I want to share my food journey with all of you. This is a journey; there is no shortcut here. Figuring out your food lifestyle will take time but in the end it’s worth it. My journey with food started over 11 years ago (I can’t forget the childhood nightly desserts, bread, pasta, fast food that shaped a lot of my food habits). In college, I was suffering from terrible stomach pains. I mean doubled over in pain sometimes. I had an endoscopy done, blood tests, saw different GI specialists. Results were normal and the doctors didn’t have an answer for me. I’m not the kind of person that will just take a pill for the rest of my life. I decided to try eating gluten free after reading numerous articles and the various tests doctors performed didn’t help. In 2011, I started eating gluten free and it helped me tremendously for many years until it didn’t.
This was now the end of 2014 beginning of 2015. I started to suffer from brain fog, headaches, and my constipation was worse. Constipation has been a thorn in my side for a long time. Then I heard about Whole30. I loved it! My symptoms went away and I felt great. I found out I was pregnant with my daughter and still continued to follow the Whole30 during my pregnancy. My daughter was born in November 2015. Probably about a year after she was born, my headaches and constipation were at an all time high. I was worse than before I was pregnant. It’s really true what I heard about pregnancy that your body changes after having a child. Your body also changes with age. What worked three years earlier might not work now. I was stuck because what I was doing before pregnancy was no longer working.
Not to mention my thyroid levels were low and I had to go on medication in 2017. I wasn’t happy about that and tried through diet and exercise to normalize my levels. It didn’t work. Now it’s spring/summer 2017, low thyroid levels, severe headaches, constipation, brain fog as well as weight gain. I gained ten pounds in five months. I would have to lay down on the couch almost every afternoon because I would feel so awful. Sometimes it would only be about a half hour sometimes two hours. I literally couldn’t get off the couch. Thankfully, my daughter was in day care or with my mother in law so I was able to stay on the couch; but this was not how I wanted to live. It felt like everything I ate gave me a headache. Sometimes just the thought of food would give me a headache. I tried various elimination diets, such as strict Whole30, Low FODMap and low histamine. Some helped but nothing really got rid of my symptoms.
In April of 2018 I found the keto diet and did a food sensitivity test and both did help me significantly. I was able to function in the afternoon. I still occasionally got headaches but nothing like they were nor did I have brain fog or constipation. Headaches for me have been something I suffer from, as early as 5th grade, but the fact that they are low level and I was able to function was a tremendous improvement. I also didn’t get them everyday anymore.
So that worked for me for a long time, just about over a year. But here we go again, same thing, it worked until it didn’t. The headaches were creeping back in, I felt like I couldn’t eat anything without getting a headache or my stomach being upset or suffering from constipation. I was doing keto at this time and decided that it was time to add a little bit more carbs back into my routine because something was off. So I did that but at the same time I cut out the meat I was eating. It was so so very hard for me to do this. August 2019 I made the decision to cut out meat and go vegetarian. My headaches were gone, my constipation was pretty much gone. I couldn’t believe it. Up until then cutting out meat was the only thing I didn’t try. I was so surprised that a food I had eaten my whole life was destroying me. I was eating good quality meat too. For the past two years I have been ordering my meat from Butcher Box. It’s a company that takes care of their animals and raises happy animals which in turn makes the meat of the utmost quality. Don’t even get me started on conventionally raised meat. This isn’t a plug either for everyone to go vegetarian. Just because you eat vegetarian doesn’t mean you are healthier than a meat eater. The best quality meat still was bothering me. It wasn’t an easy decision and my family still was eating meat so I still had to prepare it but that was fine with me because I felt great.
Fast forward to December, I found out I’m pregnant. This was exciting news! I tried to remain vegetarian but it was impossible. My body was CRAVING meat. I (and somewhat still do) crave chicken and bread. I started to reintroduce eggs in January 2020. I had some bloating but it wasn’t too bad and I was satisfying my craving at that time. However, I felt like I wasn’t getting enough protein. I drank protein shakes, had beans and nuts but I was just lacking protein so I decided to eat some chicken again. It destroyed my stomach. For about a month and a half my stomach was in knots all the time. I felt and looked bloated, at night I looked like I was 9 months pregnant. However, I’m still craving chicken. I literally cannot get enough of it. I also want bread all the time. What’s a girl to do!!!! I decided to incorporate more carbs in the form of sweet potatoes, butternut squash, fruit, beans and occasionally some rice and/or quinoa. I still get bloated. I think I looked more bloated than pregnant really but I feel better in the sense that my cravings are satisfied. I am starting to get headaches again but my doctor gave me something I can take while pregnant. This has not been an easy journey for me at all. My journey still continues.
The takeaway is that, our bodies are always changing and finding your food lifestyle will take some time. What I mean by food lifestyle is what works for you. Don’t do the next fad diet because it sounds good or because it promises that you will lose 15 pounds in two weeks. Find something that you can stick to, whether it be Whole30, higher fat, eat three meals a day, eat two meals a day. No one is the same, everyone has different hormones that play different roles in our bodies. What works for your friend or family or spouse might not work for you and that is ok. If you are going to try and experiment, stick with it for at least 2-3 months. That’s the only way you will know if it works for you. As our bodies change over the years, certain ways of eating will work better than others and it’s important to be open to change and make the changes as needed.
Don’t be blind to the fact that years of unhealthy eating cannot be undone in 2-3 months. EVERYDAY at lunch in middle school I drank a can of soda, had a Snickers bar and Chip Ahoy cookies. My four years of high school for lunch I had soda and Wendy’s, Burger King or pizza. I did improve in college but it wasn’t perfect. Even to this day nutrition isn’t always easy for me; I still struggle but life is a marathon not a sprint. There are no quick fixes. There will be days that are better than others but what you do consistently over time is what will get you where you want to be. Dieting isn’t an option; the only option is living a healthy lifestyle consistently.. Consistency is key.