Nutrition ~ My Healing Journey
First and foremost, I wholeheartedly believe that everyone needs to do nutritionally what makes them feel best inside and out. I am not a big believer in diets, diet fads, packaged diets, diet pills, eliminating entire food groups, or the number on the scale. I do believe, however, it is in everyone’s best interest to try things out and figure out what works for them.
After many years of feeling like my metabolism was at a standstill, and rarely seeing any changes to my body or weight, I discovered I had hypothyroidism in the form of Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune hypothyroid condition, where the immune system attacks thyroid tissue. About a year after this discovery, I became pregnant for the first time. My hypothyroidism was treated with medication. During my pregnancy I had stomach issues when I ate certain foods, but didn’t really think much of it because I was pregnant. About six months after the birth of my son, August 2009, I consulted with a nutritionist who recommended I try eliminating dairy and gluten to see if that might help with my stomach issues and bloating. Within days, I could feel the results of this change.
Since going dairy and gluten-free (and processed food free), I tried both vegetarianism and veganism, each for about 6 months. Watching documentaries like Food, Inc. and Forks Over Knives were really eye-opening to me and influenced my food choices greatly. These documentaries along with readings by Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman, to name a few, brought a new realm of mindfulness to what I was eating and where it came from.
2012 – I had been eating vegan for about six months when I became pregnant for the second time, and decided at that point, July 2012, to add eggs, fish and chicken back into my diet. I wanted to be sure I was getting enough protein for myself and the tiny human that was growing inside. <3 There are tons of plant-based protein options, but I thought I would try it and see how my body felt and reacted to the re-introduction of these animal proteins, and I felt fine.
2013 – I had another successful pregnancy, thankfully, and gave birth to our son Braden in March of 2013. Beginning after the birth of my son Braden in March 2013, I struggled with my thyroid levels. Immediately after his birth, I was hyperthyroid, according to the blood tests, and again at the end of August 2013. I decided to consult with a homeopath, upon the recommendation of a friend. Throughout my pregnancy and after I struggled with joint pain all over my body. At this point I was totally and completely frustrated with my mysterious symptoms and I just wanted someone to help me. The homeopath suggested taking a remedy that would hopefully help my thyroid get back on track. At the beginning of November 2013, my blood level results showed that I was off the charts hypothyroid, again. My doctors insisted I stop taking the homeopathic remedy immediately, as they thought it might be interfering with the thyroid hormone supplement I was taking. It was all very frustrating… my joint pain, moodiness and fatigue all returned. In addition, it was the holiday season, so my eating was not quite on par. Gluten and sugar started sneaking back in, more often than not.
Right around Thanksgiving, I started listening to a podcast suggested by a friend called Cut the Fat Podcast co-hosted by Dr. Ray Hinish and Blythe Alberg, and of course took in all the information like a sponge. So my style, lifelong learner, always learning something new… Through some very wise information shared in their podcasts I learned about Mark Sisson and the Primal Blueprint way of eating, among many, many other things.
2014 – When I first learned about Paleo, I was extremely skeptical. After all, I tried veganism for a while, and felt mostly good while eating this way. (When I reflect now I question… Was I getting enough nutrients? Probably not. Were my Hashimoto’s symptoms acting up? Most definitely.) All I really knew about Paleo was that it included a lot of protein in the form of animal products and no grains. At first, this seemed weird to me. Upon further research and intrigue, based on my mysterious symptoms, I decided to learn more about the Primal Blueprint and Paleo. I bought the book The Primal Blueprint and read it within a week. I made so many connections to how I was feeling that I decided to try eating primally to see how it goes and see how I feel.
Simultaneously, I started questioning my consumption of sugar. Even though I have always considered myself a “clean eater,” I love sweet things: fruit, treats, dark chocolate – yum!. I learned about, read and participated in the 21-Day Sugar Detox by Diane Sanfilippo for the month of January. Around day 10, I felt pretty challenged, and really wanted sugar. I stuck through it though for the 21 days, and as a result had an amazing experience. I participated at a full Paleo level because I was already gluten and dairy free. After the 21 days, I continued to eat this way and I am happy to report that within three months of adopting a Paleo lifestyle, my Hashimoto’s symptoms were greatly eliminated. My energy level was increased, the joint pain was gone, which were two of the most significant symptoms I struggled with. After three months of pretty strict Paleo, I noticed my metabolism felt stalled once again, the joint pain returned, the fatigue snuck its way back in, along with some other not so fun symptoms. From about May through August, I sought help and struggled through, trying to focus on one day at a time, despite some seriously frustrating symptoms.
2014 turned out to be a year with a lot of ups and downs, but what I realized was I was on a healing journey. I made an amazing decision to listen to my body and figure out how to heal from within through a delicate balance of proper nutrition, sleep, exercise, and stress management. I am still on this journey that will probably never end because every time I turn a corner in a positive direction, there’s something new to learn about and grow from.
2015 – I am still figuring things out, but happy to report that I am 90% of the way toward feeling whole again. I will be certain to update this page with a solid conclusion of my findings, because that’s how I feel, like a scientific experiment.
No matter where I am on my journey, my passion for real food nutrition is what’s guiding the way. I eat real food while always being mindful of how I feel. I encourage everyone to be mindful of what they eat and where it came from. Food is part of so much of what we do in life, it should be enjoyed, make you feel good, not sick. Stay tuned for my progress in 2015, I have a feeling it’s going to be positive.