If you missed Part Four check that out first.
So when we last left off my Naturopath had dropped two bombs on me: Insulin Resistance and Adrenal Fatigue. The Insulin Resistance was brought on by a long term dependence on high carbohydrate foods, and the Adrenal Fatigue may have been brought on by another long term problem: undiagnosed food allergies or sensitivities. He let me know that when you continually put food in your system that causes an inflammatory allergic response it ends up causing “stress” on the body. This sounded sensible enough, but I didn’t really feel at that moment like I was allergic to any particular foods.
I was not a person who ate things that made me feel sick, which is what I imagined food allergies to be given all the horror stories you hear. He was quick to remind me though that sensitivities to food don’t always appear in the form of immediately tangible or traumatic reactions. Sometimes food sensitivities can cause inflammation in various parts of your body that then compound other problems over time. And many food allergies go undiagnosed in our “everything in moderation” society. He suggested I try out an Allergy Diet (which I detailed here if you are interested) to see if my body had any response.
It seemed pretty strict at first, and I did struggle (especially with the sugar withdrawals) but I can sum up my experience with that allergy diet in two words: Life Changing. Here is where I start to get a little nervous. Oddly enough, after telling you about my insecurities growing up and how I have struggled with weight, it is actually this part of my story that I’m finding the hardest to write: The Food Part. I feel very Mimi Smartypants-esque about people talking about what they eat : “Just eat it. Be quiet.” Right? There is really no topic that comes across more judgy or condescending than talking about what you do and don’t eat. But I have been hinting about what revolutionized my years of struggle, and the truth is – it was actually the food I was eating all along. So that’s why I’m going to talk about food for a minute, on the off chance it will help you. But let me be clear when I say — If what you are eating is working for you, Hooray! No judgment here.
I had spent years eating a low fat, high fiber diet full of “healthy whole grains” that leaned towards vegetarian. I’m not saying that diet is wrong, but it was not right for me. All I had to show for it was a lot of frustration, guilty feelings for not being good at it (since I had extra weight), some low grade problems that I chalked up to “getting older” and being overweight, and then there was that whole part about carrying around a lot of extra pounds. But after a few weeks of eliminating sugar, grains, dairy and gluten and incorporating more lean/grass-fed meats for protein and lots of seasonal vegetables I began to realize the following:
Those afternoon slumps I always felt around 2 pm? Gone
Those occasional breakouts? Gone
That feeling of wishing I could nap after a meal? Gone Ups and Downs with blood sugar? Gone
Multiple Low grade headaches? Gone
Persistent Mystery Cough? Gone
Allergies that gave me nosebleeds? Gone
In fact, I not only haven’t had a migraine since I started this little experiment which was not the norm for me, but I have all but kicked my Advil dependency. I don’t even carry it with me anymore. But the real kicker was that with no feeling of deprivation (once I got over those sugar withdrawals), guilt, obsessiveness, or really any extra effort my blood pressure, triglycerides and glucose improved almost instantly and I dropped 30 lbs like a bad habit.
Obviously I was astounded by the results.
But I am a bit of a skeptic, and I wasn’t sure that these few tweaks could really have make such a difference, so I continued doing a little more research. I learned about how insulin works in the body and particularly how it relates to fat storage. I began to really wrap my brain around how sneaky sugar can be and how it can mysteriously appear where you least expect it (to your body’s dismay!) I started understanding what happens to the body when you eat grains (particularly wheat) and as I researched I continued on the path of this Allergy Diet, and continued to feel the proof. After even just a month of feeling A TON better and having my body obviously working more efficiently (seriously, you all, the weight was just falling off) I was totally convinced. I couldn’t imagine going back to my old ways.
And it has.
In Part Six I will tell you a bit more specifically about my kitchen’s transition to a more Paleo Diet and give you some good resources if you are interested. I’ll also address the: OMG, HOW DO YOU LIVE WITHOUT BREAD? Factor. I’m also going to talk a bit about fitness since this also changed quite a bit when I adopted this new diet.