Diet Diary: February 13, 2009

COMPROMISES AND CONSEQUENCES

MY PERSONAL DIET/SYMPTOM HISTORY
When I started this cookbook project a few months ago, I had decided I would heed my own advice and only eat the foods I was recommending for my book. Though I have not been diagnosed with a digestive disorder, I know I have had issues my whole life. From my mother’s stories of needing to change my diaper frequently (of which I contributed my oldest daughter’s similar symptoms as hereditary and that I could do nothing about it) to more prevalent issues in my early teen years. I remember starving myself often at fifteen because I was tired of my belly hurting every time I ate. My problems also included gassiness, constipation, and many painful consequences related to the latter.

FROM DENIAL TO AWARENESS
The bottom line is that I knew there were certain things in my normal diet that were not good for me, but I had nothing to base it on and no adults or even doctors had any solutions. When my son was diagnosed with CSID, I became instantly aware of which foods were probably the triggers—sugars and starches. However, it seemed I could eat potatoes, oatmeal, and even corn without much issue. But it was not until the past few months that I really experienced a positive difference in eliminating most of the problem causing foods in my diet.

First, I eliminated all breads, pastas, and cereal. We are a very busy family, and I admit it is nearly impossible to cook every meal from scratch. I reluctantly go through the drive through at least twice per week, but have learned how to order the healthiest possibilities. These include grilled chicken, plain hamburger patties, and salads. I am not much of a soda drinker, but I would normally take a few sips to wash down my food, allowing my children to share the rest and do the same. However, I immediately noticed a difference in just sipping water on these occasions. At first, I just cut out the soda, still having a complete sandwich. I immediately noted when I had water, I didn’t have pain after eating. When I finally weaned myself off the bread too, I also noticed the bloating and gassiness went away.

It took a few weeks for me to take note of all the changes—but once I had eliminated all sugar (including foods containing high fructose corn syrup, Splenda or artificial sugar like aspartame) and starches (including potatoes, corn, cereal, etc)— I realized certain ailments I never contributed to my diet were also gone. Some of these included:

Fatigue and weariness
Dry, itchy skin
Irritability
Gassiness
Cramping before going to the bathroom
Headaches
Severe PMS (mostly extreme moodiness, fatigue and headaches the week prior)

One of the most interesting side-affects I noted was that after about a month or so of not eating the foods I suspected were harmful, I was no longer craving them either. I honestly would look at a package of cookies or a loaf of French bread in the store and it didn’t look good to me at all. I had no desire to eat it. Instead I was craving salads, steamed zucchini, and lemon water. Soon it had been two full months since I had taken any pain medicine, as my headaches started out more mild and were easily remedied with supplementing additional magnesium, calcium, and Bioplasma. I was also coming up with new recipes every night which only included permissible foods. I even lost about five pounds, even though I wasn’t overweight to begin with. Though in addition to my new diet, I had started exercising regularly, I don’t feel I was consistent enough to relate that much weight loss to exercise alone.

Also included in my new diet was the daily intake of almond flour-based foods. I was eating the pancakes, muffins and cookies that I used to reserve only for my son. I didn’t realize how crucial this part of my new diet was until I ran out of the almond flour.

LEARNING THE HARD WAY
Holding out until I could afford to buy more almond flour in bulk, I didn’t think it would be a big deal to go a week or two without it. Then, I found myself giving in to eating bread again. The first day I remember eating a polish dog with the potato flour bun, and then later for dinner a salmon burger on a bun as well. That was all it took. The next morning I woke up with a horrible headache. So I took my magnesium, calcium, and Bioplasma, admitting to myself I had slipped up and hoping I could resist the temptation to eat any more bread. But this time, only a significant dose of Advil would relieve the headache. Not only was I miserable, but I felt like a hypocrite. It wasn’t until a few days ago that I realized my bread intake had started within a day or two of running out of the almond flour.

Yet, I gave in again. And again. Pasta, bread, cereal, even soda. And now I am craving these things and finding them hard to resist.

Sure enough, all my other physical problems came back. Am I mad at myself for giving in? Yes, but the silver lining is that I have confirmed that even for myself, these foods are harmful. Maybe I have a gluten issue. Maybe its just sugar. My hunch is that I have probably damaged my digestive system to some level, but that I was also born with an enzyme deficiency and over a lifetime of eating the wrong foods, have made my condition worse.

EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT MY THEORY
In my research, I have read several resources related to digestive health and diet. The pH Miracle and The Acid-Alkaline Diet support the idea that certain foods cause our bodies to become overly acidic. Those foods include grains, pastas, sugar and artificial sweeteners. The symptoms of acidosis include headaches, skin irritations, and moodiness as the body attempts to bring balance by leaching crucial nutrients from major organs and bones.

More interesting is what I read in Breaking the Vicious Cycle, also supported in the pH theory—is what goes on in the lower intestine as a result of eating starches and sugars. Regardless of digestive sensitivities, everyone has good and bad bacteria in their digestive tract. The good bacteria keeps us healthy and fights off the bad bacteria. When we have ideal amounts of good bacteria, our immune systems are stronger, and we have less ailments overall. When the bad bacteria is prevalent over a lifetime, an array of problems arise– including the major illnesses which plague America such as Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity, and Cancer.

What I found interesting is that we can easily starve the bad bacteria by removing it’s
‘food’ from our diets. It feeds off of sugars and starches. At first, we crave these foods as this bacteria communicates with our bodies and demands more. But if we can go long enough without it, the good bacteria begins to thrive and we feel no need to eat the foods that were harming us.

I have no doubt that is what happened to me. Since I wasn’t a ‘junk food junkie’ to begin with, it didn’t take much to remove the breads and sugars from my diet. And it only took a few weeks to starve that bad bacteria. Unfortunately, it took even less time to introduce it back into my system and to begin craving it again.

ADDICTED TO CARBS
My conclusion—I have an addiction to carbs. I liken it to any other addiction (including my one to coffee). Ever since my ‘giving’ in about three weeks ago, I find myself eating what I knew I shouldn’t over and over again. I can relate to that alcoholic who knows he shouldn’t be having another drink, but does so anyway. And the next morning I suffer just the same as the consequences of what I put into my body reek havoc from my head to my bowels.

Now I must make a conscious effort to eliminate those harmful foods once again. With a fridge full of vegetables, homemade yogurt, and almond flour—I am ready to take it one day at a time and get back on track once again.

I would like to challenge the other moms out there to do the same. Take out the carbs in your diet and see if you don’t notice a difference. Make up the cravings with almond flour-based foods and try to keep the meat, cheese and dairy servings down as they contribute to acidity.

Homemade yogurt made according to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (described on Breaking the Vicious Cycle website link above), will also help to add the healthy bacteria. Let me know how it goes. Note your present symptoms or ailments, even if you don’t think they are related to your diet. Then see which of those begin to cease once you stop feeding the harmful bacteria.

I will be posting a Diet Diary regarding my personal choices as well as those for my children with CSID on a regular basis. I look forward to sharing our stories and giving hope and knowledge to those who need it the most.

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