So I Thought I Was Grain Free…

As you know I went grain free August of 2013 after reading Wellness Mama’s article Are Grains Slowly Killing You and as a result some of  my auto-immune conditions improved. I no longer needed to use medication to control my asthma (if I really even had asthma) I no longer suffer from seasonal allergies and my eczema seemed to go away. I felt amazing. Then, in the Fall of 2013, I had a new condition pop up, Blepharitis. After some research I found out that one of the causes of Blepharitis is Roscia, another autoimmune condition.  The eye doctor I saw wanted to put me on antibiotics but by that time my research into nutrition made me ask if there were some more holistic ways I could control it; fish oil and hot packing. After a few months I saw very little improvement and I started researching for more answers. That’s when, in February of 2014  I found the Autoimmune Protocol diet and eliminated (in my opinion) everything else from my diet but meat and veggies.

On the autoimmune diet I lost weight and for about the first 6 months felt great! People I didn’t even know would comment on how healthy I looked and I seemed to have hope and energy to spare. But then about just after Thanksgiving things started to slide. I look at myself in the family pictures from Thanksgiving and I look vibrant. I look at pictures now and think not so much. This is when, on the suggestion of a good friend, I tried accupunture. It felt amazing but the woman I saw did not speak very good English and I had a hard time communicating with her. She looked at my age and instantly blamed everything on menopause and just couldn’t seem to get past that. Her treatment plan was to come to her for 10 years to get me through it. I didn’t believe that was what was causing my issues so I moved on.

I continued to spiral down, having eczema breakouts, mainly on my neck so a lot of my shirts were really bothering me. I became more anxious and depressed. A lot of the plans and ideas I had for my job, house and life just seemed too overwhelming and my stress increased to a point where even one of my students told me I should “ Do some breathing exercises and drink some of my de-stress tea”.

Around that time I found a local Functional Medical Doctor. Despite the fact that my insurance doesn’t cover it I knew I had to keep searching for answers. I was approaching 50 and if you remember this blog was originally going to chronicle my journey to be “Fit by 50”. After the first appointment we decided to do some actual testing, not just relying on what I said or how I felt. We did a nutrition test and a gut biome test. Wow! my body is not a healthy place! Just to name a few things I’m deficient in many nutrients, like magnesium (which I was taking daily) and the vitamin B family (which again I was taking daily). So this indicates that my body is not absorbing nutrients. My gut biome wasn’t the best and needs more diversity. I also have high levels of lead and gasoline in my system… Not sure where that is coming from.

This led to food and mold allergy testing. I really wanted to know what I could eat so that I could bring back in some foods may help me. I walked out of her office with the allergy testing kit, a  list of supplement to take and a little hope.

In order to test for antibodies in you blood for allergens you have to eat foods that you react to so for the next two weeks I ate pizza, nachos, eggs, nuts, seeds, spices I’d been avoiding, cheese, oh and drank some nummy nut brown ale. It all tasted so good and I felt so awful. I was going to eat this way for 3 weeks but just couldn’t do it! I was even having panic attacks again! It sucked! I was counting the days to my blood draw. After my test was sent off I started following AIP again and taking the suggested supplements, I wasn’t feeling any better. I was still anxious and though I had gained weight by eating everything I thought the weight would just drop off, it wasn’t. What was going on?

Finally my  test results came back and the email from my doctor said “ The only thing I would tell you to avoid before seeing me is corn and turkey. “  My first thought was “That’s it?” Oh, I was so naive!

I started looking into turkey because I wanted to know if that meant I couldn’t eat any poultry and it looks like all poultry have different proteins so just because you are allergic to one doesn’t mean you are allergic to all. And I don’t particularly like turkey so … no big deal.

Then after a few days I started looking into corn-my mind was blown-CORN IS IN EVERYTHING! I REPEAT, EVERYTHING!  Now, I panicked! Here I thought I was grain free but all my supplement(that I just bought) were corn based, my sea salt had an anti caking agent that is corn based along with vanilla extract, just pick up any processed food and you will see an ingredient derived from corn. After a few emailed questions to my doctor she also suggested I avoid corn topically too– Well here we go again, it’s in hand soap, dish soap, laundry soap, toothpaste, and on and on and on.

