My Journey to Whole Health

by lydia on February 13, 2013

I haven’t shared about my own health journey in quite some time. I wrote about my recovery from deep adrenal fatigue about a year ago, and I’ve come a long way since that time. However, I still have some health issues I am working to resolve (don’t we all?), and I’ve decided to share what I’m working on with my readers. My hope is that I will encourage others in a similar place and provide some support. Even those of us who are trained still have health issues. I suppose there is not a soul on this planet that was born in the last 50 years that will not have to fight for their ability to have decent -to- good health. I consider myself a very healthy person as do most people who know me. Yet, I still struggle with some health complaints that I feel are holding me from my truest potential. And how can I, a Nutritional Therapist, real food advocate and public health educator, preach my message and not do my best with the knowledge I have obtained to take care of my own health?

In my post on how I recovered from adrenal exhaustion, I feel like I covered the basics. The basics of what we all need to do in order to keep from crashing and maintain our health. I have to say that even though I no longer live like I’m flat lined, my adrenals are still on the mend and I have to live in such a way that I am still ‘babying’ my adrenals or else I know I’ll crash again. As a single mother, of 4 boys only working essentially part time trying to support my family, you can imagine the stress I face in my daily life. Everywhere I go, when people find out I have 4 boys they always ask how I do it. I simply say, ‘I don’t know’, and the funny thing is they don’t even know I’m doing it alone! And the truth is, I don’t know how I do it, but I do it and it gets better with each passing year. Still, it takes a huge toll on me, more so than I likely realize. Since I cannot escape that stressor in my life, I have to take great care to not let myself get run down. I have to eat really well, and ‘clean’, stay fit and get adequate sleep. I take plenty of supplemental support as I can afford it, and when I can’t I really feel a difference. I’ve had to come to the realization that my body is not at full speed unless I am taking great measures to keep my adrenals from getting further taxed. Not to mention, I am a product of the processed food industry, chemical excess and so much more, comparable to one of Pottenger’s Cats (Read: ‘Pottenger’s Prophecy: How Food Resets Genes For Wellness or Illness‘). My parents were not taking cod liver oil when I was conceived, nor did their doctors insist on appropriate nutrition. I received every required vaccination, fluoride treatments galore, drank fluoridated/chlorinated water all my life, and grew up on cheap processed food, including lots and lots of cheap hydrogenated fats, rancid seed oils and the oh so wonderful ‘Crisco’. I spent over a decade of my adult life going through a very dark time, not knowing who I really was or what I really wanted in life. I finally ‘woke up’ in 2007 and have been ‘waking up’ more and more with each passing year.

This past September, I had a bit of a health crash. I won’t go into all the details, but it was pretty intense (think massive stress) and that set me back for awhile. After that happened, I realized even more than ever that my body needs a lot of support to stay healthy. I essentially have an underlying autoimmune condition, likely due to a latent virus from all my vaccinations as a child. Number one, I do not tolerate gluten containing grains and number two I have eczema, asthma and seasonal allergies (though I do not suffer from those much). The eczema is managed and is not flaring up currently, though I have a patchy dry hand that will itch from time to time. The time it flares up is usually in August and September and often dies down by the late fall. I had not had any trouble for some time with asthma until this September – when I found myself having a LOT of trouble and ended up in the ER at one point. I am now making all the connections and actually working with my doctor to rule out any food allergies or other inflammatory markers. The other complaint I have is my brain function, I seem to have ADD like symptoms. I have never been diagnosed, but I have all the symptoms, and always have. Daily, I find myself walking into a room with a purpose and by the time I get there I don’t remember why I was there to begin with. This happens every day many many times. I have to write lots and lots of notes and lists to myself. I know in part it’s due to a stressful life and caring for all my kids, but I don’t feel quite right in my own mind. I feel I should be able to focus and retain things more than I do, and that just really frustrates me. The only time I feel more clear headed and alert to the point my brain feels sharp and ‘on’, is when I support the heck out of my adrenals (meaning lots of supplemental support and adaptogenic herbs). I eat close to a Paleo/GAPS template, have my blood sugar managed pretty well, though if I am not really careful I can get some hypoglycemic tendencies. I’m talking if I don’t get enough sleep, eat a big breakfast and keep the carbs low – I could get a bit edgy. It doesn’t happen often, usually only during times of major stress. I did have some serious reactive hypoglycemia back in 2009 that I have since overcome and managed to stay free of. I don’t have ‘carb’ cravings hardly ever, I have no trouble keeping them out of the house (unless I bake something for the kids, then I want to taste it). I have had a few ‘off’ cycles in the past 6 months, which is not typical for me and I attribute it to stress. I also have some other issues I won’t go into right now, perhaps for a later post.

