Gluten free, man. Went that way during Lent. My one-week reprieve to celebrate turned into three. Mystery dermatitis got worse, poops got weirder. Finally got back on the horse about six weeks ago, and my gut has finally returned to pre-Lent conditions. My body clearly takes a while to adjust and heal.
As a side note, one of the things that has stuck with me the most from Sarah Wilson’s guide to living with an autoimmune disease was a brief comment about not making harsh or abrupt changes, because it stresses the body that’s already stressed. I’ve tried abrupt changes before, and I can keep them up for a while, but always eventually fail. See nearly every previous post in this blog for examples. Changes that may take a healthy person days to notice will take me weeks.
My long-term goal is to live sugar- and gluten-free, minimizing other sources of carbohydrates (perhaps down to the SCD level), but I’ve realized that I have to go down that road slowly, to internalize and make peace with each change, because I can’t rely on willpower alone. There will be days when habit will be the only thing that will get me through.
During these six weeks, I’ve once adjusted to life without wheat. The first week was utter hell, when I had to outsmart my own brain every step of the way. Doing the wheat detox twice in 10 weeks was almost more than I could bear–I never want to subject myself to that again. I still miss bread and cake every once in a while (and donuts!), but those cravings are not part of my everyday life. I have adjusted adequately, I think, and my thoughts have turned to excising sugar.
Farther up and farther in.
The only way to go.
There’s nothing like piling back into a cozy bed armed with a bunch of creative materials to combat end-of-year draftiness in an equally drafty house. Something about the end of the year always makes me itchy, probably the very palpable reminder that another year has gone by and I still haven’t done anything–to me–that means something. Add that to the looming specter of my birthday in January, and my brain just goes down roads marked “Wasting Your Life” and “You Think You’re So Good, Don’t You.”
And so every year there are more goals to fail, more resolutions to break, more things with which to despise one’s work ethic…especially when your partner in New Years’ has spent this year launching a webcomic and actually updating her blog…and especially when you and she started your own joint blog which you promptly failed to update. And OF COURSE the solution to a failed blog is to start another one. OF COURSE (which is quickly becoming my new phrase, much to my chagrin).
Those things are neither here nor there, honestly. Every day is a new opportunity to kick apathy’s ass and to accomplish something. Here are some things to add to my daily routine:
- Yoga. In the morning. Bodyweight exercises plus stretches need to happen.
- Journalling needs to happen at night, to rid the brain of excess thoughts.
- As my Gastro prescribed, one liter of water every morning, first thing.
Of course there are a multitude of projects and things that always need to be done, and of course of course. Things will happen, things will probably not happen. The main thing is to forgive oneself and start anew each morning.
It’s been a little over a week so far. As far as improvements go, I immediately saw my psoriasis-inflicted finger get better, and the ring of mountainous zits on my chin has been reduced to some craters. Though one has popped up on my forehead. My skin was better four days after I quit sugar than it is now. Not sure why that is.
One thing that’s caught my attention is this: while I’m by no means completely brainwashed by The Banksters/”the man”/the zeitgeist/whatever, there are some myths that have still worked their way into my consciousness. Such as this one, which is popular with fashion and beauty magazines: fatty junk food will make you break out.
It’s sugar that makes you break out. I’ve been eating as much fat as I want this week, and my face is fine. In fact, the only remaining blemishes are the ones that began while I was OD’ing on sugar.
At least, this holds in my own little anecdotal world.
I’m starting over. This time, I’m armed with some new ammo:
This way, I’m sure to have a fighting chance. I stocked up on some tiny shrimp and avocados, am going to take half-and-half to work to stick in my tea, and allowed myself a big block of my favorite Irish cheddar. Last night, I made a big thing of pot roast with onions and carrots, and have some wine to distract myself when cravings get rough.
The biggest problem I see doing this all a second (third?) time is that I know how hard the first week is. I stopped eating sugar today, and I’m already feeling the effects–my head is all woozy. That’s the biggest thing, the switch from my body running on sugars to running on fat. The sugar withdrawals. The cravings. The times when I’m hungry in the supermarket looking for some quick food that won’t set me back a week.
