Food freak

I've always been rather medicine-wary. I grew up in a family where pill-popping was scorned, and I've always felt that pharmacological intervention was emergency intervention.

I've been to some interesting places, and I've brought home more than knick-knacks on occasion. Those occasions justified some big guns to me! And when my long-term low-grade depression reappeared in debilitating-torpor-mode after I lost two of my grandparents in the span of a week while I was at university, I sure did get myself some tiny little pills to go along with qualified help. And of course everybody takes birth control, right? It would be irresponsible not to. But when I back up and look at it all again, it sure adds up. And my anti-medicine family? One diabetic, one with cortisone cream by the bed for arthritis and a daily pill for a defunct thyroid, and even the dog had a medication schedule on the fridge. It's amazing how powerful the stories we tell of ourselves can be in the face of reality.

These days I'm popping more things than ever, (didn't expect that, did you?) with the hopes of getting my body back on track and giving them all up. The trigger was an insanely itchy head, on top of about a dozen annoying symptoms I'd had for years, and the sense that pregnancy had drained me and aged my body 10 years all at once. Sure my body will never be the same again, but must it be less functional after performing its ultimate add-on function? Believing wholeheartedly that pregnancy and lactation are not pathological events in a woman's body, I had a hard time imagining that nature really intended one pregnancy to land every woman in deficiencyville. That made no sense. Nature needs mothers to hang around and raise the kids, not just produce them and wither away like mayflies. So what the heck?

After an unreasonably long time procrastinating due to language complications, I finally saw a naturopath. He was very thorough, and very puzzled. Did I have amalgam fillings? (No.) I had high mercury levels. Was I troubled with loose stools? (No.) I had a dairy sensitivity. And how long had my hair been falling out by the fistful? None of his pre-bundled rememdies would suit my case, I'd have to spend my entire month's cash budget at the pharmacy. And for the month I'd need to take his 9 different prescriptions (I had to make a spreadsheet of what to take when to keep it all straight) I was not to eat dairy, grains, starchy vegetables or mushrooms.

He was a lovely man, and he probably explained everything to me carefully, but I have no idea what he said. I bought the stuff, and it hung in its bag from a doorknob for 6 months until I felt ready to undertake his recommendations.

At around this same time someone pointed me to Nina Planck, I reread Micheal Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, and discovered Nourished Kitchen while looking for recipes that didn't involve pre-made ingredients that I can't get here and don't want anyway. Jenny at NK always prefaces her recipes and blog posts with explanations and reminders that we should eat real fats, organ meats and roe, and something raw and something fermented with every meal. Over about the last year, my evolving cooking style has led me to a blogroll that includes Kitchen StewardshipNourishing Days, Real Food Whole Health, Cheeseslave (with whom I've done a fanTAStic e-course), The Nourishing Gourmet and the Weston Price Foundation, and ultimately to GAPS and the GAPS guide. It started so innocently, has been a year coming, and now my husband is concerned that I've become a food freak.

Maybe I am, but I'm okay with that. It has meant that I'm finally ready to get with the program, so to speak, and crack out those supplements, enzymes and probiotics that have been waiting for me. I think I know what the naturopath must have said to me: I have a systemic candida overgrowth and the cure won't be quick. Well okay, now I know what that means in a real way, and I see why he's given me each of these things to put in my body in hopes of kick-starting its proper fuctions again. Being raised by a diabetic I thought I knew about food, but I didn't. Now I've got to keep myself and my family fed and nourished, keep my gut buddies happy and candida under control, and try not to overburden the planet doing it. I cheat on my diet a lot (remember the macarron fail?) but they're "little cheats" (I hope), and I'm pretty good at the supplement schedule considering that I don't generally do schedules very well. I'm seeing improvements after just 10 days. I'm also seeing some unlovely side-effects, but I expected that.

The cure won't be quick, and it won't ultimately come from a bottle. It might, however, come partly from a jar. Jenny over at Nourished Kitchen is gearing up to offer a class on culturing and fermenting which I'm circling in contemplation. She'll offer recipes, videos and tutorials about making your own ketchup and mustard (half the sugar and actually probiotic), saurkraut that hasn't had its goodness pasturised away, and my particular favourite, yogurt and cheese. There's a good chance I could eat homemade raw milk yogurt, but I can't find starter cultures and I've tried twice to clabber milk but both times it went moldy.

I've been really good about most of the WAPF-recommended changes to our diet, but ferments elude me. Anyone interested in rotting preserving a few things with Jenny and me?


  1. I gave up pharmaceuticals (including the birth control pill) at least 3 years ago now and have been seeing a ND for even longer. You get used to the routine - I know it seems overwhelming to take drops on an empty stomach, supplements with supplements, other drops before bed, brush your skin before you shower, etc., but it does get easier and becomes habit. It's gradual, but the improvements to my health have been most worth it. All of this being said, in preparation for my upcoming trip to Borneo, I had a rabies booster yesterday and last night and was hell. I was up all night with shivering, fever, pain in my joints, I was even praying. One more booster to go!

  2. Oh, I'm such a food freak too! It seems almost impossible not to be. My husband calls it an "obsession". But he's glad in the end when he feels better and eats better than we ever did!

  3. @Janelle, maybe it's worth trying 2 weeks of GAPS intro before you go, to reset your gut after that trauma and before whatever's going to hit it in the next few months. I know it's probably the last thing on your mind right now though.
    @Sarah, other than eliminating MSG and HFCS, my husband is reticent to say the least. I envy you your support crew!

  4. My husband has always had more health problems than me, so he's open to anything that makes him feel better. Plus we started real slow (about 5.5 years ago) by making small changes such as eating more fat and finding a source of raw milk (my husband and his whole family are "lactose intolerant"). Once he learned that he could drink raw milk with absolutely no problems, he was hooked and open to anything new I found out. (His dad can also drink raw milk, and he had not had milk in over 30 years!) I'm not surprised your husband is reticent, as there are so many different "diets" out there and GAPS/WAP eating goes so much against the grain of what we are told is healthy in this country. Maybe one thing to sell your husband on is to take some cod liver oil every day. Just that one thing can make such a huge difference!