Ok, so after yesterday’s post where I laid out all of my angst about food, the judgmental and laughable ways we talk about it, and summarized some of the amazing mass of contradictory information floating around the interwebs- I want tell you what I REALLY think about food, what’s changed for me over the past year, what’s working for me now and what I’ve learned. Yesterday was my way of poking fun of something that is totally overwhelming for so many of us- that leaves us feeling like we’re falling short of an ideal or messing up our health in one way or another. It was a much needed laugh about something that has consumed so much of my thought and time these past few years.
So now I want to tell you what’s been going on with my health and diet, because sharing my challenges with Crohn’s disease and helping to raise awareness remains one of the things I’m most proud of with this site. As you may know, I’ve remained in remission from Crohn’s since my diagnosis in February 2011 (which does not mean I’ve been in perfect health- but does mean that I’ve not had a full blown “flare up” requiring hospitalization or medications, which anyone with Crohn’s can attest to as being a gigantic WIN!)
I thought that I’d found the answers to my own health quandaries when I started eating a diet loosely based on macrobiotics. And I have managed my Crohn’s that way (alongside lifestyle choices which mostly revolve around sensical things like managing stress). But I started having other health issues shortly after my diagnosis- specifically I started experiencing pain with my periods. Eventually it got so bad that I would spend 2-3 days per month in bed with horrible shooting pains and cramping. I was never formally diagnosed but was told it was most likely endometriosis. I was also experiencing SO much fatigue – I felt completely depleted and exhausted by 3 pm most days. I said “No” to so many things because I just didn’t have the energy I needed to do them. It was so discouraging because I felt like I was doing everything right- eating all the right foods, making all the right lifestyle choices. I felt defeated.
In January of last year I decided to look outside of macrobiotics for answers and started seeing an Ayurvedic doctor and an Acupuncturist. It was the best thing I could have done. Both doctors started treating me with herbs and asked me to make some dietary changes. I was completely surprised when both of them (working separately) told me that I would be best served if I would start including eggs in my diet. The Ayurvedic doctor recommended that I start eating chicken soup, the Chinese doctor recommended that I eat more nuts, black sesame seeds, and red meat. They both recommended I take a break from gluten.
It was a huge eye opener. I thought that eating a vegan diet (or mostly vegan diet) was the best thing for my system. But I was open to suggestions- I approached any changes with a completely open and willing mind. And I got better! Not immediately, but over the course of the past year. I no longer have pain with my period! (!!!!!!!!!!) I’ve regained so much of my energy and feel more like myself. I gained a little weight. And I let go of so many restrictions that I’d placed on my diet. I eat humane certified organic meat when I feel like it. I eat an abundance of vegetables. I eat dairy when someone puts a cheeseboard in front of me, I get drunk when I’m in the mood and I LOVE it! I eat fruit, and grains, and nuts and seeds, and oils. I eat humane certified organic eggs like it’s going out of style. I still avoid processed foods, sugar and gluten- most of the time. I still try to eat mostly organic, I still much prefer vegetables over meat or fish. But I’ve slowly been learning to listen to my body- and I’m a work in progress. My favorite thing is when my Acupuncturist tells me something specifically to eat, and then I come to see her the next week and tell her I just didn’t feel like eating it and she claps and says that’s GREAT- that I know what’s best.
Here’s the ultimate lesson I’ve learned these past years: THERE IS NO ONE RIGHT ANSWER, NO ONE RIGHT WAY, NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL APPROACH TO HEALTH. I wish so badly that I could say that what I’m doing is the way to be healthy. I wish I could pioneer a very specific diet that would work for everyone with an autoimmune disease, or everyone in general, or even 50% of people. I can’t though, I can only say it’s working for me. And it may change. I may change, by body’s needs may change. And I’ve learned to expect and accept that. I waited this long to tell you about these changes because I know that some of you look to me for guidance for your own health issues, and I wanted to be 100% clear about what I am experiencing. My biggest recommendation to those of you who struggle with your own health issues- or question your own eating habits- find a naturopath, ayurvedic doctor, or acupuncturist to guide you. If that doesn’t work, find someone else. Keep searching, listen to your body, listen to your gut, do what makes the most sense for you, drown out THE NOISE about what you should be eating/not eating and LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.
And finally, what does that mean for the recipes on this site? Not a whole lot at the moment- I’m going to keep my recipes primarily vegan or easily made vegan. I love plant based eating, I still believe eating whole foods is the best! I don’t particularly enjoy cooking with meat (though I have mastered a good chicken soup). So for now, things are going to stay pretty much the same. Thank you so much for all of your support, for all of your love. You all are truly the best part of A House in the Hills!!!! xx- Sarah