Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Stephanie's First Post - My Health Rollercoaster

It’s easy to feel alone in a processed food filled world, so I’ve really enjoyed reading Lacey’s blog about her adventures into veganism and raw foods. Thank you to Lacey for this opportunity to blog with her, and thank you for giving me a chance to share what I have been learning. As of today, I do not eat gluten or dairy, and I try my best to stay away from refined sugars and processed foods. Never did I think there would be a day where I could confidently say that. I have a lot of tips, ideas and recipes to share - but for my first post, I’d like to give you my background story on how I got where I am. Bear with me as my health roller coaster will give you a much better insight about how, and why, I turned my life around. Our stories may be similar, and I hope I can be a great resource for you. 

I’ve always been a picky eater; I grew up loving chicken fingers, bagels, cookies and PB&J sandwiches. I couldn’t pass up on a soda or sugary drink. I was never interested in cooking healthy or making sure I ate my fruits and veggies for the day. Since I was never overweight and always fit in exercise here and there, I thought I didn’t have a problem. I really didn’t think that what I was putting into my body made a difference. Boy, was I wrong.

The summer after my sophomore year of college, I came down with mononucleosis. Not fun - but I recovered with lots of rest and integrating more fruits and proteins into my diet. I felt better and start my junior year. By January 2007 I felt “off” again - shaky, mood swings, weight loss, racing heart. But with no clear diagnosis from my family doctor, these symptoms continued on and off again for two more years until I couldn’t take it anymore. 

By May 2009, I had graduated from college and was living and working full time in New York City. I had chronic fatigue, daily headaches/migraines, inflamed joints and muscles, and mood swings that wouldn’t go away. I was 22 years old and I knew I shouldn’t feel this sick every day - finally I couldn’t stand it anymore and I started my fight to get better. In September 2009 I had surgery to remove my right lobe of my thyroid. I had a cyst on my thyroid which the doctors thought was causing problems, so I hoped this to be my solution. I cut back on alcohol and caffeine, and focused on eating healthier (whole grains, dairy, fruit and veggies). In October 2009, symptoms were still there, and I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. I immediately started antibiotics and finally thought I had a solution to my problem. 

I began to eat organic and more consciously throughout the day. I gave up all alcohol and caffeine... and finally started to feel better. Of course the journey doesn’t end there. In March symptoms flared again, and I tested positive for Lyme Disease again. This time, my thyroid levels were off as well, and I started a lifetime of thyroid medication. From March 2010 through September 2010 I fell into an unhealthy spiral of all my original symptoms, and worse. I was miserable - I had the chills all day, migraines every week, chronic fatigue, joint pain, difficulty to concentrate, my hair was falling out, mental fatigue, as well as anxiety and panic attacks. I had trouble getting out of chairs and walking up stairs... how could a 23 year old be so sick? I was normally so happy go lucky, how could this be happening to me? I was so unhappy and was willing to do anything to feel better. So I didn’t stop my fight and went through several doctors until I found a wonderful doctor that tested for everything, and didn’t just try to throw antibiotics or antidepressants at me. 

Days after my 24th birthday, on 9/14/11, I was diagnosed with a gluten and dairy intolerance. I had always said I could never give up my favorite foods... but any clear diagnosis was music to my ears and I was willing to do whatever it took to get out of this health slump.

I am now in my 8th month of eating gluten and dairy free. I am happy to say my symptoms started to go away ONE WEEK after giving up gluten and dairy, and they have faded away quickly ever since. Even reliving the pain I went through for months is a scary and sad memory, and a warning to myself that the food I put into my body will make me or break me.


Thank you for listening to my story. I can’t wait to share all that I have learned - and all that I need to work on! Please let me know if you have any questions about my diagnosis, or how I got there. I am happy to share. I hope I can motivate people to fight for their health and be truly conscious of the food they put into their bodies every day.

- Stephanie

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