Over the last month I’ve had a lot of ideas floating around in my head. Just when I think I figure something out I find contradictory information or another avenue to explore. The best way for me to make sense of my thoughts is to write them out. So bear with me as I navigate some theories. This may get quite lengthy and there probably won’t be any pretty pictures 😛 I commend you if you make it to the end. And feel free to offer advice if you have any experience with any of this.
My initial theory about what’s going on was something like this: I eat well (i.e. healing foods, GAPS, etc.) for a few days. I feel good and have no problems sticking with what I should eat. Then, my body tries to start healing/getting rid of the junk. I suffer bad die off. I feel rotten. My body craves the junk again and I give in to calm my body/feed the bad stuff that is causing the commotion/reduce stress (I’m an emotional eater…if I don’t feel good I might as well just eat whatever I want mentality)/feel “better.” I suffer through this for a week or two and end up back where I started.
So my body is in a constant state of distress. I can be “good” about what I eat for a few days. But then the reactions are so strong that I just can’t stick with it. It’s like my brain is telling me I MUST have sugar, bread, etc. And I just can’t control it. It’s kind of like trying to stop a drug addiction. It doesn’t help that I love to bake…and have temptations all around me. And my family does not have restrictions…nor do I want to impose my restrictions on them. But I do all of the cooking. So inevitably I take little tastes of things here and there that I make for them. I take bites when I feed my kids. And it adds up.
I’m not sure how to stop this process. I don’t think just trying to eat good foods and avoid “bad” foods is enough for me. I’ve had so many years of restrictions. It’s hard to keep up. Maybe I need some kind of cleanse or detox? Maybe I need higher doses of vitamins/minerals/probiotics? Maybe I need amino acids or other supplements? I’m not really sure.
Whatever the case the road to recovery involves a healing diet like GAPS…and figuring out how to do it in a way that works for my body and stick with it.
The first theory makes sense. And it could be true. However the basis of GAPS is healing using broth/stock/gelatin, probiotics, cultured foods and ferments while eliminating stressors like grains and sugars. I did that. For about 10 months. And I can’t say it made a huge impact overall. Sure, there were times I was feeling ok. And I now know I was eating a little too low carb. But it still should have helped more. On the whole I’m still where I started. And actually tolerate less now than I did before doing GAPS (more on that in theory four).
I’ve recently been reading a lot about histamine intolerance. I learned about it as I researched reactions to ferments. I’ve always been intolerant of alcohol. And I’m figuring out lately how strongly I react to anything fermented – sauerkraut, vinegar, even cheese. This is a large component of histamine intolerance.
The funny/frustrating thing about it is that a diet to help with histamine intolerance is almost the complete opposite of GAPS/opposite of how I eat right now. Nothing slow cooked, no long simmered broth, no ferments, no eating leftovers from a big pot of soup. Everything must be fresh. A lot of my go-to foods that I eat almost daily are on the list of high histamine foods.
That leads me to the question…is a healing diet like GAPS doing me more harm than good? Do I feel rotten when I try to eat “right” simply because my body is going through a healing phase/die off or am I really causing my body stress and eating everything I shouldn’t? Do I eat the ferments and push through the reaction and hope my body adjusts? Or should I completely avoid them?
The treatment for histamine intolerance is to eat a low histamine diet. I think that it can be overcome at some point and you can start adding the foods back in eventually.
Another theory is that I’m dealing with a bad case of candida. Meaning the good/bad bacteria balance in my gut/body is so out of whack. The bad has taken over. And every time I give in to foods that feed the bad stuff I’m just making things worse.
There are a lot of differing opinions about candida. A lot of western doctors don’t believe it even exists. Some people think you have to be on a very strict diet to get rid of it (no sugar of any kind, no yeast, nothing starchy, etc.). Some say to just avoid high fructose foods and add glandular supplements to your diet.
This also involves taking lots of probiotics to increase the amount of good bacteria in the gut.
