As I sit here feeling incredibly blessed to be alive and moving in the right direction, for a change, I must reflect a bit this year on the challenges and blessings it brought. You may have had similar victories and defeats, challenges and good fortunes. This flourless chocolate cake (that totally tastes like a chocolate cheesecake!) is evidence that I can live again as I exit 2013 and look forward to even more healing in 2014. It is a tribute to those foods I left behind and don’t wish to bring back into my world. This cake is different. It is delicious AND allowable on the GAPS Diet (chocolate is allowed after enough healing and as one tolerates). I will link the recipe to my Pinterest board.
Since I know many people with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis have either a restricted diet or at the minimum are trying to cook more healthy food at home, I thought I’d do a post about “my favorite things” in the kitchen while also describing some of my staple foods at the same time because, well, they kind of go hand in hand. I’ll list the top 5 favorite items in my kitchen because I can go on and on about kitchen tools.
For those interested in hearing me talk about my healing journey, I was a guest on the “Know Your Food” podcast with Wardee Harmon this week! Wardee and I have known each other for a few years while I was seeking wellness through natural remedies and nutrient dense food which I learned to make through her fabulous online classes. She was there when I went through my mercury poisoning at the beginning of my GAPS Diet journey and has continued to be a huge support through the many months of my healing through gluten-free, amalgam removal, GAPS Diet Intro and the Full GAPS Diet, to now the fine tuning of my diet for further healing. Her support has been invaluable as well as other members in her classes who offered support through her private class forums.
I’m in a unique position. But not in a position many of you have not been in or will be in. Today I was contemplating life choices. I lost my mother to pneumonia earlier this year. She was 80 years old. She had a host of health problems from atrial fibrillation, diabetes, high blood pressure, crippling arthritis, chronic acid reflux, and the list goes on. I spent many years helping her through these debilitating conditions. What occurred to me today was that I was in that middle place – 30 years to 80 and 30 years from 20. In the past, I agonized over how quickly time is going by and how now I am in the place where I am not very far off from the final years of my life. But then I thought this morning that I am in a very important stage of my life too. How to finish?
This thought came to my mind the other day while preparing my staple food for the week. Is the GAPS Diet (or other similar diets like the SCD Diet or Paleo-ish type diets) too restrictive for someone with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis? Let’s put this into perspective first. Here are just a few of the symptoms that I no longer suffer from after incorporating a version (my personalized version based on food sensitivities and other factors) of the GAPS Diet: Indigestion so bad I could not lay down for hours at night or the symptoms would be so intense I would be up anyway fighting them. Instead I tried to sleep on 4-5 pillows to prop me up into a position that was almost upright! In the end, I still couldn’t sleep like this so I missed hours and hours of rest for this reason. Food sensitivities so bad I would feel as if I would pass out and drop into a coma (brain inflammation). I would get dizzy, have severe fast heart rate, my eyes would feel like they would roll back into their sockets, bloated stomach for hours into the night, and then multiple bathroom trips while the toxins worked themselves out of my system. There were more than a handful of nights I was unsure if I would wake up in the morning after many hours of severe symptoms. All this happened sometimes HOURS after eating the culprits so the connection wasn’t always very easy to figure out. Severe weight gain while eating just one meal a day most of the time. Eye pain so bad my husband had to gently push on my eyes with the palm of his hand to help relieve the pain and pressure. This came at the same time as brain inflammation where it seemed there was little blood flow to the left side of my brain (one doctor had confirmed this through testing). Now I understand this is a common symptom of gluten sensitivity and inflammation in the brain. Let’s take a short break from my list to see this phenomenon as described by Dr. Thomas O’Bryan: Blood sugar imbalances causing irritability before meals and then relief after. Also, my days were filled with roller-coaster highs and lows and erratic body temperature. Severe cognitive problems – short-term memory problems and fogginess, depression, inability to think through and speak sentences on a regular basis, etc. Digestion problems that seemed to be part of my every meal’s outcome. Palpitations, stomach bloating, sluggishness, and just overall not feeling like the food has nourished me at all, sometimes felt like it was “sitting” in my digestive tract for more than 24 hours. Days upon days of dysfunction – not being able to commit to a single activity in advance because I would “never know how I would feel” when that day arrived. Most of the time, I had to forego pre-planned events because I was unable to function well enough to go. Thyroid antibodies well over 9,000. Missed opportunities and severed relationships – I could not take advantage of life’s opportunities or keep up to date with old friends or treasured close friends. I was so absorbed with feeling awful, I became unable to connect with the world around me. Plus so many more – I can’t possibly write them all down. You can see some of my before and after symptoms in this post too but they are somewhat the same as I’ve written above.Okay, compare the above list to the list of the perceived “inconveniences” of The GAPS Diet: Cook my own food (our grandparents would get a kick out of that statement I think!) Avoid gluten at all costs! (See my “Let’s Go Gluten Free Series” for how to be sure you are 100% gluten-free) Find organic, fresh and local produce through Farmer’s Markets or grocery store options that give me the best nutrition possible and the least amount of toxins. Plan ahead for the week (another statement our grandparents might laugh at). Plan to eat at home or bring food with me when I travel – restaurant eating is very difficult when avoiding the common allergens and sensitivities. I have actually found that I thoroughly enjoy sitting at the tables in front of stores like Whole Foods or small restaurants with others (at first I felt left out) that have paid for their food there. I savor my superior food now and love that I feel much better than those around me after eating. It used to be quite the opposite! Learn to sleep on a schedule – healing happens rapidly with a good sleeping pattern. A night or two of sleepless or restless nights can bring some of the symptoms back, but not the worst ones. Reduce stress – simplify life. Minimize stress by not over-committing or making unrealistic expectations of myself. I try to accept current circumstances with the decision to do what I can to change things but accept the things I cannot change. This is sometimes easier said that done but the motivation to do this now is worth the health benefits it brings. Use other lifestyle interventions to enhance healing as outlined in books like Izabella Wentz’ book on Hashimoto’s (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause also in eBook form here.) This book is a HUGE help in where to start and how to get immediate help through interventions other than a pill and often much more effective! One road was moving me into utter devastation. The other is moving me into better health and a much better quality of life! Would you rather spend some extra time in the kitchen while feeling good or spend time in bed, or worse, feeling bad? I think you can understand why I am very happy with the EASE of The GAPS Diet compared to the utter MISERY of my prior lifestyle! So, do you think The GAPS Diet is too restrictive? I suppose it is a matter of perspective. Important note: If you are […]
Having the right tools for special treats when on a restricted diet is very helpful. My GAPS Diet has significantly improved the severe symptoms I was having from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I say “special treats” only because when you are on a restricted diet like that of GAPS, SCD, Paleo-type diet, etc, your whole viewpoint of treats is switched from the sweet goodies of the past, like muffins, cookies, candies, etc., to other foods that are as convenient to grab but much better for you! Of course, they will be only convenient to grab, if you have made them in advance. That’s just the way it is when you have to make almost everything from scratch. So today I am going to describe how I have been helped tremendously by dehydrating food and snacks for myself while traveling as well as keeping myself emotionally satisfied with my diet. I have to admit, getting creative has been a by-product of a healthy diet. There may be people who will not be able to eat the same foods as what I might be showing here, however, in some cases, I have earned these foods back by the GAPS Diet. What was indigestible 18 months or so ago, I have been able to add back in, which makes these treats much more of a “treat” for me.