Thursday, December 6, 2012

my journey to health.


There has been some changes around here.  You may have noticed that most of my recipes lately have not only been gluten free, but vegan as well.  When I first started this blog earlier this year, I was still enjoying the deliciousness of cheese and could handle eating eggs in my baked goods.  Well, this past month has brought a lot of changes in my diet.  I thought I would take a moment and share with my readers...my journey to health.

For as long as I can remember, I have had tummy troubles.  I always thought I was "lactose intolerant."  Anyone else out there thought that was your issue, but later found out it was so much more than that?  Yeah, I was totally in denial.  No doctor was trying to help me figure out my health problems.  I started to feel like it was all in my head.  Those horrendous gas pains sure didn't feel like they were a figment of my imagination!

Now fast-forward to 4 years ago.  I was scheduled for an MRI, tons of blood work, and scared as to what I would find out was wrong with me.  Not only was I having my life-long digestive issues, I was having problems with nervous system (tingling).  Everything checked out clear though.  Every test always came back negative.  I did start going to a chiropractor and that helped some, but my joint pain, inflammation, and eczema was not going away (notice my list of symptoms is never-ending).  I was feeling extremely defeated.

So after too long of not getting the relief I so desperately longed for...I knew I needed to meet with a naturopathic doctor.  I met with Dr. Weisswasser for the first time two years ago.  Love her!  She started my treatment by looking at the whole picture and figuring out what I was allergic too.  I did an extensive food panel and all the big ones came back EXTREMELY reactive for me...gluten, dairy, eggs, peanuts and almonds.  Awesome.  What in the world was I going to eat?  I found out all this information about a month after my husband found he has celiac disease.  So for our family, the gluten thing was already something we had started to process.  But no dairy or eggs?  As a baker, those were staples in my refrigerator.  How on earth was I going to ever bake anything again...that tasted good?

For 3 months, my doctor had me cut out all of the foods that I was showing an allergy to.  Those were 3 very long months.  I had never been on a diet like this.  I was used to eating gluten, dairy, and eggs pretty much everyday.  Why wouldn't I?  No one actually WANTS to live a life without butter.  I stuck with the diet though.  I did try to do some baking.  Not may things came out very tasty, but I was trying.  I was not ready to put away my Kitchenaid and never bake again.

The diet came to an end and I still wasn't feeling amazing.  The gut stuff was better, but everything else was still an annoyance.  I was told I could test out some of the things I was avoiding to see how I did.  Well, I brought back eggs first.  I didn't notice a difference so I brought them back in fully.  My baking got much better too!  I was starting to get the hang of baking gluten free (slowly).  The only dairy that didn't really bother me much...butter.  So for over a year, the only dairy I ate was butter.  Yes, everything is better with butter.  It makes my buttercream frosting simply divine!  I stayed away from cheese and milk.  I think I missed yogurt the most.  Frozen yogurt is one of my favorite desserts.  Oh, how I longed for more dairy in my life!

I met with my doctor again and since a lot of my symptoms, other than stomach stuff, she wanted to rule out parasites and candida.  I was on a super strict diet.  It was hard, more like CRAZY hard!!  I thought my elimination diet was a challenge before.  Candida diet is serious stuff.  No sugar in any way, shape or form.  After I was done with that grueling time in my life...it was obvious to my doctor that nothing was getting better.  Bummer.  I was so hoping to get some relief.  Any relief! 

Last year...I did something I knew I shouldn't have.  I brought dairy back into my diet.  I know!  What was I thinking?  I told my husband, "if I start eating dairy again, there is no stopping me."  I called it.  Once I started, it was too hard to stop.  It became something I would eat or bake with almost everyday.  I still wasn't using regular milk, mostly organic Soy and coconut.  My health at this point was still not much better and I didn't know what to do.  I had started going to a new chiropractor (which is awesome!) and that has been helpful with some of my pain.  Oh, did I mention that I'm also being treated for hormonal imbalance?  That's fun!  I thought that didn't happen until you were much older...much, much older.  My body is seriously so out of whack in more ways than I can count.  Welcome to my world of feeling like you are literally falling apart.

