Author Topic: nummytummy's journey to raw paleo  (Read 3165 times)

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Offline nummytummy

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nummytummy's journey to raw paleo
« on: April 14, 2010, 01:12:41 am »
So I decided to re-organise my posts with the longer, detailed, more personal health history stuff put into this journal topic and the relevant questions put into the new members thread, in hopes that people will actually answer my questions now.  ;)

so here's a run-down of my health/diet/illness history:

Birth & Infancy: I was a colicky baby, which was not helped by my mother terminating breast-feeding and giving me infant cereals from the age of 3 months (at the doctor's advice). My baby self apparently couldn't digest this or the baby formulas, evidenced by continual vomiting and diarrhoea, so my mother fed me on homemade baby foods of mashed steamed vegetables and fruits, and then eventually adding rice and meats.

Childhood: Frequent headaches and stomach aches, extreme motion sickness and vomiting whenever I got in any kind of moving vehicle, was always very skinny and short, and grew and gained weight VERY slowly (I'm the shortest one in my entire extended family, and people always mistook my 3-years-younger sister as my twin, because she was nearly the same height from our respective ages of 2 and 5, and eventually outgrew me when I was 10. But she was a healthy baby from birth, while I was always skinny and underweight. Needless to say, I never caught up. haha). I had frequent ear infections and was put on antibiotics many times, also had my ears pierced but they'd always get infected and close up. I had horrible hay fever and dust and pollen allergies from a young age with mostly sinus symptoms. By the time I was 9 or 10 I'd developed allergies to cats (mostly sinus, itchy eyes) and nickel (skin contact dermatitis with itchy hives).

Grew up eating a mixture of traditional Korean foods--rice, vegetables, beans, seaweed, eggs, tofu, chicken, beef, pork, a bit of fish but I didn't like it as a child, was often given whole raw eggs to eat as a snack food in childhood, and lots of fresh fruit--and occasionally more American-style convenience foods of macaroni and cheese, pasta, pizza, bread, sandwiches, jello, milk (switching from 2% fat to skim when we were in elementary school), and some bad school lunches, which I generally found disgusting. Even as a kid, I tended to eat healthier and disliked sweet carbonated drinks and most fast foods, and I wasn't picky about most foods except I didn't really like seafood and nuts for some reason.

Adolescence: I started to notice that I'd have diarrhoea at school by around 10am if I'd eaten a breakfast of wheat cereal and skim milk. I chalked it up to lactose intolerance. I had a slew of psychological issues, some probably related to food, but mostly related to other things. I loved bread and pasta; Italian food was my favourite, but I'd get really stuporific after eating a big pasta meal, and even feel a bit "drunk" after eating some pasta and aged cheese. In retrospect I think it was a combination of wheat addiction, symptomatic of gluten intolerance, and a candida overgrowth.

I decided to go vegetarian at age 18. I never liked eating meat all that much even as a child growing up, and finally decided to go veg probably as an instinctive rebellion against the fast-food meat-eating society I was raised in. As a compromise to my parents, who were worried about my health, don't believe in food intolerances and maintain to this day that I should eat EVERYTHING, I started eating seafood, and kept eating eggs and dairy products. The only kind of meat that ever I missed when I went veg was always bone broth, either from beef tailbones or from whole chickens with the skin and bones, but fat skimmed off, which my mother cooked for us growing up.

College: A year of dorm food completely destroyed my health, which was never entirely solid to begin with. By the end of my first year of college, I was sick, weak, fatigued, sleeping 16 hours a day or more and waking up shaky and dizzy and completely unable to maintain my schoolwork. The cause of this was a terrible dorm food diet centered around carbs and grains, mostly pasta, pizza, bread and cereal, supplemented with salads, cheese, yogurt, eggs, occasional canned tuna, ice cream and an occasional sugary cafe latte. The food quality was so bad it was nearly impossible to have a feeling of satiety. I gained 10 pounds the first year (on an already small frame, 5'3" averaging 110 pounds). Finally I decided enough was enough, and that was when I discovered the internet as a source of health and nutrition information. I concluded I was hypoglycemic and needed to eat less protein and cut out all sugars and simple carbs. That's as far as I got then. I started to eat meat again, and a lot of cheese. My symptoms improved to about normal within a month or so. I went to a doctor, who looked at me like I was wasting her time, was utterly uninterested and unhelpful and said, well if you feel better, keep doing what you're doing.

