Overcoming Autoimmunity with Real Food
During my pregnancy with my third son, I began having health issues. It wasn’t until he turned a year old that we realized this was something that was not going to go away on its own. My symptoms were getting worse and began effecting my daily routine. I had spent years in and out of doctors’ offices, and often left feeling frustrated, helpless, and alone. After a few visits, most doctors gave up on me. Finally in February of 2013, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease- Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). I also had adrenal fatigue and a thyroid disorder.
I guess you could say that we were grateful to finally have a name for what was happening, but the solutions were still not easy to find. Medications, injections, and multiple other therapies did nothing for me. In fact, many of these things often made my symptoms worse. Why was I suffering? Why was I struggling to get through each day instead of enjoying time with my family? Why was this happening to me? It was difficult to even think about and to comprehend.
I was living in pain every single day, exhausted by simple daily tasks, and frustrated with my body and its inability to do things. I grew up in a loving household where my mom was strong, active, and full of life. I wanted to be just like her, but my body wouldn’t allow it. The pain and fatigue took over and I was in survival mode. My husband was forced to not only work a full time job and provide for our family of five, but take on my tasks of cooking, cleaning, entertaining our boys, and so much more. This disease didn’t make me look ill, but it certainly wreaked havoc on my body and my ability to move and function in the simplest tasks.
It was shortly after my diagnosis, that my husband jumped online and began researching alternative healing methods. It was his research that led to our discovery of the link between diet and disease. The more he read, the more we realized that this was worth a shot. It couldn’t hurt to modify what I was eating to see if it helped with my symptoms.
This is where our real food journey began. Being diagnosed with AS was actually a blessing in disguise. I found and tried several diets- Gluten Free, Low Starch, Paleo, and AIP Paleo. Adapting these diets, learning every detail about them, and understanding the reasons why, led to a lifestyle of real food. I learned that it was important to nourish my body and give it the best nutrients to promote healing. I learned that certain foods like gluten, soy, sugar, chemical preservatives, artificial food colorings/dyes, and most dairy were not supporting my body and hindered my recovery. I also learned that where my food came from was important. We got to know our local farmers and talked to them about their farming practices.
Learning to look at food as a way to nourish my body was one of the most important steps in my healing. Eating nutrient dense meals that were free of irritants and inflammatory agents was key. I look back at this journey and realize that there was a reason. I was meant to teach others the importance of real food. I was meant to empower others with the knowledge to heal their bodies.
It’s also this journey that has led to incredible friendships with others who have experienced similar paths. Perhaps we bond over understanding the pain and hardship that autoimmunity can bring or simply over the realization that real food matters. While I would never wish this journey upon anyone else, I am grateful to be on it myself. We are given one body- cherish it, love it, and nourish it!