So as I mentioned in my first post a while back, I started on the Paleo diet due to some tummy issues I had been having. As it turns out, not only was I having tummy issues, but I was getting sick on a more regular basis and didn’t even know it. Here’s a bit of background.
A Brief History
Since I was a young girl in Wisconsin I have always had a tender tummy. Most of the time I just chalked it up to something bad that I had eaten or to stress. There were plenty of nights where it would take me hours to fall asleep because of gastrointestinal pains. Over the course of some years different doctors prescribed various medications with very little in the way of results.
Eventually I moved to Oregon. The food culture in the Northwest U.S. is more in tune with natural remedies rather than medicinal approaches. I met with a couple different nutritionists and eventually settled on one that wanted me to try an elimination diet. This was definitely not much fun, but it was a very effective way of discovering which foods my system was incapable of handling.
Basically I eliminated the vast majority of foods from my diet. This included grains, dairy, nightshades, legumes, nuts, and soy. It also included anything that was considered remotely processed. Basically if it came in a box then I couldn’t touch it. Unfortunately as a recent college graduate this took some adjustment as most of the foods I ate came from a box.
Luckily this part of the country has no shortage of fresh foods. The Willamette Valley in Western Oregon is known as one of the largest farming areas in the Northwest. So fresh fruits (those I could eat) and vegetables are plentiful nearly year-round.
The point of the diet is to remove all of the foods that could be impacting your digestive system. You maintain this for about 30 days allowing your stomach to heal itself from years of damage. Then you slowly begin introducing one food at a time to see if you can handle it. This is a slow and laborious process. But because I was feeling so much better already, I was a willing and eager participant.
The first few foods that I added back into my diet had no effect on my stomach. This included some fruits and nightshades. I was also able to reintroduce nuts with no issues. This was a big deal personally because I love snacking on nuts. This also allowed me to introduce some local treats into my diet. My nutritionist told me about a Bend, Oregon company that makes a paleo chocolate chip cookie that I would actually be able to eat without disrupting my diet.
A Few Stumbling Blocks
Once I had added some foods back I eventually ran into some serious stumbling blocks. When re-introducing dairy to my diet I encountered pain that I hadn’t felt in months. I had somewhat anticipated it. But not having experienced it in a while, it was disturbing and somewhat depressing to feel it flare up again.
This was more of a mental setback than anything else. I came from dairy country and had always enjoyed milk and cheese. But the results of the test conclusively showed that I shouldn’t be eating ANY dairy unless I wanted to deal with the consequences. After a few days the issues cleared up. And since then I haven’t touched anything with dairy in it. That was well over 2 years ago.
Another ingredient I discovered I have to avoid is soy. Soy is a mass produced legume. It is used throughout Asian cuisines as it is cheap and plentiful. Unfortunately it is one of the worst in terms of pesticides that are used during growth. The results of adding this back to my diet were similar to that of adding dairy. I have to avoid it like the plague.
Grains are another food I’ve had to remove. This particular food group has been easier though as I’ve experienced a host of other health improvements since doing so. My body was in a permanent state of inflammation before doing so. It has literally made me feel 10 years younger.
The choice to not eat these foods has made a remarkable difference in my life. If you’re facing similar circumstances I would encourage you to make the changes necessary to develop a healthy gut and healthier life.