The final diet “revelation” I just recently heard about is a rotational diet. This one actually makes a lot of sense to me/for my situation. I LOVE leftovers. Seriously. If it’s a food I like I don’t care of it’s hot, warm, cold, one day old, three days old. I’ll eat it. And I do. Got four containers of leftovers in the fridge? Even better. I’ll mix them all together (even cold). And eat them for meal after meal until they are gone.
I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember. If I find something I like I can eat it day after day after day after day. I never get sick of it. In high school I ate almost the exact same lunch every single day. My senior year of college I ate an apple and a yogurt for lunch almost every day. My husband can attest to that 😛 Sometimes I would swap carrots for the yogurt.
Now that I have so many intolerances I tend to stick with a few foods and eat them over and over. I just don’t have many options. I find what “works” and keep eating it. If I make a big batch of split pea soup for dinner one night I’ll eat it for one to three meals a day until it’s gone. If we have leftover salmon cakes I’ll add them to my breakfast and lunch the next day or two and snack on them between meals until they are gone. I don’t think I’m alone being the mommy that ends up using the leftovers so they don’t get wasted 😛 But I actually enjoy them. Not to mention it makes my life easier to have leftovers available for my meals when I don’t have time to cook while taking care of the kids.
So, what’s wrong with that? I didn’t think there was anything wrong before. I actually thought it was great since I could make a big batch of nourishing, healing foods and always have something on hand for myself. Then I wouldn’t reach for junk.
Turns out there could be a lot wrong. First, eating the same foods over and over often creates a food intolerance. And I’m quickly finding this to be true. The foods I ate all the time in college (apples, carrots, oats, peanut butter)…they are the foods I am most intolerant of now. I created such a sensitivity that even one or two small bites of them can make me feel awful/cause a strong reaction in my body.
Then on GAPS I stuck to the same foods. It’s hard not to when you are so limited as you go through the intro diet. And since I considered them “safe” foods I figured I couldn’t go wrong. Well, I was wrong. While on GAPS I ate a lot of nuts. And I did fine with them for a while. Now just one nut (any variety) can be enough to cause inflammation and pain. I’ve also been living on avocados for quite some time. But lately I’m starting to wonder if they are what’s causing a lot of my pain and inflammation.
My list of safe foods is slowly dwindling down to nothing. I currently eat a lot of peas and squash. But I’m afraid that if I keep eating them daily like I do pretty soon they’ll cause a reaction. Maybe even consuming so much broth has made that cause a reaction too. I’m afraid that soon I won’t have anything I can tolerate. Then what?
The solution – a rotational diet. This is a far cry from anything I’ve ever done…which is why it may be just what I need. The idea is that you only eat a particular food/food family once every four days. That way you can really tell if you react to it, and your body does not become intolerant. I’m so used to doing diets that restrict foods or limit your choices…but you can eat those foods as much as you want. And that is my weakness. I’m not even sure how I would go about starting a rotational diet. I love using leftovers. And one of my main strategies for feeding my family healthy food is preparing large quantities and preparing them in advance.
This is definitely something I want to look into more. For now I can try to take simple steps like freezing leftovers in individual servings to take out every so often instead of trying to use them up over the course of three days. And I can try to add a few questionable foods into my diet once every four days just to see what happens. If I don’t expand my diet and just stick to the few things I currently tolerate, soon I’ll be left with no options. So I have to take some chances and change things up a bit.
And when I eat something new and feel ok…I need to NOT go overboard and eat it non-stop for three days 😛 I need to give it a break and wait a few days before trying it again. I’m an all or nothing kind of person. But I need a slow and steady approach.
Miscellaneous Factors and Thoughts:
There are a few other things in my life that factor in. First is lack of sleep. I know how critical sleep is. But I don’t get it. Because of small children and my OCD I actually get very little quality sleep. So my body never has a chance to fully repair and recover over night.
Breastfeeding is another factor. I’ve been doing it for 18 months now. And it really depletes my body. It’s to the point where just one extra feeding in the night can change my weight, my mood, my hunger, my fatigue. I never realized before how much work it is for my already struggling body. Thankfully this one will not last forever…or for much longer 😛 I’m anxious to see how my body reacts when I am done breastfeeding and do not have to provide for two people. Some days I wonder if it’s even worth trying to heal until I’m done breastfeeding.
