Embarking on a Different Kind of Adventure
Sometimes I feel like I’m joining a cult. It started before our trip to Morocco, but Morocco was the tipping point.
When I was 18, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. It’s an autoimmune digestive disease that affects my colon. It’s not fun, but I take my pills every day, and aside from a few bumps in the road, I’ve lived the past 16 years pretty much like anyone else. I’ve heard horror stories of what can happen to people with this disease, but I’ve been lucky, mostly healthy, and I went along thinking I’d be fine as long as I kept taking my medicine.
But last summer I started getting sick here and there simply from what I was eating. Nothing major like what happened to me two years ago, but enough to make me worry. I started doing research to find out what I could do to keep myself healthy, mostly with regard to food. Whenever I’ve asked my doctor (whether here in Germany or my previous doctor in the US) if there are certain foods I should or should not eat, the response has always been along the lines of, “If it bothers you, don’t eat it. If it doesn’t bother you, eat it.” Um, thanks, helpful.
My research taught me that food intolerance isn’t as simple as that. It’s not like having a peanut allergy where you eat peanuts and almost immediately have a strong reaction. Apparently people with colitis, other digestive diseases, and other autoimmune diseases often have trouble digesting gluten. Often they also have trouble with nightshades, which are tomatoes, potatoes (except sweet potatoes), peppers, and eggplant. But if you eat gluten and tomatoes and potatoes all the time, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s wrong.
My friend and fellow travel blogger Heather has been dealing with her own digestive problems, and she told me about something called the GAPS diet that she tried. After reading about it and asking her some questions, I decided it was too extreme for me, at least at the moment, but it started me down a path towards better nutrition understanding. Heather also introduced me to a video series about digestion that ran in November, and I was fascinated.
I learned just how much our bodies are affected by our gut. That digestive problems can greatly affect your mental state and lead to mental disorders. That digestion problems can lead to autoimmune diseases and other ailments you might not associate with digestion at all, like sinus problems. (Light bulbs going off for me left and right, as I have also been suffering with sinus problems since I was about 23 years old.) It all makes sense really. What you eat affects your body and how it functions. I just never realized the full extent of it, or that certain foods I thought were healthy might not be.
When Andy and I got so sick in Morocco and went back to Spain early, I decided to try eliminating gluten from my diet. Within just a few days I felt so much better. I realize this wasn’t an entirely scientific experiment since I simultaneously stopped eating the Moroccan food that was bothering me, but other symptoms I didn’t even realize were symptoms went away as well. I never realized the bloating I feel after eating most meals was not normal.
Eating gluten free is not easy. I’ve slipped up a few times without even thinking about it, and even when I’m making a conscious effort to avoid it, it’s really hard. Like when we stayed in a hotel without breakfast in Córdoba and the only things I could find were pastries and sandwiches. I caved and bought a sandwich, of which I ate all the meat and half the bread. I had a few other foods that weekend that had small amounts of gluten, and I could feel the difference. Ugh. But for the most part, I have avoided gluten since the beginning of December.
As I continued to research this topic, I started seeing a lot of articles and blogs about the Paleo diet. Apparently it has helped tons of people with digestive diseases and other autoimmune diseases to reduce the severity of their disease or even eliminate the disease altogether. According to the hours of reading I’ve done, this idea of eating a low fat, high carb diet has only been around for about 30-40 years, and along with that push came a drastic increase in obesity. And that our bodies were never designed to eat grains, that grains have only been a part of the human diet for about 10,000 years (as opposed to the 140,000 or so years before that when humans did not eat them).
I always thought it sounded crazy because you can’t eat any grains (so no rice, pasta, bread, etc.) and eating tons of meat seemed unhealthy. Well, it turns out it’s not a meat heavy diet, it’s a veggie heavy diet, and the nutrients in the veggies replace the ones you’re not getting from grains. Plus it turns out many grain products are fortified with those nutrients anyway, so they’re not even naturally occurring. And despite cutting out grains, it’s not really a low carb diet. There are plenty of carbs in starchy veggies like sweet potatoes, butternut squash, plantains, and several other things. Plus lots of non-starchy veggies have low amounts of carbs, which add up, and eating a little bit of fruit every day also adds carbs.
