Introducing Guest Blogger for Loving the Journey and my beloved sister, Kelsey Pray!
Hello dear readers of Loving the Journey! My sister, Aubree, asked me to guest blog this week and I happily accepted! We both grew up with a love for writing and expressing ourselves in some creative way. In fact Aubree was my first inspiration when it came to writing music. I am a Singer/songwriter and Music teacher. From 2009-2014 I was a touring and performing musician. You can check out my blog. Dear Indie Girl, here. I remember starting to write because Aubree was writing songs and she wanted me to sing with her. And being the blessed copycat I was in those days, I wanted to do everything I saw my older sister doing!
In October 2012 after my second album release and tour of my solo career, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. In fact the doctor told me it could be Colitis or Crohns. They caught it early so sometimes they can’t tell which is which until it gets bad enough.
The doctor sent me home with some samples to try to see if it improved my symptoms which at the time were all varieties of disgusting. I’d bloat up so much that it would look like I was a couple of months pregnant. This would usually accompany abdominal pains, gas, diarrhea, nausea, and constipation. Yes, you can have diarrhea and constipation at the same time! Which is loads of fun when you’re on tour, let me tell you!
Anyway, that night I tried the medication for the first time. In the instructions that came with this drug that is meant to help deal with digestion problems, oddly one of the side effects listed is… digestion problems. I read carefully with furrowed brow the words “May make symptoms worse”. Oh great. That’s just what I need, I thought.
The next morning as my husband rolled over to give me a morning kiss and snuggle, he was met with a skunk smell wafting from under the sheets. I awoke to “THAT IS NOT NORMAL!”
Confused and disoriented, I thought, Why does my pillow smell like a skunk?
“Was that me?!!!” I asked looking at James.
“It wasn’t me and it’s coming from under the covers.”
“I’m never taking those pills again.”
That was the moment I decided I was going to seek treatment for UC with diet and natural medicine. I’d like to tell you that I never had problems again, but that would be a lie. It’s been a long road to healing. BUT, I will tell you that I never woke up with skunk gas again. And I think that’s saying something.
So I poured myself into research to find an Elimination diet to determine my trigger foods with the help of my nurse mother-in-law. We found an extensive elimination diet from http://www.nourishingmeals.com/. Ali Segersten and Tom Malterre wrote a great book called The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook. They guide the reader through whole food basics and in the back of the book is the elimination diet.
This was an eye opening experience. At the end of the elimination diet I discovered that my system was so sensitive that most food I reintroduced brought back my symptoms within a day. So I continued researching.
This is when I discovered the GAPS diet. Also very extensive, but for those sufferers of autoimmune diseases who don’t want to be on medication the rest of their lives, well worth it!
The GAPS diet is, like I mentioned, for autoimmune diseases like Crohns, Colitis, and even Autism! In fact the author of the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS), Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride created this diet to help her son who was Autistic. That’s right. WAS Autistic. After this extensive healing process, her son functions as a normal person!
So, what is the GAPS diet? It is a diet that eliminates processed foods, all forms of sugar except raw organic honey, and uses old-fashioned cooking methods like homemade broth and soups along with a high quality probiotic to heal the gut. The main concept being, that most illness starts in the gut. Including diseases that affect brain function (Autism, Schizophrenia, and more). You can find a detailed explanation on the GAPS website, http://gapsdiet.com/.
For one and a half years I was on the GAPS diet and fought through much temptation, and many set backs to stick to the plan. I am happy to say that now, two years later, I am off the GAPS diet because I don’t need it anymore. My digestion is better than ever, and I am able to add more and more varieties of food back into my diet. I can even go out to eat on occasion without having a reaction! If you’ve suffered from food sensitivities and allergies, you know how exciting that is!
In my experience with food sensitivities, I have more than a few nuggets of wisdom to pass on, but here are the basics:
- Whenever possible, buy local organic food. Develop a relationship with local farmers who sell at Farmer’s Markets in your area. Ask them any and all questions about their food, so you’re sure you know what you’re eating.
- Avoid processed, sugary foods like the plague. Even gluten-free food that is processed is not necessarily healthy. It’s just made without gluten which is a step in the right direction, but will not help you lose weight or see the bigger health benefits you may be looking for. The best and most nutritious gluten-free food is homemade from scratch.
- Make real food from scratch. It’s ALWAYS the healthiest and least expensive option for you and your family.
- Probiotics are your friend! The best sources are food based. You can find them in fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut. Eat them daily.
- Avoid fad diets. They can help you to lose a lot of weight but don’t educate you on truly healthy habits. As soon as you go off the diet you will gain all the weight back and then some (The GAPS diet is not a weight loss program nor a fad diet. No one should try the GAPS diet unless they are truly sick and need intense healing).
- Find a Naturopath you can trust. My Naturopath, Kathryn Doran-Fisher, ND, at Elder & Sage in Grand Rapids, MI was my biggest cheerleader (next to my husband) and guide through my experience with the GAPS diet. She is GAPS certified so she knew how to walk me through it and help me with any set backs (and there were a few). I would totally recommend finding a Naturopath who will listen to you and help you find the right diet and supplements to help you find true healing.
- Prayer. “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” 1 John 5:14. This is not placed last on the list because it is least important, but because it is most important and should be a first, middle, and last resort to any illness or problem.
That’s it! I hope you enjoyed my ramblings about skunk gas and whole foods, and I pray you find healthy options that work for you and your family!
You can check out my blog at www.dearindiegirl.wordpress.com