We changed our mindset


Mindset – it either makes or breaks us.  I drastically changed my mindset about food … and health … and this is where it got us!

“You must master a new way to think before you can master a new way to be” (Marianne Williamson)

It started as a coupe of serious health issues, sparked by a pre-diabetes blood glucose level 3 years ago (my husband’s) and me living in constant pain.  Within 24 hours we had purged our pantry and started our 10 day food detox as outlined in this post .

We continued with this strict food detox for much longer than 10 days due to how well it was working for both of us – my pain was subsiding and my husband’s BGL’s were stabilising in the normal range.  In fact, we continued on a strict food detox for 60 days before starting to add our eliminated foods back one by one.   I had to keep many of the eliminated foods out of my diet for many months – corn, quinoa and dairy were definitely not my friends for a very long time.  After 12 weeks I wrote a blog post that you can read here .

I had serious gut issues and only once these were resolved could I tolerate some corn and some quinoa.  The day I could add back goat’s cheese was one of my happiest “food” days – funny how the smallest of things become big things!

In the last 6 months I have managed to add fermented homemade yoghurt back into my eating plan.  Regarding the nightshades – the only one I have successfully added back without causing any pain, is well-cooked white potato – I can tolerate a small amount a few times a month.  I am happy with this as white potato is good as a resistant starch and has many health benefits.

When we started on this journey we were told it was totally unsustainable.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

After 3 years:

  • I eat real, whole foods only
  • I don’t follow a particular “diet”
  • I avoid gluten and soy and some nightshade vegetables
  • I eat whole fruit
  • I don’t eat sugar
  • I make everything from scratch
  • I eat when I’m hungry
  • I don’t count calories
  • I don’t fear fat
  • I eat many more vegetables than I used to
  • I eat across the colours of the rainbow
  • I eat fermented foods daily
  • I eat nutrient dense food
  • I eat and live mindfully
  • I buy as much as I can from farmer’s markets and support local growers and producers
  • I avoid the foods that I know inflame me and cause my pain to flare
  • I move as often as I can
  • I make sure I get at least 8 hours good quality sleep every night
  • I drink good quality water
  • I walk barefoot on the beach as often as I can
  • I walk or sit in the sun as often as I can
  • I don’t sweat the small stuff
  • I enjoy my red wine

    What we were doing before wasn’t working.

What did we have to lose by changing our mindset about food and health?

A lot!

In fact we lost 80kg combined weight in 3 years.  How we did it is totally achievable.  What do you need to do?

Change your mindset!

 

 

Food and Pain

Food and Pain.

Three years ago I did not believe that food could cause pain nor did I believe food could alleviate pain.  As a pharmacist I was taught to treat pain with pills or topical agents.  Anti-inflammatory medication for swelling and trauma and pain medication for the pain.  End of story.  Makes sense in theory, but I now know first hand that the food we eat is either inflammatory or anti-inflammatory and either good or bad for us as individuals.

For 10 years I lived in chronic pain. I have osteoarthritis and both my hands are badly affected, so much so that up until a few years ago I had weekly appointments with an occupational therapist and wore purpose-made hand splints. I had got to the point where I could no longer hold a pen to write, I could not do up zips or buttons, I could not hold my toothbrush and brush my teeth (thank heavens for electric/battery operated toothbrushes), I could not hold a sharp knife to cut things like pumpkin or even carrots, I could not open screw top lids or cans with ring pulls or even use a can opener. Other than my hands, I had one shoulder, one hip and one ankle that were permanently sore as well. I slept badly, my mobility was not good and I was still young.

Life was not easy and I needed NSAID’s and paracetamol and codeine on a daily basis, just to function. Of course I knew the risks of what I was taking, but I was not left with many other options. I supplemented with fish oil or krill oil as well as glucosamine and vitamin D during my dark years of pain too, as the research suggested these to be beneficial.

So today when I read this Medscape article entitled Food and Pain: The “Essentials” –  my heart sang!

