My experience with an anti-inflammatory diet

Wahls ProtocolAbout a month and a half ago, I started a new anti-inflammatory diet, the Wahls Protocol to help with my fibromyalgia symptoms. This diet was created by Dr. Terry Wahls who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis. She created this protocol by studying autoimmune disorders and brain biology. She adopted the protocol herself in order to help with her MS.

Accoring to my understanding of the diet, the main concept is to eliminate all inflammatory foods such as grains, sugar, and other high lectin foods (like starchy foods). It’s kind of a derivative of the combination of the paleo diet and the ketogenic diet. In her book, The Wahls Protocol Cooking for Life: The Revolutionary Paleo Plan to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune conditions, she talks about how staying in ketogenisis will help reduce inflammation, which will then help with pain.

At first I was very skeptical of the diet. After all, haven’t we all tried something similar to help our illnesses? I’m sure most of us have tried some sort of diet to help with our symptoms before. I’ve tried several things to try to help my pain and none of them worked like they promised they would, so why would this one be any different? Besides, when I went to the Mayo Clinic Pain Rehabilitation Center for a month long rehabilitation program, they had told me not to restrict myself (meaning not to try any “miracle diets) because it encouraged pain behavior. However, since then, my fibromyalgia has progressed and several of my mother’s doctors had suggested a low lectin diet that was almost identical to the Wahls Protocol to help with her own autoimmune conditions. So I decided that I had nothing to lose and to simply try it. I could always stop if it wasn’t working.

The first few days were difficult. Not because I was craving foods that I couldn’t eat, but because of intense fatigue. To this day I’m not sure if that was because of some sort of flare or if it was due to changing my diet but I have a suspicion that it was a combination of both. Since then, I have learned that sometimes when people start a ketogenic diet, they experience the “keto flu”, where they experience flu-like symptoms while their bodies adjust. Because I already struggle a lot with fatigue, those first few days I could barely do anything. I mostly layed on the couch barely able to feed myself. Once this passed and I started to have some more energy, I started to get a little discouraged because I wasn’t seeing a lot of improvement. My fibromyalgia pain was somewhat better but my energy was about the same. However, I did not give up. I didn’t see the point in stopping the diet since it encourages you to eat healthy foods and  since I wasn’t losing any weight (a good thing), I didn’t see a  problem in continuing the Whals Protocol.

It’s now been around a month and a half on the diet and I can say that my pain has significantly improved and that I have more energy. My fibromyalgia pain still hasn’t gone away (not that I really expected it to) but it has significantly improved. I haven’t suffered from painsomnia in quite a while, whereas it used to be that my back and hip pain would keep me from sleeping well at night. I also have been more active. I have actually had the energy to do my physical therapy workout almost everyday and have even started going to a dance class once a week. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a miracle cure (as far as I know, at least for me). I still struggle with pain and fatigue from fibromyalgia, it’s just not as intense.

Although you still might be skeptical about this diet, I know that it has helped me quite a bit. This diet might not be for everyone but if you are inttigued by it, I suggest you look into Dr. Wahls’ research and her books: The Whals Protocol: A Radical New Way to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principlesand The Wahls Protocol Cooking for Life: The Revolutionary Modern Paleo Plan to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions.

Personally, I’m continuing the diet for now and will keep you posted on any changes.

Introduction

I had to reupload this post because it was somehow deleted. Sorry that things are out of order now.

Hi. My name’s Madeleine. And I like to describe myself as a repressed soft emo. What is a repressed soft emo. Well, I have Crabkthatfrank and Jessie Paege to thank for that description. According to Urban Dictionary, a repressed emo is, “Exactly what it sounds like. An emo who has been repressed.” Basically I’m an emo who doesn’t look emo.

Now, what’s a soft emo? A soft emo is an emo who also likes bright and happy things. I’m not limited to only listening to Pierce the Veil or Black Veil Brides. I also enjoy some Ed Sheeran and Ariana Grande sometimes. Not to mention kpop.

