This is a guest blog from our friend, Annie S. It is a very inspiring read. Thanks Annie for your wonderful contribution!
In January 2011, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I didn’t really ever catch colds or flu or anything, but dealt with the following symptoms on a daily basis: brain fog, tiredness, joint pain, allergies, headaches, and backaches. At this time I was very overweight – classified as morbidly obese. I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism in the mid 1990’s and attributed all these symptoms to my thyroid problems. I had tried numerous diets and exercise and just never got anywhere. I begged my doctor to run some additional thyroid tests and found out the medicing I was taking (T4 only) was not enough and I needed to take some additional T3 medicine. I also found out my thyroid antibodies were high which meant I had Hashimoto’s Disease (Autoimmune Thyroiditis). This was the first time this test had ever been done and my antibody count was 118 (normal is less than 34).
I remember getting a phone call from my local compounding pharmacist regarding the thyroid antibodies and they suggested that I eat a gluten free diet. I remember hanging up the phone and laughing to myself and shaking my head thinking there is NO WAY I would be able to change. I did some of my own internet research at that time and found there had been numerous people that were able to get their thyroid issues in check by eating a gluten free diet. I decided to give it a try. At first I probably only made it a couple of weeks before I would willingly cheat on something gluten filled. I noticed whenever I cheated, I would feel extremely bloated and I wasn’t able to breathe through my nose. In Aug 2011, I had new thyroid labs drawn and my antibodies were down to 98. At that time, I decided I needed to fully endorse a gluten free diet. By Nov 2011, my antibodies were down to 55. There is no doubt in my mind this was attributed to the gluten free diet. I continued on the gluten free path until May 2012 (weight loss still about 20lbs) when I started seeing a new doctor who I was hoping would have some magic answers that would cure my Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
My new doctor ran some additional tests and found my fasting insulin was 34 – he said normal was less than 9 and preferably 6. He suggested that I eat a Paleo diet in order to control the insulin issues. It took me awhile (a little over a year) to really give it a try. During that year, I would go through spurts of eating paleo for a week or so and then have some cheat meals every now and then. I added in a kickboxing class and managed to drop the fasting insulin level to 10.4 and thyroid antibodies to 32. I was so stoked that I was normal in the antibody range. The problem was that with all this working out, I had only managed to lose 15lbs in 7 months. I realize I should be thankful for any weight loss, but I was working hard and not seeing the results I thought I should be seeing. I was also experiencing a lot of moodiness, agitation, and frustration with everything that life handed me. I felt like I was unable to cope with minor things that would come my way. In August 2013, a friend of mine told me about a book she read called “It Starts With Food”. I read the book and thoroughly enjoyed learning about the science of how important food (nutrition) can be when dealing with a variety of illnesses. At that time, I made up my mind I would start the plan (eating paleo) the day after Labor Day.
Since I have started eating a paleo diet, I have seen many positive improvements. Most importantly for me was the change in my mood. I no longer feel agitated and frustrated. I also got rid of the consistent bloat. My joint pain and allergies had pretty much gone away by eating gluten free, but I did notice slight improvements in those areas as well. I have more energy and feel more focused on projects at work and in my personal life. I have also noticed that when I do get hungry, it isn’t an overwhelming feeling of “I have to eat now or I’m gonna hurt people”. No empty pit in my stomach, just a feeling of “Hey – you should probably eat something”. Another wonderful side effect was losing 22 pounds in 6 weeks. After 6 weeks, I did reintroduce some foods so I would know how my body reacts to certain things like dairy and legumes. During the reintroduction phase, I found that my taste buds had actually changed and some foods actually tasted too sweet. (Words I NEVER thought would come out of my mouth). I also found that some foods make me feel not so good.
I do plan on sticking with the paleo lifestyle as much as I can. I know eating this way is what makes me feel my best. However, if I’m honest with myself I know I won’t be 100% paleo 100% of the time, but I am positive I can be 100% paleo 90% of the time. I also know how some foods make me feel and I know there are some things I never care to eat again because they make me feel so badly. I love having that knowledge.
My advice to everyone is that if you have any random symptom, pain, or illness you owe yourself 30 days of clean healthy paleo eating. It may be a little difficult at first, but it is worth it. YOU are worth it! I honestly had no clue how awful I must have felt until I started feeling amazing and everyone deserves to feel amazing! Please know that you do have control over your situation. You don’t always have to suffer with joint pain, bloat, tiredness, migraines, or irritability. Many times the food we put in our mouth is causing those very problems. Nutrition is a very powerful tool and when you eat the foods your body is designed to consume, your body will thank you.