I had an appointment with my fibromyalgia specialist last week. She really wants me to restrict my diet, to see if certain foods make my fibromyalgia symptoms worse. The easiest way to do this is to go on the “Paleo” diet, which is super trendy these days. Paleo means gluten free, mostly dairy free, low carb and low sugar. Typically, the goal is to cut out grains altogether, since they weren’t eaten in the paleolithic era. My diet is a bit different: Gluten free, dairy free (even ghee and goat’s milk), processed sugar free, lower my carbs, and try to lower my natural sugar intake. The thinking is that I have a sensitivity to some food or another, and that it causes joint pain and brain fog. Which both cause exhaustion and poor sleep. At the same time as the paleo diet, I’m also on a candida diet. Candida is a yeast in our bodies that can sometimes go nuts and multiply much more than it should, and can cause pain and brain fog. The candida diet is similar to paleo, with more of an emphasis on sugar free, both artificial and natural. Candida feeds off sugar (and sugar from carbs), so starving it helps kill it.
This diet is supposed to be for 6-8 weeks, if I’m hardcore at it. If I cheat on the gluten and dairy, it’ll add time to the end. She wants to get the effects of the dairy and gluten out of my system for a minimum of 6 weeks before I can start experimenting with adding it back in. I will do my best.
I can’t give up sugar. Or carbs. I’m finding that the hardest thing. I’ve cut processed sugar, that’s really not that hard, I don’t eat much processed food to begin with. But carbs? Like potatoes and rice? And sweet things in general, like raisins or carrots? Good lord, that’s hard. I am doing my best, but it just won’t be 100%. I just don’t know what to eat! I feel like I ate a ton of food yesterday, much more than I would on a non-diet, but I was still frustratingly hungry most of the day. So it’s a work in progress.
I went to the store today specifically for paleo approved foods. My cheats were for fake dairy products, which I know are full of soy (soy is NOT paleo, but at the same time, it’s not gluten or dairy, so…). I’ve been eating a lot more eggs, and eggs without cheese or sour cream or SOMETHING are just sad. So I bought fake cheese and fake sour cream. I haven’t tried them yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re downright terrible. I also caved and bought a loaf of gluten free bread. I don’t plan on eating as much of it, but it’s there if I need an instant fix–like a bacon and avocado sandwich. I’m also going to make injera, an Ethiopian flatbread made with teff flour. It’s fermented, and makes a soft, spongy flatbread, like a thicker, bouncier crepe. That might be an awesome bread substitute, I could make sandwiches with it.
I am generally the sort of person who just doesn’t do diets. Food is a joy. Cooking is a happy time. Cooking with limits and restrictions is extremely frustrating. Not being able to walk into the kitchen and grab an instant snack is annoying. I’m trying to adjust though. And I’m struggling with how low carb to go. On one hand, I don’t need to cut carbs completely–my doctor mentioned that, but to really kick the candida, the lower the carbs the better. Can you tell, I don’t really know what I’m doing here?
However, I basically have free reign to eat as much bacon as I want. I was hungry yesterday afternoon, so I cooked up a pack of bacon, had a bunch in some salad, then munched on it all afternoon. I certainly liked that! I bought some smoked fish today that I’m excited to snack on, and toss into salads and eggs. I promised Dave I’d make some deviled eggs. He can down deviled eggs like Paul Newman with hard boiled eggs in Cool Hand Luke.
Coffee is one of the worst challenges, but I think I’m even starting to solve that. I love coffee. It’s ritual more than food. I like my coffee freshly ground, made in a very specific fancy coffee maker, poured into a handmade coffee mug, with half and half. Quite a bit of half and half. Which I now can’t have. I have settled, for now at least, on hemp milk. The idea of hemp milk is a bit disturbing, but it doesn’t taste terrible. It’s certainly not coffee that I’m used to drinking, but hemp milk and a bit of honey tastes like a new coffee flavored beverage that I think I can get used to. Friends have suggested all sorts of cream alternatives, every variety of fake milk, and some people swear by adding coconut oil and butter to their coffee. I just can’t. It just seems too weird!
I’m getting there though. My head does feel clearer, like someone swept out all of the cobwebs. I feel like I’ve got a bit more energy as well. I do think I have an issue with dairy. I think that, in addition to being lactose intolerant, there’s something else in cow’s milk that upsets my gut. I don’t know about gluten. I was gluten free for a long time about 8 years ago, and I don’t think I really noticed a huge change. However, I didn’t have fibromyalgia at that point, so it could be gluten. If, in the end, I have to go dairy free, I am still going to experiment with the fattiest of dairy products: butter and heavy cream. If I can keep that in my diet, I’ll be ok. I know that my favorite ice cream doesn’t hurt my stomach. So maybe there’s hope? Going gluten free wouldn’t be super terrible, I’d mostly be sad about store bought pastries, and eating my sister’s incredible breads and treats.
But I just can’t go low carb forever. No way, no how. Rice is a huge staple of our diet–Dave’s half Japanese after all. And I love potatoes. Mashed, roasted, anything. And pasta!! sheesh. How can anyone give up carbs!??