Food Detoxing

Medication and illness don_t own me anymore. I own my life. And my life is spectacular!

This week’s post is kind of off topic from what I usually post about, which is either the writing life or striving to live a life of love and grace. But it’s a topic that has made such an enormous difference in my life that I have to share.

Feed Detoxing.

From as far back as I can remember—from the time I was 23-years-old, to be exact, but we won’t say how many years ago that was—I’ve battled anxiety and panic attacks after a traumatic event. Shortly after that I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, living daily with pain. Some days were much better than others. I was on a number of SSRI’s throughout the years, discovering that they were also prescribed for fibromyalgia, exchanging the side effects for being able to live a functional life. I was also on a pain medication for “my” fibromyalgia.

As the years progressed, I also battled hypoglycemia, sometimes having spells so severe I was near fainting. Add to that IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), typical of someone with anxiety and/or fibromyalgia, and I was living a cautious life of what I could and couldn’t do, where I could and couldn’t go.

Finally, I got fed up with the pharmaceutical industry and my need for a drug to help me live this gift of a life I’ve been given. I wanted to live it fully and completely, without abandon, without worry, which you can imagine is difficult when you have GAD. (Generalized Anxiety Disorder)

Just another label I was determined to kick to the curb.

No Labels!I’d decided to no longer own these diagnoses by calling them my anxiety, my fibromyalgia, my IBS, etc. They weren’t mine at all, and I was done telling myself they were or allowing the medical profession to lead me to believe this.

Please note, I’m not saying medication for illnesses, mental or physical, is a bad thing. Sometimes medication is necessary. But I think it has become a crutch, a way of making life easier rather than better. Easier and better are not synonymous.

I’d done some research on nutrition and made the decision to use food as medicine.  Two 90-minute sessions with a nutritionist changed my life in unimaginable ways. She taught me what foods aggravate the conditions that plagued me and which helped. She looked at my blood panel and showed me what supplements my body was lacking, further aggravating the conditions.

For three weeks I was to cut out all gluten, all dairy, all processed foods, all sugar, and coffee, eating only clean, whole foods. It was a complete change from the way I’d been eating and took some getting used to. Sugar was by far the most difficult. It felt like I was an addict craving my fix. Sadly, that wasn’t far from the truth.

I was given a specific regime of supplements to take, among them magnesium citrate, 3000 mg daily of fish oil, 5HTP, zinc, methylated B-12, L-Glutamine, and digestive enzymes. Since I’m not a big meat eater, she suggested a plant-based protein drink as well, since dairy was out.

Fully committed, I stopped off at the health food store on my way home from the first session and purchased what I needed to get started. (I had already begun weaning myself off of my pain medication and SSRI weeks in advance.) During those three weeks of abstinence from all of the possible trigger foods,  the pain and anxiety all but disappeared.

I’d never felt better in my life!

After three weeks was up, I began re-introducing each of the potential trigger foods I cut out at the beginning of this plan, one at a time, to see which affected the symptoms of each condition. It took one day to see that dairy was a culprit. Pain took up residence once again. During this process of reintroducing each of the foods, I found gluten to be another culprit. I found too much sugar to just make me sluggish and not operate at my best capacity, which seemed to instigate pain.

With my new way of eating, no dairy or gluten and limited sugar, and taking my supplements, I’ve been completely off of all medication and have never felt better. I live the life I’ve always dreamed of, and since I sleep better than I have in a very long time, I now have energy that had been lacking for years. I go where I want to go, when I want to go there, and do what I want to do.

Sunrise

Another bonus? I no longer use food for comfort. When I eat, I pay attention to what each food item I’m eating is doing for my body and how it’s helping me. It’s changed my attitude about food from that of comfort to sustenance and nutrition.

Medication and illness don’t own me anymore. I own my life. And my life is spectacular!

 

Thankful Thursday – Free From Pain

For anyone who has fibromyalgia, or knows someone who does, you know the toll it takes on a body, both physically and mentally.  The pain can be debilitating during the day and can keep you awake at night causing your body and mind to become fatigued from lack of sleep.  Even when you think you’re asleep, the pain keeps you from falling into a restorative deep and restful sleep, leaving you feeling lethargic and with little to no energy in the morning.

