I made a huge mistake.
I thought that I was going down the correct nutritional pathway, away from the bad, bad foods that were causing me problems.
I got tunnel vision so bad that I kept burrowing down and down and down, dreaming about the light at the end but forgetting that in order to get to the light, you have to start burrowing UP at some point.
My dietary approach has centered around the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle, which is all about how “bad” bacteria bully their way in your gut and cause a multitude of problems. According to this way of thinking, you must kill the bad bacteria by starving them, which of course means that you yourself cannot eat any food that would feed the wrong types of bacteria in your gut. This diet equates roughly to a paleo diet and emphasizes eliminating grains, sugars, and lactose (but not dairy altogether). Once you get a handle on the reasoning behind the diet, it’s pretty intuitive to follow (albeit strict).
This approach worked about 80% as I eased stepwise into it (first by going gluten-free, then sugar-free, then dairy-free) but it never quite did the trick. I never reached what I would consider remission.
What next, then?
After some research, I turned to the low-FODMAP approach, which also focuses on non-fermentable foods in your gut that feed the bad bacteria. Again, we revisit foods and start weeding out those that aren’t optimal. This one is incredibly non-intuitive, and also includes foods that you can eat a little at a time (1/4 cup of beets, y’all) to stay under the fermentable “threshold” that your body can supposedly handle. This led to me cutting back the amount of food I was eating, trying to keep things digestible in small amounts.
Was this helpful? Maybe. But it definitely wasn’t the “silver bullet.”
At some point I read that nightshades cause inflammation in certain people, so I cut those out too–just to be safe. My body hated it when I tried adding back tabasco sauce (way to go starting on the most difficult level, self) so I quit again.
And then I “knew” that raw foods and too much fiber would scrape up the inside of my gut, and were therefore problematic, so those had to go, too.
When I was having major problems, if I could identify a food in the toilet, I would eliminate it altogether. (Except carrots, I never did quite quit those.)
Oh, and I eventually quit all fermented foods as well.
Here’s where I ended up*:
- Limited amount of fruit and vegetables
- Mostly cooked, under the 1/4-1/2 cup limit for each serving
- Lots of meat, fish, and eggs
- An embarrassing dependency on sunflower-seed butter with honey, because I wasn’t getting satisfaction with my food
Not a lot of food, not a lot of nutrition, not a lot of energy.
Guess what? I never got to a sustainable, good-poop routine on this diet.
I focused so much on taking foods OUT that I didn’t think about what foods to keep IN for the maximum nutrition needs of my body. You know, to provide the building blocks that it needs to repair and fortify my leaky gut, and to function optimally to create those good poops that I’m after.
I was so focused on SUBTRACTING that I forgot that NOTHING x MY DAILY BODILY FUNCTIONS = NOTHING.
And so I’m finding myself slowly careening toward low energy, sadness, decay and despair. Also running to the bathroom 6 hours after I eat, which is an absolute pain in more ways than one.
Where do we go from here?
Obviously, a steady diet of Nothing Sandwiches™ is not the pathway to good health. My body needs good quality nutritional building blocks not only to run itself optimally, but also to repair itself.
In other words, focus on the eating the best, most nutrient-dense foods and getting all the different micronutrients that you need; worry less about the bad foods, because those will naturally be thrown by the wayside.
Like in driving, look where you want to go. Good food = good nutrients = good health.
Tunnel toward the nutritional light.
As with all things low-and-slow, progress isn’t regular and linear, so I’ll have a really good day between normal and borderline-bad days. It’s taking my body a bit to adjust to all the new vegetable matter I’m throwing at it (so I’m going slow) but I’m seeing promising results so far.
Onwards and upwards!
*I don’t recommend this, to be crystal clear