What I’ve been doing works!
I’ve been away from the blog for a bit because honestly – I feel so much better!
I wrote most of the articles on this blog as a way to share my journey and research the gut health problems I have had. Now that most of those problems have subsided I got a little distracted by life outside of the health and nutrition sphere and began living again.
This is a great thing! However, I did not want to lose sight of why I started this blog in the first place. I still have things to share and updates must be made.
What I’ve been doing has worked for me. It feels good to know exactly what I was doing wrong even though I was following expert advice and “common sense” for years. If you share my past symptoms listed below, you may want to keep reading. So let me share a little about what worked, what didn’t work, and what I’m doing now to maintain gut health.
Past Symptoms and Conditions
If you haven’t read any of my past articles I’ll let you know some of what I was dealing with that was directly related to gut health. These are very common symptoms and conditions. If you have them, maybe what I tried is also worth trying yourself.
- chronic constipation
- waking in the night with bloating/indigestion
- low mood/depression
- low energy/fatigue
- sugar and carb cravings
What Didn’t Work
One of the main issues I’ve dealt with over the years was constipation. I had tried everything. Or so I thought. But one thing that I kept hearing over and over again was:
Eat more FIBER!
Well, I tried.
But eating more fiber inevitably meant eating more food because the only thing I was eating was fiber! How was I supposed to fit in more?
And this naturally made the problem I was trying to solve – constipation – even worse.
The weirdest thing happened when I stopped eating fiber altogether.
I’ll give you a hint.
Drinking More Water
Now drinking water is really important for all bodily functions. Of course, we need to make sure we are properly hydrated.
But I was always drinking water when I was experiencing my gut and assorted health issues. And I was also always thirsty!
I couldn’t understand why I never felt hydrated.
I drink less water now and my thirst is at a manageable level. I believe this is because I wasn’t getting the proper balance of electrolytes like sodium, magnesium, and potassium, due to the specific plants I was eating and sensitive to. I had no idea that these plants were not only blocking my mineral absorption, but by eating so much of them all the time, I was constantly spiking my blood sugar leading me straight into becoming pre-diabetic.
Veganism or going “plant-based.”
Nope. Did not work.
I’m not here to tell you not to go vegan or plant-based. But I will say that if an extremely processed Beyond Burger counts as “plant-based” then there’s not much meaning left to that term. Sure it’s made of plants. So are Oreos. It doesn’t mean it’s healthy for you.
And that’s my beef with the plant-based movement.
It paints anything plant-based as a healthier alternative. Maybe this isn’t what’s meant by a lot of people who chose this way of eating and what they really mean is whole-food eating. Eating food that has no (or minimal) processing.
That is something I am a firm believer in. Of course, I indulge here and there with my dark chocolate and I will have a piece of cake or brownie on special occasions. But that’s only because I have healed my gut and I know my body and how it reacts to specific foods now. I know that it can handle some junk food as long as it isn’t in large quantities or every day.
I have written about my experience with around 20 years of plant-based eating and how it didn’t live up to the hype. I also struggled with the moral identity crisis I went through when I decided to finally let that go and try the ultimate elimination carnivore diet.
It’s been a crazy ride.
Online Gut Healing Programs
I started slowly.
I think that was key for me. If I had gone straight into an extreme elimination diet like carnivore right off the bat, I would have failed. And it’s definitely not for everyone.
After doing some searching I realized that I had all the symptoms of candida overgrowth and this probably caused or contributed to my leaky gut. So I started a 30-day program to gain some more control over it.
And yes, it worked.
I’d say 90% of my digestive issues were cleared by doing this program for only a month. Also, my anxiety and fatigue improved! I did want more so I made a radical decision and quit plants cold turkey.
The Carnivore Diet
I know it might sound crazy but if you’ve tried everything and continue to suffer, the carnivore diet may be your best bet. I didn’t continue this diet for long, although some people have done it for years with great results.
It entails cutting out all plants from your diet. If it came from an animal, you can eat it. It’s the opposite of the vegan diet and it really took a mindset shift for me to try and actually feel comfortable doing this. I had no idea that many vitamins can’t be absorbed if we aren’t getting enough fat! Or that we need cholesterol for every cell in our bodies!
All the nutrients in the plant foods I had been eating religiously may not have even been bioavailable! Meaning that my body may not have been able to use what I was eating at all!
That blows my mind.
There really was an alternative reality that I found within this community as I searched through youtube for personal stories, overlooked doctors, and nutrient-dense nutritionists.
Eat that liver!
My New Health Regime
So what foods do I eat now?
Today I am far less strict because I don’t have to be. I’ve been eating animal-based for about a year now. This means most of my diet consists of eggs, grass-fed butter, beef, chicken, mackerel, pork, tuna, avocadoes, condiments, pickles, onions, carrots, potatoes, berries, olive oil, coconut oil, white rice, mushrooms, clementines, some oats and almond milk, and liver once in a while.
I definitely have added in bread here and there. I eat what I want on special occasions.
But I seem to feel best when I eat protein and fat as the main macronutrients in my diet. Plants are more difficult for our bodies to digest.
I know may not appeal to everyone, but if I’m being honest it has been a game-changer for me. Making yoga part of my daily morning routine helps keep me grounded, centered, and more aware of what’s going on in my body, mind, and emotions.
All of these are completely connected and that’s why I believe a holistic approach to gut health is so important. We can’t always cover up our problems with medication. Our symptoms are trying to tell us something.
Regulating the nervous system through practices like yoga helps bring our physiology into balance. And this is also helpful for gut health!
I know coffee and the health benefits can be contested among certain people but if you’re dealing with a sluggish system and your body can handle caffeine, it can really help with constipation. I blend mine with a tablespoon of grass-fed butter, some coconut milk (from the can), and my paleo protein powder. (It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, non-GMO, and from grass-fed beef).
Drinking coffee on an empty stomach in the morning can be tough on your tummy. So blending it with these ingredients is not only tasty but also helps my sensitive stomach handle the strongest coffee. I use a frother but a blender also works.
There Is Hope
I know making lifestyle changes can be slow and difficult. And food can be a controversial topic because it’s tied to our culture, family traditions, and moral identities.
Also, it’s hard to limit or even completely restrict certain foods that we really love.
I only want to be an example that it is possible to change and heal.
I found what works for me after 20 years of struggle and fighting against my body. Now I am able to truly listen to what it needs and respond appropriately using the tools I listed above.
Try new things, experiment by making different choices, and work with your healthcare professional to gain your gut health back.
It may take time and a mindset shift, but I know you care about your health because you are here. So don’t forget to take some action!
Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried anything I have mentioned above and what you are willing to commit to in order to take control of your health