Friday, November 8, 2019

7. Are You What You Eat? Part 2." Living in Light" Series

Part 1. which you can read here: https://joknowsbetter.blogspot.com/2019/09/5-are-you-what-you-eat-part-1-living-in.html, delved into a few tried and true basics of what you consume. But this post will be about my food journey and its evolution. For me, it's been a slow process of really trying to figure out what's best for me. I'm sharing this story so that it may enlighten others to dig deeper and truly discover what's best for them.

There is no one size fits all when it comes to "diet". That word has a huge stigma, but for all intents and purposes, let's simply define "diet" as it is what you eat. Eating cheeseburgers, fried chicken and potato chips all day is a diet. Hopefully, it's not your diet, but you know what I mean. My main point is everyone is different and everyone has different needs. We may all have different medical issues, activities, lifestyles, and I think there's even a greater not talked about much of what our bodies have been used to for many years. You have to discover for yourself what makes you feel your best.

So let's start at the beginning! I give my parents a lot of credit. I was a very healthy baby and young child. They really did their best to give me proper nutrition and a lot of what I ate was a whole foods, plant-based diet, how ironic! They did limit my sugar intake and it wasn't until I was a little older did I start eating sugary cereals for breakfast. Probably something I begged my parents for rather than them wanting to give me those!

My dad was the one who taught me about balance. I especially remember when he made dinners, there would be a starch, a vegetable, and an animal protein. Considering the times and where the science was at this time, this was probably considered a very healthy diet. The important point is balance, which I believe, is the most crucial thing to any diet. I'm glad this was something I learned in my early childhood.

Now let's delve into when I got off track! I would say it was when I was about 10 years old and my family and I moved to Oklahoma. I'm not saying it's impossible to eat healthy in Oklahoma, this was just my personal experience. My parents were working a lot and I found myself eating a lot more fast food, t.v. dinners, or eating whatever at the babysitter's, whatever was convenient and cheap. I don't think I started drinking soda until I was about 11 or 12, and I, like most people got hooked.

It was at this same time that I started actively pursuing the life of a classical ballerina. I went to ballet school multiple times a week. I also went to a magnet school where I was a Dance Major, and was probably dancing nearly 10 hours a week. I can only imagine if I ate as healthy as I do now, how much more energy I would have had. But I can remember my usual lunch was pizza and a coke, then Wendy's was down the street from ballet school, so that was my usual dinner. To sum up, not very healthy.

And then it got much worse! When I moved away from home at the tender age of 19, I started working full time, living on nothing more than cokes, candy bars, caffeine and maybe some ramen noodles for dinner. Anything to just keep me going until I dropped. It wasn't until I met my husband and stopped running the rat race, did I have the time to learn about a healthy diet.

Confession: When I was in my 20's, the major reason why I was interested in a healthy diet was purely for vanity, superficial reasons, weight loss, etc. So the large part of what I studied was simply calorie restriction and low-calorie options.

Acknowledging that this wasn't the best motive, I really didn't delve deeper into nutrition at this time. It was more about cutting out sugars, especially High Fructose Corn Syrup, switching to artificial sweeteners (which is whole other messy ball of wax), cutting out fast food, junk food, etc. And I was probably working out 6-7 days a week, more than 10 hours a week of physical activity with all that 20-year-old energy I had. Long story short, it did work! I lost weight and was in great shape. But I will say, this diet lifestyle was very challenging hard work and it was easy to fall in and out of it from month to month with weight fluctuations galore.

And then bam, they found a life-threatening diaphragmatic hernia! You can read more about that story here: https://joknowsbetter.blogspot.com/2010/07/life-after-death.html, but I basically went from a very healthy 25-year-old to someone with a chronic pain disability. I was on heavy medications which destroyed my health over a 10 year period. Referring to my diet, because I was in constant pain, I was wanting comfort food, wine, and whatever would bring me a little joy here and there. This did not do me any favors.