From a mental stand point I know I don’t get enough down time. Being a full time stay at home mom is stressful. Plus some unique challenges with my kids/the phases they are in/their ages. I also don’t spend much time with other adults/developing relationships. I can’t say I’ve had a really good friend/someone I can call anytime/someone I hang out with since high school (that’s about 15 years…). Being someone with severe OCD, anxiety and chronic health problems I just don’t bother/feel comfortable letting people into my life…letting people really get to know me. I have so many restrictions (food, schedules, etc.) in my daily life that it’s just “easier” to not let people in. I also am not the kind of person that asks for help. I don’t like to bother anyone. So I take everything on myself.
I have had a pretty skewed body image for a long time. So I often just don’t feel good about myself. My weight goes up and down daily. When it’s up I feel down. When it’s down I feel up. And my health issues make it hard to keep it steady. One day I feel good in my clothes. The next day my jeans feel tight and uncomfortable. It doesn’t help that I am in serious need of an entire new wardrobe. Most of my clothes are 5-10 years old. They are out of style and don’t fit my body anymore. So I never feel good about how I look.
I have always had a very strong cold intolerance. I don’t think it’s just part of who I am. I think it’s a big indicator of the severity of my health problems. Once in a while I will eat a meal and then get really warm/my ears are burning. Then I know I finally got at least one meal “right.” But some days I am freezing from morning until evening and can’t seem to do anything about it. I’m finding that’s usually on the third day of eating the same foods over and over. A good sign I need to change it up.
A lot of these theories/diets/ideas overlap. It seems that up until now I’ve always pursued the first theory. I need to heal. Here is exactly what I can and can’t eat. End of story. And it just isn’t working.
So I need to find some kind of new path related to the other theories. All three of them would cut out my current use of leftovers. With histamine intolerance everything has to be fresh. The histamine levels in some foods increases with age. Which is why ferments are so bad. With candida it’s related to mold, yeast, etc. And I am not good about heating leftovers. I’ll eat leftovers cold that are four days old. I know it’s probably bad. But I do. I’m probably consuming lots of bad bacteria without knowing it. And with a rotational diet obviously you can’t eat one night’s dinner for the next day’s breakfast. So I have a lot of thinking and planning to consider.
Taking all of this into consideration I’d say I’m holding up quite well. But that’s not how I want to live. I don’t want to just get by. I want to feel good! I feel like the slightest thing could send me in a downward spiral. I had the flu a couple weeks ago and I could barely manage. My immune system is so run down. I’m planning to see a new doctor soon and try to have some testing done to get more definitive answers. Am I histamine intolerant? Do I have candida? Do I have food allergies? Do I have severe deficiencies?
It’s hard to know which way to turn. Some days I want to just keep plugging along. Some days I want to take a break from everything…sleep as much as I can, eat as much as I want, no exercise, reduce stress as much as possible (the basis of RARRF). I need balance. I need direction.
Simply writing this post has been a big help. It does give me some direction for the moment. But I need external help as well. There are other factors that I have not included in this post that add to the stress of my daily life. I have my own worries and worries about my children.
To conclude…I have no conclusions. I don’t know what’s next. I’m not really sure how to proceed. I just wanted to get my thoughts out. For anyone that doesn’t know me very well…now you probably know more than you want to 😛 For anyone that has experience with any of this please chime in. Or if you simply want to offer a quick prayer that would be appreciated too.
I’m sure there was more I was going to add, but I think I’ve rambled long enough. My brain is in need of a break. It’s Abram’s nap time. So it’s time for me to have a few minutes of quiet.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
This post is linked to Fight Back Friday and Fresh Bites Friday and Fat Tuesday and Real Food Wednesday.
I pray for you daily, Mary. Multiple times a day this week since I know its an especially challenging week on your own. I wish we lived closer.
