The Typical American Diet. That was me. #allthecarbs
Prior to 2012, I had a pretty typical “American diet.”
My meals (if you can call them that) consisted mostly of pasta, grilled cheese, pizza and those meals that come out of the bag in little frozen chunks. In the mornings, I’d have frozen waffles, frozen pancakes, a donut or fast food breakfast. And my snacks were usually chips, cookies or snack cakes.
There was hardly a vegetable or fruit in sight. And when they did make a rare appearance, they usually came from a box, bag or can. Let’s just say it wasn’t like I was on a first name basis with the vendors at the farmers market.
But, honestly, I didn’t really give my diet much thought
When a poor diet doesn't make you gain weight, but starts to ruin your gut.
I have always had a really fast metabolism, so I didn’t really gain weight. In fact, if anything, I tended to be on the underweight side.
But, what I did have was a really sensitive stomach. Ever since I was about 20 years old, I just got used to having “stomach problems” where I would pretty much have to run to the restroom about 20 or 30 minutes after a meal. Some days were worse than others. But, for the most part, it had become a “normal” thing.
I also got used to feeling bloated and having my stomach gurgle loudly quite often. Which, in turn, led to some pretty severe anxiety over it.
But, having been to plenty of doctors and pretty much being sent on my way with a catch-all “diagnosis” of IBS, I figured there wasn’t really much to be done about it.
What a traditional doctor may prescribe for your stomach problems.
Around 2008, I did see a gastroenterologist who put me on these little green pills that I was supposed to take with each meal that would “calm my stomach.” I didn’t find out until I took a drug test for a new job later, that those little pills actually came up under the same family as Xanax and no one cared to tell me. So, I stopped taking them and again, figured this was “just the way it is.”
What the pharmaceutical drugs your primary doc prescribes can end up causing: Major Health Problems.
Then, in late 2012, I started to develop a waterfall of other symptoms. It seemed my body was falling apart from head to toe.
I had dizziness, headaches, cystic acne, hot flashes, insomnia, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, extreme fatigue and suddenly, my stomach did a 180 on me and instead of going to the bathroom all the time, I couldn’t go at all.
I knew something was up. I knew my body wasn’t right. But, I couldn’t get any answers.
Why you need to take control of your health and proactively seek answers to your feelings of "What's WRONG with me??"
I saw my PCP, my OB/GYN, a gastroenterologist, an endocrinologist and even a cardiologist, all to be told I was “fine.” But, as if that wasn’t frustrating enough, they also tried to force anti-anxiety medication or anti-depressants on me… implying that it was all in my head.
Thankfully, I didn’t accept their prescriptions and didn’t give up.
I knew my body and I knew something was wrong.
A Naturopathic Doctor FINALLY Got Me. And helped me.
So, I decided to pursue the natural health route and went to see a naturopathic doctor. Almost immediately, he diagnosed me with advanced adrenal fatigue – a condition I had ended up with because of a string of traumatic events I had been through back to back.
In a nutshell, adrenal fatigue happens when your stress response gets overtaxed – whether from a serious illness, a surgery, traumatic events or even working out too hard. Basically, your body gets stuck in the “flight or fight” response and you feel like you’re in emergency mode 24/7.
This is why simple “stressors” like me bending over to pick up laundry or taking a shower would cause me to feel like I was having a heart attack. It’s why I couldn’t get through the day without needing several naps. And it’s why my whole body felt like it was short-circuiting on me because my adrenal glands were sending the wrong messages to a lot of different parts of my body.
Adrenal Fatigue. It's bad, but it's treatable.
Unfortunately, there’s no “magic pill” for adrenal fatigue. To heal from it, you just have to make some lifestyle changes – a whole lot of sleep, stress management/mindfulness, supplements and dietary changes.
And as I started instituting these changes into my life, I immediately started to notice a difference in how I felt.
How Changing What I Ate Changed How I Felt-- for the BETTER.
But, what I couldn’t believe was how much different I felt just by changing my diet. It was the first thing the naturopath had me do and he wasn’t messing around. I did a restricted diet called the “Repairvite diet” (designed to repair the damage from leaky gut syndrome – which often goes hand in hand with adrenal fatigue) and it was no joke.
