A year without sugar or gluten
One full year without sugar (or gluten)!
Yes, it is possible, yes I feel great and no, I do not think I will ever go back to eating anything with processed sugar.
We have been on a roller coaster with building our home and moving so it has been difficult to keep up with my blog, but thankfully, my health has been right on track. I have received several questions and comments lately about how my health is doing, what I am still keeping out of my diet and then the question that seems to immediately follow is, "So what do you eat?"
The past year and a half has been nothing short of a journey. There have not been any short cuts or quick fixes, but I have been able to watch how God has completely orchestrated every step of the way.
First of all, I am SO thankful for my cousin who encouraged me and got me on a detox to heal my gut and help me tune into what was going on with my body and what foods do not agree with my system. Being a health coach, she had really awesome insight on what supplements and foods I should take for my body, and she was THE best encourager when I felt discouraged! Since removing all processed, sugar (even natural sugars in fruits) gluten, dairy, soy and preservatives last year, I was able to really heal my gut and one of the biggest tell-tell signs for me, was the fact that I had ZERO allergies this past fall when I always, every single year, get miserable allergies from ragweed! It was such a testament that my gut was stronger and the foods I had been eating were truly healing and building my gut back up.
After I worked on my gut, I was still super nervous to introduce natural sugars found in clean carbs like fruit and sweet potatoes. I was convinced that as soon as I would eat any form of sugar I might get the nasty re-occurring bacteria I had dealt with for over a year. So I only introduced berries and green apples occasionally.
I stuck to a cup of fruit a day maximum.
In December, I ended up with a round of bacteria and I felt completely defeated. Granted it had been 8 months since I had the last one, it felt defeating because I was still eating super clean and not putting anything into my body that I had assumed would manifest an environment for bacteria. All that to say, I ended up booking an appointment with a naturopath/hormone therapy doctor in the Springfield area. She is someone who was highly recommended by several friends and acquaintances and I knew I needed answers.
Before I was able to get in to see this doctor I had to send in a saliva test kit that analyzes my hormone levels. When I went to see her in February, I found out that my progesterone was very low, which explained the higher levels of estrogen in my body creating the imbalance. This was when I also learned that my low progesterone level was also likely the cause of my miscarriages; I'm not sure if it helped knowing that I probably had the answer now, but it is definitely something I wish I was aware of in the midst of trying to have babies.
I have been on progesterone ever since and I finally feel like I can eat natural sugars without feeling terrified that I am going to create a problem in my body! She also did a full blood workup and ruled out several things I was worried about. Thankfully I did not have the MTHFR mutation gene or any autoimmune markers! Praise the Lord! Knowing that was so helpful in ruling out so many health possibilities known throughout my genes. My WBC was a bit low so I was put on an immune booster and my thyroid was indicative of hypothyroidism (which I was prepared to hear). I am still going back every month or so to check my thyroid levels to see what dosage works best for my body. This has been super helpful for me because when I was taking thyroid supplements, I did not trust myself to know if I had hit my limit and really fixated on worrying about the thyroid supplement giving me heart palpitations. Knowing that I am getting it checked on a regular basis puts my mind at ease.
How is that for an update?! Phew!
Honestly, I LOVE that I do not crave cereal or sweet treats anymore. (I am the girl who proudly posted my weekly Andy's obsession on Instagram) Just like any addiction, the further removed you are, the less you are to crave or even think about them. I am completely satisfied with dinner and honestly never even think about sweets. If I decide I want to have some sort of a treat for an occasion, I have SO many options that are great without compromising my system. I will list some of my go to's below.
You may be thinking, "This sounds great Bre, but you have to use some sort of sweetener!" Yes, I do, but I really only use stevia, or erythritol as it is in the gum I buy from our local health food store.
The term, "Eat to live, don't live to eat" has never been more true for me, and honestly it is a complete 180 from my thought process on food even 5 years ago.
What kept me motivated? Once I knew what foods work well with my system and I could feel so good, I had no desire to fill my body with foods that I know will make me feel miserable. The momentary pleasure was not worth the lasting terrible feeling I would feel after.
Have I mentioned how a couple of my children may get their strong will from me?
Since my number one question is "So what do you eat?!" I will list below my go-to meals. I will warn you, they are not super exciting, but I find them satisfying and even tasty. :)
1. Eggs- scrambled or fried with lots of veggies and/or salsa.
2. Pumpkin Buckwheat pancakes- I generally spread almond butter, cinnamon, stevia and a few blueberries on top!
3. Crepe- This is a perfect blend of getting your protein, and enjoying something sweet as well. I spread almond butter, cinnamon, and stevia on these as well with strawberries or blueberries.
4. Muffins- On occasion (when time permits) I will make pumpkin or blueberry muffins from coconut or almond flour and they are wonderful!
1. Dinner leftovers.
2. Coconut wrap with hummus/spinach and all the veggies, or spinach/egg/veggies.
4. Veggie bowl- cauliflower rice, peppers, Brussel sprouts, carrots. Toss some Verde salsa and guacamole in for extra flavor. ;)
One of my best tips I can give is to buy some veggies frozen! If there are veggies you know you will not go through in a week, or if there are some that are too time consuming to prep, frozen is the way to go! I do this with butternut squash sometimes, but always cauliflower rice. There are also so many options for organic frozen veggies spiraled or mashed that it makes eating clean super easy.
1. Grilled chicken, veggies (either roasted Brussel sprouts, asparagus, or whatever veggies are seasonal) and one carb (either Paleo rolls- try my favorite recipe here or sweet potato fries).
2. Burrito bowls- Shredded chicken or pork from the crock pot, on quinoa, cauliflower rice, or jasmine rice for Josh and kids. Black beans, Verde salsa, homemade guacamole, and plantains or Siete Chips (grain-free, gluten-free).
3. Pizza night- I use a crust from a brand called "Mikeys" (found at Walmart) that is grain free/gluten free and I layer it with tomato sauce, spinach, all the veggies and goat cheese.
4. Soups- I really enjoyed a butternut squash soup over the Winter months. I also make a super easy chili from grass-fed beef, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper, and black beans. I have several others I am looking forward to trying this Fall!
5. Grass-fed, bunless burger with guac and a side of sweet potato fries and a salad.
6. Chicken, bacon avocado- just as it sounds. Throw it all in a bowl and enjoy! This is really good for lunch the next day, I would just recommend not adding the avocado until you are ready to eat this meal. :) Paleo rolls go great as a side with this meal.
1. Green apple with cinnamon and almond butter.
2. Nice cream- I have posted this recipe before here.
3. Lily's chocolate bar (I usually just break off a couple small bites and feel more than satisfied).
4. Brownies- Gluten-free, sugar-free (my own concoction that I may or may not eat for breakfast at times as well).
Those are just a few examples, I still eat and I eat well! I really try to balance my meat intake as well as my grain. If you have not read the book "Grain Brain" by Dr. David Perlmutter, I would highly recommend reading it! There is a ton of valuable information and I feel like it is especially valuable as great knowledge for prevention if you have any family history of Alzheimers, dementia or autoimmune diseases.
I will be on the hunt for new recipes to add into the mix and likely adjust to my dietary needs this Fall, but would love to hear any that you may love! I will also share some of my favorite go-to's on my IG, so make sure you are following @happylittlemessblog!
It is a beautiful Summer morning here and I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed day!