It’ll be helpful for me to have something to compare against, so I can tell if I’m actually getting better. I have this terrible habit of adjusting to whatever is the “new normal,” and forgetting where I came from. So here goes:
» Roughly 153 pounds. Not obese, but enough extra poundage to make me a little uncomfortable in my own skin. Clothes getting a bit tight. Yay, post-prednisone weight gain.
» Don’t do much exercise, other than walking (I don’t own a car, so walk or bus everywhere). Do have a desk job, but stand for at least 1.5 hours everyday, and am usually out of my desk walking around a fair bit every day. And I fidget a lot.
» If I’m not in bed by 10pm or so, will fall asleep no matter what I’m doing. Sometimes I wake up in the night so I can brush my teeth, but most of the time will sleep until morning. Or will wake up and think about brushing my teeth, but have absolutely no willpower to do anything about it. Alarms set from 5.45am to 6.30am (yes, alarms, as in plural). One is across the room, so I have to get out of bed to turn it off. Usually crawl back into bed and pry myself out of it between 6.30 and 7.00. I’ve never been good at waking up.
» Gums are a little sore, definitely inflamed. Have started bleeding when I floss, which they never usually do when they’re this bad. My teeth pick up stray food constantly, and I HAVE to floss, or plaque sticks all over them.
» Have a bit of psoriasis on my left index finger. It’s painful.
» Mountainous zits on my chin. The pus-y kind.
» Dry skin. Even my scalp is dry. Have been using coconut oil as a moisturizer, but am a little afraid to use it every day because of the zits.
» Poo has been fairly regular, about once a day. This is probably because I’ve been eating salads. Other than a persistent perianal sore that won’t heal fully, I’m doing pretty well in the guts department.
» Mucus: like cement. I could use it as glue.
» Am getting a little bit of a runny nose.
And now that the TMI is done, I’m going to stop writing and pretend this never happened. By which I mean “go to bed.”
It’s terrible how it always takes something emotional to wake us up, isn’t it? We think we can be all logical and cool-headed, but we end up rationalizing instead of making the correct decision, until something punches us in the gut to wake us out of our pseudo-logical stupor. Of course I’m talking about me when I make these broad, sweeping statements. I’m sure somebody somewhere makes the best decision using only logical means. I thought I could be like that. Turns out I’m only human.
And once again, I turn my attention to what goes in my mouth. I’ve known the best path–or what seems to be the best path–for years. High protein, low carb, as extolled by Elaine Gottschall in the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, Michael Eades in his “Protien Power” lifeplan, and Keoni Galt, Mark Sisson, et al. in the Paleo diet. I get it. It makes sense from a scientific standpoint as far as I can tell (though I’m no scientist); neither Gottschall’s gut-microbe theory nor Eades’ insulin theory contain any wizardry of words and both jive with what I know of the body. But no amout of head knowledge changes the fact that I’d rather eat cake than spinach sauteed in butter.
Even direct evidence–a drink of beer leads directly to gut and gum deterioration–doesn’t help.
Still, I love cake.
But you know what I don’t love? I don’t love how I have to break out my tube of Bactroban every couple of months to smother another topical infections. I don’t love how five volcanic zits have sprouted up on my chin. I don’t love how often I have to turn to antibiotics to keep myself well, when I know for a fact that the overuse of antibiotics is dangerous [citation needed, right?].
Which makes me fairly uncomfortable with grain-fed cattle. It’s always turned my stomach, the stories of grain-fed cattle and how their poor digestive systems can’t handle their own food, how they’re eaten from the inside out. Cows were built to digest grass and stand around in fields and stuff, not to choke down antibiotics.
Enter Keoni Galt’s latest entry:
A fad diet is typically nothing more than changing the type of foods you graze on or how often you graze. You may temporarily lose weight, but as long as you do not eat in accordance with your physiological design, you will always experience health problems.