But I’m not only a repressed soft emo. I’m also a nature and travel photographer. I first picked up the camera when I saw my mom taking a bunch of pictures while we were on vacation. It always intrigued me how she would stop walking, wait for the right moment, and take a ton of pictures from different distances and angles. I absolutely adore my mother, so when I saw that she loved photography, I wanted to try it too. At first, I just took snapshots of my environment. But as I got older and started to mature, I noticed that through photography, I was able to make others see the world as I see it. I was able to emphasize the details in a landscape that most people would miss but that I found absolutely beautiful. I also realized that photography was a way of documenting an experience. It’s taking a snapshot of a continuous entity. Life. I really started to take photography when I was thirteen. My mom and I would share her professional camera and I had my own point and shoot digital camera. I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world and photograph its beauty along the way. Photography is one of the ways that I became passionate about conserving our planet. But that story is for another time

Finally, I’m a chronic illness warrior. I battle several chronic illnesses such as Ehlers Diablo’s Syndrome, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic Daily Headache, Chronic Migraine, and Gastroparesis. Basically this means that I have to live with a lot of chronic pain as well as other difficult symptoms. Did you notice that I put this part of my description of myself last? That’s because a lot of times people like to assume that my illnesses define me. And, although my illnesses have shaped me into who I am today, they don’t define me. I’m not just a sick girl. I’m so much more than that. Like i said before, I’m a repressed soft emo, I’m a nature and travel photographer and I’m so much more. Although my illnesses are a part of my life, I’m not limited to being chronically ill. I’m still a person with passions and dreams.

I never want people to only see me as someone who battles illness. Although I o want people to know that that’s a part of who I am, I want people to know my whole personality. And I’m sure that’s what most people in the chronic illness community want for themselves too.

I’m a lot of things, most of them not listed here, but i am not defined by my illnesses.

How the media has turned self-care into a business

Self-care

Disclaimer: This post is based on my experience and what I have learned from others around me. It is also based on Jack Lam’s Youtube video, “why MOST of self-care is misleading”. People may have a different perspective on this issue and if you feel the need to add something to this post, feel free to write about it in the comments.

Throughout the past couple of years, bath bombs and face masks have come to the frontlines of what we call self-care. However, the way the media portrays self-care, relaxing baths or lighting a candle, for example, is not always acurate. Most people today believe self-care to be something you need to do when you’re at your breaking point, when you have no other option but to take care of yourself. And although this alleviates your anxiety and depression for a while, it is not a permanent solution. If you think about it, by only taking good care of yourself when life gets tough is not self-care, but damage control.

Self-care is not limited to manicures, eating a healthy meal once in a while, face masks, or bath bombs. Self-care is an active job. It’s fixing the things in your life that are causing you to get to the breaking point. This can range from stopping a bad habit to removing a toxic relationship from your life. It all depends on your situation. Self-care is taking care of yourself everyday, not just once in a while.

However, the media these days has turned self-care into a product, something that you can buy that will magically fix all of your problems. But that’s simply untrue. They advertise these bath bombs and face masks as something that will help with stress, anxiety, and will help you relax when there is a much bigger problem. These products may relieve stress for a certain amount of time, since it can be relaxing, but the problem that is causing all of the stress is still in your life. Instead of addressing the root cause, you are simply more inclined to keep buying the products advertised by the media. That’s not to say that these products are bad (I definitely enjoy face masks) but they are not a permanent “cure”.

To be actively practicing self-care is to listen to your body and your mind everyday. Don’t overwork yourself to the point where you feel like everything is going to come crashing down. Use moderation. Do something that you enjoy and that makes you happy at least once everyday, even if it’s for a short amount of time. If a toxic person is in your life, don’t be afraid to cut them out. This might be incredibly difficult, especially if this is someone you’re really close with, but at some point you need to think about yourself and your health. Maybe you two just don’t interact well with each other. There’s no shame in that! There are so many people in the world. We’re bound to meet some we don’t “click” with. Self-care is going to the gym everyday (if you’re able) not just when you ate a big meal and feel guilty about it.

