I don't know if I've ever had a good relationship with food. No, I'm not anorexic or bulimic but I just don't know how to eat to fuel my body and mind.
My mom did her best to feed us all nutritional food. I hadn't had boxed mac & cheese or any other processed kids food until late in the game. Every meal had a salad included, a veggie of some kind, and a protein too. Sugar was a rarity and had to be sought after and found and in my young mind it became something to be hidden and embarrassed about.
On top of that I was and still am perpetually small. I liked to be out and about, busy with adventures and exploring. But when it came to competitive play I conditioned myself to quit. My little legs only went so fast. I felt embarrassed to always come up last in tag play, sports, and everything else. Instead of sticking it out to the end, I preferred to stop once I saw the other surge forward. As a result, exercise was another form of punishment and embarrassment.
I remember being a toddler in Arizona and sneaking into the kitchen to drink breakfast syrup like it were juice. A few years later my siblings and I spent as much time looking for the treats my mom intended for our school lunches as she did hiding them from our prying hands. I would pocket them and run off to the orange groves up the hill and have an adventurous picnic of sorts. Whatever money I did earn was spent at the donut shop or ice cream man on my walks home from Arroyo Verde Elementary School. And in Junior High I snacked on meals during the day and ate the free lunch bread rolls with an orange. My food diary continues into High School and even worse in college with sporadic meals. While in Italy I often indulged on pasta, pastries, bread, and chocolate. While working as a nanny and personal historian I was far from home and didn't have my own kitchen to work with so I often ate out or went without.
My point of writing all this is to tell you how it's effected me today. Hindsight is 20/20 and looking back I see how all of those poor nutritional decisions and insecurities have been eating away at my health and well being. Stress accentuated these poor decisions and has definitely impacted who I am today.
About two years ago is when I really started noticing something was wrong. I felt tired and slow consistently. My periods became increasingly painful and long and eventually included vomiting, severe body shaking, and headaches too. I started feeling anxiety and elements of depression. My weight steadily increased and when I did exercise my body struggled to recover and re energize, rather than feel the high that comes with steady work outs my body would crash and crumble and my fatigue felt even greater. Eating dairy felt like suicide to my gut. I often had no appetite at all.
And it just got worse and worse.
I wanted to see a doctor but I didn't have insurance. So I explained it away as too much work, not enough nutrients. etc...
Suddenly my greatest blessing came into my life and swept me off my feet. Jesse is supportive, loving, active, funny, and adventurous. We're a pair and it was obvious to the both of us right away.
I went to a doctor two months before our wedding and he found my thyroid to be quite enlarged. He ran blood tests but my thyroid levels were normal. I was so disappointed that there wasn't a medical answer. My doctor did his own research and called me back two weeks later suggesting I take another blood test which I did and was quickly diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis.
The list is long with symptoms of the disorder, some of which include: intolerance to cold, dry skin, brittle nails and hair, unable to digest food properly, difficulty concentrating or thinking, fatigue, swelling in my face and joints, hair loss...
With still no insurance I did my own research on what I could do in the meantime. And the first thing everyone said was to cut out gluten from my diet. I was skeptical that it was just a fad but also recognized how much of it I was eating at the time and obviously not feeling well I decided to go ahead with it. I also decided to cut out sugar and dairy. My time in Italy convinced me enough of being intolerant to dairy but I'd never gone off it entirely. So I went cold turkey off it all.
Immediately I saw the benefits of clean eating. Without bread I was less satiated so I ate more vegetables. Also my digestion improved, my sleeping habits improved, my anxiety and depression symptoms lessened, my nails and hair got stronger. and swelling went down. My brain fog felt like it was clearing and my fatigue lessened at times. There is plenty of science to go along with this but in lamens terms I felt like I was finally coming back into myself.
There have been plenty of times when I mess up and eat something with gluten or dairy. And I feel it. So don't tell me Gluten Free is just a fad and I'll be fine if I eat it. Because I'm not. Don't tell me if I just eat healthy and exercise I'll be better. Because it takes time. It took time to get sick and it will take time to recover. I'm sure I'm just being perceived as lazy and the fix should be quick. At times I get frustrated with myself because I have had the same thoughts.
The annoying thing about this autoimmune disease is that it's a roller coaster. There's moments of health and energy and lots more of fatigue. I'm grateful for Jesse's hard work so that we can have amazing insurance. I recently saw a doctor and the blood tests confirmed that I am now hypothyroid. I'm discouraged that Hashimoto's really got to me. I'm also hopeful that the medication will help.
So that's where I'm at. It's rough but I'm grateful more than ever for my body and the resilience of it. I'm grateful for the knowledge I'm gaining about nutrition. And I'm grateful for the moments when I can go out and be active or adventurous again.
If you have any tips or tricks to healthy eating and living, I'm of course all ears.