In recent months I’ve begun experimenting with my diet to understand the link between the way I eat and my chronic health issues. I went Dairy-Free, except for goat cheeses and grass-fed butter. By doing this, I discovered I have an allergy to dairy. I started to show symptoms with goat cheese, so no more cheese for me. I know, you must think I’m crazy for giving up Brie, yogurt, milk, and ice cream. Haagen-Daaz Double Chocolate Ice Cream, I will forever mourn you! Instead I found coconut milk ice cream. It turns out I can eat a whole pint of this no problem. So, that became off-limits. During this time, I was also experimenting with going Gluten-Free then adding it back in to see if I had any symptoms. Well, I didn’t feel any ill-effects from adding it back in. Then a very wise friend of mine suggested I keep at it. So, Gluten-Free I became. I bought special bread, special oatmeal, and special pasta. I also decided to limit my sugar intake. I went from 160mg-200mg of sugar to 40mg from fruit. All was fine and dandy. I ate my Gluten-Free bread slathered with almond butter, bananas, and cinnamon every morning.
Then, I started gaining weight. I needed to gain a few pounds, but not 15 extra pounds. So, I was looking for a lifestyle that would focus on limiting inflammation as much as possible while also adding an exercise plan that I could actually do. I wanted to be Grain-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Sugar-Free (plus no added sugars), Processed Foods-Free, Corn-Free, Peanut-Free, and Dessert-Free (except for a piece of dark chocolate). I’m sure I’m forgetting a few other things. Why am I doing this to myself? Well, I want to live life as fully as possible. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. My pain management physician recently told me that I really have no other treatment options other than the medications I’m currently taking and seeing if surgery for my degenerative neck is a viable option. Surgery is a scary option because there are no guarantees. I might even have more pain! As for the medications, I hate taking them. I hate how they make me feel and I hate the side effects. Most of all, I hate that I have to rely on them. As I shared before, my wish is to have a better quality of life and live pain free. I need a change and fast!
After a bit of research online, I found the Paleo Diet. When I first heard of the Paleo Diet, I only remember that you couldn’t have peanut butter and I thought I could never do that! Well, I’ve been peanut-free for a few months and after reading up on the benefits, it seems like Paleo is the way to go. It perfectly fit with the type of intense anti-inflammatory lifestyle that I wanted to lead. I’m going to give it a solid try for 30 days and watch the results. The only exceptions I’ve made are: I am allowed a glass of wine a day (with skipping some nights, others have 1/2 or 1/4 of a glass), I’m still eating legumes, and I’m allowing myself a piece of dark chocolate. Pretty much, the diet centers on eating proteins and healthy fats at every meal. No grains, no dairy, no processed foods, no sugar. Only grass-fed meats. The only exception to dairy is that you can have a bit of grass-fed butter.
Today is day 3 and it is going well. I accidentally bought the ‘Original’ Cashew Milk, which has sugar and I went so far as to replace it with the unsweetened version. I also did a 4 1/2 mile hike today with the support of my boyfriend, John, for the first time in years. My neck started hurting and spasming like crazy 20 minutes in, which is when I would normally stop. I did something differently today: I kept going. And you know what? The pain and spasming subsided! After about an hour in, there was no more pain. I call that a success. I can’t wait to see how else my health can improve!
So, let me know what you think? Have you tried to change the way you eat to help with a health issue? Has exercise helped you through a health crisis? Sound off in the comments below! All of you dystonia friends, I would appreciate your imput along with your diagnosis.