This is a rant post, so if you don't want to hear me venting, move along. Most of my friends know that, after I was diagnosed with MS over 2 years ago, I adopted a traditional, whole foods, paleo-style diet. And most of my friends understand WHY I now eat this way. For those of you who don't know (and who actually care), this means I stay away from processed foods and food additives. I also avoid eating breads and most grains. When I first started researching treatments for MS (other than medications), I learned that eating food additives and also grains/breads can worsen all kinds of autoimmune diseases. I'm not going to go into the "how does it make it worse" or cite research here...if you want sources, just google it.
It was pretty obvious from everything I read that diet has a MAJOR impact on autoimmune diseases. Obviously, there's no single way of eating that is perfect for everyone, but certain "diets" seem to be better for different people. I've spent the last 2 1/2 years paying very close attention to how I feel when I eat certain foods and take certain supplements. I've also continued to research diet and nutrition - REAL nutrition, not the "low fat, sugar-free, drink 8 glasses of water a day" junk you hear from most health professionals.
So, does 2 1/2 years of researching on my own and experimenting with my diet make me an expert on nutrition? No, it doesn't. What it DOES make me an expert on is what is best for ME! I've gone into detail about my diet in other blog posts, so I won't repeat myself here. But I do want to give one example. I've learned that when I eat grains (bread, pizza crust, breading on fried stuff, etc), I feel like crap for days after. If I cheat and eat that delicious rosemary bread at Old Venice or a bunch of tortilla chips at El Nopal, for the next couple of days I have headaches and my joints hurt. I also experience fatigue when I eat bread...I find that I can't finish a two mile run that I might have previously had no problem finishing.
I know a lot of people think I'm crazy or weird or a "food snob"...whatever. I buy grass-fed beef, pastured pork/poultry, and pastured eggs because the nutritional quality of animals that have been raised that way is so much better than factory farmed animals. Why does it make a difference if it lived outside or in cage inside a factory? Well, here's a simple example. Pork is supposed to be a great source of vitamin D. A pig makes vitamin D (just as humans do) from sunlight on its skin. So a pig that is spending all day outside and getting lots of sunshine is going to have high levels of vitamin D. A pig kept in a cage inside a building is going to have low levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D levels play a HUGE role in treating multiple sclerosis, and I just happen to have multiple sclerosis. So which pig should I get my bacon from?
See, IT MAKES SENSE! There is a REASON I eat certain things and don't eat certain things. I'm not saying I never splurge...I do allow myself to have treats sometimes. But when I do splurge, I know I'm going to feel bad the next day. So I save my splurges for something I reeaally love...like blueberry scones from Starbucks on date night. What upsets me is the folks who think I'm a food nazi or who make fun of me because of the way I eat. I'm tired of the people who give me the "eye-roll" when I politely decline a donut or slice of pizza when everyone else is having one. The ones who look at me like I'm nuts and say, "It's just a cupcake...so spend an extra hour at the gym." Would you say the same thing to a diabetic? Would you suggest someone who has heart disease eat a plate of chicken fried in Crisco and tell them to just walk and extra mile this week to "cancel it out"? There is NO DIFFERENCE! Why is it ok for a person with heart disease to eat a "heart healthy" diet, but someone with an autoimmune disease who eats a traditional, whole foods diet must have an eating disorder?
Ok, I'm done. I'm truly thankful for my friends and family who are so understanding and supportive. I just had to get that off my chest :)