Tag Archives: introductions

TO HAVE A PROPER CRAP IS TO BE ALIVE

1 Dec
He soon would learn to think like me,
and bless his ravisht Sight to see
Such order from Confusion sprung,
Such gaudy Tulips rais’d from Dung.

Swift, from The Lady’s Dressing Room

Waterboy,
Boy with the bucket,
If you didn’t like the job,
You shouldn’t a tuck it.

Brown, from “Licking Stick, Licking Stick”

People often ask me, “why do you eat a Paleo diet?” Actually, that’s not true. I can’t think of a single time anyone’s asked me that. I did get some nice comments on my tits the other night, after the soccer game. I mentioned something about not eating bread. The dude’s eyes looked away. What do you say to that? We went back to drinking.

Still, there is a story here. Back in October of  2007 I found myself with a broken collarbone and lots of vicodin. The stuff really stops you up. I had my first normal bowel movement in about 20 years. It was a revelation. The experience suggested my chronic shits might be reversible. I hadn’t considered that. Weeks of Internet research later—vicodin does not exactly fuel the fires of research—I started to notice that the celiacs sounded a lot like me. I got a doctor to order the test and, fancy that, I had a positive diagnosis.

Getting rid of wheat gluten is really no problem once you accept it as a life-or-death proposition. I lost 15 or 20 pounds right away. I can’t say I felt better though. Some of the gluten-free crowd are in the habit of eating gluten-replacement foods. I went through that and moved on. Fuck pancakes. Made of wheat or rice, it’s the same thing. I never liked them anyway. I hid pancakes and vegetables behind the stove when I was a little kid. My parents were always finding bits of my mummified food. I just wanted to eat hot dogs all day. Still do.

A long time ago, I was a beautiful boy. The meat man at my local supermarket told me so. He bopped me on the head with his meaty hand to punctuate this fact. My mom was there, so it was ok. Sort of. Actually, I was a bit traumatized. For years.

So, how do things get so messed up? Here’s what I mean. This is me in 2007:

I’m the one in the middle, with my little girl in San Diego. At the San DiegoZoo. I had just begun a strict gluten-free diet. This, by the way, was me looking better.

I knew there were other pieces of the puzzle that I had yet to solve. For one, I still could not take a proper crap. For another, my skin had red bumps and was itchy all the time. Also I was still kind of a fat fuck.

I eliminated certain sugars, along the lines of diets with acronyms like SCD, GAPS, and FODMAPS. I also eliminated soy, which had the benefit of clearing up my skin problems. Who would have known that eliminating such a healthy food additive could produce such a profoundly positive effect? This question prompted me to ask, what other crap is killing me that I don’t know about? And that’s when I discovered a bunch of Internet crazies who were engaged in Paleolithic human diet re-enactment.

Of course that’s not entirely true. The diet itself is whatever you want it to be, as long as you’re true to the ideal that avoiding the crap that’s killing you is important and serious. You can drink as much as you want. At least that’s my take on it. Wine, potato vodka, 100% agave tequila. These are on the list. Why? Because I say so. It’s my list. I’ve had at least two glasses of wine every day since going gluten-free. And I think that’s probably a low estimate. Really low, actually.

But the proof is in the pudding, as they say. If it weren’t so tacky, I’d go ahead and show you my tits, right here on this blog. But, again, I’m a man of sophistication and taste.

Why do I eat paleo? One day, the curious associate or colleague will ask the question. And I’ll be ready to set the record straight for the world. It was a vicodin-inspired autumn evening back in 2007 that showed me a vision. A vision of a world in which one’s turds behave themselves. And that has made all the difference.

daughter has outgrown face paint

A Quarter Life Overhaul

23 Nov

I am Primal Kitchen’s Family Grokumentarian, and I’ve been blogging about my family’s path in the paleo lifestyle since our transition to it in June of 2010. I am 28 years old, a wife, and a mother of two girls, 4 and almost 2 years old. This is my story so far.

I was a normal-but-maybe-a-tiny-bit-chubby weight-wise until about age 8, when I had my school physical. I distinctly remember the day because I weighed in at 88 lb. The doctor explained to my mom (in front of me), “Mrs. So-and-so, you must avoid feeding your daughter hamburgers, cheeseburgers, Lucky Charms…” I actually had the thought, “But, what am I going to eat?”

