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What worked for me is not guaranteed to work for you
All of us are different. No diet or exercise program works for all of us. If they did then there would not be so many diets and exercise techniques out there. I support anything that works for you. I just want you to take the time to figure out what that is. I am not giving you any medical or diet advice this post is just about my story on how I changed my lifestyle for me.
Why I changed my food
I started changing my eating habits because I was having trouble digesting some foods. Having a medical problem and going through the anger of not being able to live life as you used to anymore is hard. So I choose to be happy and limit what I eat so I can feel better. With Fibromyalgia we have come to find out it affects our digestive system. So changing our diets to easily digestible foods with high nutrients is key for us.
What caused me to know I needed a change
First I had to give up cow milk. My body could not process it without giving me heartburn and bloating. I am a true believer in listening to my body. So when I would get heartburn and bloating from drinking cow milk, I stopped drinking it. I know most people would reach for an antacid but that is just a mask. If your body is having a bad reaction to a food or drink listen to it, do not just cover it up. You could just be allowing more damage to happen to your internal body parts.
For me, gluten cannot be processed without a lot of pain and inflammation throughout my body. I took gluten out of my diet even before I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. My stomach will stretch out and make me look as if I am six months pregnant. And the pain, that pain would make me cry and pray for it to go away. The only way I could get this pain to go away was through natural remedies. I am a natural being so I choose to treat my body naturally.
Laying on my bed with a pillow and a heating pad placed under my stomach. I then drink two cups of ginger tea. Either make my own from a couple slices of ginger in hot water or I buy only one brand. Traditional Medicinals is the only brand that is good enough to trust both in quality and taste. Also, I will stay in my room alone because there is usually one way that gas is leaving me.
I had to also take eggs out of my diet due to my body’s inability to process them without pain. I never found anything that would help me if I ate eggs. The pain with them was a much harder stabbing pain than with gluten. Eggs were out of my diet about four months before the gluten was.
What gave us the big shove
In early 2017, very close to New Years, I watched a couple documentaries with my husband, on the China Study and some others on plant-based diets like Forks over knives. When the second documentary finished my husband asked me “what do you think about trying this, if it works for you I will support you.” I had heard of plant-based eating helping people like me before this but I didn’t want to change our family’s habits without support. So we started changing our eating habits together the next time I went food shopping. That is all we saw them as, eating habits, not a diet. This was a chance to see if a change in my food would actually help me feel better.
How we started the change
As a couple, my husband and I talk about everything. So we took the time to discuss how we would make this drastic change. Because we both loved the taste of our meat and dairy. Goodness knows, as most of you feel I am sure, I was the queen of cheese. And butter, heck I was raised on that, why use 1 tablespoon when a whole stick will do.
Sign up for the Four Week Food Change Challenge worksheet below
I bought a journal just for this new eating plan. I thought the text on the cover of the journal was very fitting. We decided we would have meatless dinners twice a week. When we did have meat, the meat would be thin cut fish or chicken breasts. We did quite well at this first part of our Vegan mission. It was a lot easier than most of us expect. I did not change my eating habits in the cold turkey fashion because that does not work for me. I know enough about myself that I must change my body and mindset gradually.
The first meatless meal I made was a vegetable soup that I already knew my family loves. (I was going to share that recipe but at this time I cannot find it.)
I always have to double recipes because we have a family of five so we had that soup for several dinners. When we finally finished that pot of soup my husband and I talked. It had been three days since we last ate meat. And crazy enough neither one of us were having a problem with not eating meat. Our kids were still asking for it but the two of us were just fine without it.
That night I took time to pay attention to my body and how it was feeling. I realized that for the last couple of days I been becoming better. I was less stiff and had more energy. Enough to where I had not felt the need to nap that day. I was quite impressed just by that but not completely convinced yet.
My husband and I ate meat a couple more times after the night we finished the vegetable soup. Then we talked once again, we decided that we should just kick the meat out of our diet. My journal was showing how I would feel a little better one day but then be down with pain and exhaustion again the day after we ate meat with dinner. That was enough to show me that being a vegetarian was worth it.
No dairy!! What? No!!!
We were meat-free for four months before I started taking the dairy out. First I took out the butter. Yes, my long loved butter. I quickly looked for a Non-GMO vegan butter because butter was very hard to stop using altogether. I cook for my family every day, several times a day so no butter was hard. First I tried a coconut oil butter then I found another one. My family likes the second one better and so does my wallet.
Cheese, my dear sweet cheese. Yes, I cut cheese out of my daily food intake. That is how I worked it at first. I started taking it out of my daily love affair with food a day a week. After my second week like that, I decided to take it out two days a week. I was very addicted to cheese. It took me a month to feel ok about going without cheese a couple days a week. But I finally let it go enough to place another restriction on myself. I took away cheddar. I know, can you believe it cheddar!? Of all the cheeses I decided to cut out of my diet first, I went with the one that has the most flavor. That was because I was pretty sure it would be the hardest to let go of.
I will tell you how I came to the decision of cheddar being the first cheese I cut out of my life. True to form, I listened not only to books written by experts but also to my body. I read books that said cheddar is the hardest cheese for our bodies to digest. With how low my energy was and how yuck my body felt after I ate cheddar cheese, I believed the experts. I realized that my taste buds loved cheddar, not my body. After a month of that, I only allowed Monterey Jack and feta in my foods lifestyle. Feta was the hard one to let go of because I love it on my salads or should I say my taste buds love it.
Now I eat for my soul and that is a whole new lifestyle. I found that if I eat what my body likes it will reward me with only 3-4 painful days a month. Only one of those painful days keep me in bed. My cognitive function is amazing. I rarely get brain fog only on that one day of tremendous pain. My cardiovascular system works great, I can jog 5 k’s now in 40 minutes. I do not know about stairs right now but at least I can run again and talk. Heart palpitations have not been a problem and I cannot remember the last time I dealt with vertigo. Life has been amazing since the switch. All it took was for me to pay attention to the needs of my body instead of my taste buds.
I know this blog post was long and I appreciate you taking the time to read it.
May the rest of your day be joyful,
Elyse with NaturallyFibro