My whole life, I have had issues with my beloved digestive system. I remember as a kid in the 2nd grade, deciding to spell the word “throat” wrong (I spelled it “throte”) just so that I could get out of the competition to go use the restroom. Even into my college years, I had outrageous anxiety that manifested itself in my poor little digestive system. Being in the choir didn’t help- having to stand on stage for two hours in a hot velvet robe would make anyone a little queasy.
Over the past ten years I have been on a somewhat haphazard journey toward trying to figure out what foods make my stomach happy, and which ones don’t. It all started when I discovered Atkins back in 2003. The hubby and I went on it together, he lost 15 pounds and became a total stud, and I found myself sneaking boxes of Krispy Kreme into my mouth on my way home from work. So much for that. Did I mention willpower is an issue?
That year I became friends with an amazing woman who introduced me to whole foods. She was a vegetarian at the time, and I was completely in awe of her ability to saute tempeh with spinach and make it look amazing. I read up as much as I could about the affects of food on our systems, but still couldn’t come to a reasonable conclusion about my own body.
Next up was my very brief stint as a vegetarian (ahem, a few weeks, on and off). I read Skinny Bitch and was completely convinced. I also felt very strongly (and still do) about the ethical treatment of animals and was completely disgusted by the modern food industry. But alas, I could not shake my love of animal protein in all it’s various delectable forms.
In 2010 I went through a serious and sudden health situation. I came out of it completely iron-depleted, anxious, consistently nauseous, and feeling simply awful. My first move was to visit a naturopath, who quickly informed me that… EUREKA! I have a serious sensitivity to wheat and gluten. Not celiac mind you, but sensitive. Cow’s dairy is also not my friend. I felt like the heavens had been opened, and the sun came bursting through! But, after a few months of eliminating as much wheat/gluten and dairy as possible, I still found myself feeling tired and not digestively content, if you know what I mean.
This past winter, I found myself at work feeling completely awful. Exhausted, headache-y, no good. I let my boss know I needed to check out for the day, and headed straight over to Borders (R.I.P.). I decided to browse the aisles of the nutrition section. After all these years of reading and trying to improve, this is where I end up? But I looked down, and it was like a divine appointment. The title of a particular book caught my eye- The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. I thumbed through and decided to buy it.
The main jist is that grains, dairy and legumes are simply not beneficial to your health. GASP! I know. It flies in the face of all that is nutritionally holy. But it makes sense, and it is the first thing that has ever truly worked for me. It encourages us to eat like our ancestors did- vegetables, animal protein, fruit, nuts, and seeds. It also encourages local, sustainable, and ethical eating. It’s not a flash in the pan “diet”, but a framework for how to eat well. I cannot say that I have been a faithful follower since my pregnancy began (can we say CASSEROLE CRAVINGS?), but I can say that when I eat this way, I have never felt better in my life. It is my ideal way of eating, and even though I often do not live up to it, I plan to do my best, especially with the new baby on the way.