Since getting E.Coli in 2013, the last three years have been a struggle for me. My stomach has not been the same. I used to be able to eat anything without any issues. After E.Coli, my gut health has been up and down and has progressively gotten worse. I've felt good one week, then the next, I'm in intense pain. I've seen naturopaths and digestive specialists who have all told me the same thing: "Your stomach is EXTREMELY inflamed." (Yes, thank you for telling me something I already know.) All I had to do was lift up my shirt and you could see the outline of my poor bloated angry stomach screaming out for help, along with the fun layer of fat that E.Coli left me with, that refused to go away no matter how hard I worked out or how many abs I did. Oh, and don't forget my stabbing stomach pain and chronic diarrhea for three years straight! Yep, every... single... day.
I knew my body wasn't happy with what I was feeding it, but I couldn't determine which foods were causing the problem. The vicious cycle continued. My frustration peaked. I just wanted someone to tell me what to do to fix the problem.
Finally, a little over a month ago, I got entirely fed up with feeling crappy all the time and decided it was time to get to the bottom of it. I looked online for a food elimination diet to figure out what foods were causing the issues for me. I found the website of a doctor who claimed she had helped thousands of IBS sufferers get their digestion back on track. Since my symptoms seemed to indicate IBS, I looked at the recommended diet and decided to try it out for a week and see if it helped. Here's what I generally ate:
Breakfast: Oats or rice cereal with almond milk and banana
Lunch: Grilled chicken/fish/turkey with white rice
Snacks: Rice cakes with almond or peanut butter, bananas
Dinner: Salmon/chicken/turkey with baked potato or white rice.
I tried this meal plan for five days. By the end of day five I was in EXTREME pain. It felt like someone was stabbing my stomach from the inside. I couldn't figure it out. I was eating "healthy," right? Everything I knew or thought I knew about good nutrition didn't seem to be helping. I was at a loss. I felt so helpless. In addition, two weeks before I got E.Coli, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism (under active thyroid). After E.Coli, I was diagnosed as hypoglycemic (low blood sugar). I was a mess and I knew it.
About two years ago my sister-in-law Sarah gave me a book called, "Practical Paleo" by Diane Sanfilippo, BS, NC. She thought it might help my stomach. I looked through it and thought, "What kind of weird s**t does this lady eat? There's no way I'm eating like that even if it does help me!" I tried a few recipes but then gave up. I threw the book in the cupboard and went on my not-so-merry way. I tried eating gluten free by purchasing gluten free bread, crackers, and other products. No improvement. I tried eating vegan for a month. No improvement. The first time I cut out sugar I was eating spoonfuls of honey like a crackhead needing drugs. No improvement.
On May 14th, 2016, I was desperate enough to dig through my cupboard and pull out the book my sister-in-law had so thoughtfully given me. That same day I started Day 1 of the "AutoImmune Conditions" Meal Plan that Diane recommends. Here are the types of food I started eating, based on her meal plan:
Breakfast: mustard glazed chicken thighs with sweet potato & raw sauerkraut, flank steak with onions & butternut squash, roasted chicken with avocado & blueberries, breakfast sausage with plantains sautéed in coconut oil.
Lunch: Wild salmon or tuna with mixed greens, avocado & olives, turkey meatballs with mashed cauliflower, grilled salmon wrapped in romaine with mango cucumber salsa, bacon wrapped chicken thighs with grilled zucchini.
Snacks: Bananas, homemade herbal tea gelatin, bone broth, raw sauerkraut.
Dinner: Lamb lettuce boats with avo-ziki sauce, whole roasted chicken with root veggies, pesto shrimp and squash "fettuccine," Italian style stuffed zucchini.
(Her recipes are listed in the back of her book).
For the next 30 days I cut out all grains, legumes, dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, nightshades, refined sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and chocolate, as recommended in her book. I also stopped taking birth control. I started drinking either homemade bone broth or kombucha every morning. I purchased a good quality probiotic and took that every day. I ate a small amount of raw organic sauerkraut daily. I kept a journal of everything I was eating so I could go back and reference if something bothered me. For example, I discovered fresh apples and oranges are a no-go for me! After five days of starting her recommended meal plan, my pain was gone. GONE! After two weeks, my stomach bloat diminished and the layer of fat also was nowhere to be seen. I still had diarrhea, but I knew I was heading in the right direction. Those 30 days were anything but easy for me. It took a lot of discipline to stay on track! However, I liked the way I was feeling so it kept me going. I also had a few unexpected things happen in my body that I noticed:
-Back stopped breaking out
-Higher sex drive
-No mid-day crash, more energy
-Skin clearer than ever
Needless to say, today I am on day 42 of this new lifestyle change. As of four days ago, my bowel movements are solid. For the first time in three years. I called my husband to tell him. (When you've had E.Coli, nothing embarrasses you, especially bowel movements! Plus at this point in our marriage we now have matching bite guards we wear while sleeping. If you can still love your spouse with one of those on, now that's true love!)
I am no doctor but this book changed my life. I haven't felt this good in years. I want to encourage you that with the right tools and information you can change your health, too! Might I add that my thyroid levels are completely normal now and my blood sugar is right on track. I am on no medication. Simply amazing! Thank you, Diane! I recommend your book with all my heart.