Last week at the American Academy of Pain Management (AAPM) 2016 Annual Meeting, Robert Bonakdar, MD, director of pain management, Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, La Jolla, California, and assistant clinical professor, University of California, San Diego addressed delegates at the meeting and spoke of how “Diet can influence inflammation, shift the microbiome, modulate the immune system, improve joint function, eliminate pain triggers, and reduce deficiencies.”

This is music to my ears.

People think I’m “off with the fairies” when I say I “cured” my pain by changing my diet … and if they don’t actually say it, I can see they are thinking it!  Pharmacists I work with say they would not have believed it, but they witnessed my progress with their own eyes!  My family and friends know how much I suffered and how well I am now.  I myself still struggle to believe how changing my diet changed my life!

Three years ago my occupational therapist informed me the last thing available as a means of pain relief was thumb surgery.  This would involve a lengthy recovery and there were no guarantees.  I decided to explore every other option available before resorting to this.  Why was my body was giving up on me and attacking itself?  Besides the osteoarthritis, I had already had a  parathyroidectomy for hyperparathyroidism, so in my eyes, my body appeared to be hell bent on destroying itself.  I was not going to give in lightly, and as fate would have it, my husband’s blood sugar became raised at about the same time. With a family history of diabetes, we embarked on Dr Mark Hyman’s 10 day sugar detox diet to get his blood glucose under control.  I turned my focus to helping my husband and by chance helped myself!  You can read about our initial detox here.

Within 7 days my pain had reduced significantly enough for me to see the benefit of continuing with this lifestyle.  After 2 months I no longer required pain medication and the hand splints were permanently packed away!  I have never looked back.  (Nor has my husband, his blood glucose levels are in the normal range.)  This is not a diet, this is a lifestyle we follow to keep us inflammation free.   For me, there is no better motivator than being pain free.

So if you live with chronic pain or inflammation, take a look at what you are eating.  If we eat highly processed, inflammatory foods, our cells become toxic which results in inflammation and chronic disease.

When I started on this journey I was obese.  Obesity is also an inflammatory condition.  Removing my inflammation helped me shift 42kg.  It’s not about how much we eat, it’s about what we eat.  So choose your food carefully.  You alone control what you put in your mouth, nobody else.

 

 

 

Inflammation Obesity Pain

obesity gone pain gone

Obesity.

Inflammation.

Pain.

Gone.

What a difference 2 years can make to one’s life.   April 28th 2014, my body was broken.  I suffered from chronic arthritis and lived in pain.  I was inflamed.   I was obese.  Every day was a struggle, but of course the rest of the world never knew this.  I became a master at masking how I actually felt.  I couldn’t hold a pen, I couldn’t write, I couldn’t do up buttons, I couldn’t pull up zips, I couldn’t open taps, I couldn’t open bottles or screw top lids, I couldn’t shake anybody’s hand, I couldn’t cut with a knife, I couldn’t hold a cup by its handle, I could only use a battery operated toothbrush, I couldn’t do so many things and life sucked!  I was also wracked with guilt – I was obese and it was all my own fault.  Did I really eat that much?    No, I actually didn’t.  But what I did do, was eat the wrong foods for my body!  Facing surgery on both hands, with no guarantee for success, I put on my scientific hat and researched and researched to find out WHY my 50 + year old body was letting me down.

Quite by chance my husband’s body was broken too, but not in the same way mine was.  He suffered from obesity too and he was pre-diabetic. Being a male, he wanted to fix himself straight away!  Actually, he expected me to “fix” him overnight!   Based on my research at the time and the books I had been reading, I chose to do a 10 day food detox with him (based on Mark Hyman’s book of a similar name), to restore his factory settings (and no, he isn’t an Apple).  Guess what?  I started detoxing and losing weight within the first few days of our food detox, but another miracle was unfolding.  My pain started to disappear and within the first 2 weeks I no longer needed to wear my splints on my hands all the time!   These results blew my mind – diminishing pain, weight falling off and I was eating so much…three times what I normally ate…and the only exercise I could manage at the time due to my pain level, was walking, so this was not a case of  less calories in and more calories out!

You can read about our original Food Detox here.

