As someone that suffers from depression, anxiety, sleeplessness and fatigue, I am constantly searching for a cure for what ails me. I am also obsessed with food since I can never seem to get full for more than 30 minutes without making myself sick by over eating. (You would think I would get fat from the way I eat, but at this time it still proves impossible). So my diet has been the focus of my treatment for some time. I also used to suffer from a chronic yeast infection, which led me to the low carb, gluten free, dairy free diet. Over the past couple years I have moved from vegetarian, to low carb, to paleo diet.
To people on the outside, I often look like I am susceptible to the whims of others, but it is actually that I do some research, discover that I already agree with some of the ideas I am presented with, then immerse myself fully into that way of thought to see if it fits. After about 1-3 months I come out on the other side often with a better understanding of life, but not convinced that the lifestyle is right for me. Interestingly the Paleo Diet lifestyle seems to fit the most, unfortunately I neither have access nor the funds to eat only happy animals, so I often wish I could go back to being vegetarian.
My favorite gluten free sweet treat. Depending on the chocolate, this can actually be fairly low in sugar (that’s almond butter with flax seed by the way)
Of course with any fad people constantly disparage certain aspects of it, recently the idea of gluten intolerance. While I encourage people to try a gluten free diet, I have to agree with the critics when I hear stories of people passing out when they walk past the bakery in the grocery store – I’m pretty sure that’s all in their head. However these diets have helped me, most importantly I no longer have that chronic yeast infection.
So here is what I feel is important for people’s diets. First as a bit of a side note, but for me the most important takeaway from the diet aspect of the Paleo lifestyle, is the balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Grain fed meats contain mostly omega-6, and those omega-3 fatty acids are extremely important, particularly for the vital organ called the brain. Also along these same lines is the importance of probiotics which aid in comfortable digestion. These however are what needs to be put into the diet, and the critiques are often about what people take out.
I encourage what I like to call an “Allergen Detox Diet.” By allergen I mean anything that causes an inflammatory reaction. The most popular these days (outside of well known, and potentially more dangerous, things like peanuts) tend to be diary, wheat, and processed food. I also like to include in the detox things that rank high on the glycemic index. While the body’s reaction to those things is not exactly inflammatory, it can often lead to more dire health problems, aka diabetes. I am not a doctor, but any doctor would agree with this suggestion. If you are one if those people that thinks gluten-free is silly, take a look at the glycemic index for wheat products, and you might change your tune a bit. (For those of you who don’t know about the glycemic index anything over 50 should be avoided.)
The first phase of this diet requires two weeks of keeping your meals incredibly simple – protein and veggies with minimum seasonings. It can be really tough, but it is only two weeks. If you have absolutely no health concerns then you may be able to move on to phase two – discovering hidden allergies. This involves a bit of research on your part to get the list, but it includes things like nightshade family (tomatoes and bell peppers) and eggs. Pick one item on the list and avoid it for four days then reintroduce it. If nothing happens you are not allergic; however, if you have a reaction, then that item should be avoided forever. Continue to go through the list until you feel comfortable that you have identified the items that cause an inflammatory reaction.
So when you think about your health, remember the importance of your diet, and make sure you are considerate about what you put in. Some people tolerate diary fine, and that is great for them, but remember things over 50 on the glycemic index should be avoided (and not just because of diabetes, constant insulin spikes lead to all sorts of health issues including cholesterol and high blood pressure), and when it comes to wheat (and all grains for that matter), you simply won’t find it below 50.