I am not one for making New Year’s resolutions because I don’t keep them. I am also not one for jumping on diet plans, eating plans, fad diets, and the like. Okay, I did use Atkins for a time years ago to lose some weight before going to Hawaii. It worked, but not for long and that was before I became a non-meat eater as well. I often wonder what all that bacon did to my arteries.
After me recent mini vacation with family I literally saw on the news, the day after returning, a short piece regarding one of those eating plans, but what caught my attention from the other room was the words arthritis and inflammation.
I did some research, talked about the concept and classes briefly in a post over at The Perpetual Student, and made the decision to see what (if any) help I might receive from these food changes. It is pretty involved explanation wise, so the link to the basic process can be found here. In very simplistic terms, you are what you put into your body and that stuff you cram into your mouth is directly related to how your body functions. This is not a vegan or vegetarian only plan, although fruit and veg is strongly encouraged as the bulk of your meals. The actual way of eating is not difficult at all, at least not for me, being someone who goes into this process eating a mostly plant-based diet anyway. It is however very time-consuming because eating healthy means no running to the cupboard for crap. Period.
To figure out how your body uses and responds to foods means that you have to get rid of most everything that doesn’t, or at some point hasn’t walked, crawled, swam or grown from a plant source. Wheat, dairy, peanuts, and all sweeteners are out for 3 weeks as well even though some of that falls into food categories we think of as healthy.
While encouraged not to add the sweet things back into your life after those 3 weeks, at least not as a separate food group, you do reintroduce the others and take stock of how your body feels. This isn’t about weight loss. It is about feeling better, and for me that means the arthritis taking less precedence in my life. Loosing weight will be a side benefit that will make me happy as well, if it happens.
That is a very simplistic overview but the guiding principle is that until you know what works and what doesn’t you can’t make meaningful decisions and/or changes about the foods you may want to put into your body.
I am on Day 3 and have actually noticed some changes. I have been keenly aware that sweets are my downfall and once I start, stopping is like a crack addict on withdrawal. I have not simply stopped eating cookies, or ice cream, or candy. I have taken all sweeteners out of my diet. That means reading labels compulsively. It also means thinking in chemical terms because a sweetener, rather natural or artificial, has roughly a million ways to be listed on food labels and almost all foods have a million different sweeteners in them.
I have read things about refined sugars and arthritis. I have also read things about dairy and arthritis. It seems like taking a step back from those aspects of my life for 3 weeks to make a decision about how my body feels is worth it. I never thought that wheat might be an issue, but taking that away isn’t killing me and who knows what I may discover.
Some positives so far:
I am eating really good, really fresh food.
I am trying new recipes and new food combinations that I would never have anticipated. These by the way are being created by my own brain and a few vegetarian cookbooks that have been neglected lately.
I am sleeping better.
I don’t wake up stuffy and congested every morning, sick or not.
I have stopped taking prescription RX for my arthritis. (I actually stopped that a few days before this whole process because my hands and other parts just aren’t as painful now that I am not working)
I switched to Aleve if I have pain. This never worked for me before but usually only 1 per day is enough now.
Today, for the very first time in YEARS, I have not taken any meds (RX or OTC) for my arthritis pain. That one is pretty major since up to this point I could not be awake for more than about 1 hour without needing something to dull the ache in my hands. It is almost 2 pm, I have used my hands as usual all day, been at the computer as well, and there is NO PAIN. That is monumental to me and worth never having refined sugar again if that proves to be the culprit, which I suspect.
Some negatives so far:
This process takes a lot of planning and a lot of prep work. It’s amazing how much you can eat but how that sort of initially consumes your days in planning and shopping and preparation.
Giving up wheat has by far been harder than giving up sugars. I am so hopeful that wheat will not be an issue when it returns because I really want a lovely, crusty multi-grain ciabatta roll.
Really, that’s about it for negatives. I have access to a support blog and I feel lucky to be undertaking this process as someone who (with that sugar exception) ate pretty healthy going in. I read about many people struggling with these concepts and asking lots of questions geared toward side-stepping around the not-so-good-for-you foods. You can also see that this process could be really challenging if you work full-time or are trying to balance family meals and such. It’s not impossible, but we all desire the easy way. This takes some effort.
I am the universal skeptic and go into this with an open, but questioning, mind-set. We shall see what comes, and I will update as I go, especially if some weight loss just happens to go along with the process! I feel like this may be answering some questions for me, questions that I have had about my personal health issues. Like any lifestyle change, a big question will be if this process is sustainable for me and to what extent. I suppose that will hinge on how I feel in a few weeks and how I want to live the rest of my life.
No promises, but maybe a challenge that will lead to some other long overdue decisions and changes.