Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How Do I Feel After Three Months on Allergy-Free Diet?

Dr. Mark Hyman had a great entry on his UltraWellness blog from this past January that I have re-read several times and I've also sent to several friends and family members. Dr. Hyman is talking about healing our minds and our bodies in his post and I find so much of what he says to ring true for me. 

One of the biggest sticking points for me in staying away from certain foods is recognizing if those foods have actually affected me negatively. I mean that one of the troubles I've always had with food is that I generally felt a low-grade, constant kind of miserable. I was tired and moody and easily stressed and often in a brain fog. Life did not seem bright. I did not feel active or alert. I've always assumed that if I lost weight, those feelings would dissipate and I would become bright and happy and active. Yet, going off these foods the last few months has taught me that I can feel bright and happy and active even now at 300 pounds because I'm fueling my body properly. It amazes me right now how alert and attentive my brain has been the last several weeks. How much I'm able to process and do. How much more I actually want to do. 

That is why I loved the list of side effects that Dr. Hyman lists in this entry

  • Feel more alert and focused
  • Have more stable moods
  • Enjoy a better memory
  • Have more energy
  • Enjoy the kind of restful sleep that will help you wake up more refreshed and able to face your day
  • Improve your digestion
  • Decrease chronic sinus problems
  • Experience pain-free joints
  • Eliminate headaches
And there are wonderful side effects. You will lose weight automatically and you may even see your sex drive improve. 

Let me just tell you what my experience has been with each of these items since I went off dairy, wheat, sugar, oats, corn as well as all food additives like high-fructose corn syrup, MSG, and any processed or packaged food. 

  • Feel more alert and focused: Yes, I have felt much more alert and focused. Previous to this, especially in the last year, I've felt an intense amount of brain fog. I've had trouble making decisions and moving forward because I could not seem to sort through everything that was in my head. 
  • Have more stable moods: Can I just say "Yes!" to this one? It is amazing to not have massive mood swings each day. To feel like I can count on myself. To be on top of things. I love it. I've had mood swings for years and to NOT have mood swings now makes me realize, "Oh, you can really live life like this?" Amazing.  
  • Enjoy a better memory: Yes. No more brain fog. No more indecision. Access to all of my faculties. This is lovely. 
  • Have more energy: In the past, my body would finally seem to wake up around 3 or 4PM each day. Recently, I've been sleeping less and waking up ready to dive into the day ahead with energy to spare it seems. I can't tell you if I have ever felt that way in my life. Most of my life has been spent wishing I could sleep the day away and barely able to drag myself out the door at any time of day. It was such a struggle just to do the basics each day. I call it "survival mode" where the fact that I'm breathing each day is accomplishment enough. Any thing else is simply extraneous action. This begins to cause a problem when things like eating, shopping, cleaning your house, going to work and paying bills seem like extras in life. These are the some of the stuff of life and not doing them each day can become extremely detrimental. My whole life would grind to a halt when I was in survival mode. Everything beyond breathing took enormous amounts of effort. ENORMOUS. I remember sitting in my chair one day overwhelmed with decisions that needed to be made and work that needed to be done and life that needed to be lived. In that moment, I felt that I could not do one more thing. I simply did not have the energy. All I wanted was for my life to be put on hold for a long, long time so I could try to recapture my energy. Even now, it is amazing to me that I have the energy to make decisions, clean my house, pay my bills and go to work. It feels miraculous that I can do those things consistently. 
  • Enjoy the kind of restful sleep that will help you wake up more refreshed and able to face your day: Most of my life, I've wished that I could sleep 10 to 12 hours a day. If I could sleep that much then I felt halfway human. Do you realize how much 2 to 4 hours of extra sleep a day cuts in to your productivity? And if your productivity is hampered by brain fog, low energy and mood swings? Sometimes now just because I feel better I want to pat myself on the back for even surviving the last several years. No wonder I was so miserable! No wonder. 
  • Improve your digestion: Yes. Yes. Yes. My stomach doesn't hurt. I don't feel lethargic and tired after eating. I actually feel clean inside--not bloated or heavy or anything. I love that feeling. 
  • Decrease chronic sinus problems: I have had this little routine for years where every morning when I wake up it would take me a couple of hours to blow my nose and clear our my throat. I never really recognized before that this had to do with allergies. I love not having to do that routine each day. 
  • Experience pain-free joints: Just generally my body doesn't ache like it used to. I'm not hurting. I'm not in pain. My body feels alive and brimming with energy. I want to go and do and move and see and experience. I love that feeling. 
  • Eliminate headaches: I've never had a lot of headaches in my life, but I just enjoy feeling free of illness and full of vigor. I like that my head feels clear and good. I like that I'm not ingesting anything chemical or toxic that could give me headaches. 
  • You will lose weight automatically: I'm still working on the weight loss thing but it suddenly doesn't feel so tremendous and overwhelming. Because I feel good and my body feels good, I imagine that as I keep eating and exercising the weight will come off. I'm not hungry all the time. I'm not thinking about food constantly. I really like food and I like cooking and I like sharing and feasting with others. It is just different. It is not an obsession. It doesn't hound me. It feels so much more balanced and healthy. Also, I've lost my stomach first as I've ben losing weight this time. That has been interesting. Always before it seemed like my stomach was the last to go and I seemed kind of stuffed. Now even at 300 pounds, I feel so much more bendable and flexible around my stomach because I don't feel like things are compacted inside me. It seems like there is room for everything to move around. 
  • You may even see your sex drive improve: I call this one the attraction factor. This one has been the one that I least expected. I used to wonder if I was possibly asexual or something because even though I thought boys were cute or fun, most of the time, I don't notice them that way. Now it is like some light has been turned on in my brain. I'm noticing colors and smells and clothing and eyes. I'm interested in who is interesting. I'm aware. I really think that is the biggest thing. I'm just aware. And I'm really interested to see other people's reactions and hear their thoughts and interact. I'm really interested in interacting. It like some major light has been turned on in my brain. Like, why couldn't I have experienced this in puberty? 
Yes, let's just say that eating fresh, whole foods and staying away from all the junk and the food allergies has wrought this incredible change in my energy level and my brain. I LOVE IT. 

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