Saturday, March 26, 2011

My Body's Healing Journey

 I believe we heal on many levels- mind, body, energy body and spirit, and that they all support one another. If we heal in one area, it can help facilitate healing in the other areas. My healing journey has had a lot of factors beautifully interwoven together, but for today, I would like to share some of my story of the physical healing of my body. Our bodies can heal with movement, time in nature, deep breathing, peaceful environments, and a healthy diet. In this story, I'll be focusing on diet. Diet is the foundation of a healthy body. Our natural state is a healthy state and my heartfelt wish is for all of us to experience the bliss of healthy bodies. It begins with loving them.

Looking for Answers

I grew up eating the Standard American Diet (yes, the initials spell SAD, which seems pretty fitting, huh?) 
In my teenage years I suffered from horrible acne, severe depression, constant exhaustion, constipation, headaches, allergies, painful periods, asthma and  lack of appetite, among many other things. The acne was so embarrassing to me that it was almost crippling at times and I felt ashamed during physical education or sports at how little energy I had to do the most basic things.
When I moved out on my own, I had virtually no cooking experience, but I really wanted to eat a healthier diet. I remember being really proud of myself when I heated up organic soup in a can or added some fresh vegetables to pasta sauce from the store. I thought that if something said 'organic' that it was healthy, even if it was a processed food (there is some junk food out there that is still junk, even if it's 'organic'.) I became vegetarian and thought that might help me to feel better. I thought that it was cleaner and that my body would be more pure. My stomach would hurt every time I ate and I thought that letting go of meat would help that. Plus I had been introduced to the idea of factory farms, which really grossed me out.
When I moved in with Jeff, he didn't eat sugar or wheat gluten. So I did the same since we made all our meals together. Giving up sugar was one of the best things I ever did for my body and was a huge step in reclaiming my health. Letting go of refined flours made a big difference also. I had been addicted to those foods all my life.
I began learning cooking skills. Jeff knew a lot about the healing properties of herbs and about nutrition, I soaked it all up. Jeff was passionate about gardening and grew a large garden every year. I started helping out (though didn't have the energy to do much physical labor in the beginning, I got tired out so easily)  and discovered that I was passionate about gardening too. I saw so much food growing that I had only seen in the grocery store previously. I was fascinated at how it all looked on the vine. And the flavor was... shocking, bold, intense! I loved it. I could feel the life force in it and I knew I was on the right track towards healing my body. 
Jeff ate meat and I continued to eat a vegetarian diet when we first lived together. In the beginning, it felt cleansing to my body to stop eating meat, but before long I felt wasted and exhausted no matter how much I ate. I just didn't feel healthy, energetic, and vital like I was wanting. I wasn't thriving. My body felt it was lacking something and I started intensely craving meat. I resisted the craving for a long time, but eventually I decided to let my body decide instead of my brain, and I started eating meat again. That made me feel noticeably better.
I scoured the library for cookbooks every time we went to town. I experimented with gluten free baking, but everything I made seemed to give me a stomach ache. I kept searching the shelves. All the cookbooks I came across didn't have ingredients that my body liked. I just wasn't finding what I was looking for.

The Cookbook that changed our life!

Then one day at the library, I found a thick, brightly colored cookbook called 'Nourishing Traditions'. Something about it caught my eye, I felt drawn to it, so I brought it up to the front desk and checked it out. I brought it home. I felt a huge AHA moment! What I read really clicked with me. Finally, I felt like I had found a piece to the puzzle I had been searching for. Eating real foods, not eating processed foods, eating raw and fermented foods, animal fats, grass-fed and pastured meats, soaking of nuts.... it all made so much sense to me. Eating like our ancestors did, what a concept! The two weeks wasn't enough. So eventually (after checking it out a whole bunch) I bought it for myself as a gift. Then I devoured page after information-packed page. I learned about vitamins and minerals and which foods to get them from. I also learned about preparing the body for pregnancy with nutrient dense foods (which Jeff and I both did before conceiving Bracken- the male's health is also important prior to conception, not just the mother's.) I learned how harmful low-fat diets are to our health (we need fats!) The cookbook introduced me to The Weston A. Price Foundation.
That cookbook changed our life. I began experimenting with one recipe at a time. Yum! We had some favorites I made again and again. The more we ate that way, the healthier we got. Health problems that Jeff and I had suffered from for a long time slowly started to fade away. Our energy increased.
I got another cookbook called 'Wild Fermentation' and experimented more with fermented foods. We ate out of the garden more and more. We ate eggs from our chickens and cultured raw goat's milk from our goats. We did trades with friends at farmer's market for organic produce that we didn't grow in our garden and for grass-fed and pastured meats. We harvested more food from local farms and filled our pantry for the winter. We made more and more things from scratch. We ate more home cooked meals and ate out less. We continually cut back on processed foods. We took cod liver oil daily. We stopped using vegetable oils and started embracing animal fats (duck fat and lard.) We also used raw olive oil in salads and coconut oil in cooking (coconut oil is amazing!) We learned how to make favorite recipes in healthier ways. 
Our stamina and endurance increased. We could do physical labor around the homestead for entire days. My skin got clearer and clearer. We got sick less. We felt more optimistic and happy. Our thoughts were clearer, we were more focused. Headaches became so rare, I hardly ever got them.