For months, I kept getting this nudge to make an appointment with my naturopathic doctor to get retested for food allergies.  I needed to see on paper what was still going on with me.  My hormone levels were still being treated, but my digestive system was suffering big time.  The test results came in recently and to my surprise...I'm still reactive to all the same things.  Except this time, there's more!  Gluten did go down a bit, but that's because the test results weren't accurate since I've been strictly avoiding it for over 2 years.  All dairy, eggs, peanuts, and almonds are all through the roof.  Rice has gone up moderately, as well as soy and beef (who can be allergic to beef?).  I don't have to cut out the soy and beef, just limit to once a week.  The rice is most likely due to the fact that I eat it much more than I used to, being gluten free.  I just looked at the test and wanted to cry. 

I had a talk with my doctor to go over the results and the first thing she said..."leaky gut."  I knew it.  There was no other explanation for my body to have such strong reactions to so many things, on top of all these new allergies popping up.  Basically for the next 3 months, I'm on a super strict diet, along with taking supplements and probiotics to help heal my gut.  I'm also cutting out all GMO's, especially corn and soy.  That was another thing I was going to bring up with her and she did before I had a chance.  She said that the GMO's could be a huge reason for my intestinal issues, along with everything else.  This past year, I've really tried to educate myself on GMO's and what they are doing to our bodies.  The more I find out...the more frustrated I become.  Corn and soy are in everything!  And if it's not labeled organic, you can pretty much guarantee it's GMO.  Makes me so mad!  I'm thankful for the brands that have the "non-gmo project" label right on them.  You can find the list of the non-gmo items on this website.  It's very helpful!

So this is my life now.  Reading labels even more extensively than I was before.  Buying organic as much as possible, or should I say as much as our budget allows.  It can be so expensive and so overwhelming eating not only healthy, but such a restricted diet.  My doctor just tells me to do the best that I can, for myself and for my family.  I make all of our meals from scratch at home, which is the way it's always been.  All of these diet changes...it's worth it.  Sometimes I just want to give up.  But as a wife and mother, my health has to be priority.  I wanted to share my journey, as I know some of you will be able to relate or have had similar food issues.  It's hard, I know.  I'm praying that through this diet for the next 3 months, I will experience the start of healing.  I will be sure to give you an update and let you know how I'm doing.  It's been a long journey, but I'm hopeful that I will feel healthy and alive once again!

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14 comments:

  1. Oh my friend...first of all, the picture above is gorgeous. Second, I can't imagine whats it like to take out all your favorite foods. I would die if a doctor told me I was allergic to beef. This girl loves her meat. This past week another member of my family has realized that they get an upset tummy when eating bread products. I'm not quite sure how my holiday baking is gonna go if my people are allergic to the flour. Which I have not baked from scratch in a while.
    I hope you start feeling better soon. And I hope you will share some of your dinner recipes on your blog too.

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  2. I can relate to so much of your story Sarah. In fact, when I sent this link to my husband he said he could have sworn I wrote it! Thank you for sharing your journey. I'm sure it's an encouragement to many others. I know it is to me - just hearing of others going through some of the same things. It is a temptation to let others' reactions lead you to think it must be in your head - but the symptoms are undeniable. If we all share our experience with others maybe we don't all have to continually "re-invent" the wheel" on the trip. Praying for you - I know it can be a long and challenging road.

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    1. Thank you, Lisa! It really is encouraging to know that there are others out there who know what you are going through. Gives you hope and can be a great encouragement! It's been quite the journey (which I'm sure you know), filled with much prayer. Holding on to the truth that God is always with me, while I'm facing this battle with my health. Keeps me going!

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  3. Oh, Sarah. That sounds so hard. If anyone can do this, you can. You jumped right into eating gluten-free and turned the challenge into this wonderful website that is such a help for so many of us! You'll be able to turn this challenge into something good, too. I know it!

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  4. You are not alone! I was reading and before you go the the point, I was thinking..."this girl has some major leaky gut" It is so frustrating to not feel supported by medical professionals and to instinctively know something just isn't right. Good for you for taking your health into your own hands! I look fwd to following you!