Of course at that point the zeitgeist was all about low-fat, low-cholesterol. My dad suffered from high cholesterol, and my dad’s side of the family has a history of multiple heart issues, we were suddenly eating so many low-fat and fat-free foods, which happened to include high-fructose-corn-syrup-laden salad dressings, SnackWell’s cookies, and so on. I actually remember my mom sitting my brother and me down for a talk – and telling us that for the sake of my dad’s heart and our health, we were going to have not so many meat-based meals, but instead more pasta meals.

And would you believe it? I became fatter. (It’s like those foods were doing the opposite of what was intended.) We moved at the end of the summer before I started sixth grade, and because there was a while where we were surviving on restaurant foods while in traction before finding a permanent home, by the time I weighed in during the school weigh-in, I was around 155 lb., which could be a great weight for a tall and fit adult female, but I was decidedly stout, wearing junior size 15 jeans. Life was not fun.

One thing my parents did rightly recognize: I needed exercise in my life. Despite my lack of enthusiasm, they had me join the local swim team wherever we lived, and so by middle school I was swimming several hours a week. My growing self-awareness about my body had me packing my own lunches. They were very low-calorie, albeit nutritionally bereft: maybe an applesauce and a couple of fun size candy bars. By 8th or 9th grade I was in the 130s, wearing junior size 7 jeans.

By college, I wasn’t quite so active, and the dreck served at the cafeteria didn’t help. I gained some weight, and suddenly decided my sophomore year that I wasn’t going to eat “dairy or carbs” – bizarrely shorthand for paleo, though I had no concept of that at the time! I got back into the 140s for a time, before the call of sugar was back in my life, and I was in the 160s by the time I graduated.

I married my sweetheart right out of college at a size 10 or so, and decided to do Atkins with lots of cardio and free weight work. I was eating soy-based frankenfoods a lot of the time, but it worked. I got down to about 159 lb., but fairly toned, wearing size 8 pants and size 4/6 tops. (A far cry from the 150s shape I was in as a sixth grader…) Definitely the best shape of my adult life.

Then, I was pregnant! My doctor wisely advised that I lay off so much soy in my diet (phytoestrogens and all…). I started eating carbs again, and surprise! I gained just over 40 lb. at the peak of that pregnancy. My daughter arrived, turning our universe (in that wonderful, crazy way) inside out. I struggled mightily to lose the weight, but truthfully the stresses of parenthood, being a working mom, and my evening grad classes took a major toll, and soon certain snacks (especially sugary carbs like chocolate covered pretzels) were comfort food extraordinaire. No surprise, I hovered generally in the 180s, until shortly after weaning my daughter at 18 months, my second daughter was conceived. I was elated, but also internally stressing out, because I knew that it meant another swell of weight gain.

I was right; though I lost some the first trimester from nausea, soon I topped that pregnancy at 208 lb. At my six week postpartum checkup I weighed in at 191. But the stresses sure didn’t dissipate; they only increased! I was miserable and still eating for comfort. Meanwhile, my oldest daughter had always – since I could remember – been interested in eating more food than seemed logical for her age and nutritional needs.

By the time daughter #2 was about 6 months old, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law came for a visit with their two kids. My nephew has always had the appetite of a bird. I remarked something to the effect that it had never been the case for my daughter, and that she was seemingly always hungry. My brother-in-law, a family practice physician, made a remark that eventually changed my life: he said that in some people the leptin hormonal pathways differ, so satiation doesn’t comes into play the way it should. He also said offhandedly (in a later conversation the same visit) that if anybody were to eat only what the cavemen had access to eat, that person would lose weight.

I ruminated on that for a couple of weeks. I knew that I had eating issues. I also knew that I was always. SO. hungry. — and so was my oldest daughter! I dreaded her having to go through the pain that I had as a child – being constantly teased about weight, self-depriving with ridiculous dieting to fit the image of skinny that society was demanding, etc. I wanted a long-term, sane solution.

I started Googling. Soon I found Loren Cordain’s web page, which somehow led to me to Mark Sisson’s site. I was reading more on biochemistry pathways that I had since my college years. It all made lots of sense, and yet was still blowing my mind. You want me to add how much fat?!

