When I first wrote this post, it was twice as long as the post I eventually published.  After I scheduled the post to run and went to bed, I had second thoughts about all I had said, so I scrambled downstairs, deleted, edited and rescheduled the new post.

I am still trying to figure out the right balance.  On the one hand, I don’t want to overshare, both because I don’t want the whole world wide web knowing my business and because I think the blog would be too focused on me.  But I also think that if you’re not at least a little scared to press that publish button, then who’s going to want to read what you write anyway?  So, while I am not as brave as Stacy of Paleo Parents in her recent post on what losing 135 lbs. looks like, I know I want to do more than offer recipes.

The other thing that troubles me about tackling my own wellness journey is just how it should be organized.  Chronological? Ummm, boring.  Topical?  That doesn’t seem to offer the big picture.

Where I’ve landed for now is that I am going to pose and then answer some questions for you.  Then, because I am trying to create a vibrant community, I am going to ask you the same question I’ve asked myself.  You know, so we’re exploring the topic together?

So today I am tackling the first question – Why I Eat the Way I Do.

I can’t tell you why I eat the way I do without first explaining how it is that I eat.  In sum, it’s  this: meat, high quality fats, vegetables and fruit.

Here’s what I don’t eat: anything that didn’t either grow from the ground or have a mother, dairy products, seed oils, any oil that’s been hydrogenated, nuts, nightshades, bananas, legumes, and grains (save for some occasional white rice.)

If you’re the sort that needs a label, you can call it a Paleo/Weston A. Price hybrid with modifications made for sensitivities.

So why have I eliminated those foods?  Two words – trial and error.

I eliminated artificially created ingredients like preservatives, artificial coloring, etc. in 1995 when my mother pointed out that when I ate processed meats, I suffered bouts of rage.  She suggested that I try to minimize them to see if I felt better.  I did and the results were life-changing.  My moods became more stable, I stopped suffering from regular panic attacks, I slept better, my stomach felt better, and more.  The decision to eliminate the artificial food products from my diet coincided with a move to Austin, Texas, the home of Whole Foods Market, so even though I was young and cash-strapped, I was able to enjoy a wide variety of foods.

I existed in this space of eating “all natural” foods for a decade.  Even though according to traditional US dietetics I was eating a stellar diet, I was still having health issues.  I suffered from nearly constant GI upset, had arthritis by the age of 28, and “enjoyed” ever-present cystic acne.

Fast forward to 2005 when I had my first child.  Worried that the dairy proteins in my diet might be contributing to his tummy-induced wakefulness, I eliminated dairy from my diet.  The results shocked me.  Not only was he happier, I was, too.  As a bonus, some of the acne around my mouth went away.

Based on my experience, I began to research the link between acne and dairy.  I am going to save a lot of what I learned for a subsequent post, but suffice it to say there is a lot of evidence (both anecdotal and scientifically rigorous) out there that I am not the only one to make this connection.

And yet still, the GI issues persisted.  I was given the diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a diagnosis of exclusion if there ever was one, and handed a variety of remedies from anti-seizure meds that knocked me on the floor to the suggestion to eat more fiber.  (That latter recommendation made anyone who knew what I ate daily laugh out loud.  Lack of fiber was most decidedly not my problem.)

In 2009, I finally consented to the “gold standard” test for celiac disease – an endoscopy.  The results came back negative.  My gastroenterologist told me that I didn’t have celiac disease and therefore there was no reason for me to avoid gluten.

(I’m going to skip over about a hundred visits to specialists of all stripes, MRIs, CT scans, and other scoping procedures I endured to try to pinpoint the source of what was now chronic pain and life-altering stomach symptoms.)

Meanwhile, based on media coverage of the “glowing skin” I would get from a vegan diet, I eliminated all animal products.  I eagerly awaited the reduction or elimination of my acne and stomach problems.