Chicken Liver Pate, Sliced pear, Parmesan, Mug of bone broth with raw butter, 2 tiny Pumpkin Spice dehydrator cookies

I share all this to get to this point now; I plan on doing some radical dietary shifts and supplementation along with further testing in the next 3-6 months to further resolve all my health issues. Removing gluten from my diet 3 years ago has done wonderful things for me. As well as consuming a lower carb, Paleo/GAPS diet with no grains (only some white rice) and low sugar. I also have eliminated dairy and reintroduced it successfully and I know what dairy I can and can’t handle. I won’t touch the commercial stuff with a 10 foot pole anymore. Just not going there. But all of this is not enough, unfortunately. I have come to the realization I need to eliminate more foods. The runner up foods like soy (already gone) and the nightshade family (tomatoes, peppers, white potatoes, eggplant and tobacco), along with chocolate, corn (already done), peanuts, eggs, oranges and possibly high salicylate foods like apples. This has led me to believe I need to take on the Paleo Autoimmune protocol which removes all of these foods in order to help heal the gut fully. Additionally, I plan to work on removing all high oxalate foods in my home and diet, both for myself and my children. The low oxalate diet is something I am still learning about, but know that I can certainly benefit from at least removing the higher oxalate foods and I have already removed the majority of them.

This may seem a bit radical for some, however I’ve lived with feeling ‘less than’ for long enough it’s all something I am willing to take on. Even though I feel the best I’ve felt in my life and ‘better than’ I felt back when I was in deep adrenal fatigue, I know I can experience greater health yet. Also, I am very concerned about my brain and attention/focus because I am the sole bread winner for my family and it’s all on me to make ends meet. That means I need to be on my game every day and still juggle four boys and run a household without everything falling to pieces. If my health isn’t on the ball, how will I maintain their health as well as provide for them?

Crockpot Roast Beef with Asparagus and Raw Butter

So far, I have eliminated eggs (something I dearly love), chocolate (sniff, sniff), nuts (almonds clearly wreck me), all pseudo grains, corn, and legumes. I have not yet given up on nightshades but really believe I need to. My eczema only flares up in the summer when I am eating copious amounts of tomatoes. It also gets pretty irritated by touching raw potatoes when I slice them up. For some reason giving up the nightshade family seems the hardest to me because of all the spices that are included. I am not going to give up dairy at this time, if I don’t see some serious forward motion in 3-6 months, I’ll go ahead and exclude it too for awhile. I find raw dairy in the form of cheese, cream, sour cream, homemade yogurt, and milk kefir to be very nutrient rich foods. I’d like to see how I do with them still in the diet and since they are a key food on GAPS (another gut healing protocol), I feel it’s worth keeping them in for now. I do know that dairy is a food that is cross reactive to gluten, but I am going to take my chances. If I can afford it, at some point I’ll go ahead and order the test for all the cross reactive foods so I know where I stand. I do not plan to keep all of these foods out forever, the goal is to further heal my immune system and ultimately my gut. It’s something I’m willing to do for a time to find out what benefits I can further achieve by removing these other common food ‘allergens.’ Since my gut health has already come a long way, I’m really hoping to see some dramatic results in several months. I’ll touch more on all of this in future posts. My health plan/journey is not a prescription for others to do the same necessarily, so please don’t feel like I’m suggesting this path for everyone.

All my regular blood work came back nearly perfect. The only number that was ‘off’ was my vitamin D which was too high at 107. This is why I tell anyone who supplements with vitamin D to test regularly. Preferably every 3 months if you are supplementing. Since I get a fair amount of vitamin D in my diet I don’t need to supplement as much. Since my blood work did not include everything like a full thyroid panel, and my TSH came back normal, it’s not likely I’ll be able to convince my doctor to do further testing. I may at some point this year do a full thyroid panel with antibodies just in case. Though I don’t have many thyroid symptoms now, I did at one point back when my adrenals were shot. I also hope to get my serum iron, TIBC and % transferrin status, along with possible hair tissue mineral analysis and an ASI test. Additionally, I plan to get some genetic testing for gluten done because I need evidence to keep my kids off of gluten too. I know they need to avoid certain foods, but others don’t. Therefore, having it ‘on paper’ will be important for my cause. These will likely have to be out of pocket. I haven’t done much testing to date due to the fact that I was indeed healing and feeling better along with the simple fact I have not had the money to do so.

So there you have it, just a basic idea of my own health journey and plans for the next 6 months. Now that I have all the tools I need, it’s time to do some deep nutritional therapy on myself.  I’ll post more on supplementation, the paleo autoimmune protocol, low oxalates and all the testing and why. Today I just wanted to introduce the subject and share my journey. Hopefully, the brain fog will start to clear soon as I’ve got plenty of things I want to write and share about with you all!

How about you? Do you relate to any of my health issues? What has your health journey been like and what are you turning to currently to dig deeper? Share in the comments…

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LydiaLydia Joy Shatney is a certified Nutritional Therapist Practitioner through the Nutritional Therapy Association. Additionally, she is the chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation in Delaware County, Pa. (Find the group here on Facebook). Lydia is also a member of the Nourished Living Network. Lydia founded Divine Health in March of 2010. You can find Lydia on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest.

Lydia offers specialized step by step counseling to transform your health. Personalized consultations to suit your specific needs are offered via phone, Skype or in person. Lydia offers a variety of packages offered to suit your individual needs. Contact Lydia today to get started as well as to learn more about what she has to offer you!