Then I began to be sensitive to other foods and vomited after eating a fresh nectarine, which I attributed to food poisoning from another source. It happened again, but I still didn't make any connections. The following year I'd occasionally get nauseated and weak and vomit after eating certain foods. I'd switched to whole grain breads. At some point I read about celiac disease and it dawned on me that I was mostly puking up after eating foods that contained wheat. And after a week or two of consistent diarrhea after eating large quantities of plums and peaches in China, which I initially attributed to the greasy food there and the unhygienic conditions, as well as some other more minor incidents, I finally connected it with my post-nectarine puking incidents and realised I was probably allergic to stone fruits such as peaches, cherries, nectarines and almonds. I decided to try to find a doctor and went to the famed Dr. Mercola, who talked to me about eliminating grains and sugars and dairy (as I was lactose-intolerant) and all processed foods and to add a lot of vitamin supplements, digestive enzymes and probiotics. I took his advice, then talked to my parents and showed them my test results from some blood tests and a hair mineral analysis test. My medical doctor father went into a rage and said it's all bullsh** and that it was the stupidest, most unscientific analysis he's ever seen, and that all of my food intolerance stuff was just in my head and that I should stop acting stupid and just eat everything on my plate. My mother was equally oblivious/unsupportive, was horrified at the amount of (vitamin) pills I was taking, even though I felt a significant improvement in health from them, and continued to cook me things like pasta and cheesecake for my birthday and take it personally if I didn't want to eat it.

I spent a summer eating what is probably in retrospect more or less a clean cooked paleo diet--no grains at all, no sugars except for the occasional slip, just meat, mostly cooked beef and chicken and seafood plus raw sashimi, and then a lot of vegetables, mostly fresh leafy greens, and fruits and nuts. I also got a lot of exercise and was probably in the best health of my life so far, lost the pounds from the first year of college. Then I went back to school, was very stressed, had little support from my family in terms of my health and diet, began to doubt that I was gluten-intolerant, started bingeing on things like wheat crackers, cereal and ice cream, then started purging, became bulimic, gained back the 10-15 pounds and was probably in the worst health of my life. I also lived with a Brahmin hindu vegetarian who forbid the cooking of meat in our flat. I compromised by going across the hall to our friends' place to cook fish. I still ate meat, but infrequently, and ate fish more often. But the bingeing on "forbidden" foods and purging was what really ruined my health.

After maybe half a year of this I decided enough was enough and started reading books on overcoming eating disorders. The most helpful were the ones by Geneen Roth. Using her advice about eating when you're hungry, stopping when you're full and listening to your body and giving your body what it wants, and also dealing with the deeper emotional issues masked by the disordered eating, I finally got over my unhealthy eating patterns. And I slowly learned to love myself and my body and to look at food as something to nourish myself, instead of as something to punish myself. A key revelation.

Post-college: I got into yoga, which did wonders for my health, but at some point along the way I also decided to go vegetarian again. I'm not sure why. Probably moving to the Czech Republic with its not-so-tempting-to-me food culture of eating lumpy grey meats with lard and flour thickened sauces and mushy flour dumplings really turned me off to meat-eating in general. And probably getting more into yoga also made vegetarianism much more appealing. So for the past five or six years or so I've been on a varying scale of a vegetarian to semi-vegetarian diet. I'd eat eggs and dairy (mostly cheese and yogurt) more or less consistently, with fish on other occasions, and very rarely meat, and only if it was a special occasion, and usually out of hospitality if I was a guest at someone's house for the holidays.

