My Addiction

Sometimes I catch myself having some really odd conversations about food. For example, a few days ago I found myself talking to Sarah about how I wasn't too worried about eating too many nuts in the original phase of weaning myself off grains for GAPS because nuts aren't addicting in the same way that gluten is.

Really? Am I really talking using nuts to wean myself off of grains in the same way that a heroin addict uses methadone?

I'm not suggesting anyone who eats wheat or sugar has an addiction to it, in the same way that if you drink a glass of wine I wouldn't assume you are an alcoholic, but some people have addictive personalities. Alcoholism is real and devastating, but it doesn't affect everybody who has a beer. Sugar and wheat addictions are real, they just don't affect everyone in the same way.

I have an addictive personality. I've prayed about, I'm working on it, Jesus is working on me too. Throughout my life there have been periods of literally months where I have lived on just haribo, redbull and gin, with a McDonalds thrown in once every couple of days. Needless to say this has played havoc with my body, and it's little surprise the I got very ill.

I'm not telling you this because I'm proud of it, but because I want you to have some context for my posts. If I sometimes get a little enthusiastic about nutrition, I want you to understand where I've come from and not feel like I'm the food police, or that I'll judge you if you eat a cake in my presence.

This photo was taken at my little sister's birthday about six years ago. Despite remaining slim on my ridiculous diet (only through calorie restriction) you can see I didn't look great. Even though I'm wearing copious amounts of make-up you can see dark shadows under my eyes, my skin always had a yellow tone and my lips were covered in fever blisters. What you can't see is that I also suffered with insomnia, chronic dysmenorrhea that regularly had me hospitalised and/or on morphine and diclofenac, I had phobias that meant I couldn't be alone in a house after dark and that hair grip is carefully placed to hide my thinning hair.

I was also convinced that I was morbidly obese.

The next photo was taken at about the same time. My hair is once again carefully placed in a messy style to hide the fact that it's falling out (it's fashionable now, but it really wasn't then), you can see fever blisters around my lips, dark circles under the eyes.

Despite being slimmer than I am now, I remember crying that day because I felt like I had nothing to wear to cover how fat I was.

I also had the body of a child. Even the 32AA (smallest bra that wonderbra make in the uk) gaped on my chest and made me feel ridiculous and ashamed.

I suffered unexplained migraines, absence seizures (rare, but concerning) and mood swings. I really can't think why Matt wanted to date me!

Feeling like I didn't have enough energy to do all the things I wanted to do I started to train really hard. I would be in the gym 2-3 hours everyday, then swim for an hour. I used to buy meal replacement bars so that people would see me increasing me calorie intake to cope with the demand, but then secretly bin them and keep the wrappers for my car to give the illusion that I'd eaten them. I even started using ephedrine to suppress my appetite and keep me focused enough to work.

No surprise I became ill, and after having glandular fever and meningitis I was forced to drop out of university in my final year. I spent hours every day sleeping - not just the odd nap here and there, but sometimes 20 out of 24 hours, waking up for 20 minutes at a time to drink, get help going to the bathroom etc... and was eventually diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or ME. By body was in constant pain. Some days were worse than others, but even addiction to pain killers wouldn't help. Paracetamol wouldn't touch it and once I was on the maximum doses of codeine and voltarol the GP ran out of things he was allowed to prescribe for me (I had a lovely sympathetic GP who'd had glandular fever himself 35 years earlier and still felt the effects).

Slowly I learned to manage pain and sleep (I still needed much more than most people and had to wean off the painkillers slowly) and start to have a life again. My lovely husband had to support us, because I was never able to hold a full time job again. In fact even part time jobs never lasted more than a few weeks.

We were excited to fall pregnant, only to have the university GP tell me that we should abort due to my health. Believing that God would not give me more than I could handle we continued with the pregnancy and had our beautiful baby boy. After his birth I had mental health issues and was under psychiatric review for the next four years, during which time we had our little girl. As you can see I was stacking on weight at this point. Being unable to exercise without setting back my ME and still being addicted to grains and sugars meant that even with calorie restriction I was unable to lose weight. This photo is not me at my biggest, but I deleted pretty much all photos of me during this period because I hated to look at them.

When I was first told about GAPS I couldn't believe it. It sounded so ridiculously hard, and as it was being promoted to me as a way to help with my sons autism, I felt it was unnecessary. He didn't seem very severe to me. It wasn't until his behaviour started to deteriorate and the paediatrician was telling me this was 'normal' that I even started to consider it. I bit the bullet, bought the book, and was in shock.

It was like reading my medical history. I honestly couldn't believe what I was seeing on the page. We started to GAPS diet to help with William's behaviour, but it has completely changed my life. I'm now a happy, healthy mummy, with the energy to look after her children and still enjoy serving in our church and pursuing my own interests.

The diet has become easier and easier to maintain, it was hard at first, but as I stuck with it and saw results, I was motivated to continue, to a point where it is now second nature.

I'm not as slim as I have been in my younger years, but I honestly don't care and I also don't bruise as easily, which is a big bonus.

I know GAPS isn't for everyone, but for some of us food really is medicine. I'd encourage you to look into dealing with health issues nutritionally, before resorting to man-made chemicals.

So if I seem a little obsessed, a little evangelical or over-enthusiastic; forgive me. Now you know a little about where I've come from, you'll hopefully understand.

For those who don't know me, this is what I look like now.


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