my first experience with butternut squash
The Paleo diet has a heavy emphasis on humanely raised animals, animals that are allowed to eat what they would normally eat, animals that aren’t given hormones and antibiotics, and basically eating organic meats and veggies. It’s more expensive, more so than I realized, but it’s worth it to know there aren’t hormones, antibiotics, chemicals, and other bad things in my food that are making me sick. (There’s also an emphasis on organ meats, but I am NOT ready for that yet.) In case you missed the announcement in our newsletter, we’re spending this month in Berlin, and I’m enjoying going to the fresh markets, including one market that sells only organic meats, fruits, and veggies (plus other organic things that include gluten that I’m not buying).
There are a few other things I never realized about the diet until I did this research. Most people on a Paleo diet don’t eat potatoes. It’s not necessarily because they’re high in carbs, it’s that potatoes have a high glycemic load which causes a spike in blood sugar, which can cause inflammation. Most people also don’t eat dairy, mostly because dairy allergies are so common. Like grains, dairy isn’t something humans ate beyond infancy 50,000 years ago.
Bone broth is another thing I learned about recently. Obviously I knew soup was made from bones, but I didn’t know just how powerful and beneficial it is. Bone broth can help heal the gut and it provides so many important nutrients. I’ve only made it a few times, while we were in Sevilla in December, but it was delicious once we got the hang of it.
Then there’s fermented foods. Sounds gross, but they provide so much good bacteria that our bodies need. We actually have more bacterial cells than human cells, and if the ratio of bad to good ones gets out of whack, it can cause all kinds of health problems. Which is basically what happened to me two years ago when I took antibiotics and ended up in the hospital. (Because overuse of antibiotics is also pretty bad.) So I want to start adding fermented foods, like sauerkraut and pickles, to my diet. But homemade, since the store-bought kinds don’t have all that beneficial bacteria. Andy is kind of excited about this part, I think because it feels like a science experiment.
So sometimes I feel like I’m joining a cult by changing to a Paleo lifestyle. But I haven’t felt so strongly about something like this in a while, and everything I’m reading makes so much sense to me. Do I want to give up pasta and pizza? Hell no. But if it makes me healthier, makes me feel better, and reduces my chances of cancer (people with colitis have roughly 10 times higher chances of developing colon cancer) then I have to try it.
Right now I’m working on adding more veggies to my diet. I’ve already eliminated gluten, and I’m close to being ready to eliminate rice and potatoes. I recently made cashew nut butter (because legumes, which includes peanuts and peanut butter, are also not allowed) and learned how to cook butternut squash. I don’t eat much dairy anyway, especially now that I’m not eating cereal anymore, so I’m not too worried about cutting out the little bit of cheddar or feta I eat now and then. One of my biggest hurdles will be cutting out sugar. I don’t eat tons of it, but I get my caffeine from Coke, which means I need to break that addiction. I drink about 250ml (less than a can) a day but I’m still not looking forward to the withdrawal symptoms. And let’s just ignore the box of Girl Scout cookies I just asked my mom to order for me. Hey, normally I get three boxes. Baby steps.
bacon from 100% pasture raised pigs with no preservatives or additives, garlic, red onion, orange pepper, zucchini, and butternut squash, plus some herbs and turmeric
My goal is to have at least one month of strict Paleo at first. There is actually an even stricter version of Paleo designed for autoimmune diseases, and it includes eliminating nightshades, nuts, dairy, eggs, and a few other things, but I’m not sure I’m ready for that just yet. And of course, most of what I read strongly recommends seeking the guidance of a medical professional, which I would love to do as soon as I can figure out the right words in German to find the type of doctor I need for this.
Andy joined me on the gluten free diet in a wonderful show of moral support, which was so helpful when we both went through horrible gluten withdrawal for a few days. Even though he is not a fan of veggies, he’s been great about trying them with me. If they’re well cooked and in with a bunch of other stuff, he can tolerate them a lot better. I don’t expect him to fully follow along with me on all of the Paleo changes, but I’m hoping to find ways for us to both feel good about what we’re eating. And since there is some cheating allowed in the regular Paleo diet (about 3 meals a week seems to be the max) I’d love to be healthy enough for an occasional cheat meal to not bother me.