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Erin February 13, 2013 at 12:54 pm

I am a fellow mom of 4 boys. :) Mine are 12, 8, 6, and 10 mos. I am not a single mom, however my husband travels a lot for work and I home school, so I have a lot on my plate. And I was a single mom of the older 3 for a while when my first husband went to prison. Needless to say, that was very stressful. I’m currently dealing with yet another season of intense stress and I’m really fearing for my health both physically and mentally. It sounds like you are one of the few people who might actually both be able to help me and to understand. I need to make it a priority to buy some of your time.

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lydia February 13, 2013 at 1:43 pm

I’m sorry for the stress you are going through Erin – it’s all too common to me. Thankfully, my stress isn’t overwhelming me emotionally or anything like that -it’s just the stress of being a single mother, no way around it really. I used to homeschool many years ago, not anymore. I do still have one child home half the day – so it’s been 14 years of being home with kiddos – I think there’s a special kind of stress related to that alone! I’d be happy to work with you, am here whenever you are ready!

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Jeanette February 14, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Lydia,
I went the regular testing route for my thyroid some years ago and it was way out of the park so I did take Synthroid for a while. However, after getting my numbers in a more ‘normal’ range I still did not feel good so I kept doing reading, etc. I ran across this product (Thyodine – in case this link won’t work) http://www.greenwillowtree.com/Detail.bok?no=380
To be honest I have not had myself tested since taking this product (several years) but I feel better on it than I ever did on Synthroid. I will eventually get tested again but we moved recently and I have not found a Dr. that I’m comfortable/happy with yet.
Hope this helps you or someone else :-)

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lydia February 14, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Thanks Jeanette,

Glad you were able to find a natural product that worked for you! It looks like a pretty good one. I am not personally as concerned about my thyroid as I am other things, though since I’ve had enough of the symptoms in the past I’d really like to get further testing done to see where I stand. I do take L-tyrosine now, which is excellent for adrenals, thyroid and pituitary health. My goal is to work more deeply on the foundations of my health so peripheral issues like thyroid and endocrine issues will iron out too.

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Rachel February 14, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Very interesting, thanks for sharing Lydia. I’m not really sure what I should work on with my own health. Maybe because I am only 27, I haven’t had many health problems. I had a few issues back when I was a low fat vegetarian but those have since cleared up (including a 10 year bacterial infection that my body fought off without antibiotics after adopting a traditional foods diet! Yay!) I think exercising every day has really helped my energy levels. I feel that food is often over emphasized in this “traditional/real foods” community and exercise is underemphasised. I know that since it is a “food” community, that is to be expected but I would love to see more posts on how exercise helps all the body’s systems. I’ve seen advice against exercise due to “adrenal fatigue” but there is so much more to say about the benefits. Anyway, I was raised similar to you but thankfully, my grandparents were raised very traditional, living off of their own land, raw milk, eggs, veggies, etc. Also I was breastfed for 2+ years and I really attribute my good health to that. I am never ever sick! I would love to work on my metabolism, which is slow, and my iron levels, which tend to be on the lower side. I would also love to rebuild my body’s mineral stores from years of breastfeeding, pregnancy, and vegetarianism. Especially since, after four children, I am finally done reproducing (though I’ll still be breastfeeding for a couple of years I imagine).

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lydia February 14, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Wow, four kids and you’re only 27! The best place to start focusing on health is getting your blood sugar stable and working on digestion. So, yes a nutrient dense diet, focused on balanced fats and mineral rich foods will go a long way too. Exercise is really important – that’s why I like the Paleo crowd so much, they focus more on fitness. Though I do think it can be easily over done – finding that balance for where one’s health is at is critical and bio-individual. My grandparents, both sets were far more traditional. My dad’s family raised most of their own food too. You likely need B12, having been vegetarian and all, that can help with your iron levels (in a round about way) believe it or not.

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Kevin Gibsone May 17, 2014 at 2:25 am

Hey,
Lydia I just want to ask you that, how could you avoid your favorite food to maintain the diet?
It’s truly challenging thought to neglect the yummy food such as chocolate, eggs and other dishes. By the way, I am also suffering from the health issues. However, I do yoga everyday to sustain the body processes.

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Jeanette May 17, 2014 at 8:21 am

Hope you don’t mind, I’m going to jump in here. It is a process Kevin! Once you learn that something might be making you sick you have to decide if that something is worth being sick for. I tested with a strong allergy to corn over 20 years ago. Once I got off of any & all corn related products (it’s in Everything!) I felt so much better that it made it a necessity to avoid corn & all of its related products. To my system corn is like poison so I have had to learn – the hard way at times – to stay away from it. Now I can even smell popcorn popping and it no longer draws me in.
Some things you may only have to stay away from for a short time, others you may need to avoid from now on. If you truly “listen” to your body it will help you to know what is right for you.
I highly recommend looking into The Whole 30 program. The short-term restrictions in that plan may help you determine what would be best for you. I am not affiliated with that program in any way but I am one of the many who has benefited from following the guidelines in The Whole 30.

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