|Honestly, Karen x||
So after taking a couple of months to regroup, having more ups and downs, often losing the urge to really talk about my health endeavours, I finally feel like I’m coming out the other side and I feel like talking about stuff again. I’ve learnt some more important things along the way, one of the most important being that you can know certain things, and know that you know them, but until you really ‘know’ those things then you don’t act on them properly. I’m aware that sounds crazy but I’ll elaborate a bit later on!
It’s been a while since I wrote anything and earlier on in the year I had swapped my diet around to include rice instead of potatoes and I introduced fruit as a pudding. Things got a little better for a while but even when we had a few days away in May I didn’t feel particularly up to doing much, except relaxing, which I guess is okay for a holiday! Not long after that I managed to design and build (with help!) a 3D structure with shelves, a planted area and a door into the garden, so my kitties would have an outside area (they’re house cats). I was well chuffed with myself as it’s the biggest project I’ve ever taken on but after that I felt tired out and ill again.
I resigned myself to not doing much again until I felt better. Around and around I went with trying to keep orange juice/jelly in my diet and get enough calcium. Nope, too much orange juice or fruits other than peaches would give me anxiety again and it seemed that too much calcium would give me very dry skin.
At some point in July I ran out of my vit D/K2 drops and not being very well off I rummaged in my cupboard and found some vitamin K gel caps that I’d bought a while ago and decided to use them instead. After a couple of weeks my sleep was terrible again, my skin was very dry, I was getting a weird pain in my middle finger (like it was in the bone), and in my tooth, and I just didn’t feel great. I realised then that the gel caps had a much higher dose of vit K than the drops I’d been taking so thought perhaps they were affecting me. I stopped taking them and things calmed down.
Having resolved to get a bit more sugar in my diet I had started to add in a few sweets here and there. One afternoon I was sitting on the couch playing Mario Kart with my daughter and I grabbed a small pack of M&S milk bottles to have as a snack. I was having fun and enjoying playing and snacking, but as I came to the end of the bag I got a pain in my face like nothing I’ve ever known before. It was everywhere and nowhere in particular at the same time. It was in the nerves and by god it zombified me!! I tried aspirin and other pain killers but they didn’t touch it. Over the next week it came and went, and I tried to function as best I could. I thought about going to the dentist but ruled it out because a. I didn’t want any more x-rays from them, and b. I couldn’t really see how they could help because the pain was coming from all over my face. I couldn’t narrow it down to one tooth or a particular problem so how could they possibly help? Then I realised that even though I’d stopped taking the gel caps, I hadn’t replaced the drops so I’d been taking no vit D/K2. These are essential for calcium metabolism, and as I’ve been having lots of trouble getting calcium back into my diet then I really need to take them. As soon as I got the vit D/K2 drops the pain started to calm down, and after about a week it was totally gone. Phew! Aside from the anxiety, that is absolutely one of the worst traumas I’ve ever had!!
Things settled down for a couple of weeks but I was still bothered by how little calcium I was having in my diet and I was uninspired by the things I was eating. I saw a recipe for milk powder pancakes and thought I’d give them a go. I decided to throw caution to the wind as I was probably being too rigid about the things I ate and just tucked in. I squirted some golden syrup on top of my pancake and it was pretty delicious. I had a quarter of the pancake for tea and then a quarter later on for supper. The following day I had the other half, along with my usual 2 milky coffees. By supper time I was tucking into some lovely Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream and I suddenly felt very sick. I mean proper, I’m going to throw up, sick! I sat there in a daze for a moment thinking about why I suddenly felt sick (I very rarely feel sick and I can’t remember the last time I threw up). Initially I blamed some mussels that I had eaten earlier on, although they had tasted fine. I pushed my bowl away and just about made it to the toilet on time! My god, I felt wretched! I got myself up to bed, still feeling awful, and lay there for a while before I knew I was going to be sick again. I was retching like never before. My hands and feet went freezing cold. Actually, if you like dark humour, then I laugh about the sheer awfulness of it all now. I was trying to stand up to throw up in the toilet, but every time I got up off the floor I went so light headed and dizzy that I had to lie down, then on top of that I got the worst cramps I have ever had in my calf muscles, but I couldn’t stand up to stretch them out as I got dizzy and light headed!! I spent most of the night lying on the bathroom floor feeling especially sorry for myself.