I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia many years ago when I was a single mother with two young energetic boys.  During the flare-up that led to my diagnosis, my muscles and joints hurt so badly I couldn’t even walk up a flight of stairs, much less effectively parent my two boys.  Thank goodness their father was able to pick them up and keep them for a couple of days until I was able to somewhat function again.

As the years passed, flare-ups appeared during difficult, stressful times in life, if I worked out too strenuously for too many days in a row, or if I went on eating binges of food too delightful to pass up.  Sure, I felt the pain after, but sometimes in the heat of the moment it was easy to forget the consequences as I shoveled that second piece of cake into my mouth or that extra handful of M & M’s.

During the past six months I decided to re-evaluate how I was treating my body.  The fibromyalgia pain was more constant and more severe, seriously intruding into my normal daily activities.  There had to be an answer.

I visited my doctor who gave me a prescription of Flexeril to take before bedtime and Neurontin to take during the day.  I’m not a good patient when it comes to taking medication, so I decided to do a little more research on my own for an alternate answer.

The biggest culprits for me had been lack of sleep–which I mentioned earlier is common with fibromyalgia because one can’t sleep due to pain, said pain causes lack of sleep…and on and on in a vicious cycle, stress, diet, and exercise–or lack thereof.

Since life itself is stressful, I realized stress was inevitable.  However, the way in which I was dealing with it had room for improvement.  A lot of room, actually.  That’s when I began to take yoga and meditation seriously.  And it has helped tremendously. While I still don’t handle stress in an exemplary way, I’m learning, steadily improving and getting stronger.

Runner

 

 

 

 

 

I was a bit obsessive about running and working out, and have learned and implemented new workouts that give me a great cardio workout, like bicycling, cardio boxing, and a library of favorite DVD’s, as well as more muscle toning exercises, that have allowed me to cut back on running.  Also, I’ve given myself permission not to engage in vigorous exercise every day.  I’ve developed a healthy balance which has developed a healthier and less painful me.

As for diet, I had read that dairy, artificial sweeteners and gluten are the three biggest culprits for triggering fibromyalgia symptoms.  I knew right away that cutting out all three would never work for me.  I’m not that disciplined when it comes to food.   I weighed the pros and cons of trying each one individually to see if excluding any of them would make a difference.  Bottom line–I’ve cut way back on artificial sweeteners, choosing sugar over a sugar substitute. I haven’t, however, been able to give up my vice, A & W Ten.  Although a friend told me recently that there is a root beer that is made with Stevia. I will have to look for it. 🙂

Since my husband has Celiac disease and I cook for him by those guidelines, the obvious choice was to try eliminating gluten.   I have to say what a HUGE difference it has made.  In the past six months, I’ve rarely had a headache, which was becoming a daily event, my daily activities are no longer curtailed, my pain has been kept to an absolute minimum, and I haven’t been waking up groggy, exhausted, stumbling through brain fog, feeling that way as well throughout the day.  While I still have an occasional flare-up and I still take an occasional Flexeril tablet at bedtime, I’ve not had to take a single Neurontin, which was prescribed to take on a daily basis, several times a day.

Gluten-Free Blueberry Walnut Muffins Sprinkled with Cinnamon

Gluten-Free Blueberry Walnut Muffins Sprinkled with Cinnamon

The fact that one ingredient is so toxic for me and has the potential to do so much damage and cause so much pain is enough to keep me away from it even when I see something that before would have been irresistible to pass up.  Gluten = poison to my body, and from what I’ve read, it reacts that way to many others with fibromyalgia.   So for anyone who reads this who suffers from chronic pain, it’s worth a try so you can have a shot at living your best life and lifestyle.

And the best news? I still get to eat my Greek yogurt.  🙂

Healthy Choice Vanilla Bean Greek Frozen Yogur...

 

 

 

 

All is Grace