Thursday, January 17, 2013

Food Journey

Over the past few years I have gradually been making changes to the way my husband and I eat. I've been posting updates on Facebook but not really blogging about it and yesterday I had two requests to start a food blog. Instead of starting yet another blog, I decided to divide this blog into different sections to make it easier for people to find what they are looking for. Family can check out the progress we're making on the house while friends can see what is going on with our diet or look for the household cleaner recipes I use. I am going to continue to keep my business blog for Penguinuity separate, but I should add a link to it.

I think I'll keep this post to how we got to where we are today with our diet. For years, Tony and I thought we could eat anything we wanted. Between IT jobs (Tony is a Network Administrator), he drove a water truck for the oil fields and had to have regular physicals in order to keep his license. Between not doing well on some of the physicals and oil field work slowing down in 2009 after Obama took office and creating a huge dent in our budget, I had to start making changes. That year I learned to use meat as a seasoning in my cooking rather than as the main dish. I began to bulk up meals with rice and oats. Then in 2010, I started selling handmade bags at a local farmer's market. Each Saturday I would leave with a lot of produce the other vendors would share with me and I challenged myself to start cooking one meatless meal a week after hearing about Meatless Mondays.

As we became accustomed to vegetarian meals, I increased the frequency from one meal a week to two, then three, four and five. By the summer of 2011, we were eating meat once or twice a week. That is when I introduced vegan meals to our diet after watching Forks Over Knives. I did the same as the vegetarian meals and started with one a week and gradually increased it until we were eating four to five vegan meals a week with one vegetarian and one meat (usually salmon or tuna).

I have been cooking this way for over a year now. Some things have happened over this past year though. First, in January 2012 I was diagnosed with Endometriosis. I was not aware of it being an auto-immune disease until October when I was talking to a friend with the disease and began seeing a specialist. A book was recommended to me, Endometriosis: A Guide to Healing Through Nutrition. The book suggested giving up gluten; cow dairy; conventional (confined, grain-fed) meats such as pork, beef and chicken. I had already discovered that I was sensitive to dairy and had given up conventional meat, but the thought of giving up gluten devastated me. A couple weeks after my consultation with the Endo specialist, I had a physical done with a new primary care physician (PCP). When the blood work came back all the numbers were excellent except my Triglycerides, blood sugar and vitamin D levels. The PCP told me she believes I'm pre-diabetic and need to give up sugar and carbs. I wasn't aware until that appointment that Triglycerides are a measure of sugar (carbs) in the body and those numbers have been the worst for Tony over the years often being so high they can't get a reading.

This news threw a huge wrench into how I cooked. I was relying on homemade bread as one of my main staples. It was cheap and I believed healthy. I talked to Tony about it and we decided to give up gluten. I will not lie, I cried. It has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I immediately decided to make a list of what I could eat when I was away from home running errands (grilled chicken salads and omelets are the easiest to find). The first 10 days were a nightmare. I went through horrible withdrawal. I had headaches (not migraines), nausea, pain and I was starving all the time. On day 11 though, I felt amazing. I had all kinds of energy and my daily migraines and Fibromyalgia pain were significantly reduced. The daily pain had been a 7-9 on a pain scale of 10 before going gluten-free, then it dropped to 2-3 on the pain scale.

I am now at 3 months of doing gluten-free and overall I feel significantly better and on the occasion that gluten does sneak in, I am miserable. Forget pizza, the next day I feel like I have the mother of all sinus infections and the Fibromyalgia pain flares up. French fries and bread give me migraines. Before going gluten-free, I couldn't handle weather changes. As soon as the pressure would drop, I'd be in so much pain between the Fibromyalgia and migraines I could hardly move. Now I'm unable to predict the weather like I could before. I'm still not 100% pain free. I still have about one migraine a week, some nerve pain and Endo pain.

In the coming days and weeks I will discuss various diets I have researched, share recipes I have success with, and continue to give updates on how things are going. The dear friend who introduced me to the Endo specialist in addition to suffering from Endo is battling a rare form of thyroid cancer and diabetes, so Gena, I hope this blog helps!!! We can do this!!!

Update (3/4/2013): I've noticed I do have a minor reaction to raw milk dairy, it causes some congestion and a little pain although it's incredibly minor compared to conventional (bovine) dairy.

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