In 2017, I was diagnosed with prediabetes. So I cut out absolutely all sugars, even fruit and went Low Carb High Fat/Atkins/Keto, and in four short weeks, I had reversed my prediabetes. Going from a 5.6% A1C to 5.1%. But let me sum up how I felt during those diets: I felt horrible. I had absolutely no energy, it never felt like I could never get enough sleep and my mood was irritable and unpleasant, to say the least. Some people do very well on these types of diets, but I was not one of them.

So I started reintroducing low-glycemic carbs back into my diet. A lot of quinoa, sweet potatoes, and lower glycemic whole grains. My energy started to increase once again and my prediabetes numbers pretty much stayed the same.

Then a major lifestyle change! I moved to California and decided I was going to get off all my medications, and I did! This was an excruciating process, but I was determined to get healthier and go all-natural. And then another bam happened. I was hit with horrible abdominal pain. And even though I couldn't exactly pinpoint the cause, I really thought it was digestion based.

So then, I started Food Combining. Basically, it's a diet that focuses on what foods you eat together. For some examples, you can only eat fruit on its own. Only Carbs and Fats can be eaten at the same time, and only Proteins and greens can be eaten at the same time. There's more rules than just this, but the fact was, I started feeling better. I started learning that different foods digest at different rates and the importance of only combining certain foods for optimal digestion.

And then I learned what I was allergic to, to see if this was causing any of my abdominal pain. For more on this read here: https://joknowsbetter.blogspot.com/2019/09/3-are-you-allergic-living-in-light.html, so I cut out all that I was allergic to and started feeling much better as well.

And then another chronic diagnosis hits, Interstitial Cystitis, a.k.a. Painful Bladder Syndrome and now I had to go on a very restrictive diet with no bladder irritants allowed. It's a huge list and unfortunately, I'm not allowed to eat some foods that are extremely healthy for me. Major bummer.

My diet became so limited! Now I had become a Gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, bladder irritant-free, alcohol-free, caffeine-free, (seemed like everything free) type of person, something I never would have thought possible.

Before I knew it, I was actually 95% Vegan now. I was only eating a small amount of animal protein a day, less than 4 oz. at dinner, and I found myself not craving meat anymore. It was the strangest feeling! I had eaten meat my whole life and loved it, but now something was changing.

A major part of Living in Light has been reading the Bible and something very interesting that I learned was that Adam and Eve when they were first living in the Garden of Eden of complete and utter paradise, were vegetarians. Not only the humans were, but the animals were too! Isn't that amazing? It wasn't until after the fall did they begin eating animals. This part of the story really resonated with me. Because it's when they were most optimal, living in complete harmony with themselves and nature, they weren't eating meat. So I started thinking maybe there's something to this. Something much deeper and even spiritual to what we choose to consume.   

Since then, I decided to go full bore Vegan. I can't eat dairy or eggs anyway, so really all I had to cut out was animal protein. (I don't eat honey because of its high sugar content either.) This really was a slow and natural progression to my diet. Now I don't crave meat at all and I track all my macro and micronutrients to make sure I cover all my bases. It's been going so well! I can honestly say I feel better when I don't eat meat.

I think a major reason for this, is when I started doing food combining I learned that animal protein takes sometimes up to 4 hours just to digest out of your stomach, that doesn't even include how long it takes to go through your whole system! That's a lot of work and takes a toll on your system! No wonder I used to feel so bogged down and exhausted after dinners and had no idea why. I don't feel that way anymore.

I really hope I can stay a Vegan for the rest of my life. Time and my blood work will tell, but I feel like I'm getting younger every day. Another reason why I went Vegan was from hearing testimonials about people with Interstitial Cystitis and how after only 6 months, all their horrible symptoms are gone! I hope it can also work for me!

I know this was a long post, but I really hope it provides some insight as you delve deeper into your own food journey so you can feel healthier, happier and Live in Light! Please remember to subscribe here for notifications on the latest posts: https://www.joannmears.com/jo-knows-better Thanks so much for reading and have a wonderful day!

Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. This is for educational purposes only. Always seek the opinion of a medical professional before making any dietary changes.

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