So the 10 day detox became a 60 day detox and at the 120 day mark, this is what I had discovered.

For 15 months my weight remained stable after losing 31kg,  the bulk of it within the first 6 months.  I had regained the use of my hands, lost all my pain and my body was no longer broken!  My obesity was gone! I then decided my weight needed to go down again and so 6 weeks ago I embarked on my final push to drop the last 10kg that would get me back to the weight I was in my 20’s….

And I’ve done it!

ps My husband’s pre-diabetes is fixed too!

Our 10 Day Food Detox

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Detox?  I never believed in doing a detox before, so why now?  People ask me all the time what prompted our drastic change in eating habits and lifestyle, so here it is.

Sunday 27th April 2014 is one Sunday I won’t forget.

Heading out for my weekly Sunday morning “walk and talk” with my soul sister, I decided to test my blood glucose level (BGL).  6 months prior to this I had removed as much processed food from our diet and was trying to eat as organic and free range/grass fed/pastured as possible.  My aim was to improve our health.  We have 2 grand daughters who live in Canada, and I wanted to remain as healthy as I could to enable us to travel and visit them as often as we could.  Over the 6 month period, I had lost about 3kg but my main health concern was still the debilitating arthritic pain I had to put up with.  Why I decided to test my BGL that day, I’ll never know, but I’ve always trusted my instincts and so I just did.  I had just finished a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and my BGL was 6mmol/L which did not concern me too much as there is plenty of fructose in orange juice.  My husband who was standing by watching, and forever the skeptic, decided that he wanted to know what his BGL was too.  Horror of all horrors, his was a fasting level and it was 8.2mmol/L!  There and then we decided that it was all systems go, from zero to hero, starting immediately.  I had been reading the 10-Day Detox Diet by Mark Hyman, but had been a bit skeptical about how it could work so quickly.  Now there was a definite need to try something drastic straight away and so there was no transition.  I purged the fridge, purged the pantry, bought our own glucometer and test strips, an iHealth fancy scale and we started the same day!  The last thing I wanted was for my husband to be on medication as I was very aware of all the potential side effects.  We were going to conquer this health challenge and hopefully beat it.

And so we began what has now become our new lifestyle.

Although this is called a detox, it is important to realize that it is a FOOD detox.  It is not a lemon and water cleansing detox, liquid only, starvation diet.  The body is detoxed of all processed food, wheat/gluten, obviously sugar, soy, dairy products, caffeine and alcohol. All of these foodstuffs have the potential to cause many different disease states mainly due to their inflammatory properties, so by eliminating them we reduce inflammation, kick start the body’s hormones to work as they should and hopefully fix the problem!  In modern technological terms we were about to “restore our factory settings”!  Everybody who completes the 10 day detox feels so much better that they hopefully carry on eating as close to how they did during the detox for ever after! Well this is what the book claims, so we were hopeful.

This is it in a nutshell.  If you are interested in the science behind everything, there are 3 books I have read by Dr Mark Hyman where everything is discussed in detail.  I bought The Blood Sugar Solution and The Blood Sugar Solution Cook Book on iBooks and The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet on Amazon.  Mark Hyman has a website where you can request journal sheets, how to work with your doctor, etc, so have a look here when you get the chance.   Mark Hyman is a functional medical doctor as opposed to most GP’s who practice conventional medicine.  Functional medical doctors treat the system, not the symptom thereby creating health and a happy person, allowing weight loss to follow naturally once all the body’s systems are working as they should.

Unfortunately “everything in moderation”, which is a typical food industry slogan, has failed abysmally in the prevention of disease and obesity.  The food industry only want you to buy their food, so they have chemically manipulated products in order to make us biologically addicted and the most addictive thing appears to be the sugar!  So as an unsuspecting customer you want more and more sugar, so definitely not in moderation and so the avalanche of a host of imbalances arises in the body which leads to disease state after disease state…. Think of it like expecting a cocaine addict to be happy with a little bit every day….