I don’t have a face to face with my doctor for another week but thanks to the help of my sister’s friend, who has a corn allergy, a facebook group and the Corn Allergen web site I’m starting to navigate the corn free world. I allowed myself to  mope and whine for a few days but now I’m trying to replace “This Sucks” with “I’m up for the challenge!”

And this is what my cat Yum has to say:weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmzxo9999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999iio


Yum is always getting into trouble

I walked away and came back to that added to my page so I thought I’d share =^..^=

Fermented Cod Liver Oil

For the next couple of weeks I’m going to share with you what supplements I take and why. I’m not in the medical profession so these are not recommendations, I’m just sharing information with you about what I take and I’m doing this for a pretty selfish reason. People sometimes ask me what supplements I take and why, I can always answer the what but not the why.That’s because typically when I read a book or article about nutrition if there is information that I can use and it makes sense to me I will implement it, but then as I go on and read information on different things I often forget why I started taking the supplement. I believe that my lifestyle is making a big difference in my health but don’t feel that I am doing a good job of advocating for it if i can’t explain a little bit of the why. So I’m explaining the why to myself and sharing with you; similar to the wheat incident.

 Over the past year I’ve settled on five supplements that I regularly take: fermented cod liver oil, vitamin D, vitamin C, B Complex 100, and magnesium. I have landed on these five because they are either recommended by every book I read or I notice a difference if I don’t take them. I’m going to start with fermented cod liver oil.

 I’m not sure where I first heard about fermented cod liver oil: it was either in Chris Kresser book, Your Personal Paleo Code
or on the Balance Bits podcast. In November of 2013 I was diagnosed with blepharitis, a condition where the oil glands in my eyelids become clogged so no oil gets on my eyelids and that causes chronic dry eye. I would wake up every morning with my eyes crusted shut. The opthamologist I see suggested I take fish oil capsules. So I took them for about 3 months and had no change in my eyes. During that time is when I started hearing about fermented cod liver oil. I read Diane Sanfilippo’s article, Wellness Mama’s article and Weston A. Price Foundation’s article. My take away from these article was that fermented cod liver oil was going to be better for my body than fish oil capsules. Better because the company that Dianne and Wellness Mama suggested, Green Pastures, doesn’t heat the fish liver so none of the nutrients are damaged. Better because it is a whole food and not something that is processed so my body knows what to do with it. Better because it can contains more EPA and DHA than fish oil capsules which contributes to brain and nervous system health.

 I’ve been taking FCLO for almost a year, off and on, and I do notice a difference. When I am faithfully taking about 1 teaspoon of FCLO daily I don’t wake up with crust on my eyes and my eyes don’t water. (I think it’s crazy that when you have dry eyes your eyes actually water more) I’m sure that this is the FCLO because I ran out for about a month and within days my eyes started crusting over. I didn’t connect the crust with the FCLO until I purchased another bottle and started taking it again. Within three to four days I was waking up without eye crust again. I was still hit or miss with taking it, I averaged five times a week. When I fully realized that it was the FCLO that was contributing to my eyes feeling better I became very faithful with taking it. As a matter of fact I’ve left for work, remembered I didn’t take it, and turned around to go home so I could quickly grab a spoonful. As I did the research for this blog I read that I can actually take more, up to a tablespoon,  so I’ll be upping my dose, slowly. I find with this supplement if I up the dose too fast I end up hanging out in the bathroom all day.

FCLO Green Pastures I don’t mind the smell of FCLO and the taste is very mild. I buy the Arctic Mint flavor. If you don’t want to taste it taking FCLO is an art. You put the spoonful in your mouth and then before you swallow you drink from a glass of water, so you swallow them both to once.I add a little apple cider vinegar to my water. Not because I have to but because I like to take a tablespoon of ACV every day too.

 Next week I’ll talk about vitamin D.



Stress and Fatigue

August has been delightful busy for me. Paul McCartney in concert, camping, meeting new friends through an AIP meetup group, the state fair and the last week was spent getting ready to enrich the lives of about 460 middle school kids. All in all Augusts has been a great month.

