No Processed Anything.

I bet if you’re my age 49, and grew up in the United States, you probably have no idea how much processed food you eat. I know that I certainly didn’t. After my first appointment with the new doctor, he gave my husband and I a detox diet. Now the only time I had ever heard of the word detox was in relation to getting off drugs, but never in reference to my diet.  Heck if I managed to make, what I thought was, a homemade dinner consisting of a boxed Hamburger Helper with a side-dish of bagged salad and a glass of soda, I thought I was doing pretty darn good. Well, at least I wasn’t going out to eat fast food more than others right? So what’s the problem? The problem was that the food I was giving to my children (this part really bothers me) and my husband was not food at all. It was “processed food product”. Check out your labels and see how many times you see those 3 nifty little words together. So about this time you may be asking yourself:

“Are processed foods a health risk?

The main health risks of processed foods are well known – they are evident in worldwide disease statistics.

‘First world’ countries that consume lots of processed foods like breads, cereals, sugary foods and fatty foods, are stricken with diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. What else could you expect if a large portion of your diet was based on foods loaded with poor quality calories like sugars and fats, and contain significantly less fibre, vitamins and minerals?

When you think of it that way, it’s easy to see that processed foods are causing obesity.

Yet only 100 years ago, the leading causes of death were infectious diseases – we ate a lot more whole foods back then, with much higher nutritional value. And obesity wasn’t a problem. ” –http://www.healthy-food-site.com/processed-food.html

So the next logical question is what are “whole foods”right? This is the category of foods that our new doctor wanted us to eat. We were to do a 2-week fast with no dairy, no sugar, no processed foods, and only low glycemic fruits. We were to eat small meals 6 to 8 a day. We were to eat nuts and/or seeds for our snacks and get this,,non roasted with no salt. I didn’t even know that nuts had a flavor but salty.  Basically a whole food is described as ” They are the unprocessed, untreated and organic foods that we find in nature. They are low sodium, organic, and heart-healthy.” There now, doesn’t that sound easy and good? It did sound good and I was all the way IN on this new diet. I was excited to see what my body would be like detoxed and all this good food should make me feel like Wonder Women right? Uh-huh,, word of warning, detoxing is hard.

My first lesson in real health.

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I’ve actually written this blog post several times in my head while I tried to sleep. Why is it always easier to write when you should be sleeping and want to sleep when you should be writing? I will attempt to write this post just as well as I did in my head, and away we go. 

My last post dealt with my health issues increasing and my good friend who had been dealing with some really extreme health issues for a number of years getting some real help. The “doctor” she went to was not a medical doctor but rather a chiropractor who was studying to be a certified nutritionist. This chiropractor would have seminars on some weeknights and weekends that dealt with the issue of needing to get your body healthy before you could lose weight. That was a new concept to me because I always thought that once I finally lost weight that would officially make me “healthy”. I mean what else was healthy if it wasn’t being thin? I thought the two were synonymous, but I found out while sitting in one of the seminars that this really was not the case. It seems that there is a condition called homeostasis. Here is the scientific meaning of homeostasis:

Homeostasis: The tendency of an organism or cell to regulate its internal conditions, such as the chemical composition of its body fluids, so as to maintain health and functioning, regardless of outside conditions. The organism or cell maintains homeostasis by monitoring its internal conditions and responding appropriately when these conditions deviate from their optimal state. The maintenance of a steady body temperature in warm-blooded animals is an example of homeostasis. In human beings, the homeostatic regulation of body temperature involves such mechanisms as sweating when the internal temperature becomes excessive and shivering to produce heat, as well as the generation of heat through metabolic processes when the internal temperature falls too low.

What I learned that day in a few hours was that everything I had been doing to get skinny was all in vain if my body wasn’t healthy. I also learned that even if I did manage to sweat off, and diet off some weight, in the end if my body wasn’t a healthy body and I wasn’t giving it the proper nutrition and care to be healthy, then it was not going to last and the weight would come back,,with a few more pounds even. Ever have that happen? This kind of cycle is not only bad for your health, but detrimental to your psyche. Who hasn’t been depressed because they couldn’t lose weight or worse yet they managed to take off 5 or 10 lbs only to have it pop right back onto your hips.

