Thursday, April 7, 2011

Learning and Letting Go

So I left you hanging yesterday, but I had to stop for fear no one would possibly read that much in one sitting! It’s a long story, and since I am writing for myself as much as anything, seemed like a good idea to go ahead and tell the whole story.

Before I say much of anything about internet research phase of my journey, let me assure you that I can be a cynic. A doubter by nature, I like facts, facts and more facts. A “Show Me State” native – I love me some proof. This is why internet research tends to frustrate me. I mean anyone can post anything on the World Wide Web right? Case in point: this blog. You can get some really bad medical information and advice in cyberspace, so I am careful – methodical, really. I read, cross-reference, cross again, look for qualifications, compare data and then do a thorough “common sense” evaluation.

Having said that, some things out there might still be wrong or misleading. It’s something you have to figure out as you go along and ultimately find what works for you and yours. I am confident that I have gleaned good information about my health and self-treatment to this point, and even have plans to meet with a qualified health professional soon.

After extensive research, I believe I am suffering from what is called “Candida Overgrowth”. You’ve probably heard of Candida referred to as a yeast infection, something most women, especially mothers, are familiar with. Nursing moms often find themselves dealing with thrush, which can passed from baby to mom very easily or vaginal yeast infections, which are so common in young women. But overgrowth is just like what it sounds – bigger and badder than a simple localized issue. My problems are gastrointestinal in nature and I’ve had to change my life to deal with it.

Yeast is a fungus that feeds on sugar. It also feeds on poor nutrition and stress. Hello – my life has been a whirlwind of sugar, stress, poor nutrition, sugar, sugar and more stress. I was like a hamster on that little wheel – the wheel was the chaos I’ve allowed in my life: junk food, sugar and caffeine addiction, crazy schedule, ridiculously high expectations of myself, no exercise and stress, stress, stress. Is it any wonder my energy was sapped, my strength was shot and I couldn’t make it through a day without a nap followed by a caffeinated beverage?

Add to this the environmental factors we all face, topped with repeated prescription antibiotic cycles over the years for sinus infections and the like. These antibiotics kill very well and they can help, but they are indiscriminate killers – wiping out all the healthy, good flora in the intestines. The tiny amounts of probiotics found in grocery store yogurt can’t even begin to mount a serious defense against the onslaught caused by these drugs. This gives the Candida an opportunity to gain a foothold that is not easily removed!

The answer to my problem was to starve the yeast, kill the yeast and flush the yeast out of my body. Easier said than done – truly. I’ve opted to detoxify and eliminate the following food groups: refined sugars, refined carbohydrates, gluten, yeast and gasp, dairy. I thought sugar would be hard to let go of, but the dairy has been tougher in its own way. (Pizza is one of my family’s main food groups!)

Here is what I am avoiding:
- Sugar (brown, raw, all the ones that end in “ose” like glucose, dextrose, etc., agave, honey, etc.)
- Yeasts and distilled items (wine, vinegars, breads)
- Most grains, including wheat & oat
- White pasta, bread and rice
- Corn
- Soy

This leaves the following for me to eat:
- Leafy greens, vegetables, berries, sour green apples and lemons/limes
- Whole grains like brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, buckwheat & amaranth
- Lean chicken, beef and some fish
- Almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
- Stevia and xylitol for sweeteners

Part of this plan also involves ridding myself of toxins, so I am eating only organic fruits & veggies, no genetically modified foods (or GMO’s), and lean proteins that are grass-fed, raised without antibiotics or hormones, free range and organic. In other words, expensive. When complaining about the prices at Whole Foods recently, my friend told me her husband refers to Whole Foods as “Whole Paycheck.” I laughed until I cried, then cried some more because I am going broke on this diet! Not really. Not completely, anyway.

But here is the amazing part of my story – I feel wonderful. I did not experience sugar withdrawals at all and have no explanation for this aside from the grace of God! Some symptoms that have disappeared in the past three weeks I have been eating this way include: heartburn, headaches, exhaustion, gas, bloating, chest pain and brain fog. Oh, and I have almost no ear wax anymore. Strange but true. If you can tell me what that means, I sure would appreciate it.

And the best part? I’ve lost nearly 12 pounds in just over two weeks. WITHOUT EXERCISE! Imagine what will happen when I add working out to this program!! The weight loss is nice, but the really significant thing is that I am shrinking – my face is thinner, my tummy is flatter, and I just feel smaller and lither overall. It’s likely that this is the result of giving up on dairy and I don’t know if I will ever add it back. Along with diet soda. If you are reading this, please do one thing today – STOP DRINKING DIET SODA! Get rid of aspartame altogether as a personal favor to me. Please and thank you.

There is more to share and I plan to do just that, so stick around for updates, recipes and more tips on making similar changes in your life!

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