So I started eating primally in June of 2010, around 198 lb. I suddenly experienced great things: mental clarity, sustained energy, etc. – and weight loss! But then I got cocky last fall…all of this talk of people still managing to eat potatoes or even white rice with little detriment. I was making allowances for honey and eating a lot of Clementines. My carb count wasn’t managed at all. The holidays came and went with a vengeance.

Any time I manage to keep my carb count down with careful food journaling, I do much better, both emotionally (without sugar spikes)  and in terms of weight loss. The last time that I did this, keeping less than 30 grams of carbohydrates per day (through March 2011), I lost about 15 pounds – and left my appetite steady and low. The problem is – when you’re in charge of feeding a preschooler and toddler every day (and that means preparing and feeding their growing bodies and brains carbs!), managing, counting, and journaling one’s own carb counts can be exceedingly tedious.

After March, I was loosey goosey with my carb count in the spring – until July 2011 when I did my first whole30, which was strict paleo, no dairy, no added sweeteners. While I was fairly whole30 compliant, I still noticed how much my diet’s fat content relied on pastured dairy prior to that point. I was also very hungry during the whole30 due to my sudden drop in fat consumed – I compensated with increased legal carbs like fruit and sweet pototoes. By the month’s end I had lost 3 or 4 pounds, but my digestion was thoroughly out of whack. That much sugar (even natural sugar) and fiber does not agree with me! Knowing what I learned from the July whole30 experience, I’m considering doing a modified version in January – one that includes butter and heavy cream, but generally avoids fruits and foods that are full of both carbs and fiber. Our family also recently made its first bulk pastured beef purchase in the form of a half cow, so I can now rely on tallow from a quality animal source as part of my fat intake.

I also knew that I needed to exercise – I hadn’t had regular exercise since my prebaby days of chronic cardio. I’d been yearning to try Crossfit for months, when this last summer my husband and I finally found a way to make committing to Crossfit work financially – but only with the help of a generous gift from my parents. I finally made it to my first rampup intro course at the end of September.

Going paleo was hard, but starting Crossfit was harder. Of course it was tremendously physically challenging, but for me, the hump was mostly mental. Would my local Crossfit box work with an atrophied cream puff like me? Luckily for me, I soon saw that my local Crossfit box is full of a wide range of folks – different ages, personalities, many parents, including lots of inspiring and capable women of varying fitness levels who push themselves to new standards every time they work out. I’ve been heartened thus far to find in my instructors and fellow Crossfitters a welcoming and congenial community which pursues individual goals while also encouraging camaraderie and teamwork. I’ve come a long way even in two months, and though almost every single workout of mine remains scaled in one way or another, I can observe my strength and capabilities increasing in little ways every week.

My greatest current struggle is adapting to the energy required to Crossfit weekday mornings before my girls wake up – I’ve had to add some carbohydrate in the form of a small meal of a pre-workout banana (along with some boiled egg or meat), and I’m still tinkering with figuring out what macronutrient ratios (and when!) will work best for me. It may well take me months or even years to find my stride nutritionally and fitness-wise, but I’m starting to become OK with the notion that my story won’t be an instant-fix one.

Being, Having, and Doing: The Metaphysics of Disease

22 Nov

Several years ago, I had an acquaintance who had previously been diagnosed with diabetes. He began a low carb diet, against the advice of his doctor, (this was in the dark 90’s), and over a period of time his symptoms abated, until one day his doctor announced that he no longer had diabetes (though in a bizarre, but perhaps common feat of cognitive dissonance, she could not help but advise him that he “really should eat more carbs”). Of course, my friend hadn’t actually stopped being a diabetic. If he were to have started eating carbs again, as recommended, he would quickly have returned to his diabetic state. What it means to “be” a diabetic is to have the susceptibility to manifest diabetes under the right, or perhaps I should say wrong, circumstances.

We all have weaknesses, to a greater or lesser extent. We all have our own special ways in which our bodies break down in response to a poor environment. For some diseases, we call this “being”. We “are” diabetic, epileptic, alcoholic, schizophrenic. For some reason, we identify less with other diseases. A person merely “has” cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, or MS, even though these are not considered less permanent conditions once identified, even if they can go into remission. It does seem somewhat arbitrary that a person who was theretofore “normal” suddenly becomes or acquires a disease that they then are or have for the rest of their lives regardless of whether the disease continues to manifest. There may be a sense in which we are all diabetic, for example, even never having had symptoms. We all have the potential to some degree, no matter how small, and just because the degree is not yet known, it doesn’t make it not so.

