We left off in part two with me pregnant and just giving up gluten because of chronic gut issues, digestive pain, depression, anxiety and angst. I was managing my symptoms using natural herbal tea and supplements (you can find that all in part 2) but I knew there was still something very wrong with me.
A week after giving up gluten on Christmas day my depression was gone. GONE. It was like a light turned on in my brain. I was able to love and tolerate my family again. I wanted to see my friends, I could function and be a useful human. I knew I had reclaimed my life.
Of course this transition was hard. I loved bread, and pasta…. and any other grain filled carby glutenous food. The transition was difficult and I stumbled many times in the beginning. I gave up gluten for a month then, on New Years decided to have a bite. One bite couldn’t hurt right? Oh how very wrong I was. I had horrible stabbing gut pain. It was miserable. I was down and out for 2 days physically expelling gluten any way my body could. It was disgusting. I was in a mental fog again a week after that. After a few more gluten exposures both intended and accidental at restaurants I noticed gluten was definitely a real issue. The good thing about poisoning your self repeatedly on your bad foods is that it helps drive the point home. DON’T EAT THIS OR YOU WILL PAY. Boy did I pay.
If you want to learn more about a few reasons gluten is not only bad for your gut health, but your mental health, adrenal health, and can cause some serious weight issues check out this post.
So, if you have made this gluten free transition you will know what I am talking about, if you are thinking about this transition for your self you will probably live through this at some point in time.
Gluten adds a binder and elasticity to baked goods. It is what gives bread that nice, soft, fluffy texture. Replacing baking with regular wheat, barley or rye flour with gluten free grains is difficult, to put it nicely. It almost feels like you are a chemist trying to replicate something that happens naturally in a lab. I could never find a good, satisfying gluten free bread. Cookies, cupcakes, and other baked goods usually worked out ok but I was not a fan of the bread. My incompetence at gluten free baking and my lack of weight loss led me to keep researching. Finally I just gave up. It wasn’t worth the stress and heartache for inferior food that still made me feel “meh”.
I follow a lot of “real food” blogs and was seeing a trend in their posts. If you have gluten intolerance or ceoliac disease you probably have leaky gut. Leaky gut is ” a name used to describe intestinal or bowel hyperpermeability. Tight junctions (TJs) represent the major barrier within the pathway between intestinal epithelial cells that line the digestion tract. Disruption of TJs leads to intestinal hyperpermeability (the so-called “leaky gut”) which has been proposed by some researchers to involve a relationship with acute and chronic diseases such as systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, allergies, asthma, and autism.” Source
Ok so a lot of these symptoms sound right on for me. I have chronic inflammatory disease, insulin resistance, allergies, asthma, difficulty focusing, depression, fatigue, gut pain, weight gain without the ability to lose it. Those are all symptoms of leaky gut.
So doing some more research I found a few ways of eating that can help avoid the foods that make your gut leaky like Paleo or “the ancestral diet”, and two diets that help heal and seal your gut to help you heal your leaky gut membranes to help put your body under control like the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) and Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD).
So, remember at this point I am still pregnant with my son. I decided to just stick with gluten free eating until after he was born and people were done bringing us food. Saying “Don’t bring gluten” is hard enough for the nice people who volunteered to bring my family food for two weeks. I didn’t want to throw another wrench in things.
I had my baby (isn’t he cute), ate my nice, free, homemade food from my friends, then decided to make a change.
Six weeks postpartum I decided that I needed to take control to heal and seal my gut so I decided to start doing the GAPS diet. This is a healing protocol specifically designed to heal damaged gut lining by doing a specific and methodological elimination and reintroduction of most foods. By doing this elimination and re-introduction while eating specific healing foods like bone broth, you are helping your gut lining to heal and finding what foods you may be reacting to. Although I think GAPS is a good diet, I don’t think it is a good diet to start when you are trying to establish a milk supply. After a few weeks of trying as hard as I could do eat as many calories and as much fat as I could, I still had a big dip in my milk supply so I decided to try paleo.
“Paleo” has some bad press out there from people who chose to be uneducated about the whole way of eating. It isn’t “eating like a caveman”. I don’t go out, kill a mammoth and eat its still beating heart. What “paleo” is in my book is eating whole, real, organic, unadulterated foods like humans were intended to eat while avoiding common gut irritating foods.
Now, I am not going into the whole “grains are whole foods and natural so they are good for you” thing right now. What I AM going to say is if you DO have health issues, grains, legumes, and even dairy for some people can make these issues much much worse.
If I don’t eat grains what DO I eat?
- Meat, preferably raised eating the natural diet of said animal or “pasture raised” but at least antibiotic and hormone free. This includes sea food but I am having issues finding clean seafood that I am not terrified of eating, but that is a whole different issue.
- Vegetables. I eat more veggies than most vegetarians. I have at least one serving of vegetables at every single meal. I make it a point to try to “eat the rainbow” and get as many colors into my diet as possible. This helps resolve the whole “fiber issue”.
- Fruit. I eat fruit in limited quantities because I have a fructose malabsorbtion issue but I love fruit to add sweetness to things. Banana and dates are used all the time in my baking to add a great consistency and natural sweetness. My kids love fruit and eat it for snacks and at breakfast all the time!
- Natural sweeteners. I am not as strict as some with my family about natural sweeteners. We use real whole sweeteners that are minimally processed. This includes honey, grade B maple syrup, raw sugar, coconut sugar, and molasses. Again *I* don’t eat any extra sugar at the moment but these are the sugars my husband and kids get when I make special treats for them.
- Eggs. I was eating eggs. Egg yolks have wonderful nutrients for women of child bearing age. They are a staple to most paleo diets and are used a lot in the baking to get the “rise” and correct texture of grain free baked goods. I’ll fill you in on the details in the next week or two but I am off eggs currently because of gut health issues too.
- Nuts and coconut. Nuts are highly nutritious and in small doses are a great addition to a whole food diet. Coconut is a health food powerhouse and adds great flavor and sweetness to foods without a lot of extra sugar. Coconut oil has countless benefits both internally and externally. I make a paleo granola for my hubby and kids with nuts, coconut, and dried fruit that is always a hit!
By switching to paleo my gut issues resolved by about 80% I lost a lot of inflammation and puffyness. If you go back and look at pictures of me in parts 1 and 2 and compare them to the picture at the top of this post you can see a lot of bloating is gone. I have been paleo for almost a whole year and am down to 270 where I am stuck.
Now, I am not worried about my weight. The fact that it is sticking is telling me there is still something in my life that is causing me issues and my gut is not healing as much as I would like. It also indicates my thyroid and adrenals are not working as well as they should be. Next week I will have a post about the modifications I have been making this last few weeks to get everything on the up and up.
So that is my health update so far and my story to this point in May 2013. This blog is all about sharing the transition I am making to help my self and my family live a healthier life. It is all a learning journey. I by no means am perfect but I am able to educate my self and make decisions to help us live a more natural, healthy and vibrant life. Sometimes I fail, sometimes I get on peoples nerves, sometimes I am too harsh with my self or others BUT I am here, learning and sharing my journey. I hope you will stick around and do the same with me!
For now I feel better than I ever have in my life. I have so much energy, focus, and drive. I have the ability to pick up both of my children. I am able to chase after them in the yard, push them in the swing, carry them all day long and not break (most of the time). I am not depressed any more. I do not have horrible anxiety and can leave the house. So what if I still weigh 270? The weight will come off when my body is healthy and it will stay off once my body is healthy as long as I listen to the cues and do what I need to do to heal.
What changes have helped you most along your healing journey? Please share your stories below!
This post shared on The Gathering Spot
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