Friday, October 22, 2010

Changing, Growing and Always Learning

"We're always perfect, always beautiful, and ever-changing. We're doing the best we can with the understanding, knowledge, and awareness we have. As we grow and change more and more, our 'best' will only get better and better." —Louise L. Hay, from Experience Your Good Now!

I love how life and its lessons keep building on each other allowing us to learn just what we need at the time, and then learning a bit more, until we finally find a place that feels right with who we are.

For the last eight years I have been adapting my diet, trying to get it closer to what works best for my individual body and closer to a philosophy of eating that feels right to me.  Each step along the way has prepared me for the next step of where I need to be.   

Weston A. Price:  I learned about WAP about eight years ago from a friend who purchased the book Nourishing Traditions.  This was my first big change in diet and also the first time I began thinking about my beliefs about food.  I began making my own kefir, soaking grains, and drinking whole raw milk.  A year later I would be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and stop all use of gluten and dairy.  However, I took some wonderful beliefs with me from WAP like buying grass fed meat and free range eggs from farmers I trust and know. Also, I learned about eating good fats like coconut oil, coconut milk, real butter and fish oil.  It was at this time that I learned about Vitamin D and began questioning the politics and motives of drug companies. 

Elimination Diet:  My diet was completely changed again in November 2004 when I saw my naturopath for the first time and she put me on an elimination diet to see if we could calm the inflammation with changes to my diet.  I cut coffee (the most difficult for me to give up), gluten, dairy, citrus, nightshades, peanuts and sugar.  Within two months of going on the diet my inflammation rates were back within normal and within a year I was in remission.

Gluten/Dairy Free Diet:  Once I was in remission, I stayed on a gluten/dairy free diet but unfortunately added many other things back to my diet. Sugar was the biggest mistake. I began baking a lot of gluten free muffins and cakes.  Although I reduced the sugar content for these baked goods, they were back in my diet along with many new grains.  I know for certain that sugar affects my body and I am pretty sure that even gluten free grains affect my body.

Body Ecology Diet:  In September of 2009 I went on the Body Ecology Diet.  This diet took many of the things I learned about nutrition from WAP and my naturopath, but refined it even more.  My intake of foods prepared outside my home became less and less.  I eliminated many gluten free grains and consumed a lot more veggies than ever in my past.  Although my rheumatoid arthritis inflammation continued to grow, the diet helped other health issues I was experiencing.

Paleo Diet:  About two months ago I started the Paleo Diet.  I have been encouraged by many friends and readers that perhaps my next step in health was to reduce/eliminate my intake of all grains.  I have recently been thinking that the increase in "gluten free" grains and sugar during remission may have been what helped me move out of remission.  Maybe I am just not one that can handle grains. 

This diet philisophy makes sense to me and feels like the next step on my path to health.  I was already eating good fats (coconut oil, coconut milk, nuts, avacodos, etc), I had eliminated "gluten" grains, I had stopped all dairy and even at times eliminated nightshades and sugar. With the Paleo diet I continue to eat the good fats that have become a part of my daily routine as well as lots and lots of organic veggies.  I also continue to eat grassfed meat from farmers I trust.  What I have added to the mix is a total elimination of legumes and grains, gluten or not.  I like this diet.  I find that I am not bloated, and I am rarely hungry because the foods I prepare are filling.

The diet changes I have made in the last eight or so years have been about more than just looking great naked or clothed (although that is definitely a plus, right?), and more about creating healthier foods for my  family and myself.  Of course rheumatoid arthritis has played a HUGE part in my diet decisions.  But, over the years my reasons to choose healthier diets and continue to keep learning has evolved past just having a healthy family.  It feels right to support farmers who are creating a good environment for the food we eat, to support farmers who like me believe that we should eat fruits and veggies that come without pesticides, to teach my children that food can be their friend or enemy, to prevent additional disease for myself and family, to preserve the environment, and much more.  I have also learned that food is very political and what you eat has to match your individual beliefs. 

I have been spending a lot of time listening to podcasts by Robb Wolf of Paleo Solutions.  He talks a lot about autoimmune diseases and the effect food plays on our inflammation.  I don't know if the diet is helping my inflammation since I am now on medications for the inflammation, but if eating a clean diet helps my medications to work better in a clean body, than that is a bonus.  Plus, I just love the food I have been preparing AND eating this way makes maintaining my weight a cinch.  I recently discovered a great blog with recipes that work for real families.  As I play around with new recipes that supply my family with nutrious foods, it feels good. It feels like it matches both my body type and my philosophy of food.