*Please note: this post has info on my belly issues, digestive problems and thoughts on the whole thing. Just so you know.
One of my goals for 2013 was to get healthy. This didn’t just mean lose weight or shoot for supermodel thindom. Losing weight was part of it, but so was getting stronger, pushing my limits and figuring out what’s wrong with my stomach. These all go hand in hand. For me, the first step in figuring this out was to eliminate certain foods from my diet to see if it would make a difference in how I feel.
Starting January 2, I gave up all dairy products, all wheat products (pretty much all grains except for a little rice, a little oatmeal and some tortilla chips) and almost all sugar. Cold turkey. As of today, that’s 43 days – six weeks + 1 day.
I made it through the first four weeks without cheating. Then on our trip to Grand Lake I may or may not have eaten a piece of cornbread and a mini cinnamon roll. But otherwise, no cheating.
The first two weeks were miserable. I had horrible headaches, my stomach burned incessantly and I had to run back and forth to the restroom all day long. I was so very miserable. I scheduled an appointment with my gastroenterologist in a moment of weakness and, as I had feared, it was a pointless endeavor. She is very nice, but not supportive and/or willing to look at alternative options. The outcome of that appointment left me with the following choices:
1.) Take Pepto + Immodium everyday for the rest of my life.
2.) Accept an IBS diagnosis. (Which I may do — just want to explore my options)
3.) Take a *VERY* low dose anti-depressant in hopes that it calms my intestines and numbs things out. This has something to do with the brain to digestive connection… but I don’t think “numbing it” is the solution.
4.) Go on Weight Watchers rather than adjust my diet on my own.
The doctor assured me that it wasn’t anything I was eating, that IBS (which is her formal diagnosis) is a mystery to us all and that it is fruitless to try and figure out what is causing it. I wanted shake my fists and yell and tell her all the reasons I thought she was wrong. But, I didn’t. I nodded along, declined to make another appointment and left.
To help figuring this whole thing out and make the best decisions for ME, I’ve done a lot of reading on food and more specifically the American diet. Books like “Eat To Live”, “Wheat Belly” and “In Defense of Food” have all graced my nightstand, I’ve also been scouring the internet for ideas, thoughts and research on the matter. And, from what I can tell both in the research, writings and my experience is that there are answers in the food we put into our bodies. I’m not an expert, but I can tell you that there is truly something there.
I decided to cut back on the amount of meat I was eating, significantly increase the amount of plants in my diet (TONS OF VEGETABLES and some fruits), eliminate dairy and greatly reduce the grains + sugars. I decided to give it a whole-hearted try.
The verdict? I feel good. I feel really good.
I would even venture to say that I feel the best I have in years. I haven’t had one bout of “running to the bathroom” in several weeks. I’m not breaking out in hives. I haven’t had a cold. I haven’t had the tremendous stomach pain and indigestion that follows. I feel like me, not sick me, normal me.
But, I miss some of my favorite foods. Oh, how I miss them. Luckily I’ve been creative enough to master the ever-growing number of salad recipes in my repertoire and never truly feel deprived. While my goal at the start of this whole thing was just to feel better, I didn’t intend to quit eating pizza (or cupcakes or wine or noodles) forever. My long-term goal is to eat the way I have been these past six weeks at least 80% of the time and enjoy some of my favorite foods 20% of the time. This will ebb and flow (obviously) and I’ll have to adjust, refocus and be ready to change as I go along.
I feel like I’ve taken a BIG first step in figuring this whole thing out. For the first time in 26 years I feel like I might be on the right track with my diet, my stomach, with all of it. We’ll see, but its good to have a direction and its a good start to finding the answers.