In any case, what truly matters to a person who is or has or happens to know they have a genetic predisposition to such a condition, is whether or not their body is doing that which characterizes the disease. It is for this reason that one would seek to optimize their environment: to prevent themselves from “doing” a disease state. The Paleo diet and lifestyle is conceived with this in mind. It is reasoned both from an evolutionary standpoint: eat only that kind of food to which the body is well-adapted; and from a clinical perspective: do not eat foods which tend to cause disease. Without seeking to re-enact the environment in which we evolved — an impossible, and not particularly desirable goal (civilization does have some benefits) — one attempts to create a metabolic environment which is maximally healthful, and to which we do not tend to respond by breaking down in our various ways.

For my part, I am a fat person living in a reasonably fit body. (Fat is one of those rare states that we treat linguistically as transient, even though the obese, pre-obese, and post-obese have a signature metabolic profile such that a formerly fat person is not the same as a naturally thin one. This contributes to the blaming of fat people for their condition that would never be tolerated for other diseases.) I have Bipolar II, but for some years now my moods have no longer been disordered, and I use no medication. I wasn’t able to achieve this with a diet that is “just” Paleo, however, or even just low in carbohydrate. My body continues to do fat and bipolar unless I eat nothing but meat (though coffee and tea are mercifully tolerated). No doubt, there are people for whom even this is not enough, and others for whom it is not necessary. My idiosyncratic susceptibilities are simply deeper than most. However, I consider it likely that a great many people will do without disease simply by following a Paleo or low carb diet, or both. If nothing else, they are starting points that make sense for anyone wishing to give their body the best chance to manifest wholeness and well-being, whatever its underlying constitution may be.

Real Life Paleo

15 Nov

My name is Bree, I spend my days as an environmental scientist and my evenings as a wife and mom.  This is Paleo in my slanted version of reality a.k.a my real life.  Oh and by the way – this is not a ‘success’ story.  This is a work in progress.

About a year ago I knew that I needed a change.  My fiancé (now hubby) needed a change.  And I wanted the absolute best for our son.  So out came my research hat and away I went searching for a plan.  I had been a crossfitter prior to getting pregnant (and for a small stint post-pregnancy that resulted in a broken limb) but back in those days crossfit was more aligned with a Zone approach to nutrition and hadn’t quite jumped on the paleo bandwagon; but there were rumblings, and that is how I was first introduced.  The more I read, the more the paleo/primal slant on nutrition made sense.  And of course it made sense; the first reading I did was Mark Sisson. He is an excellent communicator, his books are the go-to for starting off and his cookbook is a gem in my house – even today.

The first six months went great. I was pumping out mouth-watering meals every evening that included plenty for lunch the next day and breakfasts were filled with awesome local range bacon, local sausages and eggs any way you like.  Hubby lost a big chunk of weight (around 40 lbs) and our toddler was thriving.  I felt better, but no weight came off.

The next six months became a little harder.  I got busier at work, I was planning my wedding and add to that the normal business of being a mom.  Stress levels went up quite a bit and I actually started putting on more weight.  Total BUMMER!  So right now I am in an interesting point in my paleo journey.  It almost feels like I am starting over.  I’m in the process of researching some more, ramping up and filling up our larder so that I can knuckle down and stay very true to the diet (ie NO CHEATS, no BAD FOOD) for at least 3 months.  I haven’t yet decided what plan to implement and I am open to suggestions.  It’s going to be hard and I’m going to need some help with accountability.  Will you help to keep me an honest eater??

Going with my gut…

14 Nov

Before! (Yes, it's bread)

Howdy!  My name is Julia; I’m 27, I work in a cubicle and I live in Maryland.  I’ve been doing the paleo thang for a little over a year. I’d struggled with my weight for several years after getting out of high school; I tried Atkins, South Beach, vegetarianism & veganism, tracking calories, you name it. I finally lost weight doing Weight Watchers! I lost about 15 pounds by obsessively tracking calories, fat grams, fiber grams, and minutes in the gym, but became burned out and was practically living off processed foods.  I finally realized that losing weight doesn’t equate to getting healthy.