Food Allergies.... or is it?

We began paying close attention to how we felt after eating different foods. We noticed negative reactions to a lot of things. We stopped doing cow dairy. We tried consuming our goat's milk raw, but had allergic reactions to it (my nose would get so clogged at night I couldn't breathe through it.) So we cultured it into cheese, yogurt and kefir (many people are no longer allergic to dairy when it is raw and cultured.) When I was pregnant, I craved dairy so bad that I consumed raw goat's milk kefir on a regular basis. It was one of my staples. It made my nose a tiny bit clogged, but didn't seem to make a huge difference, so I continued to consume it. (Now I can't imagine pregnancy without being aware of the incredible value of nutrition and diet in growing a healthy baby and keeping mama healthy.)
After Bracken was born, we noticed he reacted really badly to my breast milk after I ate dairy or wheat. When I cut out dairy, Bracken became a much happier baby! Also, a red spot I had had on my cheek for a long time and red around my nose, started to fade away. My skin was noticeably healthier. 
With Bracken reacting to food so strongly, we decided to start our diet from scratch. We started with a few foods and looked for reactions as we added new ones. We reacted to eggs, dairy, wheat, brown rice (even when it was soaked), tomatoes and all nightshades, peanuts, sugar, and so much more! Our list of "no" foods was growing longer and longer and longer!
I thought to myself- we can't possibly be allergic to so many foods!
Food Allergies. Most people hear this word and cringe. Certainly no one wants to hear that they have a food allergy. But, if letting go of a food meant you would feel more energetic, more joyful, have greater stamina, clearer skin, and better overall health- would you give up food you really liked eating?I know our answer- yes! We've been letting go of a lot of foods over the years that our bodies don't like. (It's not always easy!) There's been times when I've felt embarrassed by our eating choices (adding yet another food to our "no" list) when people think we are crazy, uptight or just plain food snobs. But this is not the case at all. We just love our bodies, we enjoy feeling good in them and we are continually becoming more and more aware of what they do and don't like. And as we cleanse, our bodies' tolerance for the ones they don't like is becoming lower.
Many people have food allergies and most have no clue. Why? Because they are used to feeling a certain way and probably don't even notice their bodies' reactions. Food allergies are on the rise. There are lots of different theories why- among them being just a few foods making up most of the diet and foods not properly prepared for digestion. Some common food allergies are wheat gluten, dairy, nightshades, nuts, eggs, bee products, and shellfish.
So Jeff and I paid attention and cut things out of our diet.
But what happens when it seems like you are allergic to everything?

Healing the intestines

That's when I discovered that if your intestines are overloaded with bad bacteria, that you can have leaky gut- where your food will be undigested and enter your bloodstream. Then you will have an allergic reaction to virtually every food you eat. Aha! I felt like that is what was going on with Jeff and I. I learned about The Specific Carbohydrate Diet, the GAPS diet, and the Paleo Diet. The SCD and GAPS diets are created to stop feeding the bad bacteria and feed the good bacteria. They are for healing the intestines. (You can learn more here: The science behind The Specific Carbohydrate Diet.)
I knew we needed digestive healing. I requested some books from the library and they got one- 'Breaking the Viscous Cycle'  by Elaine Gottschall. I read it and wow! I learned a lot!
We've been integrating some of what we learned. Grains and Dairy were added to the diet with the start of agriculture. During our healing process, we are eating a diet more like that of our earlier ancestors. So, we are eating a grain-free, dairy-free diet. Here's what we've been eating:
-lots of homemade bone broths (to heal our intestines and also for the calcium since we are not doing dairy.)
-grass-fed and pastured meats (in small portions)
-with tons of vegetables. (Since cutting out grains, our vegetable consumption has increased dramatically and we've been eating more vegetables than we've ever eaten before.)
-lots of raw, fermented sauerkraut.
-sprouted, then cooked, lentils.
-Some fruit.
We continue to add more raw foods, more fermented foods and more color and variety.