As I sat and listened to this doctor, the truth of what he said really flooded over me. It made so much sense that if your body was healthy to start then losing weight, and feeling good would follow. My husband and I both decided to make an appointment to see what this doctor could help us with and so began our journey of homeostasis.  

The first step in a long trip.

Just as a long journey begins with the first  step, so did my journey to finding my way back to a healthy life. I know that most people would have went straight to their doctor and run a battery of tests. What does “running a battery of tests” mean anyway? I’ll tell you what it means, you start at your internal medicine doctor and give them your main complaints. In my case it would have been my extreme fatigue and rapid weight gain. The usual CBC (complete blood count) would have been done and maybe the ever present TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test as well. Factoring in my age, over 40 and my sex, female they would have concluded that I needed to get on a heart-healthy diet, exercise more and for heaven’s sake stop smoking and drinking (2 things I don’t do).  Had I mentioned my depression and mood changes, I would have been prescribed an anti-depressant in record time with the promise that if it didn’t work they could add 1 or 2 more anti-depressants to make sure it did.  The reason I know that this is how my doctor encounter would have turned out is because I saw it happening all around me to friends, and family members. No real answers. Not even any real effort to allow the patient to talk about what their body is going through, just a 5 min consultation adding up symptom A with symptom B and prescribing the “most popular” medication C. I also was a Medical Transcriptionist by career and after 9+ years of doing medical reports you already know what the doctors are going to prescribe based on symptoms before you even get to the end of the report.

That was not the road I happened to land on, thank God, and I really do thank God. You see, I had no health insurance at that time, due to the economy and my husband being laid off,,,blah, blah,blah. You have heard the story dozens of times by now either in your own life or people you know so no long explanation is needed. At the time, with how lousy I was feeling and the fact that no amount of healthy eating or exercise was getting me anywhere,,,I was desperate for answers. I felt sorry for myself that I was doomed to the “no insurance” crowd and yet God had a plan in it all.

At this point in my story, I must introduce to you a friend of mine that has walked along side me through this journey. She was not a strong healthy friend that took pity on me and helped me up ; no she was a sick, unhealthy friend that came and crawled along beside me in this journey; at least until we could stand,,and then walk and now as we are both doing much better we appreciate the fact that we had each other to  bounce feelings, ideas and opinions off, and someone who really knew what I was going through because she was living it herself. In fact, I must say that she had it much worse than I did. She had suffered with extreme fibromyalgia for years, to the point of being on multiple medications, anti-depressants,etc, and the whole gamut of pills that conservative medicine throws at you in attempt to make you think you’re healed. Your body knows better though and in the end you are left wearing a medication band-aid on a very painful and chronic illness.  The meds just add to the health problems with their own side-effects, plus the knowledge that you are probably poisoning important vital organs in your body. You know we probably need those organs healthy too.  Gee, ya think? So you see these health issues that had just recently started in me, she had been dealing with for many, many moons. As it happened, my friend found out from another friend,,, (isn’t that just how it happens sometimes) about a doctor that had treated her, and she had great results. Now this doctor was not your average MD, but rather a chiropractor who was studying to be a Certified Nutritionist. Yeah, I know it sounds weird, but weird can be good sometimes and this time it was awesome.

After much prayer and believing she had heard from God on the issue, my friend started seeing this doctor and I knew something was right. In the morning when we would meet to walk, instead of the regular zombie-like appearance, she was glowing and happy and darn-it, she looked like she actually had some good sleep! She began to tell me, with all the excitement of a person who was just struck gold, all about this doctor that she had met and what he was having her do to feel better. Having known her for a while, I could see a remarkable change in her and if he could do this for her, I wanted to see this doctor.  I had to know what he did and what did he give you? (there had to be a wonder pill for this kind of energy) Her answer stunned me. As we walked in the park, she began to share how this doctor changed her diet. What?…diet? Boy what a change too.  This is what he did. He removed all processed foods from her diet-BAM, gone. He removed all sugar-BAM,,(this one is painful). He removed all caffeine.  He put her on an organic food diet. I had heard of organics, but never thought much about them other than that they cost too much.  I expected her to tell me about her pitiful little food supply and how she was starving her way to good health, but her glowing face and pepping step proved different. What she did convey to me was a healthy diet menu, and the doctor encourage her to eat a little something every 2-3 hours. Now what kind of doctor puts you on a diet and then tells you to eat more often?

