Living and Thriving Gluten Free

Healthy & Whole Food Eating

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In Part 1, I covered some of the challenges I had as a child, and where I hit bottom with migraines. If you haven't read it yet, click here.

Getting Advice and Starting Experimenting

After the visit with the "hippie" doctor, I was committed to getting rid of the migraines, once and for all.

Thora Toft
Thora Toft
Image by: Thora Toft
I talked to friends, and asked their advice. I didn't necessarily think they'd have some magic solution, but I wanted their input.

I stumbled, by accident, on a couple articles that talked about red dye in food. I found out they actually put red dye in fertilizer, for use on tomatoes. They don't have to label products applied prior to picking fruits and vegetables, so this was a way for them to dye the tomatoes, and actually pick them technically green.

Have you ever wondered why some tomatoes are tasteless? One reason is because they're actually not ripe, and have been dyed red. I found out red dye was bad, and is actually banned in most of the world as a toxin. (Buy organic, and they don't have red dye, or buy them still partly green, so you know they weren't dyed.)

Red Twizzlers
Image by: Evan Amos
That night I went and bought a bag of red Twizzlers, to enjoy them for the last time. That was the only food I ever did that with, and I've never had them since.

A couple days later, the migraine went away, and actually stayed away for about 2 weeks.

"This is truly wonderful." I was so happy to smile, and stop and breath, and be able to enjoy some relief.

But, then they came back again. Just as bad as they were.

There were a few things I cut out of my diet, and some chemicals I stopped using in the house, or on my body, that would give me some relief for a few days. But the migraines would always come back.

I thought to myself, "I know I'm on the right track, some of this is working, but I'm missing something." I was obviously reacting to multiple things.

Reaching Out for Help – Being Turned Down

At this point, I went to the doctor again.

"I've been getting rid of some chemicals, and food additives, and it's starting to help a bit," I told him. "But it's not completely helping. I'd like you to help me sort this out, so I can get these migraines gone permanently."

He got this "look" on his face. It was a face of disgust, and pity, that doctors are famous for when they think a patient is just being silly, or dumb or just doing anything that the doctor didn't think of or approve of.

It's the look a parent would give to a child who's done something stupid.

That face just plain old pissed me off. That was not a face I was going to tolerate. I didn't tolerate it from my grandmother growing up (we butted heads pretty good, let me tell you), so I was certainly not going to take it from a doctor who obviously wasn't listening to me.

He proceeded to pull out his prescription pad, and informed me, "I'm putting you on this strong medication." I can't remember what it was, but it was classed just below morphine, when I looked it up. "You will take several pills daily when needed. You'll increase the dosage over the next 10 years, then when they quit working, I'll switch you to morphine. You'll need these the rest of your life."

The rest of my life!!!!!!

I was stunned.

This was what he had in store for me. He wasn't interested in helping me get to the bottom of what was wrong.

When I get furious, I can feel the adrenaline rush to my head, and my lips squish all up. That's what I did when he did that.

I was done.

I said in a curt, blunt tone, "Thanks." I stood up, took the paper he gave me and left. By the time I hit the exit door I was in a rage. I scrunched up the prescription, and shoved it into the garbage can. Then I drove home. I had to make an effort to calm down, since I didn't want to drive like a maniac.

My poor boyfriend. When I got home, I vented my rage. Not at him, but to him. I went off on how insane the whole doctor appointment went. After about 1/2 an hour, the rage had dissipated.

That was the very last time I ever went to a doctor for his opinion. I will never trust them as an authority, ever again.

Taking My Health Into My Own Hands

That day, I also started doing internet research. A LOT of research. I pretty much spent the next 30 days, every moment I absolutely could, finding out for myself what might be going on.

This was in the late 90s. Let me tell you, it was WAY, WAY harder to find info then. The internet was new, and the volume of info was nowhere near what it is today.

Drug Cocktail
Image by: Ewa Urban - frolicsomepl
The first week, all I could find were web sites and forums with sufferers extolling the virtues of the drug cocktails they were on. This was absolutely not what I wanted. I wanted to find out what I was doing wrong, so I could stop doing it.

Eventually, I was able to find a trickle of links to other sites, alternative health and alternative medicine sites.

There was nothing specific for migraines at that time. But, after the 30 days, I came to believe that food additives are not a good thing. There was nothing blatant as an overall reason, just a ton of anecdotal info, with a small amount of research that talked about additives being bad, and organic being better than conventionally grown food.

