August 04, 2016

getting healthy & healing my gut

have you heard of the elimination diet? i hadn't, until i talked with my midwife about my postpartum depression. almost immediately after baby was born, i got postpartum depression real bad. like, i couldn't leave the house much, would get incredibly anxious if i did and if i was around a lot of people, i had a sense of hopelessness and dread, and at times wondered 'what's the point of all this?'. i was in a very dark place and needed help.

i reached out on facebook and instagram to see if anyone else was experiencing or had experienced the sameish thing and so many people told me to get my thyroid checked (still haven't!). so i made an appointment to see megan and this is what she told me:

we need to heal your gut.

wait. what? my gut? but what does that have to do with my brain? emotions? hormones? the 'my life is over' feelings?

apparently, a lot.

she explained to me that we're discovering that our gut has a whole hell of a a lot to do with how we feel, and not just physically. it has more neuro-transmitters in it than we thought, which is in tandem with your brain, which can affect your emotions and hormones and a whole lot of other stuff she talked about that i can't remember. and so, she would like to put me on the elimination diet for four weeks, journal how i feel through out the process, and at the end of the four weeks, report back to her. now, there are a lot of variations of the elimination diet and it's mostly widely used to find a culprit in what's making you feel (bloated, tired/sluggish, sick, in pain, etc) and you slowly reintroduce certain foods back in, one at a time, to find that culprit. we weren't entirely doing that-she just wanted to heal my gut. so, this is what i can't have:

  • gluten
  • corn
  • soy
  • refined sugars
  • dairy
  • coffee
when she said no coffee, i almost died! i've been a solid coffee drinker for fifteen years! i wasn't ready to give that up. i could live without all the other stuff, but coffee? apparently, anything acidic is no good for healing gut issues. dammit. 

i went home and my husband and i started planning our new, revised grocery list and started to prepare for this new way of eating. not that i was eating poorly before (no junk food, no fast food, and i'm a vegetarian), but i was definitely eating bagels and toast and using milk to bake and pizza and having some sweets here and there. plus the corn and soy were also consumed often. this was going to be hard. impossible!

and it has been hard. plus, i got sick in the first week! (in hindsight, it was best that i did because i don't think i would have ever been able to quit coffee if i hadn't. whenever i'm sick, i just can't do coffee. blessing in disguise.)

i'm currently the only one in my house following this regiment. of course, i didn't expect everyone to follow suit, but it does bum me out when my husband brings home stuff from the store that i can't have, but love. but, i have restrained! yes, duh, i've cheated a few times. like, i can't live without pizza and when your mom brings over two packages of store bought sugar cookies in pink and blue, you just have to have one. or four. but maybe five times i've 'cheated' in the almost three whole weeks i've been on this diet, so hmpf. plus, it's very difficult to be creative with a very strict, limited diet, especially when you're the most uncreative person in the kitchen anyway, but i think i'm doing pretty damn good. and this is why...

the fog has lifted. no more depression. no more 'what's the point?' moments. no more feeling like my life is over. sure, i still get overwhelmed. i practically have no help 15/7 and my baby thinks it's awesome to still nurse every hour and a half. and i do still have my anxiety. but the fog? it's gone. i also have more energy. i don't feel burnt out by noon and can last until about 5pm or so. 

added bonus: i've lost 12 pounds!

i wasn't even trying to lose weight because mom bod and postpartum is real, so who cares? but i'm not gonna lie... it's pretty rad to fit into pants two sizes smaller than you were pre-pregnancy. so i'll take it! but this diet has been a game changer for me. emotions taken care of? check. body taken care of? check. health? check. i have never felt healthier in my life, and i can tell when i eat any of the above mentioned forbidden foods. 

this is what happens when i have reintroduced the following:

sugar-headache, bloated, sick feeling
gluten-bloated, headache, sick feeling

that's pretty much all i've reintroduced as i am forever giving up dairy (help me with some good gluten-free, dairy free, sugar-free pizza recipes, please!!), gluten, refined sugars, coffee, corn, and soy. okay, i might have soy on occasion.

and this new lifestyle change with eating has really opened up some more doors, as i am thinking about growing a garden. i'm also finding more ways to be healthy and really extending that into household items and toiletries as well. i've made some unpaper towels for our kitchen and decided to bring the menstrual cup into my monthly cycle routine. (blog post to follow soon on that journey). 

i'm incredibly thankful for this season in my life. i think my body knew that i needed this change and gave me some postpartum depression to really heal my body, gut included.

i'd really love for you to share with me some of your favorite recipes below that go in line with this diet (or even ones that can be substituted for things i can have). i'd really appreciate it, as i'm incredibly uncreative in the kitchen. 

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