Not only did I not experience “glowing skin,” my skin actually got worse.  So did my stomach problems.  And on top of all that, I acquired a deep psoas injury that required nearly eighteen months of regular physical therapy.  My body just wasn’t healing.

Enter Paul Chek.  I attended his nutrition lecture at the SCW Fitness Expo in 2010 expecting my diet choices would be largely validated.  If you’ve ever had the opportunity to hear Paul speak, you will know what I mean when I say he blew me away.  Paul is value-driven, evidence-obsessed and committed to holistic health and wellness.  He told the story of working with a lifelong vegetarian who was suffering from wounds that wouldn’t heal and a host of other health problems.  The first thing he did was make her eat a steak.  As I sat there, I realized I wanted animal protein.  I needed animal protein.  I went home and ate an entire chicken.

The next day, my psoas injury felt better.  It wasn’t 100%, but it had improved.  So slowly, gradually, I began adding in more animal protein and high quality animal fats.

I think I’ll stop here before I tackle gluten.  But, if you’re still with me, I hope you will share a bit about why you eat the way you do in the comments, on Facebook or via Twitter.  (And yeah, I’ll be super-impressed if you can do in 140 characters what it took me more than a thousand words to begin!)


9 Responses to “My Wellness Journey: Why I Eat the Way I Do”

  1. on 08 Oct 2012 at 10:57 amKathy

    That is fascinating! When my #2 was about 8 months she had chronic ear infections. Tubes helped with the drainage but I felt it was a bandaid. I did some research and experimenting and found a gluten free diet stopped all the snot! We had her tested and came back neg for celiac and neg for allergies. We have gradually added it back in with no obvious issues but I’m interested to hear your experience. Thanks for sharing!

  2. on 08 Oct 2012 at 4:32 pmKristine Rudolph

    I definitely need a full post or more to tackle gluten. I was just telling a friend of mine yesterday how much thinking around the issue of “gluten sensitivity” or “intolerance” has changed in the 4 years since I had my endoscopy. Back then, it was celiac or nothing. The doc clearly stated that if you test negative for celiac then you have no problem with gluten. The docs I’ve consulted are not saying that anymore. I really look forward to the conversation on this topic. It’s another situation – like the minimalist shoes – where I resisted the “trend” mightily and finally caving changed my life radically.

  3. on 08 Oct 2012 at 5:48 pmJulie

    Kristine —
    Thanks for putting all this out there. I, too, had a crazy nutritional journey. I’m so thankful that I listened to that inner voice that told me to keep digging even when the doctors seemed to be out of answers. It’s all very personalized and most docs want to give a one-size-fits-all approach.

    After a lot of trial and error, I find that I am at my best when I eat lean meats, roasted (but not overcooked) veggies and a little brown rice. People have told me they think it looks too hard to eat the way I do, but I always tell them it was much harder being in pain all the time! 🙂 Thanks again for this post! I look forward to more.

  4. on 08 Oct 2012 at 8:38 pmKristine Rudolph

    I say that, too, Julie. If my choice is between “convenience” and wellness, there’s no choice because being unwell and ill all the time is most decidedly not convenient!

    But as I have said before to friends who have inquired about how I eat, I actually spend less time now in meal prep than I did pre-Paleo/Primal/WAPF. I used to do lots of recipe-based cooking. Now, it’s more about making a protein and then some veggies. Veggies are almost always either roasted, so hands on time is minimal, or cooked quickly on the stove. And for meats, I roast and slow cook a lot. It’s easier than, say, a pasta dish that requires steps to complete, I think.