While all that was going on, I became aware of the fact that I was physically suffering. A few years ago, I began to notice that almost every afternoon, I would come down with abdominal pain, and my belly would become distended. Usually, I looked like I was sporting a baby bump by the time I got home! I let this go on for about year until I decided it wasn’t normal and I ought to figure out what was going on. I did some research and went to a gastroenterologist’s office certain I’d be diagnosed with Celiac disease (I had just learned what that was, and my symptoms were pretty consistent with it). After bloodwork, a sonogram, and an endoscopy, the doctor ruled out Crohn’s, gallbladder problems, and Celiac. A lot of people seemed to think I should be happy about this, but I was getting pretty down about not knowing what was wrong with me.

After!

Eventually I got interested in nutrition; I thought about doing the vegan thing again (thinking it was the healthiest way to go) and did a detox called the Clean Program.  A few days into it, my symptoms were gone, and I was elated!  I finally felt normal again; I had forgotten what that was like.  I had eliminated numerous foods, and upon adding things back in, I learned that gluten was indeed causing my symptoms, even though I don’t have Celiac. I struggled with the gluten-free thing for a few months, and felt mostly better.  During this time I started learning about paleo, and knew I needed to do more if I wanted to really get better. Eventually, I phased out the other grains & legumes, and most sugar & dairy. I’ve dropped ten more pounds, and on most days I feel fantastic.  Sometimes I feel disappointed in myself for taking so long to figure it all out, and in my doctor for his inability to help me, but I really am grateful I figured it out at all.

Soon after I had gone mostly paleo, the GI office contacted me to see if I was interested in participating in a study for a new IBS drug (I wasn’t even aware I had been diagnosed with anything), and I went in to see what it was all about.  The doctor I spoke with was very nice- we discussed my history of gut issues, and I told him how much better I’d been feeling since cutting out gluten and most other grains.  He replied flatly that since I had tested negative for Celiac, there was “no need to eliminate gluten” from my diet.  I was floored.  I still believe that doctors are generally in their profession because they genuinely want to help people, but it was a bit disheartening to tell this doctor that I had figured out what was wrong with me and was fixing it myself, and pretty much be told I’m full of crap and should take some pills instead.  There are many stories just like mine out there; unfortunately a lot of folks are listening to their doctors over their own bodies.

Danielle and I hobnobbing with the celebs at AHS!

This way of eating has led to so many positive changes- I’ve become more interested in sustainable farming, eating real food, fitness & being an ethical omnivore, and I’ve found a lovely community of like-minded people! Over the past few months, I’ve attended the Ancestral Health Symposium in L.A., a MovNat workshop in Washington, DC, and a Whole9 Nutrition workshop in Bowie, MD. I haven’t been posting as much as I’d like to, but I also write a blog called Queen of the Stoneage and I contribute to Chowstalker.

DC MovNat workshop- October 2011

From “Health Food” to Whole Food

14 Nov

Pheasant

My name is Meredith and I am a health, traditional food and fitness junkie. I am a stay at home mom of two boys ages five and almost two. My husband works for the National Park Service so we’ve moved quite a bit and have had the opportunity to live in some pretty amazing places, but I am originally from Rhode Island.

I landed on Paleo way of eating after a long and exhausting battle with my body and food. I was an overweight child. I lost all the weight in a very unhealthy way and became quite thin. But when I went to college I was so stressed from counting every calorie eaten and burned that I again over-corrected. I ballooned hugely. I stopped weighing myself at some point but I guess that I was at least 70 pounds overweight. But, young and dumb, I just starved the weight off — again.  There may have been Slimfast involved.

To maintain this weight loss I decided that I needed to be hyper-vigilant.  I bought lots and lots of “health food.” It was really all just packaged crap from the hippie store in town. But, I truly thought I was making the best choices.  I counted, weighed, adjusted macros, ran for miles and miles and miles and miles.  But even though I was obsessing about my body I pretty much always felt detached from it – never mind feeling any connection with the quality of my food. As long as it fit some magical macro-nutrient breakdown, I couldn’t care less about what I was eating.

Backyard Chickens

Around 2005 I found the the book the Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain in a podunk little library (yes, I was scouring the “diet” section). It was great timing because I was pretty goddamn tired of dieting. It seemed like a reasonable way to live, and simple, which I liked very much. Of course, I got hooked on Mark Sisson’s site  when it came out and have listened to Robb Wolf weekly. I’ve pretty much stuck to the Paleo way of eating ever since. For me it’s about a simple, whole foods approach to health.