I decided to try going 100% toxin / additive free and organic. I put together a 30 day menu plan to cook myself, from scratch. We headed off to the big city, 3 hours away, to buy all the ingredients for my menu plan (some veggies I'd have to buy locally, since they wouldn't keep for 30 days). I even bought new salt and pepper. Everything was new, all of it.

I came home, and started cooking. 4 days later, the migraines went away...

This time, they stayed away.

To this day, I've only ever had a small handful of migraines, and it's only when I've inadvertently had some food additive in something I eat.

Within just a few days of this change in eating, I realized I was losing weight, and losing it fast. At first I thought I must not be eating enough. I checked my menu plan, and what I was eating, and the calories, and realized I was eating about 3,500 calories a day, yet I was still losing weight. I figured there was no point in eating more, since I was eating plenty. This was just a side benefit of eating no additives.

It's only been in the last few years that research is now confirming that many of these additives do cause us to get fat, and that calorie counting is also an inaccurate measure of food. It has far more to do with the quality of the food we eat. The better the food, the more of it we can eat.

When I had such bad migraines, losing weight really was not a priority at all. However, I was about 60 pounds over weight, so it was a nice thing to lose weight. I lost 35 pounds within about a month.

That weight has stayed off ever since.

One Problem Down, One More Raises Its Head

After I rid myself of migraines, I realized I had terrible stomach problems. I hadn't really noticed while I had migraines, because the migraines were so bad. The pain was certainly not as bad as the migraines, but it was definitely bad.

I'd always feel like I ate a football after eating, much of the time.

I've always suffered with constipation, and now I realized how painful that is. I'd have to turn myself upside down, just to move my insides around a bit, so my stomach and bowels would stop pushing on other organs to reduce pain.

I'd get gas stuck under my rib cage, that was really hard to get out.

I'd get back pain behind my stomach. I could tell it wasn't really my back bone, nor was it my muscles, but it was in the back none the less.

Since my diet plan creation, I had continued to do a lot of research on alternative health, and tried a number of things to see if I could figure out what the problem was. This time, none of the things I tried made any difference at all.

Successful Experiment

On a whim, I tried the Atkins diet.

I was always trying new diets. Not really to lose weight, as I was actually comfortable at the weight I was; I was a few pounds overweight but not really enough for me to stress out about.

I tried them just to see if any of them could resolve my digestive problems.

All the plans I tried were recipe plans; none of them were where you buy special food. I still wanted to control exactly what I ate, to avoid food additives.

I read the instructions on the Atkins diet, which is actually an entire book. In it it talked about the importance of eating at least 6 cups of salad per day. This did not count towards your carb intake. I was happy with that, as I love salads.

It also explained that since you cut out grains, you need to replace the fiber with the fiber from vegetables, and their preference was salad greens.

The book also warned that you would go through withdrawal symptoms from the grains and sugar. I'm sure glad I read that, because boy oh boy, did I have withdrawals! I felt like death for about a week.

After that week, when the withdrawals were over, I felt TONS better!

I couldn't believe it! It was amazing!

Sunset on the beach
Image by: Freestockcenter
For the first time in my life, I didn't feel my body unless I touched it.

What a concept!

I also realized it was not normal to feel like you ate a football after a meal.

The constipation was over. The gas was gone. The bloating was gone. I no longer needed to turn myself upside down. I lost another 20 pounds (that has stayed off since then).

I was absolutely floored. I had read about people feeling a bit better on the diet, but this was such a major dramatic difference.

Digging Deeper

I started doing more research to see if I could figure out what it was. I did run across some info that was just starting to come out about grains not being good for people.

I experimented with different grains, to see if some were worse than others. I quickly figured out I couldn't touch wheat of any kind. I pretty much came to the point where I could only eat rice. That was the only grain that didn't cause me upset. I must note that I did not really have much access to some of the more specialty grains, like quinoa, etc.

I was able to settle into this new eating, and truly enjoyed feeling better.

I was able to take stock of my life. I had a clear head, and a body that was there only to serve me, and not torture me. I split with my boyfriend, and cleared up some debts. I fixed up my house a bit, and got into much more gardening. I started doing a ton more crafts and sewing.

I was loving life. I felt young again.

Join me for Part 3, the last part, where I lay out what I found, what really was the root cause of my health challenges.


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