My bowel movements are more regular than ever before. I feel more clean and clear inside. My skin continues to get clearer. I'm so grateful to be learning all of this and to be continually moving towards a more balanced and bright center of health.

Now, I am waiting and hoping our library will get the book 'Gut and Psychology Syndrome' because I have so much more to learn. Have any of you read this book? (If you own a copy, I would love to borrow it, I will pay for shipping and I'm really good at returning books!)

We each have our own unique path towards healing. Each body is different. Each spirit is different. We all gravitate towards healing and balance. Each step brings us towards a more wholesome place.

This has been my body's personal journey towards healing.

How have you found healing for your body?
I would love to hear about your journey.


zauberin said...

Hello Taryn,

I have found out that for me a lot of raw fruits and vegetables (raw or a bit steamed) with rice or self baked spelt bread and little kefir or yoghurt bring the most enery and well being.
I eat no meat and use vegetable oils for cooking, but butter on bread slices.
my husband and our four children eat meat twice a week and the kids get sometimes noodles, but the whole grain ones.

have a nice day,

Lauren Luquin said...

Hi Taryn :) First of all Jeff won my Giveaway, you should check it out... I want to send you both a package... so I need your address... Also, thanks for sharing this. I have so much more to learn and these are all great leads... I have found my path to healing physically started when I stopped eating meat, coffee, refined sugar, preservatives, artificial anything, and soda... Also I stopped eating anything from a fastfood restaurant. This all happened one day after I had had many enlightening experiences with mushrooms :) I felt so much better, but still I didn't feel my best, I too had a lot of acne, and still felt anxiety sometimes... so I cut out cow milk, and switched to rice or almond milk... I have been eating organic since then too, but I hear you about the processed organic not being all that great. That is true. I tried going vegan, but that didn't feel right. I eat different oils, I love coconut oil, and drink coconut milk almost everyday. I started feeling my true best when I really listened to my body and combined my practice with yoga, and my diet, to feel what was best. I wanted more vegetables... Raw mostly, or lightly steamed, and I drink a lot of water, and love fruit, but as a meal, not throughout the day. My skin is getting better... I think I still need to do a major cleanse, which I will wait to do after the birth of my son. It's true we all have our own journey... Yours is super interesting. .. I will read this again. xx P.s. You're beautiful and radiant mama... your skin looks amazing.

Jessica said...

Sometimes I wonder if we aren't long lost twins. I have suffered from terrible acne since early teen years, and now approaching 30 I still do. It is emotionally crippling. I am going to look for this book you suggested right away. Thank you so much for sharing. :) Much love.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is so interesting. I think I will try and get my hands on Nourishing Traditions, it sounds fabulous. What we eat is so important. I get migraines and miss things out of my diet(cows milk and cheese,chocolate,citrus fruits ,artificial sweeteners). Some days I feel full of energy (for no apparent reason) and other days it is so hard to get going, and I am sure it is down to what I have eaten.
You are very inspiring, I wonder if I could stop eating sugar?
I became vegetarian when I was 13. When I was pregnant with my eldest daughter(Izzy, now 14) I started eating fish, but I do feel that my body needs meat, maybe I should try for my health to eat it again.
Thanks for sharing
Love and Blessings

FairyLover said...

Taryn, I found the book you are looking for on for about $32.00. Just wanted to let you know.

You are amazingly beautiful. You must be doing something right.


Goofy Mama said...

Wow. Nice post. My food story is somewhat similar to yours (grew up on the SAD, fell in love with "Nourishing Traditions")... but not yet as extensive or clearly defined. I keep trying to figure it out (what, exactly, my food story is), but I don't think I'm quite there yet.

Kris said...

Taryn, I have NT and Wild Fermentation. Had them a few years now. But the past week there have been so many people talking about them. I had to pull them both off the shelf and start reading them again. I want to make beet kvass. I do make the saurkraut. It's so easy and so good too. I have 2 dairy goats that are due in a few weeks. I will get back to making kefir, which I miss so much right now, and cheese and all that good stuff that goats give us. I also have the red itchy places on my face. And I have been getting raw Jersey milk from my friend while my goats are dry. I think I will stop. I take Evening Primrose oil and that seems to help.

