I was nauseous nearly every day. Along with the nausea I would have stomach cramps and achiness that made me feel like I was constantly coming down with something. I didn’t want to go to work, I didn’t want to cook meals or take care of my kids, I just wanted to FEEL BETTER.
I have always had a sensitive stomach. When I am anxious or stressed I inevitably have bouts of diarrhea. I never really thought much about it – I just considered it a ‘quirk’ of my body. The thing is…. you know how when you have symptoms for a long time they start to feel ‘normal’? That’s where I was at. This went on for YEARS. About two years after my second daughter was born, I finally owned up to the fact that it wasn’t sleep deprivation or the stress of a new baby or any other life-altering things and I needed to get this checked out.
I went to a GI (gastrointestinal) doc and underwent a colonoscopy and a lactose/fructose/glucose test. Everything came back negative. The doctor diagnosed my problem as IBS in March of 2010. His suggestion to me was to “eat more fiber and take more vacations”. I was given a few pamphlets on the disease and that was that. I kid you not.
I felt EXTREMELY alone and really didn’t understand how fiber and a vacation were going to suddenly heal my now-diagnosed IBS. Thank goodness for the internet. I scoured pages upon pages and finally landed at helpforibs.com. I felt armed with information and a clear picture of what my diet should entail to keep the nausea and pain away. I bought some of Heather’s great products and worked on eliminating red meat and fats, limiting my dairy intake and upping my fiber. She also highly encourages bread as the first thing you eat on an empty stomach. No problem here! I LOVE bread, crackers, pasta you name it. It was a license to eat all those comfort foods. My bowel movements improved, my nausea improved and I felt like I hit the jackpot.
Fast forward to Fall of 2014. The nausea I had experienced back in 2010 suddenly returned with a vengeance. It would come on quickly and fiercely. I felt like my body was out of control. I couldn’t predict when I would be okay and when I would need to run to the bathroom just-in-case. It was a horrible way to live and I found myself staying at home, calling in sick to work and feeling really sorry for myself not to mention the toll it took on my family. I had ZERO desire to return to the GI doctor I visited back in 2010 so upon recommendation of friends, I saw an Osteopathic Doctor.
The Osteopathic doctor ran a bunch of tests and I learned a little bit more of what actually was happening in my gut. I had an overgrowth of Candida, a TON of inflammation in my body and my immune system was very weak (largely due to the inflammation). His diagnosis was “Leaky-Gut Syndrome”. He explained the IBS diagnosis was generic and didn’t really get to the heart of what was going on inside my gut. OBVIOUSLY! Buoyed by some answers, I followed his instructions to the letter. I went through a 10-day detox followed by a Candida protocol, and added some immune-boosting and glutamine supplements to heal the lining of my intestine. This process took about 6 weeks. I lost 10 pounds and was eating healthier foods, but was only feeling better slightly. I was experiencing abdominal pain and still had bouts of stomach yucky-ness once a week. If I was going to figure this out I had to go back AGAIN.
The second time we did another round of Candida busting supplements and I had an allergy panel done to see what food my body was allergic to. This was a HUGE eye-opener and I would HIGHLY recommend doing it. It was expensive, but I learned I was reacting to quite a few foods I had been eating on a DAILY basis. The panel comes back with foods you should eliminate from your diet for 6 months and foods you should only eat every 4 days. I didn’t want to have to keep track of things, so I eliminated ALL the foods for 6 months. Two surprising allergens were eggs (which I had been eating EVERY day for breakfast) and soy (which I had been drinking in soy milk for 4 YEARS and didn’t realize my body was silently cursing me for it!)
During this time I cut back to only eating 1-2 slices of sourdough bread. I wanted to kick the Candida to the curb! No pasta, no cereal, nothing with any yeast in it. I was really proud of myself because it was an ENORMOUS change in diet for me. However, I was experiencing a lot of bloating and the nausea was better, but I had abdominal pain and not feeling as good as I should be feeling given the extraordinary measures I had been taking to get well. So I took matters into my own hands and started searching the internet for more answers.
In September of 2015 I stumbled upon the SCD Lifestyle website. SCD stands for Specific Carbohydrate Diet. The diet was created by a woman named Elaine Gottschall who then went on to write the ground-breaking book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet. I bought the book, read it and returned to the SCD lifestyle website for more details. The testimonies alone convinced me it was worth a try. What did I have to lose? Jordan and Steve offer a great e-book and meal plans that are easy-to-follow. I was at that point where I needed someone to guide me through the foods that would heal my body.
As of this post, I have been on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for 8 months. My pain has improved immensely and I feel nauseous about once a month rather than 2x a week. I am still working on getting rid of bloating and getting my bowel movements to normal on a daily basis. It took a long time to create the leaky gut and it will take more time than I’d like to heal it. I am staying the course, eating whole foods every day and praying that in time I will feel ‘normal’ again. The SCD is a challenge, no doubt. The basic diet is grain free, dairy free, sugar free. Though I continue to struggle off and on with the limitations I know if I stay the course, healing will come in time.
I have learned two very important lessons in my journey to wellness. First, you have to take charge of your own health. I consider doctors a resource, but not the only resource. They are an excellent tool for asking questions, getting a perspective, gaining insight and ordering tests, but they are not the end-all. Ultimately, your health is in your hands. The more research you conduct, the more knowledgeable you become about your own body. Second, wellness is not one-dimensional. There is never a right answer that applies to every person. Wellness is extremely individual. It seems so silly to say it, but it did take me this long to figure out that health is multi-faceted. For the longest time I thought that if my gut could just heal I would feel better. The truth is the more I work on my spiritual health, my mental health and my physical health, I feel BETTER.
If you are struggling to feel well because of your digestive system or depression, anxiety, cancer, etc., I encourage you to join me and take charge of your own health. Listen to your body and give yourself permission to take the JOURNEY to wellness. It doesn’t happen overnight as you have just learned from my story, but it takes persistence. You can do this! You can be well and feel well and enjoy your life.