This week's Making the Switch contributor is Seeks. Seeks, 33, lives with her husband in Baltimore, Maryland. Over the course of many years, she has learned the importance of being in tune with her body's strengths and limitations. I thank her for sharing her story and some great tips for Making the Switch.
Not everyone changes their diet to lose weight. I think that many people forget that when you tell them that you have dietary restrictions. As my aunt once put it, “You look fine, but you aren’t fine.” I’ve never been a big person; I’ve known toddlers to weigh as much as I did when I was in the fifth grade. Even now, the juniors section in stores can be my best wardrobe source.
It was the other things my body was telling me that made me seek help. Since I was thirteen, I had irregular menses and by twenty-three, I was getting tired of not knowing what my body was doing. After seeing the doctor, she diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome (PCOS), and put me on birth control. I’m not a fan of hormone therapy. When I asked for alternative options, she offered metformin, a medication often associated with diabetes management. Apparently, women with PCOS display a range of symptoms often associated with insulin resistance. So, instead, I changed my diet to low-carb and saw some moderate improvement. It was so exciting to realize that there were ways to control this frustrating aspect of my health that didn’t have to mess with my hormonal balance or rely overly much on medication. Knowing I had power over my situation really helped.
Soon thereafter, I got married, and life was pretty good. In hoping to have children at the time, and in having learned about cycle charting, I became less concerned about whether my cycle was timely and I stopped really pursuing a strict low carb diet. But this is where things got frustrating again, not to mention embarrassing: yeast infections. I won’t go into detail, but suffice it to say that they were a problem on multiple levels. Physically, intimately, psychologically, etc. They beat me down. Throw in increasingly lengthy cycles, a few miscarriages, too many inconclusive doctor’s appointments, and I was anxious, angry, and exhausted.
The most fascinating part of this process is that I have learned so much more about my body and its limitations. Following the recommended four-day food rotation, I realized that nightshades make me itchy and congested, that dairy can stuff me up, that chocolate may be a treat but that it comes with a price, and that I have to really monitor my coconut consumption. I also learned that it’s not just the dreaded yeast infections that were signs of candida issues; who knew that these itchy scaly patches of skin were also signs of problems with my diet? That the ‘colds’ I get occasionally may just be due to an exhausted immune system dealing with all the tricky foods I’m ingesting?
I cannot say that I stick to the Whole Approach diet completely. Other diets of similar ilk include additional options that make sense to me. Additionally, the lifestyle changes required for complete adherence became a significant point of contention with my husband, so I have backed down a little. We go out for drinks occasionally; I just generally avoid beer and cocktails, keeping consumption low. I will sometimes order foods not on the ok’d list so that I can actually go out on dates with my husband. But I try to always seek out the best options and to minimize the frequency without compromising the quality time. I now have a much better idea of what to ask for at most restaurants. I rotate the frequency of problematic foods to minimize their toll on my body, because it can be difficult to throw them completely out of my diet (yogurt: dairy, but probiotic). My body and I are on better speaking terms; it tells me when it’s angry and I’m better at caring for it accordingly. It's still a rocky relationship, but we’re making progress. I trust my body more, and I am more gentle on myself. I feel more confident in my self-control, and I am discovering how good minimally processed foods can be.
Seek's Tips for Making the Switch
Establish a set of resources. Whole Approach’s forum has really provided me with a great starting point, but I have greatly increased my use of blogs that list a wide range of foods that I can eat and recipes that I can easily tweak to suit my limitations.
Stash up on snacks. If you have you-safe snacks around, then you’re less likely to cheat when you get the munchies. Someone brings cupcakes to work? No prob! You have a stash of gomashio cookies you can eat! I’ve also noticed that since being on this diet, my appetite has grown immensely. It’s better to have some safety nets around to catch you if you crash.
The freezer is your friend. With having to rotate foods, the freezer helps you stash your leftovers without having to worry about mold. It also makes lunch options and breakfasts much easier after a few weeks of building up your frozen resources.
Supplement, both in diet and physically. I was able to notice marked differences with a reasonable detox program in addition to my diet. In with the good and out with the bad, only gently. And I also have taken up acupuncture, which I think has helped me make significant strides in healing.
YOU CAN DO IT! Studies show that small demonstrations of self control can increase its strength in bigger decisions. Take the opportunity to make changes every day, but at a pace that is kind to you. :)d.
Making the Switch, spotlights everyday people journeying on to better health and well-being by choosing pure food over processed. For some, it has been gradual. For others it was a complete about-face.
Putting the modified diet focus of this blog aside, Making the Switch is open to all. The point being to bring personal stories to light that encourage young and old to get back into the kitchen to cook real food. As Jamie Oliver puts it, “make only a few small changes and magical things will happen.” Whether it’s weight loss, improvements in a child's behavior or the regaining of health, magical things will happen.
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Have you lost a significant amount of weight through diet alone? Let's hear from you?