Square One- my journey to health.Posted: February 3, 2011
Friends and family know that I have changed a lot about my diet over the past two years and I love to share information on nutrition and overall health with pretty much anyone who will listen. In fact, that is what convinced me to start a blog. I know the way that I eat seems a bit extreme to some and overwhelming to others that are interested in trying to change the way they eat. So, I’d like to share how this passion about health and nutrition began and start at the very beginning of this health journey.
I can’t remember ever caring about what I ate or what specifically was in the food I was eating until a few years ago when I discovered that I have a neurological condition that causes pain in my limbs, back, and neck. Like the majority of Americans, I grew up eating boxed, canned, frozen, and fast food. I never ate fruit because I didn’t like fruit, and if I ate vegetables, it was probably from a can or frozen and most definitely not organic. I didn’t even realize there was such a need for food to be organic until a few years ago. I was in sports and dance my entire life and was stick skinny, so I thought I was healthy. I ate fast food and junk food and never thought twice about it. I grew up thinking it was normal to take pain relievers if I had a headache or any other small pain. I never realized that the products we use on our skin and hair are toxic or the house products we use cause the air in homes to be more toxic than the air outside. Had no clue that the way I lived had an enormous impact on this planet that may one day be depleted of lush lands and clean water. Nope, I was just eating foods and consuming and using everyday products that everyone else uses, assuming it was safe if it is sold in stores. So, here I am going through life thinking I was healthy, minus the sharp, tingling, burning pain that traveled about my body. Oh and minus the weekly headaches… but that’s normal right? Minus the regular stomachaches and use of antacids, but again totally normal. Oh, and the colds and tonsillitis that I got several times a year since I was a kid… but that’s normal too. So I thought!
Ok, back to 2008, the year I went to the neurologist and was diagnosed with Small Fiber Neuropathy. It’s sort of hard to describe the sensation that I dealt with. Someone could tap me on the arm and it would feel like I was being punched. Or if I just ran a fingertip across the outside of my hand it would be an overwhelming sharp burning sensation. Or, sometimes my neck and upper back would hurt so badly and there was nothing I could do to make it go away. These pains would come and go and travel around my body. One day it would be my upper arms, the next week just the side of my right hand. Very bizarre! The neurologist told me that there wasn’t a treatment but that I could take pain medication to help with the symptoms and was ready to hand me a prescription. Never in my life had I questioned a doctor or the use of medication. But for some reason, I had this feeling that there was something that could be done besides covering up the symptoms. I wanted to be cured and for the first time wasn’t willing to blindly follow the doctor’s orders. I told her no thank you and scheduled a follow up visit for several months later. I decided to research neurological disorders and try to find a way to help eliminate these annoying sharp tingling sensations that I was experiencing on almost a daily basis. I came to the conclusion that it was the toxic chemicals in my foods and drinks that were contributing to this disease, more specifically artificial sweeteners.
So, my first step in transforming my health was to throw away all of my “healthy” foods. No more diet drinks, diet foods, and sugar-free treats. For a few months this was the only step I took towards transforming the way I ate. But I continued to read about health and chemicals in food and then began to cut out things step by step. Unless you have a lot of money and don’t care about wasting everything in the pantry and fridge, you can’t just throw out everything and go buy new foods. So, each month I began to replace products. After cutting out artificial sweeteners I started to cut out high fructose corn syrup, which I learned was in almost all of the products I bought. I also started to cut out fast foods. I started buying fresh produce and meats and began cooking meals from scratch. I then learned about all of the toxic chemicals used on produce and the disgusting realities about meat products. So, I started buying some organic produce and cut out beef and milk and limited my consumption of other meat products. No more lunch meats, no more turkey dogs or turkey bacon. Slowly, I was transforming not just the way I eat, but the way I think about food and the impacts food has on our bodies and planet. Alan and I just finished a month-long diet that consisted of only fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and lentils, whole grains, water and tea. But I think the most important thing that we did was to cut out foods with preservatives, chemicals, and additives. It sounded insane and impossible to most, and I would have never been able to do this a year ago. I didn’t change in a day, or a month, or even a year. This has been ongoing for two years and I am still in the process of discovering new information on food and products that we use everyday that cause harm to our bodies and the planet. I realize that most don’t have a disease to cause a drastic change in your life. You may feel like there is no need to change, or may feel like eating clean is unnecessary. But, I hope to post information and slowly reveal new truths and new ways to reform the way you think about what is “healthy”. So, I hope this inspire you to rethink your health and habits and join me on this journey.
Oh by the way, I know you are probably wondering how my symptoms and health are after changing my diet! Since I have cut out artificial sweeteners and began to eat more clean, I rarely have side effects of the disease. Maybe once a month, but mostly it is few and far between that I have the painful sensations that I once experienced on a regular basis. I haven’t had a cold or tonsillitis once in the past year. I also used to have severe anxiety about everything, and I no longer suffer from that either.