Having control over my symptoms was something I thought I couldn’t fulfill unless I had the correct drugs, help from the necessary doctors, or if I just lived in a bubble under a rock in Antarctica. I would have never considered food and lifestyle changes to be an advocate for my health.
After being gluten free for 2 years and still struggling, I hit the end of my rope with “remedies” for my symptoms. The delicious gluten free goodies just weren’t cutting it anymore and the medical world (filled with their pills, potions, and notions) seemed to be working against me as well.
Firstly, I have to gain faith in myself that I could have control over my own health. Secondly, I had to knock down the mentality that doctors and pills can solve everything. Thirdly, I had to suck up the fact that I had to change my lifestyle, despite knowing I’d never be “normal” again, to receive proper healing. Since I was absolutely desperate, I welcomed the challenge. It turned out to not only be a physical endeavor, but quite an emotional one as well.
Once I realized that food and the lifestyle changes associated with all healing diets had such a direct impact on my well-being, I went a little bit crazy. In total, I’ve tried 6 different diets over the last year and a half: Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), Low FODMAP diet, Histamine Intolerance diet, Copper Toxicity and Nutritional Balancing diet, Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), and Ketogenic. I need healing diet rehab, but admitting it is the first step, right?
Overnight, I went from a highly processed, taco bell obsessed, vegetable hating, and sugar gobbling diet to a whole foods, clean, grain free diet. It was a shock to my body – to say the least – and I definitely found myself at a decent sized pity party.
My biggest concern was that I wasn’t going to be able to fit in anymore. I suddenly had to avoid eating out, I was eating nauseatingly strict, my budget called for more grocery money instead of “going hog wild” money, and my nights were filled with cooking and trying to get to bed early instead of social time.
My social life completely changed because it no longer could revolve around food, staying up all night, binge drinking, and other unfavorable things that prolonged healing in my body. I definitely had to adjust to this. I started planning my meals ahead of time, got used to discussing my diet to others (and accepting whatever reaction they had), and had to think of unique “hanging out” activities to do with people. Suddenly, I was having more meaningful experiences with the people I loved because we weren’t chatting over a burger and fries or drunkenly expressing our feelings, but doing things that brought out the best in us – together.
I decided to embrace the fact that being different is a good thing. It has helped me find things about myself I didn’t know existed (like cooking, whoa), it has deepened the relationships I have and will have, and it has opened my eyes to completely new things.
Sometimes this is a hard reality though, but friends come and go. The people who truly care about me completely understand why I am making all these changes and are willing to upgrade our relationships by not making food the main priority. I did have to reevaluate some friendships because of this. The friends I have today would walk through fire for me, though. That is more meaningful to me than sitting around while eating a hot pizza and drinking a beer.
After the initiation phase, I was on a roll and feeling better than I’d felt in years. Slowly, I started having bad days again. I knew something else was going on so I decided to switch it up again which seemed to be the future trend. When one wasn’t working, move on to the next.
My body was like a puzzle. For years, I was just trying to smash, bend, and pretend the pieces matched, but they just wouldn’t. Now, I’m slowly and meticulously fitting the pieces together, but I’ve had to look at every angle of the image first. Sometimes there’s an underlining issue that is setting off these symptoms. The problem is trying to figure that out. It is heavy metal toxicity, mold, chemicals, parasites, thyroid, food allergies, genetic mutations, and the list goes on. I thought I only had digestive problems, then I began to question where did these problems come from in the first place and what other havoc are they creating inside me?
It might seem manic to keep switching up my diets as frequently as I did. Did I really receive the benefits from each one even though I only followed them for a few months? Maybe. Could I have approached it in a different way? Definitely. Do I regret it? No.
I probably learned about every diet out there for healing/curing just about anything. I grew to understand others troubles and actually gained gratitude that my situation wasn’t as fierce as others. I also grew to have a deep respect for people doing these diets. It’s hard to have to change your lifestyle and way of eating, especially in a world where fast food is treasured and processed food is cheap. The will to start, stay, and maintain such lifestyles, takes a truly brave person.
So, what’s the harm in trying out a diet or lifestyle to see if it works? When we’re sick, there is no barrier to stop us from trying these things except ourselves. That was one of the hardest things for me to realize, but once I did, the world opened up plenty of doors for me. Now, the questions is which door is the right one? Maybe it’s a mixture of all of them. Who knows, but I’m willing to find out – diet mania and all, I will push forward until something sticks.
I plan on writing individually about my experience with each one so far. Look out for those!