it. Remove the inflammatory foods from your diet, let the toxins work their way out, and eventually, get rid of the inflammation in your body.
I’m not saying I have an autoimmune disorder, although they do run in my family, I’m just saying that I believe I’m suffering from leaky gut and that in order to feel better, I need to heal it. I know there is no way I can make it through the holidays successfully removing all inflammatory foods from my diet, so I’m waiting until January 1st to make this change. I’ll be following the paleo diet for at least a month to see how things are progressing, and if things aren’t getting better, considering moving on to the autoimmune protocol (AIP) version of the paleo diet, which is much more restrictive. This is already going to be a huge lifestyle change for me following the regular version of the paleo diet, so I do not intend on starting out doing the AIP version. I think I would rip my hair out. I get stressed easily (which, ironically, also contributes to leaky gut), and food can be a big challenge for me for many reasons. Going too restrictive too fast would be setting myself up for failure.
I know myself, and I know this is going to be challenging for me. Hence the planning a month in advance. I intend on making meal plans to save myself some stress, allowing myself to spend more money than usual on food as necessary (organic meats = $$$), taking the recommended supplements, and following it as close to 100% as possible. I don’t know if this is going to help. A lot of people say it has helped them. I really, really hope it makes even the slightest difference, because I know if I start to feel better I will be much more motivated to continue.
I’m going to stay positive, but I really am going to hate going a month or more without my spearmint extra gum (which I am legit addicted to…. like a pack a day addicted). I think giving up gum is going to be harder than giving up any of the foods that aren’t allowed. I’m worried I won’t know what to eat, and that I will get too hungry because I’m overwhelmed. This is why planning ahead is so important. This is going to be a huge turnaround in my eating habits, and I really want things to go smoothly and not get stressed out. Thankfully, I have a nutritionist to help me if I have any questions or need support. I’m going to be tracking my intake and symptoms and see if things begin to improve.
At the end of the month I’ll be doing a big post sharing my experience and how things are going, but throughout the month will post little updates as well as recipes. Anyway, wish me luck! We’ll see how this goes. Still have a lot of preparing to do in the next couple of days, but I’m feeling good about this. Nervous, but good. The last week has been a big sugar-fest for me, so I’m worried my withdrawal symptoms might be kind of bad. I’m not usually huge on sugar, but regardless, I do eat it. Here goes…