The Beginning

My personal story is just that, mine. No two people are alike in their health and what worked for me may not work for others, but I think it’s important to share at least part of my story to give any readers of this blog an idea of where I am coming from and what I have gone through.

Let’s go back about 5 years when I was in the position of being full-time caregiver to my quadriplegic husband and also caring for his aging mother of 83. I had put on some serious poundage the previous years before (my own bad food choices) and it was showing in my inability to bend and move the way that was required when showering people and giving care needed for daily living. I had some serious discussions in my head about losing weight and I knew that this was the time. That year a new diet pill was coming to market and as I have always done, I researched it out and found that it was safe. I won’t name the product because I cannot stand behind it anymore with the knowledge that I have at this time, but at that time, I thought it was my answer. So, I started to do some serious dieting. I felt very confident in this move, especially since my profession was a Medical Transcriptionist and I had even heard many doctors prescribe this wonder pill for others. I had grown up respecting doctors and modern medicine. I loved it, in fact so much that I leaned my career in the direction of medicine. 

With much resolve and will-power I started the wonder pill and walking..and voila the weight came off. With the incentive of the weight actually coming off, something none of the other diets that I had done over the course of my life ever did, I continued to walk and diet, walk and diet. Seriously,,I was absolutely stoked at the weight that I was losing. I felt better than I had in years and after all was said and done, 46 lbs had been shed from my small frame. Yeah,,so you’re probably wondering what the problem was right? I maintained this weight for over a year,,but then it happened, the weight started coming back. More exercise and more dieting did nothing. I picked up the pace,,,joined a gym and took a step class, yoga, weight training,,ate less and less, and not only did the weight come back,..but it came back with a vengeance. The weight was just the beginning…fatigue started hitting me every morning. I could barely crawl out of bed to go work out and my exercise tolerance was not at all what it used to be. 

Slowly over the course of the next year depression followed fatigue, aches in joints came next then a list of symptoms that I thought I would only feel if I lived to be 90 years old. My hair started falling out, and even though I always had pretty thick hair it was now thin, dry and unhealthy. My skin constantly itched and hives would break out on me regularly. My toenails and finger nails both had ridges and did not grow. I had emotional outbursts that, again, were not like me. My awesome husband, who did not deserve the tongue lashings, got a rash of anger, crying and hysteria that would have made the bravest man run for cover. The hard part was I knew it was wrong and I would apologize, only to turn around in an hour or less and start over. 

My concentration level was shot and that made it extremely difficult to get through work. It’s hard to concentrate on a long surgery when your mind keeps drifting. The job I had once loved, was becoming a horrible chore. One of the worst parts of all these symptoms was my inability to retain what I would read. I love to read the bible and my devotions were just not the same. I could not concentrate and even if I did concentrate,,I couldn’t remember what I read. I lost interest in my favorite hobbies, and my favorite past time became sleeping. I couldn’t wait to finish work and sometimes didn’t make it,,before I would throw myself to the sofa for a nap. 

This is where my real journey started. Image

Hello Health Seekers

I debated in my mind on just how I wanted to start this blog. If you have a blog you understand how hard it is to sum up in a first post whatever passion you have that is so burning inside of you, that you actually create a blog!  It’s much easier to read other people’s blogs, but when it comes down to actually putting a culmination of your thoughts out to the world wide web, it’s pretty intimidating. I suppose my character of not giving in to a challenge helped here and I know it has helped in my search for good health and good health care. I plan to chronicle the last 2+ years of my life dealing with my health issues, the challenges, the victories and the surprises that I endured. I’m new to blogging, so be kind. I am not a writer, just a person with a concern for people, like myself, that are looking for help with their health in the conventional healthcare industry and are not finding it.