Thanks so much for this post. My daughter needs to see this. She has horrible acne that's mostly under the skin and is painful. She's under alot of stress. She needs a good cleanse.

Taryn Kae Wilson said...

Thanks for all your comments! I love hearing about your food journeys and what you enjoy eating.

Heike- I love raw foods too. And steaming vegetables. Kefir and yogurt are so good for populating your system with the good bacteria.
I admire when their are different diets within families and the unique choices are honored. :)

Lauren- Awesome! Thanks! Jeff is going to be so excited.
Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful journey. I love hearing about it all.
How far along are you in your pregnancy?

Jessica- Yes we do seem like long lost twins sometimes! :) I can relate to you so much in so many ways. I am so glad you are going to check out NT. I know how much you love cooking and it might inspire you a lot! Let me know what you think of it. :)

Trish- I hope NT cookbook will bring you some inspiration like it did me! And yes, so many foods trigger migraines, it's so wonderful when we can make those connections so our eating choices make our bodies feel good. We can all learn so much from our bodies! :)

Kathi- Thank you! :)

Goofy Mama- (First of all- love the name!) It's so great to connect with other NT lovers who have benefited from it too.

Kris- Seems I can never read those cookbooks often enough! :) Constant inspiration! Love those foods you mention.
I really hope what I've shared can help your daughter too. Acne can be so hard to deal with! We all need to remember how beautiful we are on the inside!
Love hearing from you.

Autumn said...

Hi Taryn,
I just recently started reading your blog and love it! You seem so sweet and I can feel your love for your life through your writing. I have a similar food story although I haven't been as strong as you and still have some bad food habits. I've been following NT for a couple of years now but I need to look further into healing my gut because I think that could be causing problems for me still. I had the acne that has cleared up with better eating but I still have reproductive issues along with energy problems that I think I could heal if I got more strict about my diet. I look forward to reading more and getting little glimpses into your lovely world.

Taryn Kae Wilson said...

Hello Autumn!
I love to hear from new friends. I love t hear good nutrition and diet changing lives.
Hope to hear from you again!

Love, Taryn

P.S. I've always loved the name Autumn. :)

dancewithleela said...

great post!

i was veg for 20 years, from the age of 14 on...

i didn't start eating any animal foods (other then dairy, which i ate all along) until i went to nutrition school at the age of 33 - and then it took them about a year to convince me to try any!

sally fallon was a guest speaker at our school - that's how i learned about nourishing traditions and weston price

i was somewhat intrigued, but basically the book had to hit me over the head several times before the light bulb went off...

now i find that my body is much happier and better balanced if i eat animal proteins and fats on a daily basis - especially for breakfast

meat, fat and veggies are the big things for me, with fresh raw dairy and eggs second, and fresh fruits and some (mostly) whole grains occasionally

the only sugar i usually eat is some (raw, local) honey in my morning tea and a glass of (homemade if we have it, or if not, semi-local from washington state) blackberry wine with dinner

and i'm not even strict about it - just eat mostly what we have here at the farm and don't buy foods that i know will not make me feel well...

thanks for talking about this - it's sooooo important!

Taryn Kae Wilson said...

Thanks so much for sharing. It's fun to get to know you better.
What nutrition school did you go to? I would love to meet Sally Fallon in person. What an awesome experience!
Breakfast is so important. I need a hearty breakfast every day.
We enjoy raw, local honey too on occasion. Jeff had bees and that honey was the best ever! A bear messed up the hive. We want to start raising bees at some point again.
Eating from the farm is the best way you can eat!
The more we talk, the more we have in common, huh? :)

Love, Taryn

dancewithleela said...

i went to the institute for integrative nutrition in nyc (i lived in new york for 13 years)

it's a great school, holistically oriented

that's too bad about the bear messing up your hive!

we started with packaged bees a couple of years ago, but the hive didn't make it

we're hoping to try bees again at some point - it would be so wonderful to harvest our own honey

and yes - it does seem like we have a lot in common!

i'm so thrilled to have found your blog, and look forward to hopefully meeting you (and jeff and bracken) in person - i'll for sure have to stop by your booth once the market starts up again

hope you guys are having the same beautiful spring weather that we're having - it's gorgeous today!
:) teri

Sarah said...

I have a copy of the GAPS book! email me your address and I will send it. I id strict GAPS for 6 months and never felt better in my life! Now, my challenge is to figure out what, if any, additional foods I can add.

I love your blog and your outlook on life. :)