Being a librarian/teacher gives me a different perspective on the year. Where most people set their goals from January 1 to January 1 mine go from Sept 1 to Sept 1. A new school year filled with hope and new goal setting.

There are many changes coming down the education pipe and educators have many more hoops to jump through to show their effectiveness. Stress and fatigue are going to be the words of the year. So here are some tips that I use to deal with both. I’m not an expert and I do have days where no matter how closely I follow my own advice by 7:30 in the evening I’m exhausted, it doesn’t matter what else needs to get done that day nothing else is going to be accomplished. Though if I prioritize these 3 things exhaustion and stress happens less often.

And here they are the 3 things I do to minimize stress and fatigue:

SLEEP! All health experts agree that sleep is one of the most important things you can do to reduce stress and improve your health.While you are sleeping your body repairs itself and new information is committed to memory. Sleep deprivation can lead to chronic stress, a compromised immune system, heart problems and obesity. I set aside 7-9 hours a night for sleeping. It wasn’t easy in the beginning but as I reflected on my productivity cycle I realized that I am more productive in the morning so trying to stay up until 11:00 to finish a project often resulted in project that really didn’t meet my standards. After about 10:00 PM I often hear myself say “Good enough” even when it’s far from it.

It is not always easy to shut down, especially after a busy and stressful day, I have created a bedtime routine that I follow. By following a routine it signals my body it’s time to slow down. I also wear amber-colored glasses once I have to start turning on the lights in the evening to reduce the blue light which can signal your brain that it’s daytime and I use f.lux on all my computers to remove the blue light from the monitor.

Remove sugar from my diet: This sounds impossible; I know when I start eating more sugar, even natural sugars in dates or honey, I start to crave sugar, I become tired more quickly and I start to gain weight. The buzz on the internet is that sugar is the next cigarettes, negatively effecting your health. Eating too much sugar can cause insulin resistance which leads to more insulin production which can cause type II diabetes. Sugar causes the release of dopamine in the same area of your brain that is affected by cocaine and heroine. It releases opioids, which makes you feel good so you want more sugar, which sounds a little like addition to me .Sugar also causes fatigue. When you eat something sugary your pancreas releases insulin to regulate the sugar in your blood, this causes a drop in sugar in your bloodstream causing fatigue. I know on days that I consume more sugar I crash earlier than normal, which causes me to not get as much done which causes me stress which causes me to eat more sugar, you get the point. Back in February I read The 21-Day Sugar Detox: Bust Sugar & Carb Cravings Naturally
by Dianne Sanflippio. After my detox I really began to really understand sugar’s negative affect on my health. (My sugar detox journey)

Meditation: The most important thing I do is meditate. It doesn’t matter if I meditate for 5 minutes or 20 minutes, on days I meditate I am just a calmer, more patient person. Meditation has been shown to decrease anxiety, stress, and slow down the aging process.I have never really done much research into why meditation does these things I just know when I meditate I feel better. Doing the research for this post I have learned it is a very interesting and complex process and feel that it will have to be a blog post of it’s own. In treating my blepharitis I put a hot compress on my eyes for 10 minutes every morning to help get the oils moving. This is when I meditate. On mornings I’m running behind and I skip my hot packing meditation I feel more stressed at work, I complain more, and I am less focused.

No matter if you’re a teacher having to deal with PDPs, PLCs SLOs and PPGs, (and that is just the tip of the iceberg) work in a stressful industry , work from home, are retired, or a stay at home parent, you get stressed and fatigued. I hope these tips will bring a little more balance to your life.


Time to Get Serious

So I’ve been slowly changing my diet and lifestyle to be more Paleo, with all of the research I’ve been doing I don’t see why not. Since I gave up grains, legumes and cut way back on my sugar I continually feel healthier, have more energy and less brain fog than I have in years. I’m reading Chris Kresser’s book Your Personal Paleo Code and because of the information in his book I have also given up dairy. Things are going well but the one thing I was  hoping would  improve, the swollen bags under my eyes, either caused by blepharitis or rosacea, is staying the same. I still can not wear make up or my contacts. So I decided to go the next step and see a doctor that specialises in, I don’t even know what to call it, holistic medicine, functional medicine, basically someone who is not going to treat the symptoms but get to the root of the problem.