I can’t offer much advice on the diet front, but I see the merit in all of your theories… particularly the rotational diet. That is pretty much how we eat. I do try to make enough for the night’s dinner and a lunch for Kevin during the week, though. But that’s it really. And I rotate our veggies and fruits so we’re not eating the same ones… although they do sometimes fall in the same families. Like last night, we had bbq short ribs with green beans and mushrooms… tonight we’ll have tuna salad (mine in avocado half, the boys will have sandwiches) with sweet potato fries, cucumbers, and peaches… tomorrow will be dijon pork chops with roasted veggies (beets, celeriac, kohlrabi)
… Friday will be balsamic chicken with peas, carrots, and side salads… and Saturday is Thanksgiving with my dad’s family (turkey, stuffing, gravy, roasted/cubed butternut squash, roasted green beans, mashed potatoes, salad, desserts). I haven’t prepped the stuff for Saturday yet, but all of the other veggies were prepped while I was home yesterday and are stored in the fridge. I just can’t eat the same thing over and over again. Kevin could easily, though… and sometimes complains about so much variety. 😛 But anyway, it may seem a little daunting to prep all the different foods for a rotational diet, but I doubt it’ll take you any longer than it does already, really.
Also, as a side note… I just learned about this place in Lansing called Painting with a Twist… http://www.paintingwithatwist.com/lansing/. I was thinking it would be fun to do a Holleboom girls night at some point (after the holidays probably). Just to get away and have some adult time for all of us. 🙂
Honestly dinners are pretty easy. I already make different things each night. I just don’t know what to eat for breakfast and lunch and snacks. How do I make different stuff every day? I don’t usually have time to cook lunch. And I just don’t have that many foods that I tolerate to not eat the same thing for four days. But I’ll do my best to at least vary things a little more. Like not eating the same thing for 3 days straight. I’ll keep researching the rotational diet and make small changes for now.
That sounds like a fun idea!
I just re-read my comment and see that it Should have been ‘while I was home Monday’.. I wasn’t home yesterday, unfortunately..
I think breakfasts are pretty easy to vary… Scrambled or fried eggs, yogurt w/ fruit, pancakes, breakfast stuffed squash, egg drop soup, eggs in avocado, etc. you always have good breakfast ideas. You could just cut back on what you make for dinner to give you just one lunch leftover… Then eat it a few days later.
I know there are a lot of breakfast foods. But I try to stick to savory foods/heavy on the veggies most of the time. And if I can only eat eggs once every few days that cuts out a lot as well. I don’t tolerate much raw stuff…though I want to try salads once in a while again. I try to not do much grain for breakfast either…starts my day too heavy. If I just ate pancakes for breakfast I’d feel rotten all day. I eat very little fruit (fresh or dried). I don’t tolerate most of it. And it seems to mess with my blood sugar/makes me cold all day. Like I said, there are tons of healthy options…but not when you already have so many restrictions. I need to stock up on a larger variety of veggies when I go to the store next. I think that will help.
We had pea soup tonight. Instead of having it for breakfast tomorrow I stuck it in the freezer. I’ll take it out in a few days or so and have it. It’s a start.
Hi Mary, my name is Melissa – I’m part of the VGN blog network! I know how frustrating it can be to try to figure out what your body needs…I tried GAPS as well and it DID NOT work for me. I absolutely cannot go without grains/potatoes or dairy. And trying to do so did nothing but mess me up. It turns out in my case that I had very very low metabolism. I have been able to start to fix my metabolism and my food intolerances are dissapearing as my metabolism improves. Not that you need another theory to toss into the mix!!! But I’ll pass it along in case it’s helpful: http://180degreehealth.com/2012/01/diet-recovery
Thank you so much for commenting, Melissa! Sometimes I feel like I’m crazy when I say GAPS didn’t seem to work. Then I read about sooo many people sticking to it. I too feel better when eating wheat and dairy.
I actually have Diet Recovery did do some RARRFing at the beginning of the year (although I should probably re-read it now). I put on about 10 lbs. and got off the GAPS bandwagon. But I still struggle. I think I have a lot of deficiencies that need to be addressed. I need to figure out how to get my body back to normal levels. I know I need more sleep. Plus I realize I was in a food rut. I need more variety.