I’m not turning this into a food and health blog. But it is a blog about me and my adventures. It just so happens that one of the biggest adventures in my life at the moment involves nutrition and food, plus figuring out how to travel while eating this way. I might write about it from time to time and I’ve added a food and nutrition category, but I will still write about travel and expat life. I still have lots to write about Italy and Spain, we have some vague travel ideas for 2015, and we have another exciting announcement coming up soon.
I’m not an expert on any of this, and I’m not giving out medical advice here. I’m just interpreting what I’ve read. In no particular order, here are just a few of the articles I’ve read about the Paleo diet, nightshades, digestion and other autoimmune diseases, the connection between the gut and the mind, and lots of other nutrition info. I highly recommend reading through these if you have digestive problems, mental disorders, or other autoimmune diseases like fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and more.
January 22, 2015 @ 11:01 AM
So interesting reading this because I too started discovering, a couple of years ago near the beginning of my travels, that perhaps I wasn’t as healthy as I’d originally thought. I don’t have colitis and I don’t think (!) I’m gluten intolerant, but, like you, kept having terrible sinus problems, upset stomachs and just general digestive issues. I started researching and reading every day (so much so that on a recent semi-related trip to the doctor recently, he was very surprised to learn that I’d diagnosed myself correctly and knew a lot more than he assumed I would!) Anyway, over the last couple of years I’ve been trying things on and off – bone broth, fermented foods, cutting out caffeine, etc but I still haven’t been able to totally get things under control. I feel better in myself and my digestion is 10x better than it was before, but I’m still a pussy about cutting out some of the foods I love. Eventually I feel as though I’ll probably have to try an elimination diet and figure out exactly what it is that bothers me, but from the little I’ve done I know coffee and spicy food just aren’t really good for me (or probably anyone, if we’re being honest with ourselves!) Good luck with it, and if you find any more research, please feel free to pass it along to me cos I’m also interested to find out anything new!
January 22, 2015 @ 11:49 AM
I’ll definitely keep you posted! I’m finding that health issues, especially when it comes to food, are extremely tricky. It’s amazing how many things are linked with digestion and nutrition. I felt better pretty quickly when I eliminated gluten, but I didn’t start seeing bigger improvements until probably 6 weeks later, and even that was with slipping up now and then. I completely understand your hesitation to cut out any foods you enjoy though. That first week or two of not eating gluten was not only physically difficult, but also emotionally straining. I didn’t like the idea of not eating pasta or pizza or so many other things. I was in tears. I still don’t like the idea, but I’m coming to terms with it, while still hoping I can get healthy enough that a slice of pizza a few times a year or something won’t be detrimental. All of these changes are harder to do while we’re on the road too. I’m really itching to be back in my own home (just over 3 weeks from now!) with my own kitchen so I can really focus on adding things to my diet and eliminating others.
January 22, 2015 @ 1:02 PM
what a huge undertaking you are starting. I certainly understand why, We’ve both been suffering over the years with colitis. I don’t eat a lot of foods/drinks that you are trying to avoid (soda, pasta, pizza, caffeine) but still have to find what foods are irritating.
You are very fortunate to have your husband joining and encouraging you. Some spouses just won’t or can’t change their eating habits which makes these kind of diets very difficult to follow.
I’m looking forward to reading of your “new” adventure and how it helps your health.
Good luck and good health. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to get off those meds.
January 23, 2015 @ 11:13 AM
Thanks! To be clear, Andy isn’t following along with me 100% but he did get go through the gluten withdrawal with me in December, and he doesn’t eat it now unless we’re out somewhere, and even then, not often. He’s being great about trying vegetables, but he’ll probably never be able to eat a big salad or anything like that. But he is very supportive and understands that this should be a good thing for me. And yes, I’d LOVE to get off the meds!
January 22, 2015 @ 1:35 PM
Ali, I think you’re doing this incredibly well — taking small steps as you experiment! Trying paleo for a month before considering AIP is smart…I think if paleo helps, then it gives you the incentive to perhaps try AIP to see if it helps further.
While I usually have a positive attitude about my laundry list of food restrictions, last week I really struggled. BADLY. The emotional part kicked my butt harder than it has in a while.
We’re in this wellness journey together! Let me know how I can help on the tough days!