Let me be clear though – my struggles with my body are still somewhat with me. They are probably the same struggles that every woman socialized in America grapples. What’s the perfect weight, pant size, waist circumference, blah, blah, blah.

Fresh Eggs

I am at a point now where I am trying to marry my beliefs about life with nutrition, community, exercise etc.  I strive to provide my family food that is as close to its original source as possible. So now instead of buying packaged “health food”, I am attempting to grow our food, raise laying hens, hunt, fish and butcher my own meats (I do not live on a farm by the way – I have a very small plot of land so interesting challenges abound!). It’s been quite a learning process! You won’t find any boneless chicken breasts in my house, but my freezer is full of whole birds, legs of lamb and roughly 40 pounds of chicken feet (which I confess is really TOO MUCH chicken feet).

My son just started Kindergarten this year, so my current journey also involves learning how to pack lunches that are as close to Paleo as possible and having him actually eat them! My hope is to teach my kids about where whole food comes from. Together we have plucked game birds, dug potatoes from our small garden and collected fresh eggs from our chickens.

Backyard Bounty

I am super excited about this collaborative weblog! It will be fueled by individual posts  from a group of people who I’ve come to adore!  They have taught me so much about food, health and most of all community. It is my hope that this will be fun and enriching not just for us, but also for others seeking answers.

The Middle of the Story

12 Nov

Beautiful beets

My name is Amanda.  I’m a fairly boring housewife-type living in coastal New England with my little family; husband, almost 2-year-old son and almost 4 year old daughter, cat, and two canine mutts.  I’m a social worker and psychotherapist specializing in the advanced treatment of psychological trauma, though I don’t discuss the specifics of my work on the internet.  I’m home with my kiddos now while my career is waiting for me. One reason I choose to stay home is because the first year of my daughter’s life was a rough one.

I had to do fertility treatments to get pregnant with my daughter back in 2007.  I won’t dwell on that except to say that it sucked, and I gained some weight from the hormone injections.  But, it worked and she was born in the winter of 2008.  I was lucky enough to fall instantly and profoundly in love with her slippery little body the second she was plopped on my chest.  We had a wonderful time together in the beginning, despite some breastfeeding challenges and the usual sleep deprivation.  Those six months were some of the happiest of my life, though I didn’t know it at the time.  We never do.

Six months into our life together, I got sick.  I knew immediately that something was wrong, so I didn’t tell anyone, even my husband.  My hands were pins and needles.  I thought it was contact dermatitis, but, it spread and moved around my body.  Soon a band around my chest was totally numb, then my fingers went numb, then my feet.  It was scary and disconcerting, and I finally went in to see my doctor, assuming that she would brush it off as a B12 deficiency, give me shot and send me home.  My blood work came back however with very elevated CRP and Sed Rate, and I was positive for some strange antibodies like ANA and smooth muscle cell.  She immediately called a neurologist who had a cancellation and sent me for an MRI and lumbar puncture.

I’ll never forget the phone call.  I was home alone and Hazel was napping.  He was very nonchalant when he said, “So, you have

Carne Asada and Sauteed Spinach

significant white matter damage.”  I was hysterical sobbing and he told me to go to the hospital so I could get Solu-Medrol infusions.  He told me to look online and pick an MS drug before our next appointment.  The steroids were horrendous and I gained even more weight on top of the pregnancy and fertility treatments.  My husband had to take the week off work while I was recovering.  I had no idea what steroids even were and no one, certainly not my doctor, prepared me for the storm that would happen in my body over the next month.

I put together my list of all four injectable medications available at the time, the pros and cons for each, and a long list of questions.  My neurologist didn’t have the time to go over it all with me, and told me to just take Copaxone, a daily injection.  I discovered later that he receives money from Teva Neuroscience, the drug manufacturer, to give talks to the public about “Current trends in drug treatment for MS.”  I am a good patient though so the nurse came to my house and trained my husband and I to do the injections.  For a year, I did the shots every night, had all my questions ignored by my neurologist, had my MRI every 6 months and slept.  I was so tired beyond imagining.  I felt like I was constantly fighting my way up out of general anesthesia.  It made parenting very difficult.  my hands seemed to be permanently numb even after the high-dose steroids, and any increase in core body temperature, or an ambient temperature above 80 degrees would bring back all the old symptoms.  I would go on a mile long walk and sleep for three hours.  My adipose tissue was degraded where I had to inject, and I was covered in painful itchy welts from injection site reactions.  My life was limited and sad.  I pictured myself in a wheelchair at Hazel’s graduation.