Thanks again. I appreciate any advice or even similar stories. It makes me feel a lot better and like I’m doing the right thing. I’m always tempted to try GAPS again…it sounds so good. But I just don’t think it works for me.
Hey Mary, I too am from VGN (www.mygutsy.com) Im gutsy 🙂 I started the GAPS diet 12 months ago and now I am down to 3 foods. coconut oil. fish. buffalo..well I guess his can be divided into 3 categories-salmon,sardines, cod. so I know what it feels like to be super sensitive. Im starting to wonder if GAPs is doing me no good. It did me some good- got my digestion from severely bloated and close to IBS to regular weight. But now my life is nothing. I cannot go anywhere or touch anything because my allergies are so bad…basically Im very allergic to corn which is on everything. I have considered many things you have! I think I struggle with histamine too so I started to meat most of my meat and fish raw..yep and its kinda gross! ha 🙂 But we do what we go to do right? I cant rotate foods because I would be knocked out from corn cross contamination. I pretty much went though all kinds of treatments possible: chiro, neuro, GAPS, raw food, colon cleansing, sauna, detox, clean environment, auricular medicine, acupuncture, naturopath, hypnosis, supplements… you name it! and I’m the worst I have been in my whole 18 year of life. sad huh! well I cant believe I left praying as a last result, but it brought me to do research and I found NAET, have you ever heard of it? It is a technique that is “clearing” my allergies, right now Im going though a some hard detox from it, but the hope is I will be feeling well enough to allow my body to heal instead of reacting to everything. I was reacting to things (and still am, I just started the treatments) without really knowing it, so I will give my body a break and allow it to heal and actually thrive. I have seen amazing results in every so far so Im super excited. Im not trying to tell you what to do by any means, but I thought that maybe you would want to know what it is and how its helping me 🙂 I hope you find what your body needs!..and soon. Im glad I found your blog too!
Caroline, thanks for stopping by and commenting! I have browsed yoru blog a bit as well. Very impressive for someone so young.
That stinks that you are still struggling so much. I hope the NAET will really help. I’ve never heard of it. I’ll definitely look it up.
As far as I know I don’t actually have any allergies, just intolerances. But I haven’t been tested in about 5 years. So who knows. I’m hoping to see a more natural minded doctor soon to at least get some blood work done to check on things like histamines and vitamin/mineral levels.
At the moment I’m really trying to get more variety and keep trying new things/adding things back in…even if they might cause problems. So far it’s been going well. I still can’t eat my big no-nos. But I’m finding I can tolerate small amounts of some things once in a while. So rotating/getting more variety seems to be helpful. It’s not the final answer, but at least it’s helping.
Have you ever looked into 180DegreeHealth? That’s what really got me out of the GAPS mindset and gave me the freedom to try new things again. I find that I actually tolerate wheat quite well and that it helps me get enough carbs in my diet. As long as I don’t eat a bunch of yeasty stuff.
Thanks again for stopping by. I’d love to hear how things go with the NAET.
Mary, my best recommendation would be to tune into your body and eat what it’s craving, while trying to have 3 balanced meals a day. This simple thing can do wonders. If you want more protein, eat it. If you want more carbs, eat them. I think your biggest issues are probably your anxiety and OCD. There is a wonderful book called “Hope and Help for Your Nerves” by Claire Weekes. It is totally old-school, written in the 60’s, but the most helpful thing I’ve ever read on curing (yes, curing) anxiety (and she addresses OCD). It is literally life-changing.
I have a feeling that once you lower your anxiety-driven stress, your other issues will more easily resolve.
Thanks for the suggestions, Amy. I know my OCD and anxiety contribute a lot. I’ve been working on them for at least 6 years now. And have made a lot of progress. But there are some factors in my life right now that I can’t change that contribute. So I have to wait. I will definitely check on that book. It sounds interesting. Sometimes the older books are the best.
I do try to listen to my body for the most part. I just have to be sure I’m not listening when it says to eat sweets all day 😛