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. on 08 Oct 2012 at 8:17 pmKatherine

    My first diet plan was Richard Simmons’ Deal a Meal! I’ve tried the Zone, South Beach, Atkins and Weight Watchers, and have gained and lost the same 20 lbs for decades. My relationship with food was challenging to say the least, and as the daughter of a mother with an eating disorder, I was terrified that I’d pass on those issues to our daughter. Add into the mix the challenges I face with healthy eating since I travel for work 3-4 days a week, and I was a mess when I reached out to YOU for advice in February. I was BLOWN AWAY when you suggested I replace low-fat milk with whole, replace egg whites with an entire egg, eat some rich meat, add in fats like avocado… what?!? You gave me links so that I could do my own research (I love research). As a result, I jumped into a Paleo/primal/trial-and-error approach to eating on March 1 and within days felt better. I can honestly say my life has changed. I’ve learned to cook and am borderline obsessed with cooking. I care about where my food is grown and raised. I lost 15 lbs, sleep better, feel better, and have a whole new relationship with food. Our freezer is full of meat from US Wellness Meats. I’ve joined a Grass Fed Beef CSA. I’ve figured out how to eat clean and well across the country. My husband’s health is improving and best of all, our daughter is watching, listening, and learning about nurturing herself.

    I can’t wait for your post about gluten. After 7 months of no gluten, I ate sweet potato fries last week that I didn’t realize contained gluten. Oh my goodness. I had the most intense reaction and it is only now, 8 days later, that I feel completely better. And to think I used to live on bread…

  6. on 08 Oct 2012 at 8:44 pmKristine Rudolph

    I just got a little teary. Thanks so much for sharing.

    I would LOVE a future guest blog post from you on your travel secrets and hints. You really have some great ideas. I do think the fear of “how do I really make this work day-to-day” is off-putting for lots of folks. If you can do it with your lifestyle on the road, I know a lot more people who think they cannot actually could.

    I totally love the “whole new relationship” with food thought that you had. I was listening to Diane Sanfilippo (Practical Paleo & Balanced Bites) and Liz Wolfe (cavegirleats.com) the other day answering a weight loss question. The crux of what they said was that you need to nourish your body first and then your body will let go of the weight. It was just beautiful. Balanced Bites is their podcast if you get a chance, I think you would enjoy what they have to say week-to-week. Theirs is a very life-affirming, body positive message.

  7. on 09 Oct 2012 at 10:31 amKatie Fisher

    I love this post – it’s so interesting to read your journey. I was a vegetarian for 6 years and thought I was being “healthy” but I think I compensated for a lack of protein with overeating. I now understand your body is hungry for nutrients and not just food. I’m not paleo or gluten free (but can’t wait for your post because I’ve been seriously considering it for our child and have been reading a ton – the only thing holding me back is a reluctant husband) but I do follow a fairly simple mantra of “eat real food, mostly plants, not too much”. I do bone broth soups weekly and focus on high quality meats and veggies. I try to avoid anything processed, artificially colored, light or fat free. I still do some dairy – cheese and greek yogurt, but no milk. I have no health issues and although my skin definitely leaves much to be desired, that’s mostly my fault b/c I’m a chronic “picker”. I actually had to goggle nightshades while reading your post – I had seen something similar on a baby lead weaning blog – I suppose I need to read more. Now that I have a child my focus on nutrition has grown exponentially and love your research. Where I used to say “well we eat healthy five nights a week” now I’d like to set a good example every day and make sure he gets proper nutrition for growth and brain development. I also want to have educated discussions within our family so he can make his own wellness decisions someday.

  8. on 09 Oct 2012 at 11:26 amPaige

    I am very interested to read more about your journey. While my family and I do not have any particular issues or sensitivities, I am becoming increasingly freaked out about all of the artificial-ness of what we call “food.” I do not want my children to resent me, but, I feel a very strong compulsion to make different, better choices for them – and Phil and me. Admittedly, I have reached this place a lot later than most people, but I am here now and eager to learn. After seeing that you posted a comment on Paleo Mom on FB, I checked out her site and have been enjoying her updates. I look forward to more.

  9. […] a lot of new folks, and I am thrilled that you found your way here.  You may want to read over my Why I Eat the Way I Do and Part II of that series for some background on how I came to the lifestyle that I now […]

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