Food is medicine
No dairy. No gluten. No grains like amaranth, millet, oats, quinoa or rice. No eggs. No sugar, even natural sweeteners like honey. No coffee. No processed or packaged foods. No food additives. No GMOs. No refined oils like mayo, salad dressings, etc. No Chocolate. No BBQ sauce. No cayenne pepper. No Ketchup. No paprika. No red pepper flakes. No Relish. No soy sauce. No tamari. No teriyaki sauce. No corn. No legumes like beans, lentils or peas. No Nightshade veggies like eggplant, peppers, potatoes or tomatoes. No nuts. No seeds. No soy. No balsamic vinegar. No mushrooms.
“What have I gotten myself into?” Two months ago I read a list of foods I wouldn’t be able to eat for at least the next 30 days and I’m not going to lie, that list was daunting. At first glance it was similar to whole30 which I had done previously, but then I realized it was even more restrictive. There were a lot of things on there that I would have to give up that seemed pretty impossible to me, like coffee, but alas I am on the other side and better for it. Let’s back up a little to why I decided to give up all. the. food.
why make a drastic change?
The end of December was a pretty low point for me in my health journey. (apparently I am now someone who says things like health journey…) Those of you who have ongoing health issues can attest to the many ups and downs, but this was a serious down. A few of my autoimmune conditions had been rearing their ugly heads for going on 10 months and getting worse with no real relief in sight. When you are at the end of your rope you will try just about anything. (It reminds me of when I desperately wanted my son to sleep through the night as a newborn and I ordered all kinds of insane things off amazon that promised to deliver the results I was looking for.) Bottom line is I. was. Desperate.
I do want to add before I get any further that lots of friends and family were praying for me during this time and because of that I have experienced my fair share of miracles in my body that only can be explained with God’s healing. But I am also lucky that a super health conscious friend, who is familiar with autoimmune issues, recommended a book to me that has turned my health (and my kitchen) upside down the past two months. It’s called The Autoimmune Solution – Prevent and Reverse the Full Spectrum of Inflammatory Symptoms and Diseases by Dr. Amy Myers.
The Myers Way
I started reading this book with a healthy dose of skepticism on what additional information I could actually learn, I have read a lot about autoimmune issues. I was surprised though that I ended up learning quite a bit. She explained what is happening in your body, scientifically, when you have an autoimmune problem or an inflammation problem in such a simple way that it made me mad no doctor had explained that way previously. It was all super interesting stuff to me. One of the crazier things she says is that 90% of people suffer from some form of inflammation or autoimmune disorder. That’s a lot of people and just tells me the toxins we come in contact with and the foods we are eating are making us more and more sick.
Beyond having a better understand of what was happening in my body at a cellular level, the most valuable part was the 30 days of recipes shes gives you. Breakfast, lunch and dinner for 30 days. That felt doable to me, even more than whole30 because I didn’t have to search pinterest for hours to come up with meal plans. I just had to buy the ingredients listed for the recipes that week and that’s it.
I won’t sugar coat it, the first 10 days were pretty miz. Before I officially started I started weaning myself off gluten, sugar and coffee the week prior. My system was still not pleased at all the stuff I had taken away at once. I had headaches, strong cravings, anger and I’m sure a few other unpleasant characteristics. I was a real joy to live with, but I pressed on because I was so desperate to feel better.
One of the biggest challenges I didn’t anticipate was handling food for my children that I myself couldn’t eat. Making their school lunches and snacking on a handful of whatever was going into it was no longer a thing. Even just making them peanut butter and crackers took some time to mentally undo habits. Normally I would get a spoon, plop some peanut butter on a plate…..then what do you do? Like any normal person I would lick the spoon before putting it in the sink (to sit there for a long time because I hate dishes.) Suddenly you can’t do things like that anymore.
The biggest struggle I faced and still face is going out to eat. I don’t like to ask for ingredients of dishes or ask to leave something out. It feels like I’m inconveniencing people and it’s a hard thing for me to do. I have found if I know I’m going somewhere I can call ahead in off hours and ask about ingredients. That way I don’t have to do it at the table, and make dinner about my “food issues.” It’s still a learning process.
how it helped me, personally
Somewhere around day 12 to 14 I started having some pretty significant improvements. Suddenly I realized my stomach didn’t hurt after every single meal. I was no longer bloated at all. I could hear out of my left ear clearly for the first time in 2 years. (I have some chronic inflammation in my middle ear…it’s one of my weirder, more random symptoms.) Swelling in my knees went away. Blisters that would pop up on my hands after eating suddenly stopped. My mind felt clearer and more sharp. Other chronic issues lessened in severity. With all of these physical changes came a shift in my mood as well. I was feeling more uplifted, more hopeful.
30 days in to this plan I had an extensive blood work up done and I just recently had a chance to chat about it with my new doctor. She said a lot of my numbers were the best she had ever seen and attributes those to my toxin free and healthy eating changes I have made. Don’t get me wrong some numbers were still not great and we have a plan in place to help me in ways food can’t, but she was extremely pleased with how I have been caring for myself. I don’t say that to toot my own horn because I am nothing special. I just knew something was wrong with me and I had to do everything in my power to fix it. If you are struggling too, there is so much information readily available online, so many doctors that give out free information. I would encourage you to do your own research and find out what’s best for you to be healthier and feel better.
A few of the things you can actually eat
I no longer feel deprived or even focus on the “no list.” Turns out eating real food is pretty tasty most of the time. I posted all my meals the other day on instagram so I will share it here as well. Here’s a real day of what I will eat:
I don’t think the Myers Way is the holy grail by any means, but I do appreciate the information in her book and the recipes she provided to help jump start this part of my healing. One last thing I will say about her and the book is – she recommends a lot of products and supplements. I did not take any of them so I can’t vouch for that part of her book. I would recommend getting a functional medicine doctor to do a full blood work up on you to create a custom plan verses just going with something out of a book, but that’s just me. All in all I feel extremely happy with how I am feeling and just wanted to share in case some of you are like I was at the end of December. There is hope and there is a solution, you’ve got to keep being your own advocate and find the solution that works for you.