Posted on February 17, 2016
Wellness Wednesday: What Are You Fueling Your Body With?
If there’s one common bond we all share, it’s food. We hover over towers of cupcakes to celebrate birthdays, pizza is tastiest when shared with a loved one (or your entire soccer team), and the kitchen is the heart of every home. We eat to maintain health, but we also eat to share, to celebrate, and to honour traditions.
Like you, I love food. Let me say that again with more emphasis: I love food. Sweets are my downfall and I could eat Mexican cuisine every single day. The more cilantro, the better. And what’s any dish without garlic or gooey, melted cheese?
I am a child of the ‘80s. My generation was raised on processed foods: gallons of sugar-spiked lime Kool-Aid, grape Fruit Roll-Ups wrapped around our fingers at recess, chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast (and sometimes for dinner), macaroni ‘n’ cheese, and boiled hot dogs. At the time, those foods seemed heavenly on my palate while simplifying the life of my busy parents. However, nutrition is usually the first sacrifice made for the sake of convenience.
This is not to say I didn’t eat healthy foods growing up. One of my fondest childhood memories involved picking carrots out of my Opa’s expansive garden, rinsing them off with the hose, and eating them bunny rabbit-style. My mom was adamant that my dinner plate had at least one vegetable on it, if not two. But despite her best intentions, my cravings were always for the worst kinds of foods. I have never understood people who can be satisfied with an apple when their sweet tooth throbs. I want milk chocolate, and I want it instantly.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve quite obviously expanded my culinary horizons. I love to cook my own meals and it’s important to me to fuel my body with quality ingredients. I still fight the urge to grab something quick and easy (while completely depleted of nutrition) over something that takes a bit of effort but is much better for me. Which leads me to where I am today.
For as long as I can remember I’ve struggled with myriad symptoms such as eczema, low energy, and adult acne on my jawline to name a few. And now that I’m in my mid-30s, weight is seemingly impossible to lose no matter what I do. Unfortunately, for about 99.9% of us, the food we eat is directly connected to health issues we deal with. I recently started seeing a naturopath, and together we’re creating a huge change in my kitchen and, hopefully, within my body.
During my first appointment with Dr. Krueger, we spent the entire 45 minutes discussing my health, my concerns and symptoms, and the health conditions my relatives have dealt with. At the following appointment, she conducted the most thorough physical examination I’ve ever experienced – it was far more comprehensive than anything my family doctor has ever done. She also withdrew two vials of blood to be tested for food allergies, candida, and thyroid function.
Dr. Krueger also asked me to keep a food diary for one week of everything I ate, supplements I took, and how my mood and energy dipped and spiked throughout each day. I thought to myself “piece of cake!” In my mind, I ate pretty well most of the time and indulged once in a while. As it turns out, I tend to indulge most of the time and eat well once in a while. When I showed my food diary to my doctor, I was embarrassed and she was largely unimpressed. “You eat like every day is your birthday, Keira.” And she was right.
That was a month ago. I’ve since received the results of my blood tests and learned a lot of new information that is completely unique to only me. As it turns out, I have a massive dairy allergy and probably have for all my life. Plus, so many of the ingredients I love are actually trigger foods for inflammation, low energy, and that general feeling of “icky” that plagues me. Garlic, peanut butter, ginger, gluten products, pineapple, and eggs are out.
Speaking of peanut butter and pineapple, I also tested positive for candida overgrowth. If you’re a human being, you’d probably also test positive. And my thyroid is a little wacky, functioning at a sluggish rate for a woman of my age and height.
The solution? Three months without dairy and my other trigger foods. Three months of gut-loving supplements to reset my tract. Three months until I feel entirely renewed. I know what you’re thinking – “I could never live without _____________!” But when you’re ready to make a change, you’d be surprised at how easy it is to give up the foods you thought you couldn’t live without. Plus, I can still have guacamole with tortilla chips, chocolate, and red wine. Win, win, win.
For some, making a change to the way we eat is gradual and for others we need a catalyst to give us the kick-in-the-butt we need. I want to be the best and healthiest version of myself. My desire is to be mindful about every single thing I put in my body is what drives me. I have simply grown tired of treating my body like a garbage disposal. There’s a guarantee that there will be slips and slides along the way, just as in any journey.
If there’s one thing to remember it’s this: if nothing changes, nothing changes.