It also took me awhile to finally convince myself that I really shouldn't be eating wheat--since my parents had fought with me on this issue so long and hard it really took a long time and a lot of bad wheat-eating experiences, and some compassion and special cooking from an ex-boyfriend's mom who was one of the few people to tell me how important it was to not eat foods you're allergic to, it really took me a long time to convince myself that it wasn't just all in my head, and that I should be doing what is best for my health based on my own experiences. I've never had an official diagnosis of celiac disease or gluten intolerance, or a full food allergy profile. I've tried a few times, but I've never found a doctor who's willing to listen to me or give me a test. They just tell me I'm healthy since I'm not sporting any cancerous tumours, clogged arteries or infectious lesions, and basically tell me to leave them alone and stop wasting their time, or if they do anything at all, it's just prescribe some medicine for the digestive symptoms I tell them about, which I never take, of course. Now I've totally given up on doctors and take it upon myself to solve whatever health-related issues come up.

Recent history: Generally I've experienced significantly improved health, both physical and psychological, as long as I stayed off wheat. I've never been a heavy drinker, and I've never smoked (was always strongly allergic to cigarette smoke even as a child), generally avoid caffeine, even in green tea, and I was exercising regularly. I was and am more or less happy with my weight and have stayed slim with decent muscle tone, especially since completely eliminating wheat from my diet, except I tend to accumulate whatever fat I do have (not much, around the 18-22% range) around the midsection, which I learned recently is a sign of adrenal fatigue and liver congestion. About six months ago, I also decided to cut out all alcohol and chocolate and caffeine and dairy, because I realised that I really could not digest it properly and felt better without it. I also started to exercise more. I was eating a LOT of eggs, sometimes up to 10 in a day, depending on the day, and also sometimes canned tuna and sardines and cod livers, probably because my body needed more protein with all the exercise I was doing. I wasn't eating a lot of fresh seafood, even though I would have preferred it, because it's hard to find here, not good quality, and expensive. In terms of food quality, my diet was as clean as you can get here--I avoid preservatives and food colourings, trans and hydrogenated fats, and sugar and artificial sweeteners. But the produce I'm eating is not organic, because it's hard to find organic sources for produce, plus it's prohibitively expensive and not even fresh.

More recently, about five months ago, I had a lot of stress in my life, was unable to sleep more than 3-4 hours at a time at night (would wake up between 1-3 am and not be able to fall asleep, key symptom of adrenal exhaustion), which lasted for over a month. I also had little to no appetite, but I still forced myself to go about my daily routine, including exercise, which inevitably burned me out completely. By the end of that month and a half or so, I was dizzy, shaky, exhausted, with intense cravings for seafood and FAT and a kind of fermented soy (sort of like natto but different), always feeling either too hot or too cold, needing to eat every 2 hours, still light-headed and weak, peeing all the time and constantly thirsty and drinking water, but still dehydrated, and also with intense anxiety, and no energy to do anything, not even prepare food for myself to eat. I finally flew home and had a full hospital checkup, in which they told me I'm well on my way to having osteoporosis (not the best news to hear when you're still in your twenties with regular periods and doing load-bearing exercises like acrobatics) and should eat more dairy (which I can't digest). My liver SGOT levels were also exactly on the high borderline level of normal, and I regularly felt pain in my liver area, but the doctor dismissed this as insignificant. They also found bilateral dermoid cysts on my ovaries, but they're supposed to be inert (non-responsive to hormonal changes, not like PCOS) and apparently should not be giving me symptoms of any kind. The only good thing is that I ate well at home, a lot of seafood, including abalone and fish and shrimp, and also some beef and chicken and vegetables and fruits and kimchi.

After some research I came to the preliminary conclusion that my liver was toxic. I did some castor oil packs and took Milk Thistle extract. I considered doing a full Hulda Clark-style liver flush (I'd done some a few years ago with positive results--got rid of intense itchy and painful hives and also eliminated my allergy to cats), but thought my body was too weak to handle it, so resorted to some gentler morning liver flushes instead. And I was eating some meat. This helped a bit, but I was still very weak and exhibiting severe hypoglycemic symptoms and brain fog.

