The new and improved, healthier Ashley

Monday, June 15, 2009

At the beginning of March I changed the way I was eating as a result of some food sensitivity testing that I had done with my naturopath. At the time, it seemed like a daunting challenge, but I wanted to see what I could do with food to help my body.

I have learned that there is life after gluten, dairy and the other 20 or so foods I cut out. I had to rethink my meals and the choices that I was making, but I believe that I started eating healthier as a result. There are tonnes of resources out there for people with food issues and I loved reading and learning and embracing the options.

I found a lot of great recipes in vegan cookbooks and have made a ton of amazing recipes. My favourites include Eat Drink & Be Vegan, Veganomican, Get it Ripe and Refresh, among others. While I haven't cut out meat entirely, I found that many vegan cookbooks were cognizant of other food issues and labelled recipes as gluten/wheat free as well as provided ideas for substitutions.

The blog world has also been an amazing resource to me. Not only has it provided me with recipe and meal ideas, information on new products, but it has also provided me with a sense of community. There are so many amazing bloggers who are passionate about food and they have really helped me to stay positive! I especially want to say thank you to Coconut Girl, Polly,and Meghan as they have continued to inspire and motivate me as well as answer my questions and be great friends and supporters of my journey.

I also want to say a big thank you to Joey. Joey and I met the first week I joined Weight Watchers, and he has always been supportive of me changing the way I eat. I never have to worry about cooking a separate meal for Joey because he likes pretty much everything! He always thanks me for the meals I cook and the lunches I pack and has often told me how proud he is of me for the changes that I've made, and for that I am truly grateful.

I learned to focus on the foods that I could eat, rather than the ones that I couldn't. In the beginning I picked up some gluten free bread, but it really wasn't the same. Soy cheese or yogurt weren't like my usual standbys, so I found new foods to enjoy instead. Almond milk has become one of my refrigerator staples and I now don't know how I could do without it! I have distanced myself from a lot of more processed foods and tend to stick with fruits and veggies, lean sources of protein, nuts, healthy oils and gluten free grains. I'm really happy that I signed up for Meghan's cooking classes because it introduced me to a ton of new recipes that were all Ashley-friendly!

I have also learned that I need to do what is best for me and that there is no one-size-fits-all option out there. In the last couple weeks I became more lenient with myself and my food choices. With the candida, I was supposed to be cutting out all sugar and yeast, but I started to realize that with everything else I had cut out that total-sugar free living was just unrealistic for me. I didn't want to run out and have a Snickers bar, rather I just wanted to stop feeling guilty for eating a banana. So I brought all fruits back in over the last couple weeks and I couldn't be happier. I'm continuing to stay away from refined sugar because it makes me feel so much better and has eased some of my symptoms (as well as reduced my period cramps to almost nothing - true story!)

I have also made the decision to continue eating meat once in awhile. For a little while, I was thinking that high-raw vegan was going to be the answer in order for me to feel well. But as I wrote in my post about Sleeping Naked is Green, I've come to realize that my body doesn't mind a little bit of meat once in awhile. I usually only have it once, maybe twice a week and that works for me. I realized that getting caught up with what other people were doing wasn't going to work and instead I worked to discover what was going to be the best for me.

I have also found a place for the Points-counting Weight Watcher in me! The Momentum plan places a lot of emphasis on the Filling Foods and I've found that many of the Filling Foods are Ashley-friendly. I'm still counting Points, but I'm just spending them differently than I used to and I'm still successfully maintaining my weight - yay!

After being diagnosed with Crohn's I had been put on 2 medications: an anti-inflammatory and an antibiotic. That seemed to work fairly well and a lot of my symptoms improved. After awhile my doctor decided to take me off the antibiotic because I had been experiencing terrible night sweats (which could have been a sign of fever, which could have been a sign of inflammation) When I came off the antibiotic I was back in pain on a daily basis and that was pretty disheartening. I didn't want to go back on the antibiotic and I also didn't want to have to resort to the next level of medication (my doctor had mentioned Remicade as a next step if things didn't improve) Since changing my eating, I feel incredible. My tummy doesn't hurt. It no longer hurts when I go to the washroom. My hair and my skin are thriving. I don't feel bloated, gross or lethargic. My body is quite happy with what is going in and as a result I am feeling 100 times better.

Those good feelings have motivated me to stick with this new eating regime over the last three months and has encouraged me to continue many of the changes that I've made. Gluten and dairy are out for good and that's okay with me. As for the other things on the list, I've been experimenting and trying to bring in a new food every week. So far quinoa, tomatoes and mung beans are all okay - hooray!! I had some pineapple on the weekend and I found it a little too intense for me so I think I'll stay away from that.

It's so amazing to feel good and healthier as a result of food and not more medication. I love feeling in tune with my body and look forward to these good feelings in the days and weeks to come!


skinny me! said...

wow love the post. Reminds me of I am also intolerant to a TON of stuff. I went off EVERYTHING last September and after about a month just binged on junk. This time I'm cutting stuff out one by one, starting with wheat and cow dairy. Its a hard thing to do all at once, but man does it make you feel better when you do it!
Great job!

Meghan (Making Love In The Kitchen) said...

To great health!

GF Gidget said...

AMEN! I find I am happiest and healthiest when I eat things I can buy in a regular grocery store vs. specialty ingredients, meaning I eat things NATURALLY gluten free. People always ask me if I feel deprived. To tell you the truth, my culinary life has never been so rich and satisfying!
Focusing on what you CAN'T have breeds nothing but discontent. Thank you for such a true, inspiring, and beautiful post about self-acceptance and love!

misssarahlou said...

I am sooo pleased that its all working out for you. I had my gallbladder removed almost 2 years ago and prior to that I had gallstone attacks on almost a daily basis that were triggered by food mainly. I know how it feels to be in pain, and its great that you have managed to resolve the pain issues without resorting to yet another medication. Food can be a great thing!

Ludmila said...

This is a great posting, Ashley. I am fortunate not to have allergies or food sensitivities that leave me in pain. However, I have had a life long battle with food. So why did your posting speak to me? Well, I have joined weight watchers many times before, and always focused on what I couldn't have, feeling truly deprived. This time, I have taken a completely different approach: I am eating REAL food, food that heals and nourishes, and enjoying every bite of it! In a short amount of time I have noticed the difference. I will continue to follow your blog and look to learn about new foods and ways to improve my relationship with food. Keep it up girl!

CoconutGal said...

Love you Ash!!!! Thank you for this post/update. It makes me SO happy to hear how you are feeling. Yay yay yay, such a blessing isn't it? Thank you for being a great friend and inspiring so many!!

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