My first visit went as expected, a thorough review of my symptoms, a physical exam and lots of questions. I was very happy that I had a good rapport  and that she was easy to talk to. Unfortunately the expectation of a striker diet was also true; along with grain, dairy, legumes, I also have to give up eggs, lectins, nightshades and alcohol. Here is the hardest thing, I can only have one cup of coffee a day. I’m not surprised by any of these eliminations, I’ve done enough research to know that these are all typical food to get rid of when trying to calm down immune responses. Just wondering how I’m going to manage, I love my egg soup for breakfast.

The First Week:

Lucky you! You get two post in one.

The first week was really hard, hard because of external factors. It was parent-teacher conference week at my school so right there I had to plan for two 12 hour days. This was hard because I had already lost most of Monday night at the doctor’s. Also I had gone shopping for the week and many of the meals I had planned i could no longer eat. To make matters worse there was an extreme tragedy in my extended family. They live about 4 hours away and because of it being parent teacher conferences I could not go to lend my support. My stress level was high. Most of the week was a blur. I did drink some wine on Wednesday and Thursday and didn’t pay too much attention to eliminating all of the foods I should. I did continue to avoid the usual, wheat, dairy, legumes, and I added eggs but I did have some peppers and chocolate and like I said, wine.

I really don’t notice any difference in how I feel, but it was a stressful week, and I didn’t eliminate everything on the list. But starting Sunday, yesterday, I got serious again.

I had salmon and broccoli sprouts for breakfast,  I made a roast for dinner and had left over lamb/liver meat balls for lunch ( yuck, I don’t like ground lamb). Today was a little harder, I really wanted that second cup of coffee. I even spent 20 minutes on the internet trying to find a site that would say it’s ok, you can have two cups. Instead I read coffee is a seed, another thing I can’t eat and that it can stimulate your immune system. So no second cup for me. I also love to have herbal tea. I started looking into the ingredients and have found that most of the tea I drink has cardamom seed in it. I can’t have seeds so that knock another thing off my list.  After going through all the tea in my cupboard I ended up having Nettle Leaf tea, not crazy about it but it will have to do tonight.

Morning of Day 4

I truly meant to blog everyday on my sugar detox but on the afternoon of Day 2 I was hit with another health setback, Rosacea. I have been struggling with Blepharitis for months now and felt like I was in a continual flare up. I also need new glasses. I decided to wait for my eye exam to talk about my Blepharitis flare up. That’s when the word Rosacea was said. What I liked about my doctor was that he was respectful to how I’m eating and how I’m trying to remove toxins from my diet, so he gave me an option. I could try to heal myself with larger doses of fish oil or I could take a more aggressive approach and go on an antibiotic and steroid eye drops, ok, I’m vain, I took the more aggressive approach. I feel I can work on my end changing my diet to heal my gut( a post on gut heal will be coming soon) and taking the antibiotics to speed things along. Yes I realize that the antibiotics will be working against me trying to balance the flora in my gut but hopefully I’ll develop some good habits so when I can come off the antibiotics I will be able to heal my gut quicker.

Ok, now why you are really here, to hear how my detox is going, I have one word  -Great-!!

I could not be happier with how not difficult this is, I won’t say easy because it’s not easy but I will say it’s not difficult either. What makes it tough is planning and as the book The 21 Day Sugar Detox preaches planning is the key. Today I’m  doing my 2 week grocery shopping run and to sit and plan 14 meals and making sure I have something to snack on took about an hour. All of the dinners I’ll be eating will be from the book. But, I feel good and prepared for my next 14 days.

So far I have not felt any different, no withdrawal symptoms  like I thought, so I guess that’s good. I’m a little hungrier than normal but once I eat something, usually cheese, I feel satisfied. I have alway slept good so that hasn’t changed. As for energy and mental clarity I have noticed no changes.

Today will be a big challenge for me, I’m going out for lunch. Thanks goodness for online menus, I’ve already picked out what I will eat, a cobb salad, and now I just have to sneak my own dressing in and pray that it doesn’t come with something  sugar infused.