Self-care is an everyday part of our lives and can differ from person to person depending on what they are able to do and what they need to focus on. Having said all of that, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with taking one day (or more) of the week to pamper yourself  a little and practice some stereotypical “self-care”. Personally I dedicate one day of the week to self-care. A day where I take care of myself, listen to what my body needs, and do all of the things that make me feel good. I call it Self-Care Sunday. The idea came from Sephora’s Skin Care Sunday, where they usually have a bunch of sales on their website. I thought,”Why not make it into a general self-care day?” Every Sunday, I try to take some time to myself, to do the things that make me happy like working out (as best as I’m able to that day), drawing or painting, spending time with my family and pets, watching my favorite movie, and, of course, using a body scrub, a face mask, drinking some herbal tea, and reading a good book. On these days I like to disconnect from social media and try to just enjoy the moment. I also try not to work on Sundays and really take the day for myself.

I understand that this is all coming from an extremely priveleged point of view and that not everyone has this luxury. Many people don’t have the luxury of not working on Sundays, or buying face masks or other self-care products. And a lot of people are so busy working that they don’t necessarily have time to work out every day, or they might be disabled/struggling with illness and are unavle to exercise. To those people I would simply say to do what you can. In no way am I encouraging you to go buy self-care products. But I am encouraging you to suround yourself with people that make you feel happy and welcomed. And like I said earlier, try to do something that makes you happy at least a little bit every day, whether it be drawing or looking at funny animal videos, just find something that will make you happy.

I wish you all well.

What is a spoonie?

One of the first things you hear about when looking into the chronic illness community is “spoonie”. This may confuse a lot of people. You might be thinking,”What do spoons have to do with chronic illness?” This all stems from The Spoon Theory, first written by Christine Miserandino. What is The Spoon Theory? It’s a disability metaphor. When people struggle with chronic illness, their energy is often limited and simple tasks like preparing a meal, taking a shower, or doing homework can take a lot more energy than for healthy people. The idea behind the spoon theory is to help people visualize their energy: the spoons represent their energy. Each spoonie wakes up with a certain amount of spoons (the amount of spoons can vary day to day) and each task they accomplish will cost them a certain amount of said spoons, which can vary from task to task. For example, I can wake up one day with ten spoons. I get out of bed and might need to give up one spoon. I make myself breakfast and give up another spoon. I get ready for the day and give up three spoons, and so on. The amount of spoons required for each task depends on both the person and the day.

Continuing my example, waking up with ten spoons and already losing five spoons so early in the day can make it easy to run out of spoons without the day being over. That’s why spoonies need to prioritize their tasks and why we may not always be able to participate in social activities. Just getting through a normal day is difficult enough. A great example of the sSpoon Theory is the video game Robin. In this game, the player has to accomplish certain tasks each day with only a certain amount of energy. It is impossible to finish all of these tasks in a single day with the little energy the player is given, so he or she needs to prioritize the different tasks. For example, feeding your animal is a high priority task because a living being is depending on you. However, a spoonie might not shower everyday or do the dishes everyday.

Another important aspect of living your life as a spoonie is moderation. If you do too much one day, your body could need days or even weeks to recover. That’s why, to be able to function relatively well each day, you need to moderate your activity. Listen to your body and see what it needs. If it needs a rest day, then rest, but if you’re feeling up to it, try to do some activity, whether that be walking outside for a few minutes or playing with your dog. But don’t do too much. Don’t have a full day of cleaning the house nonstop otherwise you’ll pay for it the next day.

Life with chronic illness is not easy. And it’s not easy for the people around us to understand it. But spoon theory is a way for chronic illness warriors to connect with each other and for their loved ones to understand what each of us is going through. I explained spoon theory as best as I could but if you want the original post, go check out Chrictine Miserandino’s website butyoudontlooksick.com. Also check out the video game Robin since playing it truly helps you understand the difficulties a spoonie faces. Jacksepticeye made a video playing this game so even if you don’t want to play the game, I suggest you go watch his video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmkc8DcGTy