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You Are (Responsible for) What You Eat -Part 2- Hospital “Food” and a Health Update

Last year, the day after Christmas to be exact, my husband was admitted to the hospital for several days. It was not life threatening and he ended up being fine, but had to undergo several tests during that time. While my sons and I were there with him, we ate in the hospital cafeteria. It served as another sad example of a current trend of eating food like products, instead of actual food. And this food is being served in a hospital that is supposed to get people well. Or is it? I don’t know.

Here is what I posted on my Instagram from that weekend:

“Spending my weekend at the hospital, so decided to take a trip to the cafeteria for some nourishment. Well I didn’t find any nourishment except for a tiny salad bar. All of the entrees were fried and breaded meats or pasta, and to drink they offered juice, water, unsweetened tea, and every other drink was sweetened with artificial sweetener. Every. One. The cashier kindly gave me some sugar packets for my tea (which were behind the counter), and I thankfully found this tiny bit of vinegar to add to my salad. All the other dressings were highly processed. I thought hospital’s were supposed to be a place to get better and heal, but that’s not what they are. They are dispensaries for legal drugs. They feed people a standard American diet (SAD) and fill them with medicine in order to treat symptoms. And although I know there are many doctors and nurses that genuinely care about people and want to help, they have no power over what is “healthcare” in this country. It’s a business and they want to keep people coming back. *rant over*”

If you had to depend on the hospital cafeteria or menu for actual nourishment, you would have a hard time finding much at all. How can this be? When looking over my husbands choices that weekend on the “heart healthy” menu, they omitted things like fat and salt. Fat and salt! Our bodies need those two things in order to function properly. Granted, the salt they use is iodized table salt, which is not good for you, but why can’t they use sea salt, Celtic salt, or Himalayan salt? Why can’t they use real salt that contains minerals? And fat, our bodies need healthy fats. No, they don’t need hydrogenated, trans fats that are rancid, from things like margarine or canola oil. But they can use healthy oils and fats like butter, lard, olive oil, coconut oil and so on.

They make specific menus for different illnesses, but I have yet to see a gluten-free menu in that hospital. In fact, I’ve often wondered what they feed someone who is gluten intolerant, let alone someone who has Celiac disease. I hope I never have to find out.

When the people who are supposed to be taking care of us aren’t doing a very good job, what should we do? We should speak up and take care of ourselves. Who is responsible for this? For making changes and taking initiative? We are responsible!  I am responsible! You are responsible!


A Health Update

I’ve entered into my third year of a modified Auto-immune Protocol diet, so I thought I’d share an update and a few things I’ve learned along the way. You can read about why I started the AIP and what it is here.

  1. What you eat matters. I can feel and see a difference in my body, and in my mind, because of what I choose to eat, or not to eat. Before I started the AIP I was Paleo-ish for about 2 years, and had been gluten-free for 5 years. At the time I started AIP, all of my symptoms had come to a head. I was having extreme digestive issues with I.B.S., having rashes on various parts of my body, including my face, and was achy and fatigued, among many other symptoms. In the picture below (on the left) you can see the redness and ruddiness of my face. I was wearing cover up that day (which I rarely wear), and my whole face felt inflamed. What you cannot see is the rash on my neck, on my inner arms and on my legs. I was having terrible brain fog and every stress seemed magnified. The picture on the right is about 6 months after I started the AIP, you can notice the texture of my skin is much smoother than on the left. I sometimes still struggle with rashes and redness, especially on my face, but I can usually pin it to something I’ve eaten that’s caused inflammation.

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2. I have kept and maintained a normal weight (for me) for these last couple years, within about 5-7 pounds. It’s never been about weight for me, but from age 30-35 I struggled with excess weight. No matter what I seemed to do, it wouldn’t budge (except upward). I don’t feel that I was eating in excess, but I was eating the wrong foods and they were not giving my body what it needed. By eating the right foods, healing my digestion, and getting nourishment, I am more satisfied and satiated and have less cravings (over all). After going Paleo, I lost about 15-20 pounds, and after AIP I lost another 10-15 pounds, and I’m currently at a healthy weight. It was a weight that I was at in my late teens and most of my 20’s, in between having 2 kids. Even so, when I lost weight this last time, I had several people comment on my weight loss in a negative way, which surprised me. For my size, and height, I am a healthy weight. I don’t “diet”, meaning restrict calorie intake. I use the word diet to describe how I eat, not what I eat. I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m not. Now, I eat healthier, non-inflammatory foods, and make sure I’m not getting to many starchy carbs (too much starch makes me bloat and causes digestive distress). The picture below on the left is in Fall of 2011 at one of my heaviest weights. I did my first Whole 30 in January of 2012 (the picture in the center is right after my first Whole 30 and after I chopped off all of my hair), and I started the AIP in May of 2014 (the picture on the bottom right was last winter and I have maintained that weight).

                    

3. The Reminder Days. I like to call my bad days, good reminders. Reminders of where I’ve been, how I’ve felt, and why I do what I do, specifically, eat how I eat. Reminder days usually consist of 1 or 2 different symptoms. The worst days consist of many symptoms, these include: achiness in my body, and sometimes specific joints, extreme tiredness and fatigue, rashes, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) symptoms, brain fog, and headaches (occasionally migraines). These are the main symptoms I typically get, sometimes I get other, lesser symptoms. These days also serve as reminders to take care of myself, to get rest, and to tweak any areas that I may have been slacking or let myself go altogether. Many times, what starts as a small indulgence, turns to a daily habit. I have to watch those kinds of things.

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4. What you eat has spiritual significance. In the Autoimmune community, there’s a lot of talk about self-love, and self-care. They focus on self and loving themselves. I know that as humans we do love ourselves a great deal, but often that shows up in giving into our fleshly desires instead of doing what’s best for our body. Since I belong to the Lord, and not to myself, my body also belongs to him. I do my best to honor him, by honoring my body. Instead of turning inward to love myself more, and think of myself more, this allows me to turn to Christ, outward, and live in a way that honors him, while taking care of my body. It takes the focus off of me, and puts it where it needs to be. I need to love others more, as Christ admonishes me to do (John 13:34), and I can love others more, when my body is taken care of and functional. This is the ultimate benefit. Not to feel better for the sake of feeling better, but to live a life that reflects Christ and is expressed in showing love to others, not only to myself. (The picture below is Bible reading with some company, my dog Zach.)

5. The goal is not perfection, but progress. I’m not perfect. I don’t eat perfectly. I don’t take care of myself perfectly. I’m not perfect, and even if I was, that would not guarantee that I would be free from all health cares or concerns. Outside of things I can control like what I choose to eat, and how much rest I get, are things like stress. I have no control over outside stressors. I can only control how I react to them, and often my reaction is not very good. Even if I’m doing everything I can do correctly, my reaction to stress will trump all my hard work every time. Not that it gives me leeway to not eat well, since high stress times seem to undo my work, but it encourages me to keep with it, because having both a poor diet and high amounts of stress can do irreparable damage. I have found a few things that help during high stress times and I’ll leave you with these:

  • Prayer and Thankfullness.Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 
  • Reading my Bible. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105
  • Remembering that I’m only doing today. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34
  • Keeping things in perspective. “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

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