Disclaimer: Please know that I am not a health care provider. This is simply my personal experience. You should always consult your doctor if you have any concerns about your personal nutrition and overall health.
We moved to Lafayette in the Spring of 2017 when my oldest daughter was 3 and my youngest was 1.5 years old. We purchased an old home that needed quite a bit of work, and simultaneously my youngest daughter started having a lot of health issues.
I immediately began experiencing frequent bouts of anxiety. I assumed it was just from being overwhelmed by the sudden onset of so many stressors; however, after a year of living here and not feeling any better, I figured there had to be more to it. When I consulted with my doctor, she immediately wanted to prescribe medication. While I believe that there are circumstances in which medication is necessary, I wanted to at least try a more natural route first.
I began researching connections between diet and anxiety. Everything I read suggested an elimination diet as a way of pin-pointing the foods that don’t serve your body well. I am a very emotional eater, so I was hesitant to commit to an elimination diet. However, I knew I couldn’t continue feeling this way, so I chose to go for it.
I don’t like to cook separate meals for my husband and kids, so the Paleo diet seemed to be the most family-friendly option. Basically, you can eat meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables, but no grains, dairy, legumes, or processed sugars. We decided to keep white potatoes and cheese in the mix, but everything else was cut out. I told my husband we could try it for two weeks. If we didn’t feel a difference, then we’d move on to something else.
We saw and felt a difference within three days!
We were sleeping better; our children were significantly less hyper; my skin started clearing up; my youngest daughter wasn’t getting sick; and I was truly calm for the first time in two years. As strange as it sounds, I finally felt present.
We maintained this diet strictly for about four months, then started to reintroduce some of the eliminated foods. While some of the restricted foods did not bother us, there were three that consistently triggered negative reactions for me – gluten, processed sugar, and caffeine.
- When I consume too much gluten, my skin starts to break out. I become very short-tempered, and I feel fatigued and foggy.
- If I eat too much processed sugar, I start to experience back and neck pain, as well as overall inflammation and fatigue.
- Consuming too much caffeine (more than two cups of coffee per day) causes me to become increasingly jittery and anxious. I have a hard time focusing and feeling present, and my sleep becomes incredibly restless.
I would have never figured any of this out had I not eliminated and reintroduced these foods.
I admittedly don’t have the best self-control when it comes to food. As previously stated, I’m an emotional eater – I want junk food when I’m celebrating, and I want it when I’m feeling blue. Food has always been a sort of love language for me.
However, I have come to learn that moderation is key. I will allow myself a cupcake or a slice of pizza a few times each month, and I still drink a soda from time to time. There are days when I just really want a third cup of coffee, and I go for it. But I know how my body reacts to the over-consumption of these foods now, and I just can’t be careless or over-indulgent anymore.