Once I decided on a natural path for healing from my autoimmune disease; I found myself in a very awkward phase of life. I was exploring avenues that I had never been down before and neither had my friends and family. I found myself buying ghee, drinking diatomaceous earth, making my own deodorant, washing my hair with clay, connecting with farmers for pastured meats, sourcing non-soy organic feed for my chickens that I hand raised, and that was just the beginning.
The biggest and most difficult change I had to make on my path to wellness was my diet. Diet alone does not a wellness journey make. There were many lifestyle changes I had to make too, but diet was by far the most difficult for me.
The only diet that I could find recommended by women who were also choosing a natural healing path for endometriosis was vegetarian. I knew that wouldn’t work for me. Unlike a lot of women who suffer with endometriosis, I was not overweight due to estrogen dominance. Instead, I fell in to the severe endometriosis group who is actually underweight. So, I started researching Paleo, GAPS, Makers, Blood Type and other reportedly healing diets; and as I looked at my needs and worked with my doctor; I decided to start with an elimination diet and work my way to an anti-inflammatory diet (gluten, dairy, caffeine & sugar free). Now, I continue on the anti-inflammatory diet and probably will be on it for life.
It’s a growth spurt.
Changing your diet is so personal and yet it is a decision that will force you to make it public. Making the changes for yourself is difficult, but it is even harder when faced with others and their eating habits. The whole thing is so awkward that you have to start thinking of it as a growth spurt. Your body has to feel its way through the process, and while you don’t have all the answers right away, you will have to face the awkwardness and face it publicly. While I know how difficult it is to get started, I can also assure you that it gets easier as you go. As you begin to see changes in your overall wellness, you will naturally be inspired to take the next step. Improvements in your health are a great motivator. And what happens after an awkward growth spurt? You end up even stronger.
For the many of you who have asked about my diet, here are the basics…
My Anti-inflammatory Diet (Rather than focus on what not to eat, let’s focus on what I do eat)…
Meat – I eat wild caught, pastured, grass-fed meats. I eat fish (typically salmon, cod & tuna), shrimp, beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, and occasionally pork/bacon.
Veggies – I love veggies and basically try to eat as much as possible. I focus on getting 2 servings of cruciferous a day (broccoli, cabbage, kale, brussel sprouts, etc.). I buy as organic as possible. I avoid GMOs (corn, soy, canola, etc.). I also limit night shades (tomatoes, peppers, etc.).
Starches – I do eat white rice that I usually cook in bone broth to add nourishment. I limit white potatoes but do eat them.
Fruits – I limit sugar, and that means fruits too. I typically eat low glycemic fruits like berries and green apples. I occasionally have other fruits, but try to have fat with them.
Sugars/Sweeteners – I strictly limit sugars and completely avoid white refined sugar. I rarely bake, but when I do, I use honey, Grade B maple syrup or sometimes coconut sugar. For tea or drinks, I use liquid stevia drops.
Herbs/Spices – I love using fresh herbs to brighten a dish and add nutrients. I love cilantro and parsley. I am increasingly using more dried spices too. I throw turmeric in to soups and any time I am cooking beef. (I take turmeric therapeutically too, but like to add it to food as well.)
Drinks – I drink water 95% of the time. I use a Berkey to have purified water for pennies, since it is proven to remove the nasty stuff but retain the beneficial minerals of water. I occasionally drink teas (nettle for my liver, red raspberry as a woman, chamomile for relaxation). In the morning, I drink sole. I am working on incorporating more fresh juicing and smoothies too. I like drinking them, just not the mess and expense of making them.
Seeds/Nuts – I eat raw seeds & nuts. I prefer to soak them, but don’t always do it, especially on the RV. My favorites are cashews, walnuts, chia, pumpkin and sunflower.
Dairy – I avoid diary. On a very rare occasion, I will have my favorite…chevre cheese.
Eggs – They seem to be my nemesis. I love eggs cooked in any fashion, and one of my favorite foods of all time is a poached egg. But, I don’t always feel the best on them. So, I will eliminate them for a few months, and then try again, but I can’t seem to break the cycle yet.
Legumes – Yes, please!
Fats – I eat as many healthy fats as possible. My go-tos are avocados, MCT oil, coconut oil, olive oil and grass-fed ghee. I add oils to my food, but I also just eat at least 1 tablespoon of coconut oil a day. Because I eat pastured, organic meats; I also make sure to eat animal fat too.
Q & A
Who is this diet good for?
Truthfully, it is good for anyone and everyone. While some facets will vary from person to person, choosing an anti-inflammatory diet is choosing better overall wellness.
How does it work with Chris?
Well, we are a family. So, we do things as a family. In this case, Chris follows the same diet. Every once in a while, he will go AWOL and buy something for himself that would not be considered a healthy choice. For the most part though, he is glad to be on the same diet, because he has seen such an improvement in his energy and overall wellbeing too.
How do you get started?
It is easy for me now to make meals and grocery shop with ease, but when I started, it was hard work. I wanted to run for the hills and give the whole thing up many times. I would suggest that you begin to source your foods differently – focus on meats first. Find your best option for pastured, grass-fed meats. That may be a local farm, grocery store or ordering online. I have tried them all, and it took time to find the best sources. It is a learning process. Then, work on the vegetables you eat to find the best organic source. Having good options in place first, will make it easier to then begin cutting things from your diet. For me, it was easier to quit dairy, sugar and gluten at the same time (I tend to be intense once I make a decision), but you could do one at a time if that works better for you. Overall, recognize that you have had your lifestyle for many years (over 30 for me), and it will take time to change it. You will find a rhythm again, just stick with it.
Do I ever stray from the diet?
Yes, I do. At first, I was very strict, and would literally refuse food not on my diet when offered to me. Now, I am more relaxed. Everything that I prepare for myself is still on the diet, except very rare occasions, like the few times a year when I eat cheese. Now, when we are invited to someone’s home for a meal, I am more lenient. The main thing is to remember that food is meant for nourishment, so don’t look at a diet as a straight jacket. Know that you are choosing the most nourishing food for yourself, and on the rare occasions that you don’t, don’t punish yourself over it, that can lead to a very unhealthy relationship with food.
How does it work on the RV?
I was very steady with the diet before we began to RV, so I had rhythm and knew a lot of resources to help me. However, sourcing food was something we knew we would have to face across the country, and that was the most difficult aspect. My advice is to make sure you leave plenty of storage space on the RV for food. That way, when you can source the items you need, you can stock up to get you through the times when you won’t be able to source the same items. It takes a little more effort, but it is still very doable. One of the benefits of RVing is that I am not faced with eating with others as often. Before, we were eating with friends at least once a week, sometimes twice. Plus, we would occasionally have work lunches with others. As an RVer, it is much easier to avoid those scenarios.