So Dr Hyman claims that the 10 day detox is enough time to reset all your hormones and make you healthy and happy (most, if not all of the hormones in your body are controlled by insulin to a certain degree) and get you off biologically addicted foodstuffs that the food industry want you to eat to keep them rich, while the pharmaceutical companies wish to keep you dependent on medication.

The 10 day detox is successful if you do it the right way.  You will reset your biology very quickly and by eating the right food at the right times, made properly from real food so it is delicious, you won’t be hungry and you will see results.  His website gives you tools to use for journaling and he also tells you what supplements you should use.  The change in how you feel will usually be accompanied by a change in eating patterns and behaviour which is what is needed to keep you on this path.  Just like disease is contagious, health is also contagious.  I know that where I work the girls will say to me, “there is food on the back table, but we know you won’t eat it”…hopefully they too will eat less and less of the junk they call food.  If you want to be healthy and lose weight, it is also easier to succeed if you don’t do it alone.  Doing it with someone or as part of a group doubles your success rate.

So this is what we did:

OUT WITH THE BAD

  • All sugar products or anything containing sugar such as honey, agave…soft drinks, bottled teas, fruit juice, sports drinks as well as ALL diet drinks
  • gluten and grains (wheat, rye, barley, spelt and oats)
  • dairy (milk, yoghurt, cheese, ice cream, butter, cream, casein)
  • beans, any type (they ferment in your gut and this causes inflammation…) and legumes (except green beans)
  • all soy and soy products
  • all processed and factory made foods
  • all refined and processed vegetable oils
  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • any stimulants or sedatives unless you are on regular medication…
  • if you are a smoker of course you should stop but this may not be the time..overcome one addiction at a time
  • media overload, phones, texting, internet, television, social media…
  • eating dinner less than 3 hours before bed

IN WITH THE GOOD

Your body needs to heal, detoxify, and shed excess weight.  The combination of foods and lifestyle changes is designed to work synergistically to help “restore your factory settings” .  You add in potent healing and detoxing elements.