In the cold light of day, the next morning, it suddenly hit me that I had consumed around 4 times the amount of calcium that I usually had, and I knew that I had problems increasing it. Doh! What on earth was I thinking? I felt fine the next morning anyway, well I was tired, but not ill in anyway so I definitely think it was calcium overdose and not food poisoning. Sometimes I wonder what is wrong with me lol! So I went back to the small amount of calcium I was having and things settled down. I felt ok but not great.
I knew that I needed to get away from having so much rice (starch) and to add in more fruit for more vitamins and minerals. I tried again to have stewed apple as my sugars/carbs for a couple of meals but after a couple of meals the anxiety was back (just the same as when I tried to have orange juice/jelly), so back to rice I went. I bumbled along with rice and butternut squash, or rice and carrot & turnip as my main carb sources. I puzzled and puzzled about why I kept getting anxiety but just couldn’t come up with anything. I decided to make some homemade spelt bread so I could have a change of carbohydrate. The first loaf was a bit of a soggy disaster but on the second attempt I had a lovely fresh loaf and the house smelt wonderful. It tasted divine and how bloody nice not to eat rice! Unfortunately my body didn’t think so and over the next 24 hours my stomach bloated so much that I joked I had alien babies trying to get out of me. It was very uncomfortable, so the bread was off the menu and I was very disappointed.
Eventually in a fit of desperation I decided to email Dr Ray Peat and see if he could shed any light on it. They say there is no such thing as a stupid question but I think I probably managed it!! Ha! Right from the start, when I got my hair test analysis that showed low potassium, I’ve been kind of fixated with that. I assumed that eating potatoes had helped me for so long because I had low potassium, and who knows, maybe they did, but it may have been just that I was getting some vitamins and minerals eventually, or the fact that I was eating proteins, carbs and fats together at each meal. Anyway, orange juice has a good amount of potassium so I was convinced that that had something to do with the anxiety. Maybe I’d overloaded on potatoes and so much potassium that now I could barely handle any? The only fruit I could do was tinned peaches, which are fairly low in potassium, so it seemed to make sense to me!! I couldn’t come up with anything better so off went my email asking if it was possible to be so awash with potassium that you couldn’t handle very much? Anyway presumably Dr Ray Peat thought I should just sit and think about that for a while as he never answered me!! Haha!
My health was not getting better. I was tired and my digestion was not great. I just couldn’t understand how to make it better. I was pretty sure I was eating too much meat but didn’t know how else to get enough protein in. I was already eating eggs and fish, and a small amount of milk, but without more dairy I just couldn’t get enough if I didn’t eat meat. I was losing my appetite and was bored to death of the stuff I was eating but I still couldn’t see a way to make things better.
Finally, at the beginning of this week, I was getting ready to make my lunch when I just decided that I could not face another meal of rice and butternut squash, or carrot & turnip, or anything else starchy and unappealing. It had reached the stage where I would take some anxiety if it meant I could just EAT SOMETHING NICE! So I decided on some homemade orange jelly and Cheshire cheese, and to hell with whatever happened afterwards. I tucked in and it was like eating a little piece of heaven. Afterwards I went outside to sit in the sunshine and read my book, awaiting the anxiety that would surely come at me. Nothing happened! NOTHING! I’d had nice food and suffered no anxiety. Amazing! I was puzzled as to why that might be but I didn’t want to dwell on it too much. Some people still suggest it was psychological but I just don’t really buy that at all. I didn’t always work myself up into a state before I had orange juice!! I have had occasions before where I’ve drunk it (or eaten jelly) and nothing has happened, but always after a few times it would start to creep back. Finally after a week of eating this way I think I have cracked the puzzle. By luck, or by listening to my body (not sure which) my attempt at eating the orange jelly was with cheese, and I had no anxiety. Over the following couple of days, in my excitement (!), I added in the still lemonade and extra portions of orange jelly, and sure enough the anxiety started to creep back, plus my lips always start to crack and get sores on them. Instead of freaking out, I puzzled over it some more, and what I think is happening is that I cannot increase my vitamins and minerals from fruits without the extra calcium. So I lowered the amount of jelly & lemonade I was having and made sure to have them either with or after cheese or milk. Et voila! My anxiety has gone away again and my lips have gone back to normal! I guess my minerals are just all mixed up.
This week has been amazing! I’ve had lots of orange jelly, Cheshire cheese, milky coffees, ice cream, fish, eggs, some beef and roast potatoes (cooked in coconut oil) and lots of gummy bears and marshmallows! Oh, and my new favourite, freshly squeezed still lemonade from M&S! It’s like nectar from the gods! I’ve literally never been happier.
