As stated in my last post, I'll be writing a series on the lifestyle changes and protocols I have been using during my journey of healing chronic disease and changing my health.
So lets start with one of the first changes I had to make: FOOD. Glorious food! First of all, its not like I was eating fast food and Twinkies all the time. I mean, I grew up with a parent of the hippie generation (yes, folks, there was a time I lived in a tipi, but that is for another blog entirely!) and the health food store was our equivalent of Safeway. My mom grew all our own veggies and I was convinced carob _was_ chocolate until grade school Halloween when my friends showed me that Hershey's Special Dark is what chocolate was all about. (For the record, I now know what chocolate is all about! Hershey's is not it.)
Back when I was getting sick, I doubled up my efforts for "healthy eating". I was focusing on healthy whole grains, trying to be vegetarian, watching my fat intake and making sure that while on the road, I was choosing Luna Bars and almonds for healthy snacks, etc. Sounded good to me. But then Chris recommended that I make some modifications to my diet to help my body heal. His recommendations were about 180 degrees from what I was doing at the time, but his guidelines for me were:
- start eating red meat from good sources, grass-fed
- include more salmon and fatty fishes in my diet
- eat lots of veggies from organic farms where I could afford
- ditch the grains - all of them, even my morning oatmeal
- ditch seed oils and start adding in saturated fats: butter, coconut oil, lard
- no legumes
- no dairy, except butter
- no sugar
- no caffeine or alcohol
- no nightshades: tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, white potato
WAIT, WHAT?!? Before my hyperventilation hadn't progressed too far, he did promise me this was not forever, but if I could do this strict of a diet for at least 30 days that I would see improvement. After 30 day's we'd work together to start adding certain foods back in to see how I did.
I wont lie folks, this was _quite_ a challenge. But, I knew I wanted better health. I knew I didn't want to end up with a 4 layer deep pill tray morning and night and I knew I could rise to the challenge. The red meat thing was probably the hardest. I had not eaten red meat in about 10 years - so Chris armed we with some supplements to help my digestion handle the new proteins. I was also a coffee snob, and the headaches from the first week of no coffee were reminiscent of resting my head against a jack hammer.
I have to admit, I was skeptical at first, but then after 2-3 weeks, it got easier and I started to notice the changes.
- Sustained energy throughout the day. The "normal" hypoglycemic attacks I would get, the ones where I felt like I was going to DIE if I didn't eat something, like RIGHT NOW... those were GONE. *poof* I could last between normal mealtimes without being starving.
- Lost some weight! Always a bonus, but I wasn't even trying. So this was a great way to find some positive in a seemingly difficult challenge.
- Waking up refreshed. For the first time in, wow, I can't even remember how long, I was able to wake up refreshed rather than stumble my way to the press pot before making human contact.
- I could breathe better. Literally. Now most people wont notice this, but as a pilot, I was noticing that I would get hypoxic at much lower altitudes than normal, like 5000 feet, whereas most people don't start to feel it until well above 8,000'. When Chris got the test results back it was revealed that I was severly anemic, which means my blood had less oxygen-carrying capacity than normal. Adding red meat to my diet, rather than just taking iron pills allowed my body to start efficiently delivering oxygen to my cells and my low-altitude hypoxia went away.
Next post, I'll talk about why this worked so well for me. I wont bore you with all the science (though I'll provide some references to those so willing) but I will explain why this protocol brought about such instant relief from my chronic issues.