It has been one year since I’ve been gluten-free, sugar-free, and dairy-free, and for the past six months, 80% of my diet has been composed of chicken, egg whites, and millet. Let that sink in for a moment.
How the tables have turned on me! I used to eat pancakes every morning, a PB&J sandwich every afternoon, and chocolate ice cream every night. Spaghetti with stir-fried vegetables was one of my favorite dinners. At school, I treated myself with the occasional Boloco burrito or ABP pastry (half price a half hour before they close!).
The low residue diet I’m on now is not for the rest of my life (although I’ll likely stick to being gluten-, sugar-, and dairy-free for that long). Once my colon is fully healed, I’ll add back in all of my long-lost vegetable friends and add in foods that might be fine to have now but I’m avoiding just for the sake of keeping my diet simple.
When I first became free of gluten, sugar, and dairy under the recommendation of my chiropractor last June, I was excited and determined to stick to the plan, believing that it would be a major component of my healing process. After an initial improvement, however, I began to backslide, and then began to crave illegal foods. I would occasionally sneak some – a piece of cheese, a spoonful of peanut butter and jam, or a couple potato chips, and then progressed to bites of lasagna or ramakins of spaghetti. I performed all of this sneakery in the middle of the night because I was living at home with my parents and didn’t want my discouragement to become contagious.
When my herbalist restricted my diet further, I was again enthusiastic about trying a new approach, and my cravings disappeared. I wanted and needed to be faithful because I felt that this diet, in addition to the herbs and supplements, was my last chance to save my colon. My symptoms started to improve soon after beginning this new regimen, which proved to me that all of my efforts were making a difference, and so my cravings stayed at bay. You might think that the better I feel, the more likely I am to cheat and have the mindset that everything is going just dandy, but in fact, the opposite happens; the less symptoms I have, the more confident I feel in my diet, and so I don’t dare stir the pot. Because of this, I have been able to stick to my diet for as long as I have, a length of time that pancake-addicted Roxanne would not have thought possible! But one does what is necessary. To further prove my theory on the relationship between health and cravings, in late February when my colonoscopy set me back, I became disgusted by the thought of millet and refused it for a few days, choosing to instead have anything different that was still allowed, which was rice (sprinkled with lots of salt). As I improved, though, I re-embraced millet and ate more than ever before as I felt healthier than at any other point since my flare started.
As my health improved, we started to add in some cooked vegetables: peas, carrots, butternut squash, and kale, but unfortunately, since the beginning of May I’ve mostly avoided these due to some symptoms arising after reaching 8.5 mg of prednisone. Despite these symptoms, I’ve continued to have energy and a large appetite (can’t get through my first class without nibbling on some rice cakes) and school has been going great. I just saw my herbalist a few days ago, and we’re modifying my herbs yet again and trying a couple other new things, including a different probiotic. I’ve stayed at 8.5 mg prednisone during this time.
Snapshot of my life right now: I’m sitting at my desk with one window letting some light in, and on my desk are a glass of water, an empty bowl once containing millet, hand lotion, a calculator, sticky notes, tupperware, a keychain, and my glasses. My ginger tea is steeping in the kitchen, and after drinking that I’ll walk to campus for yoga. This week is my last week of classes for the summer, which I can’t believe…this semester has gone so fast! This was just the right amount of school to start with after being on medical leave for a year, and I’m looking forward to the rest of my summer at home (and in Newfoundland) and then coming back in the fall.