Before I became ill, I thought my diet was very healthy. I mean, there's always room for improvement, no matter what, but I felt for the most part it was healthy. I liked junk food (helllloooo chocolate!!), but only as an "extra" in moderation. I was active, in good health, had a lot of energy and therefore comfortable with the way I ate.
My mornings started with a couple cups of coffee. Double double as we say (two cream, two teaspoons of sugar) and I had two cups. For several years, I used artificial sweeteners (aspartame) instead of sugar, you know, because sugar isn't good for us and these alternatives are a healthy substitution (or so we are told).
Artificial sweeteners, however, proved to be a colossal mistake (more on this in a moment).
That was my breakfast. No food, just coffee.
Lunch was lunch -- usually a sandwich of some sort and a glass of milk.
Dinner consisted of lots of pasta (loved pasta!!). Not only did I love pasta, but I was trying to incorporate meatless meals into my diet. After all, meat we were/are told is taboo, so this was a win-win situation for me. My much-loved pasta, a healthy alternative, meatless meal.
Other nights, it would be meat and vegetables or something frozen which only required heating. Here as well, I opted for the "healthy" foods too like frozen chicken fingers, frozen dinners etc. (spoiler alert: I was wrong!)
My beverage of choice, every night, was two to three large glasses of milk (after all, milk is healthy...those commercials on tv tell us so). I'd been a life-long milk drinker and had always drank a lot of it.
I very rarely had desserts. They were reserved for special occasions only. I was contributing to my healthy eating by avoiding regular desserts.
Supper was followed by another couple of cups of coffee, double double again and when I was using sweeteners, it was 4 - 6 tablets, depending on the size and strength of the cup of coffee. Sometimes later on in the evening or on the weekend, my husband and I would enjoy a coffee or two (always double double) at the local coffee shop.
I didn't regularly consume potoato chips, or sugary snack foods (again only on a rare occasions).
I honestly felt this was a healthy approach.
Enter chronic, debilitating, illness. All over pain, brain fog, fatigue, weakness -- all of them extreme. In addition, there was a lot of weight gain and a terrible chest cold with excessive cough, one I could not shake for several months. The list of symptoms was endless.
As I've written elsewhere in this blog about what I went through trying to get diagnosed, I won't write about it again. However, when I finally was diagnosed, the Dr. told me nothing further could be done and basically, this was the new me.
My stubbornness served me well here as I refused to accept this as fact. I had young children to care for, a whole life ahead of me and needed to improve to be the best version of me I could possibly be.
This put me on a quest to search out information on my condition. I was hungry for information, any information that would help me improve. Unfortunately, at this point, I was too brain-fogged to do much of anything let alone retain information I'd read. Thankfully, my first discovery, which was the dangers of aspartame and other artificial sweeteners, did not require much effort to uncover.
There it was, in black and white, the dangers and side effects of them. Article after article, all listing the same things with wide-spread pain being one of them.
Immediately, I stopped putting aspartame in my coffee and was shocked at the immediate decrease of pain. It wasn't completely gone, but a very palpable difference. (I will go into a lot more detail about Aspartame and artificial sweeteners in a separate, future blog post and will link here when it is up. Aspartame is such a large topic and deserves its own post).
This improvement, spurred me on to see what else I could uncover and implement, all in the name of improving my health. With each step of improvement, no matter how small, came an increase in the amount of info I could retain and implement. In the beginning, the steps were small but an improvement nonetheless.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this series!
Until then, remember to strive for
Balance....despite the chaos!