First of all, I’m writing this for me, not for you. And I mean that in the nicest way possible.
When I first “went Paleo” a year and a half ago I would have told you this simple diet template could cure-all of your ailments. I think I did say that actually. Anyway, now I know better…
Initially for me my skin problems cleared up, I lost a little weight but not too much, my mood and allergies improved. My husband’s skin cleared up, some joint inflammation went away, he lost weight. My son’s skin cleared up too. My dad’s cholesterol numbers when from meh to outstanding, he lost weight, his vision improved, he might be able to finally go off statins and he no longer pops Tums like breath mints. All good anecdotal evidence, right? Yes, I think so. Enough to keep me plugging away with the same diet? Nope.
Truth be told, after seeing a few positive improvements in my health I took that as an opportunity to fall off the wagon a bit. Slowly we started buying corn chips (organic and non-GMO, of course) and gluten-free goodies which of course let some highly processed nasty seed oils back in. Then things went all screwy again.
I had been trying to figure out why almost all of the symptoms I claimed a Paleo/Primal template “cured” for me had suddenly returned. My skin was red and itchy again and my digestion started doing weird things (I won’t go into detail). Then I had to smack myself in the head. Get back on track girl! So I did. But to no avail. What the [insert bad words]?!
To try to get to the bottom of things I decided to get a food intolerance test (ALCAT) done and turns out I have an intolerance, of varying degrees, to a bunch of different foods:
Severe intolerance to blueberries
Moderate intolerance to tomatoes, ginger, lemon, grapes, brewer’s yeast, and plums (darn, no more prunes for me. ha.)
Mild intolerance to gluten, dairy (including goat milk), eggs, chicken, lamb, turkey, codfish, halibut, sole, tuna, barley, avocados, asparagus, cabbage, pinto bean, soybean, spinach, sweet potato, coconut, mustard seed, cane sugar, carob, cocoa, cashews, cottonseed
(This might seem a little much and you might think, ha, that can’t be me. And it might not be. But if you have a leaky gut, which I’m guessing you do if you eat a standard American diet (SAD) and have any problems with digestion, your skin, your sleep, or take a regular maintenance drug from something or other, then you are probably sensitive to some foods and don’t even know it.)
For 30 days the ALCAT protocol called for eliminating all of the severe, mild and moderate intolerance foods.
For three months I could have eliminated all of the mild intolerance foods and slowly reintroduce them* one by one and on a rotation so they didn’t start causing problems again. Then I would have done the same with the moderate intolerance foods after 6 months.
*Never ever reintroducing gluten, soybean, or barley for reasons I’ve previously discussed.
So that’s what I should have done. But I didn’t. I eliminated everything on “the list” for about a month. But I’m pregnant, and I’m hungry and I need to gain weight. So I got impatient, because that is what I do, and I let some stuff slide.
Face palm. Again.
I don’t like waiting for things to happen. I’m a get results kind of gal. I get impatient and I hate, hate, hate, when I don’t see any changes in the time frame I set in my head. Especially when I’m busting my ass to cook all of my meals at home, be super careful when I’m out to eat (virtually impossible to avoid everything on my “list” in any restaurant), and following this stupid ALCAT protocol. Which, by the way, says you shouldn’t repeat any foods two days in a row to avoid developing an intolerance to something you are not currently intolerant to. That’s everything…including the fats you cook in, the vegetables you eat, the tea you drink in the morning, etc. (coffee too!) I’m sorry, but that is way too complicated of a protocol to follow. Not eat something cooked in butter two days in a row? Not put olive oil on my salad two days in a row? No. Not doing it.
The point here is following any protocol or new “diet” can be really tough. It can be annoying at first. It can be cumbersome to figure out how to make it work. It can be time-consuming. And most importantly it can be expensive. But, in my head I keep going back to when I first “went Paleo” and things were outstanding. That is what I know I need to get back to. That is precisely where I need to be and where I am going to go. This time though I am going to incorporate the knowledge I’ve gained about the foods I am intolerant to.
What are my lessons learned from all of this?
- Paleo, or any diet for that matter, is NOT a cure-all. There is no single solution for any health related problem.
- Everyone’s health needs are different. There is no “MyPlate” that will get a country healthy.
- Sometimes you need a professional to help you sort this stuff out. And unfortunately you won’t find the answers and guidance you need from your every day family doc. They don’t know enough about nutrition and the don’t know enough about alternative solutions besides prescription drugs that actually work and don’t mask the underlying issue. You’ll have to spend a lot of time and money finding a Paleo doc/Naturopathic/Integrative Health Doctor that can talk your language get to the bottom of things for you. Someone who will try to figure out how to treat the cause of your symptoms and not, in my case, throw some steroid cream on top and send you on your way.
- Even if you find a practitioner you think is on your side and helping you get better YOU control the outcome. And only YOU. If you don’t own it, nothing will change, nothing will get better. If you are going to spend time and money on alternative, integrative care, do your own research and talk about it with the practitioner you chose.
- For some people a simple Paleo/primal way of eating is the answer, and that’s great. I hate you. (jk)
- Lastly, never, never give up! If you go down a path to better health (hopefully following a traditional, whole foods template), don’t let little set backs get you all tweaked out. Find some inspiration to get yourself back on the wagon. Remember at the end of the day you choose what food to put in your mouth, you choose to take breaks during your work day and go for a walk, you choose to set aside some time for yourself every day to relax a little, you choose to spend more time enjoying life with your family instead of always working or cleaning up the house and you choose to be healthy. Health is a choice. If you don’t choose to be healthy, you don’t get to complain about not being healthy.
That is my pep talk to myself that I shared with you for me. You’re welcome. And I’m thanking myself for me.
Change is only hard until it becomes habit.
And here is because I love music…and this girl rocks.