January 23, 2015 @ 11:20 AM
Thanks Heather! I’m so grateful to have your support and encouragement! I completely agree about the emotional attachment to food. Sometimes it’s incredibly frustrating, and I’m not even anywhere near where you are with the restrictions. It’s not so bad when I’m at home cooking, but if we eat out, it’s frustrating. I will definitely be in touch with you along the way!
January 22, 2015 @ 3:28 PM
This is so brave of you, Ali! Changing the way you eat and drink so drastically is always scary, but like you said, when you’re doing it for such a good reason it gives you something to stay motivated for. My dad has been on a strict Paleo lifestyle for almost 6 years now, and he’s gone from overweight couch potato on cholesterol medications to the best shape of his life without needing any kind of medicine. It really can make a huge difference if you do it right!
I’d recommend checking out Whole 30 (whole30.com). It has tons of easy recipes, all of which are paleo compliant. It really, REALLY helps to change up your meals every so often because you will get so sick of things. I did strict paleo for a month and then a little more lenient paleo for much longer, and the only thing getting me through was knowing that I had a delicious planned meal at home (and one that I hadn’t necessarily eaten 5 out of the last 7 days).
Also, food prep. It’s so hard to come home without a plan because then you just stare at your food and think “This is such crap and I don’t feel like cooking. I’m just going to eat this cookie.” I used to spend Sunday evenings planning the meals for the week (down to snacks) and then go grocery shopping and prep as much as I could that evening.
Ok, I’m done blabbering. I just wanted to offer any help I could! Good luck! I hope this works out for you and that you and Andy can really enjoy it together! 🙂
January 23, 2015 @ 11:24 AM
Thanks Erin! That’s so wonderful to hear about your dad! Thanks for the whole30 suggestion, I’ve seen people talking about it, but now I’ll definitely check it out. I didn’t realize you did Paleo. Your suggestions are great. I’m used to having our standard set of meals that we rotate, and it’s pretty easy, but this is more complicated since I don’t exactly know what I’m doing yet. I like that you planned out your meals for the whole week, I need to start doing that. I really appreciate your help!
January 22, 2015 @ 10:31 PM
Ahh adventures in eating. Pat and I don’t buy meat or dairy, so most of our diet is vegan, for 2 years now. We basically only eat meat/dairy if we are out and now it’s such small amounts. We feel so much better after meals; no more heavy, lethargic, I’m-in-a-coma feeling from trying to digest meat and dairy. We love it, but we also love gluten so that’s our food adventure 😉
The one thing that has been really fun about this sort of adventure is forcing ourselves to try new foods and recipes. We discovered so many awesome concoctions, and once you find what you like, the whole process gets easier and part of your normal routine.
January 23, 2015 @ 11:27 AM
Brooke, normally I would say something like “I could never be vegan!” but then, I never thought I’d be giving up pizza, pasta, and bread! I think everyone’s body works differently, so I’m glad the vegan diet works well for you and Pat. And you’re right, a drastic diet change definitely gets you trying new things and I’m actually enjoying eating things I never really did before. So this will be an interesting process!
January 22, 2015 @ 10:37 PM
Great post and congrats! As you know, I’ve been gluten-free for almost 5 years due to Celiac Disease but I just decided to try going Paleo as well – in part to lose the weight I’ve gained over the last 2 years and in part to hopefully start feeling healthier. I have kind of felt like my body has been rebelling against me every since I moved back, but then again I have eaten like crap – way, way, way too much sugar.
The sugar is the hardest thing for me to ditch. Everything else with Paleo has been easy since I already couldn’t eat gluten and didn’t eat a ton of dairy anyway. Although I can’t quite give up legumes yet. But I’ve made it almost 3 weeks without chocolate, so that’s a HUGE accomplishment. And the book I got has some very simple recipes so once I loaded up on a bunch of spices, I am actually finding cooking fairly easy.
