So if you stuck through my long post about "when I was sick" as I like to refer to it, then you are likely interested in hearing how I moved on from all of that nastiness.
Well, here it goes!
I had finally found someone who could help me, someone who had answers and the ability to help me take back my health.
Upon reviewing the paperwork detailing my history and past treatments, listening with respect and interest about the symptoms I was experiencing, and asking some surprising questions such as "were you a colicky baby?" my naturopath quickly told me she thought I had food allergies or sensitivities. She also told me these were likely paired with high levels of inflammation, gut and intestine damage, and nutritional deficiencies.
Sure enough, blood tests would show I was both iron and vitamin D deficient and upon going on an elimination diet, which removes the most common allergens, I immediately started to feel better. While it would take many months for all of my symptoms to go away, in less than a day of modifying my diet I was feeling better. I was less foggy, my headache had finally ceased for the first time in over a month, and while I still felt the dizziness it was much less pronounced.
Over the next 3 months my body began to heal.
I was on an anti-inflammatory and gut repairing supplement, vitamin supplements, and most importantly a new and improved diet.
An important hallmark of this elimination diet was slowly adding back in the foods I had removed and watching for reactions. Being a college student I of course first added coffee and dark chocolate and was enthused when my health continued to improve even with the addition of these wonderful food groups.
Things continued along the same path of improved health until Christmas when I discovered my first food sensitivity. It was one half of a Brussels sprout which had been cooked in chicken broth containing corn starch that did me in. And man did it do me in.
Within 30-45 minutes of eating that little half a Brussels sprout my ears were bright red and pounding, my heart was racing and hands shaking, I was nauseous and dizzy, and I had a migraine. We soon assessed the meal and sure enough the only thing I had not been regularly encountering was that small amount of corn starch in the broth on that one half of a Brussels sprout. And so, I discovered my very intense, long lasting negative reaction to any corn containing product and came to learn of my corn sensitivity/intolerance/allergy (take your pick!).
Since then I have discovered the far, far reach this sensitivity has and how much of our food (well not my food!) contains corn. For example, anything labeled dextrin, dextrose, maltodextrin, food starch, glucose, "malt" anything, xantham gum, honey, and many many more ingredients potentially, and likely, contains corn (for an extended list look here). This past weekend I rediscovered the many names for corn in processed food when my roommate's family graciously invited me over to dinner and had the unfortunate task of preparing a dinner I could partake in. I was quite heartbroken to see "dextrose" on an ingredient list, thus forcing me to refuse a dish that had been specially prepared for me. Nonetheless, it is quite an endeavor to uncover all the hidden corn in so many of our ingredients, a task that I still find myself having trouble with from time to time.
I also learned that any animal product or by-product coming from an animal that was fed corn was also off limits and that I didn't only have to read the ingredients of foods. I discovered the hard way, after taking one too many medications (nyquil anyone?) and feeling only worse than I had before, that anything going into or coming into contact with my body must be screened for potential corn products.
After brief, and painful, love affairs with each dairy and gluten I would also discover my lactose and gluten intolerances.
Despite hiccups along the way when I found myself unexpectedly poisoned by a food I am sensitive to, my health continued to improve. Eventually all of my previous symptoms disappeared (except during those hiccups) and symptoms I had never known were unhealthy or signs of illness disappeared as well. I found myself with more energy, getting deeper and more restful sleep, returning to my pre-illness weight, no longer experiencing stomach pains or discomfort, no longer experiencing digestive issues, having improvements in memory and mood, and just experiencing an overall sense of well-being. While there were still many hurdles to overcome, I was finally recovering and on a path towards health.
Well, there is a very brief summary of my recovery. There were many ups and downs throughout the process and "process" is definitely the way to describe it.
It took me a huge amount of time and energy to become in tune with my body the way I am today and to learn the way I should eat to feel my best.
However, through this process I have also discovered a passion for finding health in all aspects of my life and hope to help others do the same.
But, more on that next time!
Happy Thursday! Thanks for sticking with me through this series, tune in Saturday for the final installment!