I couldn’t have dairy, grains, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, nightshades, condiments, packaged/processed foods, eggs or beans/legumes. Basically, I could have vegetables, low glycemic fruits and clean meats.
It certainly took some getting used to, especially coming off of the way that I used to eat. But, the results were almost instantaneous.
Things that I thought were “just me” like being shaky all the time, the crazy stomach issues and even the cystic acne and insomnia… all stopped when I changed the food I was eating.
I couldn’t believe it.
And it just got better from there.
A Better Diet Created a Better LIFE For Me.
Suddenly, I had a “normal” stomach. I wasn’t always running to the restroom. I didn’t feel like the Loch Ness Monster was living in there and shocker of all shockers, my body started to actually crave healthy food.
It was like the reset button had finally pushed and I was able to detox from all the toxic stuff I had been putting in my body for so long.
Now, I actually found myself wanting a smoothie in the morning for breakfast. I actually craved protein bars and almonds as snacks. And I even found myself making my salads differently – bypassing the shredded cheese and ranch dressing for black beans, beets and balsamic dressing.
It was crazy!
Why you should re-think the way you view your diet.
I couldn’t believe how much of an effect my diet had on my overall body. Which, now that I think about it, is kind of silly.
I mean, why wouldn’t it?
But, that’s not what we’re generally taught as a society. For the most part, it’s eat whatever you want… indulge… enjoy yourself! And then, when (not if) you get sick, take a bunch of pills to try to make yourself feel better.
Except, doesn’t that seem kind of backward?
Why wouldn’t we choose to live in a way that prevents illness instead of trying to fight against it later?
Why wouldn’t we choose to put the very best things into our bodies so we can get the very best out of it?
Too often, food and the word “diet” get thrown around as something you have to do. Like a task, an undertaking, something you have to begrudgingly do to deprive yourself. So, you can lose a certain number of pounds or look like some idealized image in your mind.
But, I hope that you can start to look at the food you put in your body a whole new way.
I hope you can start to see it for what it is – fuel. It’s literally what makes your body run – either efficiently or poorly.
And that choice is up to you.
If you put bad food in, you’re most likely going to get bad performance out.
If you put good food in, you’re going to get better performance out.
Plain and simple.
And as someone who has experienced both sides first-hand, I can tell you, any discomfort or challenge you may feel during the period of change is well worth the way you’ll feel in the end.
So, if you’ve been running into dead ends with your health, or even if you’ve been fortunate enough to not have any issues yet, I hope that you will take control of your own health and start cleaning up your diet, not because you have to, but because you want to.
Remember, you only have one body.
And it’s up to YOU to take care of it.
This post was authored by Jenn Baxter– guest author. Her details are below. We’ve hyperlinked some relevant articles from FitFluential in the post above, but for your reference, they are included here for easy access. Let us know what questions YOU have for us about gut issues, adrenal fatigue, diet, stress management or anything else mentioned in this article. We’ll be sure to cover these topics on future Facebook Lives or Podcast episodes or blog posts here. Be sure you are SUBSCRIBED so you don’t miss a thing!
- Podcast Interview with Dr. Izabella Wentz on Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism: CLICK HERE.
- Blog post by Dr. Izabella Wentz on Adrenal Health: CLICK HERE.
- An introduction to hormones and hormonal imbalance with Dr. Lane Sebring: CLICK HERE.
- Podcast Interview with Christina Curp on healing autoimmune disease with FOOD and LIFESTYLE changes: CLICK HERE for part 1 and CLICK HERE for part 2.
- Our Podcast Interview with Jenn Baxter, the author: CLICK HERE.
Jenn Baxter is an accomplished author, speaker and blogger based in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2015, Jenn launched her website, Live a F.A.S.T. Life, based on her own experiences with clean living and downsizing into a 160-square-foot tiny house. She now teaches others how to make similar changes in their own lives through her online webinars and her e-course collection, De-Clutter, De-Tox, De-Stress. Her new book, Live a F.a.s.t. Life: How Stripping Down and Cleaning Up Gave Me My Life Back is available now on her website, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. And grab your FREE De-Cluttering Jump Start Kit here!