I have always been interested in complimentary and alternative treatments, and received a lot of support from my massage therapist, my chiropractor and my acupuncturist.  I read books about alternative treatments for MS, including Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet.  Many MS patients don’t stick with diets that are perceived as “too limiting”, but having been a vegan and vegetarian for most of my life, I felt like I was prepared.  At the time, a typical day for me would consist of a bowl of Kashi GoLean cereal with skim milk for breakfast, or a bagel with low-fat cream cheese if I was out of the house.  Lunch was usually a sandwich or wrap of some kind, and dinner would be pasta or homemade pizza.  I did a lot of cooking, but because my husband was a vegetarian I rarely made any meat at home.

Grilled spicy Italian sausage with grilled peppers and onions, and cucumber tomato salad

Around the same time, another woman I know with MS said that she was managing her disease with  the Paleo diet.  I remembered hearing something about the “cavemen diet” that was all steak or that it was like Atkins or something with no vegetables and immediately dismissed it.  I read Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes around the same time that I read Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma and everything started to fall into place.  it seemed so simple and natural, like water flowing down hill.  I had an epiphany, and sat my husband down to tell him that I was going to have to start buying and cooking meat at home.  My diet before was not one that had much to criticize.  My dietitian that I saw when I was pregnant told me that she wished all pregnant women ate like me; fat-free and low-fat dairy, whole grains, occasional lean meat, lots of fruit and veggies, very low saturated fat.

In desperation, I did a total turnaround.  I decided to give it 30 days after I read Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint.  I got rid of what little processed food that I had, and was shocked to find that my definition of “processed” had changed with my new information.  I started eating eggs for breakfast, sometimes with bacon.  I started cooking with butter.  I bought my first package of lard from pastured pigs at our CSA.  I started roasting whole chickens, one of my favorite meals since childhood and that I missed dearly.  I started eating even more vegetables than when I was a vegetarian.  

After 30 days, I was off all my medications and not only remained in remission, but I no longer had the symptoms that I was told would be permanent.  The fatigue was gone, I had total feeling back in my hands with no residual paresthesia, and I had no more heat sensitivity.  On a particularly nice day outside for a walk, my husband said to me, “If this was last year, you would be complaining so much about the heat, and going inside to take a nap.”  Everything changed.  I effortlessly lost about 40 pounds and felt like I was ten years younger.  I loved cooking again.  My husband began eating meat again and had similar results.   I was able to do yoga again, and lift very heavy weight at the gym.  My kids felt lighter, and I was shocked at how much I could get done in a day.  I cannot overstate how dramatic the changes were in my life.

I eat meat on the bone, and cook with chicken stock made from feet.  I make my yogurt and crème fresh and ricotta.  I buy a half

Tomatillos from our friends garden

a cow from grass-fed and finished, pastured cows raised by friends.  I eat so many vegetables.  I love food and the options are limitless.  I eat big salads, avocados, fruit, raw nuts, olive oil and homemade mayonnaise.  I braise lamb shanks, and ox tails and stew.  I roast chickens and sear ducks.  I drink tea and stock and seltzer and wine.  I eat butter and dark chocolate and brie and goat cheese.  I will stuff a fresh fig with blue cheese and honey and thyme for breakfast, and snack on homemade pâté.  I have meals of roasted broccoli, cauliflower, squash and beets with lemon juice.  I eat yogurt I make with heavy cream on berries with cinnamon.  I do not feel deprived of anything.

I struggle with sugar sometimes, and holidays, and alcohol and organ meats.  It’s a process that is constantly revolving and refining for me, and I enjoy that.  I have eaten an ancestral/paleo/primal/traditional foods diet for about 13 months now and stay off my medication and in a total remission with no new disease progress.  I have a new neurologist who supports my choices a hundred percent.  I no longer consider a wheelchair to be a part of my future.  I have a passion for sourcing, cooking and eating Real Food, and helping people, particularly people with chronic health conditions and people with children, transition to a traditional foods diet.  I’m also honored to know my fellow blog collaborators, who are some of the kindest, most knowledgeable and hilarious people I have met.  Truth.