Almost four years ago, I heard about something called traditional foods and a book called Nourishing Traditions. It took several months to locate a copy of this book (that was before I spent much time on the internet) and once I did get one, I spent several weeks being completely overwhelmed. The concepts in Nourishing Traditions made sense to me. Eating food as close to the way God made it seemed much smarter than consuming foods constructed in a factory.
One concern with switching from a Standard American Diet (SAD) to a real/whole/traditional foods diet (real food) was the cost involved. Many real foods are actually less expensive but buying higher quality meats and fats was more expensive. Figuring out how to transition from a SAD diet to a real food diet without changing our food budget was our main goal.
A Nice Surprise
Slow and steady became our motto. We made small changes as our budget and knowledge allowed. Several months into those changes we began to notice something rather interesting. Both Joe and I had suffered for years with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I managed my IBS with prescription medication and over-the-counter medication for the times the prescription didn’t do its job completely. When we were in the process of moving to Wyoming, I ran out of my prescription and didn’t want to take the time to refill it. Besides, I figured since I had to resort to OTC meds most of the time anyway what good was a prescription? Funny thing, as we changed our diet I soon realized that I hadn’t been taking any OTC meds to help with my IBS. In fact, as I thought about it I realized it had been months since I had taken anything. I mentioned it to Joe and he said he had also been feeling great with no issues. We did both notice that if we ate out or strayed too much from our real food diet we would have small troubles but it was quickly remedied. We were amazed at how good we felt! Food was our new medicine.
This feeling good continued for me until September of 2011. I had actually started having issues several week before but decided it was just from over work. I had taken a full time temp job during the summer (and was still working from home also) and figured it was just the results of burning the candle at both ends. I decided I needed to reset my system and joined a GAPS Intro 30 Day Challenge. Joe did the GAPS Intro with me and both of us were quite pleased with the results. We really felt it reminded us of some good dietary habits that we had gotten away from when things became busy. After GAPS Intro we went to full GAPS for a few weeks and then added back in soaked, sprouted and soured grains. I really felt much better than I had before GAPS.
Even though I felt better, it seemed I was still not well. I would often feel like I was coming down with the flu. I would get so incredibly tired that doing anything was a challenge. I would experience these flu-like symptoms for a day or two and then I’d be fine. A week or two later the flu feeling would return. This continued through the winter. I really attributed it to a virus. It seemed logical that Joe was ‘bringing something home’ (he works in a school) and I was ‘getting it’. The first few times I started to get sick I took it easy in hopes of a quick recovery. Soon, I decided that I was sick to much and just needed to push on. I was sure that once spring arrived I would be just fine. I wasn’t. Then summer arrived with plans for a two week vacation and more travels (both planned and unplanned) and feeling well never really arrived.
We had such good results with our GAPS Intro and reset that we decided to do GAPS again. This time the whole family joined in (my 15 year old had actually suggested it). The first few days on Intro was okay then I found myself so exhausted this time that I couldn’t even get off the couch most days. Trying to make it through my daily chores was near impossible. We stopped GAPS Intro and went into full GAPS for a few weeks then decided to focus on being diligent with our real food eating.
But I was still a mess. I was exhausted, I often had an upset stomach, I wasn’t sleeping right, my body temperature was completely messed up (I was either incredibly hot or incredibly cold), I would get very itchy, and I was having having many other weird things going on. I was about at the end of my rope. I considered making an appointment with the doctor to find out just what was going on with me but I feared that she would just give me a prescription and never actually get to the bottom of my issues. I didn’t want to go down that road again– I wanted to actually treat the issue not mask it.
One day Joe very nicely suggested that perhaps my problems were female related. He suggested that maybe it was menopause. Me being in my incredibly fragile state promptly bit his head off and told him I was much too young for that. I was only 42. My reaction only strengthened his opinion that something was off with me hormonally. A few days later, with me feeling even worse, I began to consider what Joe said. I started researching symptoms of menopause. I found a website that listed 35 symptoms. As I went through them, I discovered I had 28 of the 35 symptoms. And thinking back to the past year, I had been experiencing these symptoms for some time.
A New Reality
It took me a few days to come to terms with the possibility that my issue for the past year could possibly be menopause. That would mean I was only 41 when the symptoms started. That seemed so young. I finally decided that moping about my youth wasn’t going to get me off the couch and back to feeling good. Going to the doctor and being put on hormone replacement therapy wasn’t going to work either. So I made an appointment with an acupuncturist who is also a friend.
Natural medicine is something new for me. I used to be a medical assistant and worked in a pain management center. I come from a back ground of ‘taking a pill’ for what ails me. But over the past few years that idea no longer works for me. I don’t want to just put a band-aid over the symptoms. I want to be able to eliminate symptoms. With menopause, I’m not sure that is entirely possible. Menopause is a normal change in life caused by a loss in hormones. Hormone Replacement Therapies can synthetically replace the loss of hormones and ease the symptoms. But at what cost? HRT’s can increase the risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease.
So here I am. 43 years old (last month) and well into the symptoms of menopause. In my research, I read that many women are excited about this change in life and embrace it as a new adventure. I’m not to that point. I struggle each day with the symptoms and the emotions involved. I’ve hesitated to share this ‘new adventure’ with you. Real Food for Less Money was started to be specifically about that–how we eat a real, nutrient dense diet on a smallish budget. My ultimate goal with this blog, however, has been to be honest. To share our real life journey. While I do share our budget and how that works for us, I share other things that are important in our life. Food storage, how we eat on trips, things going on around our place, and other things. Basically, our life. Menopause is a part of my life– whether I am ready for it to be or not!
Now that I’ve spilled the beans on this latest life development, you should expect to see mixed in with the menu plans, food storage, recipes and other miscellaneous posts–posts about herbs, tinctures, acupuncture and other new things I am learning. Believe me, I have lots to learn!
I am a beginner on this natural health journey. Please share your knowledge.