Saturday, February 21, 2015

the blessing and the curse of knowledge

They say that knowledge is power and NBC always tells me "the more you know."

And yes I agree, knowledge is good and powerful and important. I love learning new things of all types.

But there is a negative side to knowledge too. . Because when you identify the cause of a problem, when you finally understand something important, when the haze clears--it can be overwhelming and depressing.

Sometimes I get tired of hearing myself talk about food. So forgive me for talking about it now. But sometimes a girl just needs to process and get it out. In writing I often find truths I never saw before.

2015 has not started well for my digestive health.

Here's the elevator version of the past few years...

Summer of 2012, on the testimony of my chiropractor, I listened to the audio version of "Wheat Belly" and decided to do a gluten-free experiment. After two weeks of GF eating, I reintroduced gluten and found that my lifelong debilitating migraines were linked to gluten. And suddenly I HAD to be gluten free. Because even just a little gluten caused a massive migraine. (The irony of my post about this discovery is that now I can't even eat tortilla chips and most ice cream has too much sugar or crazy ingredients that make me feel yucky.)

My sister introduced me to the Balanced Bites podcast. Then I found "The Paleo View". Suddenly everything in my life was pointing me to Paleo. I was commuting hours each week and had plenty of time to listen and learn. I was intrigued by the science, the testimonies and saw much of myself reflected in the accounts. I gave up Diet Coke once and for all. Completed a 21-Day Sugar Detox and a Whole 30. I noticed that many grains were causing discomfort and bloating so I reduced my consumption but still seemed to tolerate them on occasion.

Last year (2014) I had to eat pretty strict Paleo to feel my best. I knew if I was eating too much sugar or too many grains or processed foods because I would get bloated and have more headaches and digestive distress. It was also a pretty stressful year of completing nursing school. I am pretty convinced that had I not discovered the gluten link to my migraines and the Paleo lifestyle I would have had a major health crisis during nursing school or not been able to finish it.

Early in January I seemed to get a stomach bug that it took me almost a month to fully shake. Or maybe it was something else, I don't know. All I know is I was having digestive issues, consuming way less than my body needed and really struggling. I lost at least 5lbs. I cut out every possible irritating food group (nightshades, eggs, dairy, nuts and seeds). Yeah, doesn't leave you with a lot of options.

The last few weeks I've been doing a little better, but that also means I started reintroducing foods into my diet--some that probably are safe for me, but other "gray area" foods and probably thanks to Valentine's Day too much candy and chocolate. I probably should have tried to continue eating a more limited diet. I'm pretty sure I have a "leaky gut" and need to continue to avoid those foods in order to heal.

And so tonight, this San Diego just wanted to enjoy a Mexican style meal. So I ate some tortilla chips and a small scoop of beans with my carne asada, cheese and guac.

Unfortunate mistake.

Within several minutes I had a stomach ache, a headache and feel bloated and awful.

The truth is, my body CANNOT tolerate grains. I had a small scoop of rice the other night with a similar reaction. This means I can't enjoy most "gluten free" foods many use to still enjoy a cookie, a piece of toast or pizza. All of those products are made with rice and corn.

This is a difficult truth for me to really own. I want to be able to eat a few tortilla chips or some rice on occasion. The reality is, it's not worth it. And like the title of this blog, I need to embrace it. To own it and live it. Even when it sucks. Even when I have to turn down 99% of the food offered at a party or event. Even when I can't eat 90% of the food my family eats.

I want to feel good. I need to be healthy. My family deserves a mom who isn't sick or laying in bed with a stomach ache, which is what I want to do right now. The fetal position sounds amazing for my hurting belly.

The knowledge of nutrition and digestive health is overwhelming to me right now. There are so many different approaches I could take to healing. I wish I could go to an integrative doctor and have a lot of fancy testing done to determine the root of some of my problems and the best approach to healing.

But I do know how to eat to feel good and not feel sick. And so that's where I need to start and where I need to stay. No indulgences that I will pay for. It's not about being on a diet or "cheating". It's about my body receiving nutrition it can digest and process and put to good use.

Once again I'm really just preaching to myself. Because I've not been following this gospel, even though I have already experienced the truth of it.

So yes, I do eat Paleo. I eat real food that is nutritious. Not to be snotty or stuck up. Not because I want to be trendy or because it's the latest fad diet. I eat this way because I have to. If I don't want to feel awful and sick. And I am thankful I discovered Paleo because it probably is saving the quality of my life.

Don't be fooled though, I'd give anything for some doughy pizza, soft chocolate chip cookies and to enjoy some of the Thin Mints my daughter is currently selling.

Those desires may change some day, but that day is not today.