January 23, 2015 @ 11:32 AM
Thanks Katie! When I found out you couldn’t eat gluten, I thought “that’s crazy, I could never do that!” but here I am avoiding it myself now. It was a tough adjustment, and I’m still struggling with it some days, but it’s getting easier and I can see improvements in my health little by little. I’m going to check out this Paleo book you mentioned because I definitely like the idea of simple recipes. Some of it is hard to do while we’re not at home, but we’ll be back in about 3 weeks. And yeah, the sugar… I never thought of myself as a big sugar person, but ever since I cut out gluten, I’ve been eating more chocolate, and even though I don’t drink a lot of Coke, it’s still going to be hard to quit. Thanks for your support, I might want to swap Paleo recipes with you!
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
January 22, 2015 @ 11:15 PM
I remember when I was younger the idea of being a vegetarian was shocking to me because I couldn’t imagine living without hamburgers. And then I realized there were vegans who didn’t eat ANY animal products, and I wondered how anyone could live in a world without cheese. I mean, meat I could totally give up if I had to, but cheese?!? And now it seems everyone is being poisoned by gluten and I wonder how I would ever give up pasta and bread (no more sandwiches?!?). Still, the thing that I think made my heart hurt the most while reading this was about the deadly nightshade family—I love all those fruits & veggies, especially eggplant! I can only imagine how hard it would be to give up all of the things a paleo diet recommends, and I wish you luck with it. It’s so nice that Andy is being supportive as I’m sure that’s a huge help.
Also, I think it’s important to recognize just how emotionally attached we can be to food. I mean, there are plenty of things I think I probably shouldn’t eat (like, we don’t eat tons of meat, especially when we cook for ourselves, but we could probably do to eat a lot less (read: none!)), but the thought of never getting to eat X again just makes me too sad. That said, I remember how crazy I thought it would be to go without cheese, but after spending nearly 2 years in Asia, I find I don’t miss it that much and don’t really crave it anymore. I still eat it occasionally, but I find I only want a little bit every now and then… So, I do think that we are great at adapting to dietary restrictions, it just takes time!
January 23, 2015 @ 11:38 AM
Thanks Steph! Yeah, I always considered myself lucky to not have any food allergies, and I could never understand the idea of being vegetarian or vegan. But now that I’ve given up gluten and I’m about to give up a bunch of other stuff too, and it’s making me feel better, I can relate to it so much more. I cheated a couple weeks ago and had a chocolate croissant from a place I love, and it just didn’t do anything for me. So I think I feel better about not eating them anymore. But I still have moments where I can’t stop thinking about pizza. Sandwiches are a tough one because I’m usually interested in what’s ON the sandwich, and the bread is just the holder. But it’s not the same without the bread! I’ll have to keep working on it. And yes, definitely emotionally attached to food in a lot of ways. I seriously cried during the first couple of weeks gluten free because I didn’t like the idea of never having pizza or pasta again. As for the nightshades, yes, definitely a tough one. They’re totally allowed on the Paleo diet, but the autoimmune Paleo version has you take them out (along with quite a few other things) since people with autoimmune diseases tend to have issues with them. I think you eat that way for a month or so and then slowly reintroduce one food at a time and see how you do. I’m not ready for that yet!
January 23, 2015 @ 1:52 AM
Way to go! I’m still trying to get to the bottom of what’s wrong with me. I’ve been off dairy for over a year and the doctors have ruled out colitis, but still haven’t come to an answer. I think necessity is the mother of invention. Getting rid of dairy has made me experiment more with my cooking.
January 23, 2015 @ 11:41 AM
Thanks Caroline! It’s really tricky to figure out what’s wrong sometimes. Over the past few months I’ve found out about so many conditions I didn’t know existed that affect the digestive system. Small intestine bacterial overgrowth, candida, all kinds of things. One of these elimination diets might help you figure out if it’s a specific food that’s bothering you. But if it’s something else, it seems like a long road of tests until they can get to the bottom of it. I’m so glad they’ve ruled out colitis for you though, it is not fun! I’m playing around with recipes and trying to figure out how to make this all work, so that’s been interesting at least!
January 23, 2015 @ 10:20 AM
I came across the Paleo way of eating after having sinus issues. I did an elimination diet and removed gluten and dairy and felt incredible. Check out http://www.marksdailyapple.com. It’s one of my favorite sites.
January 23, 2015 @ 11:43 AM
Thanks Emily! I have actually seen that site but I need to dig through it a little more, thanks for the suggestion! I’m glad you were able to solve your sinus problem with diet. I’m really hoping my sinus problems will go away along with my digestive issues once I really dive into Paleo.