Similar to the cows put into feedlots that require massive doses of antibiotics so that they do not sicken and die while being fattened on feed they were not designed to eat…eating foods you were not evolved or designed to is a recipe for ill health, and premature death.
I guess I have to apply my own theory to myself. If I feel bad for cows, why don’t I feel bad for my own self? If that’s my lot in life, I quit. Time to give paleo a shot again. Meat and fruit and veg and all the butter a girl could want.
I’ve been reading over at Mark’s Daily Apple on and off for the past couple months, mostly for the success stories, but his recent discussion on the correlation of height and health caught my eye.
Another source found that Paleolithic humans living between 30,000 and 9,000 BC ran almost 5’10″, which is close to the average modern American male’s height. After agriculture was fully adopted, male height dropped to 161 cm, or 5’5.4″. Females went from 166.5 cm to 154.3 cm under the same parameters.
We know these changes to height also reflected worsened health, because with shortness came dental pathologies like caries, plaque, and decay, signs of arrested growth indicating instances of severe malnutrition, and skull abnormalities that stem from iron deficiency. People got shorter, sicker, and less healthy. Height wasn’t a cause of poor health, of course, but it was an indicator.
In my case, I was one of the tallest in my class (of kindergarteners) before I was diagnosed with Crohn’s. In one year, I went from standing in the top row for class photos to standing in the front as one of the shortest in my class. I’m now a decent 5’4″ (ish); taller than my mom, so at least I accomplished something! My GI is even surprised that I’m as tall as I am, considering the massive amounts of flaring that I went through my childhood and early teen years.
The height/health correlation that Mark brings up isn’t new. I’d heard of something like it a couple years ago, and it smacked of truth. Like I said before, I’m pretty short. My brother, however, who comes from the same genetic stock, is 6’6″. Given that we grew up in the same house, ate the same food, and got about the same level of exercise (he did sports, I did ballet), by all rights I should be taller. So I found a height estimator that pediatricians use to estimate the height of babies and toddlers. I don’t have the exact numbers, but by those calculations, I should have grown to about 5’8″.
If only there were a way to circumvent chronic disease, malnutrition and massive amounts of childhood Prednisone: I could have been a supermodel.
Five years ago I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I struggled with the disease for about 2 years before I got it under control with medication (which included a steroid with horrible side effects). I recently started the Primal Blueprint and have never felt better. My diet has rendered the disease innocuous and I have not experienced any discomfort since starting the PB. Not only do I feel great, I am doing it with limited support from medication. I have cut my dosage by more than 75%. Normally, this substantial decrease in medication would send me into a excruciating relapse but the PB has my digestive and immune system functioning like its supposed to. To be able to live like a normal person and do normal things without the ominous threat of the disease on my mind has totally changed my life. Exercise, golf, skiing, softball… you name it!! All things I would not have attempted with the disease looming about.
I’ve tried A LOT to get the Crohn’s under control and I can honestly say the PB lifestyle has been more successful than all the medications, supplements and other diets I’ve tried.
Further proof that this lifestyle works and can do wonders for everyone. I think the one thing I like most about it is how EASY it really is. I think so many people would find it such a relief from their diet books and magazine articles. I think the toughest thing for people is to abandon mainstream ideas and “proven strategies” of healthy fitness and nutrition. I think your book will be a successful and effective vehicle in getting the message out. Can’t wait for its release!!!
I really can’t avoid the issue any longer: I’ve waffled about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet/Michael Eades’ Protein Power Lifeplan/various Paleo lifestyles long enough. They’re purported to cure allergies, burn off extra weight, eliminate panic attacks caused by wobbly insulin levels. Now I’ve found specific evidence about Crohn’s. It’s time to step up and take control of my diet (and the amount I exercise).
I’ve made this mistake time and time again, making a small “decision” and then failing to follow through. I’m weak. I’m human. But I gotta do it this time.
I can hear my summer roommate, who is quite the foodie, protesting already.