Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” My journey to understanding and believing this approach spans decades and is full of twists and turns. I think of all the times I said, “I will never give up (insert gluten, sugar, dairy, caffeine).” It reminds me of the other quote, “Never say never!” Of the long list of things I have tried in an effort to boost my health, the food is medicine approach has made the most impact.
This post explores part of my health journey. It is not intended to be used as medical advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor regarding your diet and health. For me, I followed a South Beach, Mediterranean style diet for years. I ate whole grains, tons of fish and plenty of vegetables and lean proteins. I began experiencing piercing stomach pains after every meal which led me to drop gluten. Not long after that, a food sensitivity test revealed a short list of triggers, among them all things gluten, corn, dairy, and some tree nuts. From there, I transitioned into a paleo diet which led me to a ketogenic diet. Today I follow a keto diet based on whole foods. I eat organic when I can and purchase mostly grass-fed, grass-finished beef and wild caught fish. I enjoy going to farmers markets for pastured eggs and locally grown, fresh produce.
The hunter-gatherer ideology surrounding food resonates with me. Thinking about how our ancestors ate before there were grocery stores makes sense. Concepts that fit into ancestral eating are choosing seasonal foods, intermittent fasting, and consuming animal products from snout to the tail. Organ meats and bone broth are part of my weekly consumption. I like to incorporate ground liver with either ground turkey or beef into spaghetti sauce, chili or taco meat (don’t tell the kids!).
I am a firm believer in elimination diets. Food sensitivity tests can provide helpful information, but a blood test is required, and it takes time to receive the results. In the meantime, there are choices you can make to start eliminating inflammatory foods today! A great place to start is with gluten and dairy. I typically eliminate foods for six months, but I know people can get results by cutting out foods for one month. Reintroducing foods requires that you pay attention. How do you feel when you eat a certain food? Is your nose running or do you experience swelling or bloating? The longer I avoid a particular food, the easier it is for me to detect any reaction in my body. It is also very helpful to consult a registered dietician to help you through this process as well.
A game-changer for me was eliminating nightshades which include potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. When I consume any of the above, I wake up the next day with achy joints, swollen hands and legs, and a bloated belly. These symptoms translate to inflammation and everything I read points to reducing inflammation in your body for your heart and overall health and longevity. Here I go, but I NEVER thought I would give up tomatoes! I do find comfort in knowing I have a choice. On occasion, I will have some spaghetti sauce over zucchini noodles or miracle pasta, and my reaction is much less severe than it used to be. Hurray for small victories. Nightshades aren’t something I consume regularly.
There are so many choices when it comes to diets and optimizing health. I am learning to never say never! What have you said never to and ended up changing your mind? What diet choices have you made that have worked for you? What do you find as the greatest obstacle to trying something new? Let me know how you are finding success in your food choices.
I am pleased to announce that I am co-hosting a series of Eating for Health workshops with Dr. Frank Mueller and Amanda Lopez. Be sure to check out my Facebook events for updates on the latest Eating for Health workshops available.