January 23, 2015 @ 2:07 PM
This was so useful and interesting Ali! It’s so nice to see others talking about it. I think in general I just feel too embarrassed to with my friends, or worried people will think I’m being picky and on a fad diet. When in reality my stomach is affecting my health as a whole so much that its getting pretty awful at the moment. It’s been refreshing to finally get over my fear of addressing it and start to work out what the issues are.
And like you say, everyone is different and it’s disheartening when you can’t pinpoint the problem. I’ve tried eliminating stuff and felt no better, tried eating things that are supposed to be better for you and felt worse. People always say lentils and other pulses are great for you, but they make me feel awful!
I had that with doctors too: they just shrug and go ‘well, don’t eat stuff that bothers you’. Oh yeah, cheers, that’s super helpful. The only useful thing one doctor told me was that I had a FODMAP intolerance which has helped hugely, it means I know to avoid things like pre-made shop sandwiches (it’s not even the bread that’s the biggest problem, it’s the additives in it to keep it fresh) or anything re-heated/microwaved, kept warmed for too long, also some pulses and some green vegetables. Then again, not everything high FODMAP bothers everyone so it’s all about experimentation, again.
Two books I’ve found really helpful are Hemsley & Hemsley (they are the queens of bone broth and fermented foods) and Deliciously Ella (she has a great blog and app too), they have such good ideas and a really good take on it. If you haven’t checked them out I’d highly recommend them.
Good luck with it all and I hope it’s successful! Keep us updated if you can 🙂 I’m now going to sit and read all those links you provided.
January 25, 2015 @ 12:07 PM
Thanks Sophie! I understand what you mean about not wanting to talk about it and not wanting people to think you’re just being picky. I’ve only been avoiding gluten for 2 months, and since I’ve never actually been tested for a gluten allergy, I kind of feel like a fraud saying I can’t eat it. But I’ll get better at that I’m sure. With figuring out what foods bother you, YES! So difficult! I’m starting to think you really have to eliminate a ton of things that could be bothersome, even if you don’t think XYZ is a problem. Seems to be the only way to give your digestive system a break and then add stuff back in one at a time to see how it goes. The FODMAP list hurts my head. There are so many things on the list that people have issues with, I hope I don’t have to worry about that list. Especially onions and garlic! So I’m just not worrying about that list right now. I’ve never been a fan of lentils, and while I’m sure they have some good nutrition, I’ve read enough about how they’re hard to digest and can really cause people problems, that I can understand why you can’t tolerate them. I’ve never heard of those two books, so thanks for the suggestions! I’ll check them out. I’ll post updates every so often!
January 23, 2015 @ 10:55 PM
I’ll be looking forward to hearing more about your experimentation with various foods/diets. My husband actually has UC, so I can definitely understand that it’s a difficult condition to live with! He was actually doing fine for many years, and didn’t really even seem to have issues with specific foods, oddly enough. He then had a sudden, severe flareup about 2 years ago (wasn’t able to pinpoint a reason) and has been trying one thing after another ever since – mostly medications, of course. Luckily, he works from home primarily, otherwise, it could have been much worse to deal with! His latest treatment has been Entyvio infusions as a last resort to attempt to get the UC back under control and avoid some type of surgery. Thankfully, after 2 infusions, it actually seems to have helped and he’s not having nearly as many issues. Unfortunately, his Gastroenterologist has said that he will likely need to continue them for several years (at $15,000 per infusion, we’re hoping not!)). We’ve both also been looking into various alternatives, one being diet, so am glad to see stories of success out there!
Good luck in this different adventure and I’ll be following along for sure. 🙂 I hope your UC remains under control with no more need for hospitalization or other major medical treatment!
January 25, 2015 @ 12:14 PM
Thanks Traci! Your husband’s infusions sound awful, I’m so sorry he’s having to go through that! From what I’ve read, functional medicine doctors are extremely helpful with digestive conditions because they combine western medicine ideas with diet and nutrition, and often even with Chinese medicine. I think a lot of standard western doctors like to throw drugs at every problem and treat the symptoms instead of trying to get to the root of the problem, and while I’m sure they’d all say that eating a healthy diet is important, not many of them seem to want to use diet as a primary tool against disease. Look at some of the links I put at the bottom of the post, especially the ones from the Healthy Home Economist. They’re really inspiring and helpful. And if you can find a functional medicine doctor, it’s worth making an appointment and seeing if they can help. Anything to heal and avoid surgery, right?!