Finally I am where I set out to be, about 4 years ago! Oh well, some things just take time I guess. So this is where I finally realised that you can know something and know that you know it but not really ‘know’ it. Even though I’ve known for a few years that I wanted to eat sugar and not starch, I didn’t truly ‘know’ it. It’s hard to explain exactly what I mean by that but it feels strange, naughty somehow, to be eating marshmallows or gummy bears. We have been told for so long, and so often, that sugar is bad and sweets are naughty, that eating them as a source of carbs (energy if you will) for the first couple of times seems wrong, like you are somehow cheating at something! Then it really clicked and I understood how your body needs glucose for energy and sugar provides it better than starch does.
"Starch and glucose efficiently stimulate insulin secretion, and that accelerates the disposition of glucose, activating its conversion to glycogen and fat, as well as its oxidation. Fructose inhibits the stimulation of insulin by glucose, so this means that eating ordinary sugar, sucrose (a disaccharide, consisting of glucose and fructose), in place of starch, will reduce the tendency to store fat" (Dr. Ray Peat: ‘Glycemia, starch, and sugar in context”).
You can’t live on gummy bears and marshmallows alone though, haha, hence the orange jelly, fresh lemon juice, eggs, cheese and milk for nutrients.
When I was suffering from a bloated belly last week (after the bread) I had momentarily forgotten about the carrot salad which would help with it. I was reading an article with lots of different ideas from Dr Ray Peat when I came across information about the raw carrot salad. I read it and then reread it, and then had an epiphany moment. The raw salad is so simple, so easy to prepare, and so totally awesome for helping to normalise progesterone, reduce the reabsorption of estrogen, and protect against bacterial endotoxin, and yet I still wasn’t making it a daily habit. It’s the natural equivalent of antibiotics. I felt really perplexed that I wasn’t making the time to eat this simple salad every day when it could make such a difference. And that is what I mean about really ‘knowing’ something. I’ve known about the carrot salad for a few years now and have eaten raw carrots sporadically, but only because I’d read they were good for you, not because I truly ‘knew’ how good they could be for you! You only really know something when you know it! Now I make sure I have not only a raw carrot, but the full carrot salad (grated carrot, white vinegar, coconut oil & salt) every single day, because finally it has become really important to me, an important tool for getting my health back, and I will use every tool I possibly can.
So there we are, the last few months in a rambling nutshell!! I’ve been perplexed, I’ve been despairing, I’ve been banging my head on the table, and I’ve been sending emails!! Eventually my body led me there though, because I couldn’t stand to eat the stuff I’d been eating anymore, and there was nowhere left to go but towards the good stuff!!
There’s still a way to go though, whilst my body adapts to more sugar and I slowly bring my dairy up so that a large percentage of protein comes from milk and cheese. This means that your calcium to phosphorus ratio will be much better, but that’s for a future blog post when things are starting to head in that direction. For right now, finally, I am happy that I am making the changes that I most wanted to make but for some reason haven’t been able to. I feel like this is where my health journey will really get interesting, so watch this space!
As always, I hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings. Listen to your body; it’s always talking to you. We just lose the ability to hear it as it becomes drowned out by the constant bombardment of ‘health’ messages we hear and the strange things we put our body through. The adjustments we make because we are told they are better for us, regardless of whether you actually like what you are eating, or whether it actually does make us feel better. Usually, if it doesn’t make us feel better then we’re on to the next thing that we’re told will ‘most definitely make us feel better’! And on and on we go, further and further away from what our body actually wants or needs.
Luckily I love puzzles. I’m happy to spend as long as it takes figuring things out. For this reason I’ve always loved maths. As Jo Boaler says “There are two versions of math in the lives of many Americans: the strange and boring subject that they encountered in classrooms and an interesting set of ideas that is the math of the world, and is curiously different and surprisingly engaging.” I’m pretty sure this goes for any country and not just Americans!! Being able to think about, and solve problems is such an awesome skill to have but you’re going to have to feed your brain well in order to think effectively! I’m so happy that my brain is coming back to life and I’m enjoying embarking on journeys to learn new things. Hopefully you guys will come along for the ride and you can see first-hand what a difference getting your diet spot on (with all the sugar, vitamins and minerals it needs) can make to your life. It’s probably going to be a bumpy ride but who cares!!
Thanks for reading! I continue to share my ups and downs in the hope that they help others untangle what might be going on with them. Listen to your body and not me! Remember this is just me ‘thinking out loud’. Please feel free to share any thoughts, comments, stories down below – I always love to hear from you guys. Take care, Karen x