I’ve suffered from health issues for a number of years now. It started after my first son was born, and got progressively worse until my second son was born. For a while it seemed to get better, and then suddenly when my son was a couple years old it hit me worse than before. I saw doctor after doctor but they had very few answers even after running every test they could. I was finally given several different diagnoses and a handful of medications that might help.
By this point I felt discouraged, rundown, and exhausted and I still had more questions than I had answers.
Just ten years before I had been in my mid-twenties and I was healthy, active and saw the doctor once a year for a checkup. This spiral downward had me questioning everything, especially the doctors who couldn’t figure out why my body wasn’t working the way it’s supposed to. Instead of looking at me as a whole person, I was a part to one and a different part to another, and though individually they could address some of my symptoms with medications, they couldn’t get to what was causing all of this in the first place. The medications came with an impressive list of side effects and I was advised that I would have to decide if the side effects were worth it to treat the symptoms. For me, they were not. They caused more problems than the solved, but no one had real answers and I hit a dead-end unless I wanted to go through all of the tests again.
So I suffered for a while because I was too tired to do anything else.
During this time I was introduced to the Paleo lifestyle by my husband’s friend and for the first time I found something within my control that had the potential to help. It didn’t solve all of my problems or stop all of my symptoms, but as I started making changes to my diet, a little bit at a time, I started to see small changes that at the time made a big difference in how I felt.
I spent five years studying everything I could find on how diet affects health and body wellness and I knew that whether or not it addressed the core illnesses in my body, it would be a change for the positive for me, and it was.
After finally being diagnosed with two autoimmune diseases last year, my doctor offered to do surgery to help address some of the more debilitating symptoms. He told me it still wouldn’t address all of my issues, and because I am still young, I could choose to wait without risk of further complications if that’s what I wanted to do. I chose to postpone surgery for now because it will be a major surgery and it comes with its own risks and potential complications that I’m not ready to take on yet. I opted instead to spend six weeks following an intensive autoimmune protocol diet in an attempt to see if I could control at least some of my symptoms through diet. At the end of my six weeks I felt the most amazing I had felt in years.
But little by little I started to slip back into my old ways of eating and preparing meals, which though healthy, included foods that were causing chronic inflammation and many of my symptoms came back in full force. Let’s face it: a diet that requires a substantial amount of planning, cooking, and balancing isn’t easy and the time it took to follow this diet for myself while still preparing other foods for my family made it hard to maintain. At times my work schedule and our homeschooling schedule would interfere and I would have to choose which one we would do that day. I thought many times since about going back on the AIP diet. I know it can help. I know it can heal. I know it isn’t for everyone, but it worked well for the diseases I have. But it’s tough; I’m not going to lie.
So this year, my intention is to change one thing in my diet at a time. My intention is to be purposeful in what I eat, but to do it gradually so it becomes sustainable over time for me. I have shifted my focus from treating my symptoms to healing my body through diet and nutrition, and as the healing happens, it seems the symptoms lessen.
There are times I miss mindlessly grabbing something to eat at the grocery store without having to give it thought and consideration, but I remind myself that this is what intentionality is all about. It’s about making the decision to give thought and consider to what you do or the choices you make in order to have a lasting effect into the future. It makes it a little easier to know that not only do I benefit from healthier food and lifestyle choices, but I set the example for my son going forward. THAT makes it all the more worth the effort.