  • Foods that boost detox pathways – foods rich in B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin C and antioxidants and phytonutrients that are naturally found in BOK CHOY, BROCCOLI, BRUSSELS SPROUTS, CABBAGE, CAULIFLOWER, CAYENNE PEPPER, CILANTRO, GARLIC, GINGER, KALE, LEMON, ONION, PARSLEY, ROSEMARY, WATERCRESS AND SEA VEGETABLES (IF YOU CAN FIND THEM) LIKE KOMBU.  EGGS are not a plant but contain detoxifying nutrients and sulfur.
  • foods that reduce inflammation – inflammation is your body’s normal reaction to fighting off bacteria or healing an infection.  We usually don’t know when we have an inflamed (or leaky) gut but it is your immune system fighting off stress, bad food, allergens, etc in your gut. Anything that causes inflammation will also cause insulin resistance and insulin resistance makes your body generate belly fat and hold on to your spare tyre. So we need foods that will reduce inflammation. (foods that CAUSE the inflammation are sugar, refined carbs, tran fats, excess omega 6 fats from processed plant/vegetable oils, ARTIFICIAL SWEETNERS, msg, gluten, grains and dairy).  Foods that are rich in omega 3 fats such as SALMON, omega 3 rich EGGS, GRASS FED BEEF, CHIA SEEDS, HEMP SEEDS, FLAX SEEDS, WALNUTS… Spices that are anti-inflammatory include TURMERIC. Other foodstuffs that reduce inflammation are BERRIES, DARK GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES, EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, HEALTHY FATS FOUND IN NUTS AND AVOCADO as well as HIGH QUALITY PROTEIN, LIKE ORGANIC POULTRY AND WILD SEAFOOD.
  • foods that improve gut function – we need good bugs in our digestive system to stay healthy.  Eating junk causes bad bugs to grow and thrive and they produce toxins and gas that cause inflammation, weight gain, bloated tummy, etc.When you eat the wrong food, you create a harmful imbalance that damages your gut lining, creating a leaky gut.  Partially digested food particles and microbial toxins then leak across your gut triggering an inflammatory response as they are foreign substances.  The inflammation in turn damages your metabolism, affects how your brain controls appetite and creates insulin resistance and WEIGHT GAIN! It is essential to follow the whole-food, high fibre, low starch and low sugar diet that this detox is based on to starve the bad bugs and feed the good bugs. PUMPKIN SEEDS, BOK CHOY, KALE, TOMATOES, CARROTS, CHICKEN, TURKEY, SALMON, ONIONS AND PARSLEY all improve gut function.
  • foods that balance blood sugar – PROTEIN IS KEY FOR BALANCING YOUR BLOOD SUGAR.  Include some form of lean, preferably organic or grass fed animal protein with delicious vegetables or salad.
  • exercise – begin each day with a 30 minute walk – exercise reduces craving and regulates appetite, improves insulin sensitivity, boosts your mitochondria and metabolism, mobilizes detox pathways, reduces cortisol (the stress hormone that causes belly fat), reduces inflammation and promotes better sleep. If you already go to the gym or do another form of exercise, continue with this but restrict cardio to a maximum of 30 minutes at a time (cardio for 40 minutes and more increases your levels of cortisol which increases insulin resistance and this leads to fat storage)
  • supplements – this creates lots of confusion – vitamins and minerals are not drugs and don’t work like drugs, but they are essential to ensure every chemical reaction in our body happens so that our bodies functions properly.  Each reaction requires a catalyst (enzyme) and each catalyst has a helper (coenzyme). Vitamins and minerals are these helpers. Regarding weight loss –  nutrients play a critical role. You burn calories better, your appetite is regulated, inflammation is lowered, detoxification is boosted, digestion aided, stress hormones regulated and you cells become more insulin sensitive. The food we eat today is not as nutrient dense as food was 50 years ago.  Soils have been depleted of minerals and even if we eat organic, when our bodies are detoxing they usually need a little help.
  • hydration – drink drink drink – plenty of water – 2.2litres for females, 2.8litres for males
  • journaling – write down what you eat and how you feel
  • relaxation – this is essential. Stress increases your levels of insulin, cytokines (causing inflammation) and cortisol (causing belly fat).  Stress also increases your appetite and your carb and sugar cravings, triggering the metabolic dysfunction that leads to weight gain. A DETOX BATH helps de-stress your nervous system.
  • Rhythm – get your rhythm back by getting your timing right, what time you wake up, what time you go to sleep, meal times, the time you take to eat, the time you exercise and the time you relax…get it right!  Don’t skip meals, don’t eat late, and most important don’t skip breakfast. DON’T EAT LESS THAN 3 HOURS BEFORE BEDTIME.
  • Sleep – is absolutely essential. If you deprive your body of sleep, it increases levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin and suppresses the appetite-controlling hormone leptin.  Sleep is a natural appetite suppressant, especially when it comes to sugar.
  • 5 DEEP BREATHS 5 TIMES A DAY – 5 deep breaths in and out – do this on waking up, before breakfast, lunch and dinner and at bedtime. The trigger for relaxation response is your breath…when you take a deep breath you stimulate the vagus nerve, which runs from your brain through your chest cavity into all your organs. Your immune cells, your stem cells, and all other organs and tissues in your body are connected to this nerve.  Stimulating the vagus nerve signals the production of hormones that calm your nervous system, reduce cortisol, help you metabolize your food, boost your brain function and naturally regulate your appetite.  Simply by breathing deeply and activating the vagus nerve, your body starts to boost metabolism and increase fat burning.
  • This is what your vagus nerve triggers when you stimulate it:
  1. reduced appetite and food intake
  2. reduced rate of turning food into fat
  3. increased metabolism and energy expenditure
  4. increased fat burning in your cells
  5. reduced appetite-stimulating hormones
  6. improved insulin sensitivity
  7. reduced inflammation
  8. increased number of and connections between your brain cells
  9. reduced body weight….

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All of this is straight out of the book.  I am not a medical doctor, but I have taken control of our health and have experienced the most remarkable success in improving my health (and that of my husband) by knowing exactly what we eat at all times.  There is lots more to come…