January 25, 2015 @ 7:12 PM
Really interesting, Ali. I have long known that my health is really affected by what I eat, but until the last couple of years I was very confused by the gluten thing. I noticed that when I was in the U.S., my entire bodily function got sluggish, and that I felt much better when I reduced or eliminated wheat products. Yet, when I am in Europe, I can eat fresh bread from the bakery and not have any ill effects. Recently I’ve read articles in Mother Jones and The Healthy Home Economist that I believe may offer an explanation for this. Apparently, common wheat harvest protocol in the United States is to drench the wheat fields with Roundup several days before the combine harvesters work through the fields as the practice allows for an earlier, easier and bigger harvest – See more at: http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/real-reason-for-toxic-wheat-its-not-gluten/#sthash.ICGbd0qJ.dpuf. This Roundup (glyphosate) is getting into our grains, and even in other foods such as carrots and lettuce.
Conversely, European standards are more stringent. The Dutch have banned Roundup entirely and the UK and France are well on the way to doing the same. Roundup is no longer sold to private individuals in France. Argentina and Brazil are both considering bans. Evidence is mounting for the damage that Roundup inflicts on humans, and the manufacturer, Monsanto, continues to try to suppress the information. They have even been implicated in studies by two separate laboratories that purposely misrepresented testing results.Eating organic is expensive, but worthwhile, if one can afford it. Unfortunately, here in the U.S., where I am stuck for a while, it is so expensive that cannot afford it most of the time. I think more will be revealed as time goes on. Best of luck with your Paleo diet; hope it provides the answers you are looking for,
January 26, 2015 @ 11:23 AM
Thanks Barbara! I didn’t realize the specifics, but I’ve definitely heard/read about people who have trouble with certain foods, like wheat, in the US but are able to eat it in Europe. Bakeries here in Germany don’t use all the preservatives that the US uses either, so you really can’t buy bread ahead of time, but that’s probably better because it’s just BREAD, not bread with chemicals in it. It’s amazing the sheer number of toxic chemicals that continue to be used in our food. Of course it affects those of us who eat it! I really hope they’re forced to stop using the crazy chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, etc. soon before things get even worse with people’s health. I completely understand about the extreme cost of buying organic. The prices are painful to me here too, so I’m trying not to be too hard on myself for not buying it every time.
Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren
January 29, 2015 @ 10:42 PM
This was so helpful, Ali! I’m sending this to my friend who’s been going through similar problems.
I’m sorry you were so sick in Morocco. I truly hope this helps you. Taking care of your body is so important and it should definitely come before your love of things like pasta…. which would be such a hard adjustment for me too! I wish you all the best! Keep us updated 🙂
January 30, 2015 @ 4:08 PM
Thanks Lauren! I hope this helps your friend out. The nutrition stuff is really fascinating me right now, and even though making these changes is a bit of a struggle, I know it’s worth it. Like you said, my health is more important than pasta.
February 13, 2015 @ 2:58 PM
just came to read your blog and got caught on your problem to find the German word for paleo-doctors.
I would recommend “Ernährungsberater”. There is also a society for paleo http://palaeo-gesellschaft.de/index.html. Unfortunately their website is in German only, but try your luck. They seem to have lot’s of doctors and even offering public speeches.
Oh, and welcome to Berlin. Just read over at Grounded Traveler that you will move here. Happy moving!
February 15, 2015 @ 9:28 PM
Rina, thank you so much for that link and the German word! I’m definitely interested in finding a doctor who understands there’s more to health and healing than a bunch of pills. I will definitely try to find someone once we get to Berlin. Thanks!
February 19, 2015 @ 4:43 PM
Good luck with all of this. Another friend of mine recently started doing a paleo based diet with heavy travel for work, and she’s been blogging her food- this might interest you: http://www.ketoroadwarrior.com/
February 20, 2015 @ 11:55 AM
Awesome Steven, thank you so much for the suggestion! I’ll check out her site!