I started taking cod liver oil, Ca, Mg, Zn, C, E, B-complex and sometimes spirulina, unsweetened sea buckthorn berry and cranberry juice and extra virgin coconut oil. I then did some more research and determined that my symptoms were caused by adrenal exhaustion. I tried various herbs and adaptogens, such as licorice root, eleuthero (siberian ginseng), Korean ginseng and gotu kola, but I found them too stimulating in my weakend state and that they caused anxiety and prevented me from sleeping at night. I spent a few weeks retraining myself to sleep early. This helped immensely in the healing process. I started taking Maca, which I've also read helps in adrenal fatigue and in balancing hormonal and glandular functions. It's the only herb so far that seems to give me some energy without overstimulating me, but I also started it very gradually.

I also discovered that the majority of my brain fog and a lot of my digestive symptoms went away after I eliminated nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, aubergines) from my diet. This new food sensitivity was a huge disappointment, because I'd been basically living on tomatoes and peppers, loved aubergines and pretty much all Mediterranean foods, and when eating out here, my primary wheat alternative was potatoes, so this has really limited my diet, and I'm also a fan of spicy foods, but I can't seem to digest any of this anymore. I think this is due to long-term extended exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke (everyone smokes everywhere here, and indoor smoking is still allowed--so backwards, but what can you do, move away I guess), since tobacco is also in the same family as the nightshade vegetables. But once I stopped eating them, I had a massive detox, with flu symptoms and my sinuses clogged up and dripping for days, as if all the nasty goop was draining from my brain and my mind felt clear for the first time in months.

More recent history: I started craving mussels, found a way to order seafood fresh and relatively cheaply, steamed and ate them in a massive frenzy, and began to have some energy. I began to eat fresh seafood--mussels (steamed), salmon (raw or brined--gravlax or smoked), tuna (seared), oysters (raw and fresh and soooo good)--and got a lot of energy from it plus a remission of the hypoglycemic symptoms. Then I had cashflow problems for a bit, didn't have money for fresh seafood anymore, and was eating mostly vegetables and rice for a week. All my symptoms returned, including the debilitating exhaustion and shakiness. Then a friend came over and made me a beef soup with carrots and parsnips. After a two day weekend of eating that I felt like I could actually function again, and the hypoglycemic symptoms were gone.

This leads me to where I am now. I kept thinking about the raw oysters, which were pretty much the best thing I've eaten in a long time, in terms of taste and energy effects. And I started to think that maybe I should eat more flesh foods, fresh and raw. Also all of my symptoms seem to point to a deficiency of B-vitamins, especially B-6 and B-12, as well as a copper-zinc imbalance, with an enormous zinc deficiency, and a need for more fats and protein. Somehow I came upon the idea of eating raw meat for energy and to shore up my vitamin deficiencies. I tried it after the beef soup weekend. For a week or so I was eating raw (organic) beef and lamb and also cold smoked salmon and found positive effects energy and mood-wise. Then I started to feel sick, probably from some questionable organic grocery-store-bought beef that I ate raw. I finally threw it out and found the halal butcher place for fresh grass-fed lamb.

So that's all in a really big nutshell. Thanks for reading. Any advice or suggestions are welcome. In the past two days I've found this to be the most helpful forum I've found so far for useful advice for health and nutrition. Thank you so much. I can already feel it's making a difference.

Offline Isthmus

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Re: nummytummy's journey to raw paleo
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2011, 08:29:36 pm »

I wish you the best with your journey. The more I have gotten into diet myself I am always amazed at how it seems to affect so many areas of my life.

Also there is so much information out there, more than one could read in a lifetime, and so much of it is contradictory! It's a really difficult topic, one that I don't believe anyone has all the answers to. Keep an open mind and heart and I'm sure you'll make lots of positive changes!



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