That is a good question that deserves a little background information. 🙂
Many do not know that I’ve struggled with severe digestive problems for a long time. As a child and teenager, I ate pretty much anything I liked, with no repercussions; the Standard American Diet (SAD). In my early twenties, I continued eating a poor diet, filled with lots of processed foods, grains, alcohol, meat, dairy, and very little fruits or vegetables. Over time, my digestive processes got worse and worse. Due to the slowness of onset, and unawareness of my own destructive lifestyle, I never sought a doctor’s help for my tummy troubles, and pretty much tried to ignored them. It wasn’t until about a year ago, that it got so bad I HAD to do something. I could no longer deal with the terrible pain, severe bloating, IBS, and many other ills any longer. Just about EVERYTHING was making me seriously ill, and my entire life at that point was being affected; my self-esteem, vitality, marriage, ministry, faith, family & friendships. Something had to change.
I started talking to a friend about my problems, and she confided in me that she had been having severe migraines, and other problems, and was looking into natural ways of getting better. She told me how she took a food allergy test and had eliminated the foods that she was “allergic” to, and had great results! Finally, something I could try!
First, I talked to my doctor and asked if they had any “food allergy testing” available, or what I could do about my digestive problems. She told me I could go to the clinic in Detroit and they could do allergy testing there. Other than that, she said there was not really anything they could do to help me. 🙁 We drove all the way to Detroit, and were told they don’t do the kind of allergy testing I needed (even though they told me they did when I called to confirm it over the phone before we left). Disappointed, I opted for the “basic” allergy testing they did, for things like pollen, cats, dogs, 10 or 12 basic food items, and Celiac. I got the results and it showed nothing. What a waste!
I told my friend what happened and decided to try the same test she did, and take matters into my own hands. I did my food allergy testing through Alletess at foodallergy.com. I sent out for the test in July 2012 and got the results back from my doctor a few weeks later (My doctor was happy I did this, and encouraged me to keep her informed how it went). I was shocked! The list of “allergy” foods was a mile long! Among many others, the list included: Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Chicken Eggs, Almonds, Sesame, Peanuts, Corn, Vinegar, Canola Oil, Alcohol, Coffee, Black Tea, Beet Sugar, Cane Sugar, Vanilla Bean, Yeast, and a long list of herbs & spices. Something “bad” was basically in everything I had been eating. I was determined though, due to how horrible I was feeling, to stick to it and see if it could help. So for August and September I completely eliminated all of the “allergy” foods on my results list and started feeling tons better! YAY! Finally, some kind of relief! I lost 10lbs without trying, and was finally able to have meals and days without pain or problems. Although at home I was feeling good and had amazing support from my husband, social situations were almost impossible for me. I basically avoided any kind of social situation that could involve food for 2 months, and it was awful. I am a social person, and knew I couldn’t realistically keep this up and keep my sanity for very long.
It was in early October that we went on vacation to New York City, and since I had only been eating differently for a short period of time, was not able to stick with my new diet while we were away. On vacation, we ate a standard diet, and while I did not feel as terrible as I had before, I still did not feel great, but did not let it ruin my vacation. I just reverted back to my old ways, ignored it, and tried not to eat too much. As soon as I got home, I was again determined to stick to my diet. What I didn’t realize was that the social aspect I had missed for 2 months and had gained back in a week on vacation would be much harder to resist now. I reasoned, “I can eat really strict at home, and then just eat some “allergy” foods when social situations arise and I should be okay.” I was wrong. Over time, even though I was better than when I was at my worst, I was still having a lot of problems, and still not feeling well. I was eating a lot of Oats, Potatoes, Rice Pasta, Rice, Beans, and Meats, Butter, Greek Yogurt, and Oils. I thought I was doing good, staying away from my “allergy foods”, but all the while still not feeling good. At the same time, social situations were still extremely stressful and created high anxiety. I was always worried what I was going to eat, and if I was going to get sick. I constantly worried about not having food, being hungry, and would experience sudden drops in blood sugar levels that made me feel horrible when I wouldn’t eat often enough. I thought to myself, “I cannot live like this!”. What could I do? I prayed for help to find some relief…
My prayers were about to be answered! I began searching for answers and information on the internet and came across some youtube vloggers talking about “raw food” and vegan diets. I was very curious, and watched more and more videos. One of the videos recommended the book “The 80/10/10 Diet” by Douglas Graham. Willing to try anything, I ordered the book, and started reading it as soon as it came in the mail. I was engrossed in the book! It had the answers I had been searching for all along. I came to the conclusion that I had to try this lifestyle, and talked to my husband. He was so supportive, even though now looking back he says he thought it was crazy, and wouldn’t work. I also read a few other books, and watched more and more videos and read articles online about eating raw so I could figure out how best to go about it.
I started eating raw in February 2013, and it has been the best experience ever! A month later, when my husband saw how much better I was feeling, how I had no more pain and tons more energy, lost more weight and felt amazing compared to where I was before, he figured he might as well give it a try. Much to his (and my) surprise, he felt much better right away! He didn’t even think he felt bad in the first place. Within a few months, he lost 20lbs, his cholesterol went down over 50 points, he came off his cholesterol medication, and experienced the same boost in energy & great digestion that I had. We are both hooked! I am so incredibly grateful that he is doing this with me, and that we can support each other in our journey to better health.
Since the winter of 2013-2014, Jarrod and I have been including some cooked vegan meals as part of our dinners. We have adopted an eating plan that is similar to the Raw Till 4 Program that Freelee promotes on her website, rawtill4diet.com. Our dinners also many times follow The Starch Solution program by Dr. McDougall.
When I eat only fresh, ripe, raw fruits and vegetables, and some cooked vegan starches and vegetables, all my digestive problems are gone and I have the best digestion I’ve EVER had. I feel lighter and more energetic, vibrant, and so much happier. I now eat an abundance of delicious fruit for breakfast and lunch and before dinner, and I eat a huge bountiful rainbow salad for dinner with all the greens and veggies I care for, with small amounts of nuts and/or seeds. I also include a high carb, low fat cooked starch and vegetable vegan meal with my dinner most nights, and still have great digestion, and energy. I am not 100% raw or vegan, I’d say about 80% of the time I am, and the other 10% I try to choose the best vegetarian or vegan options I can, cooked or raw, depending on what circumstance I am in and what is available. Socially I no longer feel anxiety or stress, and am able to feel “normal” again. My unhealthy food cravings are gone, and I’m able to finally relax and focus on other aspects of my life other than food, like my faith, my marriage, my ministry, and my relationships with family and friends. I am so happy I found this lifestyle and didn’t ever think I could feel this good! I want to help others to truly realize we are what we eat and that if they want to feel great they can because it is so easy and fun! This is my journey, what has helped me, what hasn’t and what I’ve done along the way. I hope this can be encouraging to anyone who struggles with health and vitality, no matter what their age or circumstance. Thanks for reading 🙂