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  5. Hi Sarah,
    First of all, I just wanted to tell you that I love your website! I used your recipes often and directs others wanting to try a GF diet to your page. Secondly, I can totally empathize with how hard your diet is because I'm on the same diet (for the most part) -- mine's to control endometriosis and IBS but that means no dairy, no gluten, no red meat, no caffeine, and nothing that's processed. I went from a regular diet to this new, completely restrictive diet all in the same day and it sure has been overwhelming! I've learned that if I don't eat, I don't cook. :) I'm sure you know the feeling. It's been worth it though -- my gut feels much happier these days. I was able to get off my stomach medicine completely within two weeks of being on the diet.
    Thanks again for your amazing recipes, keep up the good work! I for one will not be saddened to see more GF, vegan recipes. :)
    Emily A.

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    1. Emily, thank you so much! My hope with this blog is to help others that have diet restrictions, especially with gluten. It can be so overwhelming...so we need others to encourage us! Thank you for sharing your story with me. I'm so glad you've been enjoying the recipes. Let me know if there is any recipe you would like me to share!

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  6. Wow! Thanks for sharing your story...your journey. I've been on a very similar journey over the past three years. Not only do I have food issues (along with other things) but I also have a child with a laundry list of issues as well. I remember when I had to have a white board on my kitchen wall with our rotation schedule written out - approved foods per day and we would just rotate through it every four days - and that was after completely eliminating the severe allergenic foods. It is definately challenging and draining at times. Hang in there and keep pressing forward in your journey. I think there are times when we get tired of not feeling well, tired of having to pay so much attention to all the little details - I don't like food; I don't like cooking, and yet it's what my life has become :) Thanks for all you do and for sharing your story....keep on keeping on, sister!

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    1. Yes, it can be so challenging! I love this blog for so many reasons, but one of them is that I can meet/help others that are going through the same allergy issues. We need the support and encouragement when it just feels so overwhelming. Thank you for sharing your story with me!

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  7. I really feel for you. I'm new GF this year and its been HARD. My fear is that i will ultimately have to give up more foods like it seems you've had to do. I wish you so much luck with this. I hope you can find the answers to your problemss and feel better soon.

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  8. I, for one, LOVE that you have delicious gf, vegan recipes! In addition to needing to be gluten and dairy free, my daughter is allergic to eggs. I have had such a time figuring out how to bake gf without eggs and your blog has been a BIG help! Not only does it make me so happy to give my children yummy treats that won't harm them, I also have baked your recipes and taken them to parties, where my gf/vegan cake was overwhelmingly prefered over the "regular" bakery cake. I know the your journey has been hard, my own has been as well (I even have a hard time with chocolate - unfair!!)but much more to see my little girl going through this practically since birth, however I hope you can take some comfort in knowing how much you've helped many others out there. Thank you!!!!

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  9. Hi Sarah! First of all, thank you so much for your blog. It is my go-to for all of my gluten-free baking. I have your vegan, gluten-free banana bread sitting on my counter as we speak! Yummy! I relate so much to your "Journey to Health" post. I suffer from severe endometriosis and after having a full hysterectomy a few months ago, my doctor told me to avoid dairy, gluten, soy, refined sugar, red meat, and no more Diet Coke! Augh! As you know, it is quite a journey to start such a restrictive diet. But, it is so worth it. Thank you for doing all of the hard work for us and coming up with these delicious recipes. I love all of your vegan options too. You truly have a gift and you are giving me great comfort in that I can still bake and eat delicious food without feeling deprived. Thank you Sarah! Keep up the great work. Sincerely, Sara

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  10. I accidently stumbled upon this post and I'm so thankful I did. I've been struggling lately with celiac and other food issues. My docs cant seem to find out why I'm still sick. I think I to have leaky gut. I'm going to see a new GI in December and I'm hoping for some answers. I really love your blog and recipes and you have helped me make my whole family so happy. I bake almost everyday because of you :) Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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    1. I'm so glad you found my blog! It brings me great comfort to know I'm not alone on this journey. It's so not easy cutting so many things out, but so worth it! Keep baking and feel free to send me your feedback or questions!

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thanks for the love!