I’ll admit it. As soon as I get in sight of the bakery section in the grocery store my heart skips a beat. I might drool a little. Donuts make me want to leap for joy. Why are those darn things so cheap and enticing? Don’t they know I’m trying to be gluten-free? Yet they taunt me from behind the glass all innocent looking with their golden, freshly frosted outside and creamy delightful inside. My arch enemy and guilty pleasure all rolled into one.
But the “eat whatever I want” era came to a screeching halt when I was diagnosed as autoimmune. “Natural” and “healthy” was now the new, or not so new, trend. My body no longer functioned properly and healthy food held the promise of possible recovery. 70-90% of the immune system is located in the gut. Fix the gut and you can fix your immune system. That’s what the research said. The argument that food and nutrition could be a better and safer form of treatment for healing chronic disease was all too convincing.
So I got to work. Out with the processed, packaged, and modified foods. Hello antibiotic-free, grass-fed, organic, clean and friendly foods. Donuts took a back seat to their nutritious counterparts (although I have still been known to sneak one on occasion). My disease changed my outlook on food as I began to slowly replace our “American” diet with foods that were hormone-free, organic, grass-fed, local, and non-GMO. Superfoods like kale, quinoa, avocados, kiefer, and nuts littered my diet. I went vegan. I tried vegetarian. I became Paleo. I experimented with exclusion diets and avoided 25 food sensitivities all at once for a month. I went dairy-free, gluten-free, corn-free, and egg-free…all at the same time, for a long time. I took a regimen of supplements so intense that I had 20 dixie cups all marked by time, an alarm set for each one. I saw a naturopath and drank dirt, or what I affectionately called, “bunny farm” (some of you know what I’m talking about). I made high fiber smoothies that made me gag but I plugged my nose and chugged it down anyway. There were moments I thought I would go crazy. But I was desperate. I did it out of necessity. I wanted my health back.
But after two years of eating better, taking supplements, and making meals from scratch, I was still suffering. My digestive and gastrointestinal system were still dysfunctional and my pain was at an all time high. I felt discouraged and was getting depressed. It didn’t make sense. I was eating “healthy”. I tried all the tricks in the book. I was following all the suggested tips for optimal nutrition but I wasn’t improving…in fact, I was just getting worse. What if I was broken beyond repair? I felt frustrated and confused.
Can healthy and nutritious foods actually do more harm than good?