This is a guest post by Catherine Ebeling. She has an incredible story and is planning on sticking around for awhile with a regular Tuesday slot here on Being Primal.
Her expertise lies in nutrition specifically so feel free to ask any questions on things you would like to know more about that she can address in future posts.
We are also going to be creating a podcast as well so stay tuned for more on that. Here is Catherine's journey back to health.
My story is a true journey through the dietary maze of misinformation we’ve been given over the years. I actually used to be a vegan. But off and on I also had frequent colds and flu, acne, fatigue, digestive issues, brain fog, insomnia, depression, anxiety, yeast infections, asthma, allergies, sleepiness, irritability, weight gain, low thyroid, itchy rashes, arthritis, PMS, bloating, anemia, and more. Yes, really.
Why? I didn't know.
I exercised regularly, I plenty of sleep, I didn't smoke, drink too much, or have any really awful health habits. I was eating what I thought was a healthiest diet possible. Organic veggies by the plateful, whole grains, beans, seeds, and nuts. What could be better?
One day, I bit into a (vegan) pizza and broke off a tooth. No, the pizza wasn’t that hard, in fact it was soft and chewy. There was simply no reason for my tooth to chip like that.
Little did I know my vegan diet was slowly, but surely, causing serious vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
The real kicker was the day I was a couple months pregnant and went grocery shopping. I thought I would treat my husband to a nice juicy steak, being the meat eater that he was. I walked up to the meat counter and was absolutely mesmerized. It struck me as very odd having been an avowed vegan for 12 years, but those steaks looked good to me. There’s no explaining pregnancy cravings, I guess.
My hubby’s eyes got pretty big when he saw me sit down next to him with a big T-bone steak on my plate as well. I said, “Well, you know I have strange cravings now that I am pregnant, so I thought I would just try a bite. I’m certain its going to gross me out, since I’ve not eaten meat for so long.”
One bite turned into another and I soon had demolished the whole steak! Even I was shocked... At my next OB checkup, I mentioned the steak incident to my doctor, and the nurse immediately tested me for anemia. Lo and Behold! I was severely anemic.
What a surprise! I was probably protein starved as well.
So began my meat-eating days. I soon felt better, eating a diet that included red meat, chicken and fish--good usable protein, and healthy saturated fats that my body was craving.
After my three pregnancies, I continued to keep meat in my diet, but to a lesser extent. I still was eating a diet pretty heavy in carbs, but then that’s the food pyramid, right? Lots of complex, whole-grain carbs and low fat everything. I ate lots of tofu, soymilk, soy energy bars, whole wheat bread, corn tortillas, brown rice, whole grain cereals, rice cakes, and lots of beans and seeds. Sounds healthy, right?
Little did I know then that eating a diet heavy in these foods can cause serious zinc, calcium, magnesium, and B vitamin deficiencies.
I read and listened to all the news reports, books, and magazine articles about health and nutrition. I patted myself on the back for a job well done. Or so I thought…
Fast forward a few years to waking up one morning covered in a blistery, burning red, incredibly itchy rash all over my face, neck and eyes. (Think poison ivy with a sunburn.)
It took forever to go away, and I would wake up at night clawing at it--it itched so intensely. I tried everything to get rid of it—Benadryl, lotions, creams, hot water compresses, alcohol, you name it, I was desperate! Nothing would make it go away. Even my dermatologist couldn’t figure it out.
In an effort to stop the reoccurring rashes, I got rid of virtually everything in my house that was touching my skin and started using all natural, hypoallergenic products. No more conventional lotions, makeup, shampoos, soaps, or laundry detergent. I even re-washed all my towels, bed linens, and clothes to be sure nothing but the purest of pure touched my skin.
Well that didn’t help either.
The rashes kept appearing—each one more itchy and bigger than the last. I kept a journal of everything I did, everything I put in my mouth, everywhere I went, and anything I put on my skin.
One night after two years of this, I went out to dinner and the next day, I woke to THE RASH—again. Ugh. I went to my list and started crossing off all the things I had ruled out. One thing was left. A clear pattern suddenly stood out—and stared me back in the face. I had eaten wheat on every day prior to my rashes. I ran to the computer and googled “wheat and rashes”, and what popped up totally surprised me…
A page of listings on Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. So, I was gluten sensitive. How could that be, I was 45 and had never had any problems with wheat—or so I thought…
Well, I figured out a good portion of the health problems I had experienced over the last 20 years were related to gluten, corn and dairy allergies—and the rest were due to my vegan diet and nutritional deficiencies. Often, seemingly unrelated health problems can occur, as a result of food allergies and sensitivities. You see, when we eat something that we are allergic or sensitive to, it can cause deficiencies in nutrients, so health problems related to the nutritional deficiencies may be the first symptom of a food sensitivity. (i.e., my cracked tooth was a symptom of calcium malabsorption from gluten sensitivity.)
Many of those foods I was eating were REALLY not so healthy after all! They were leading me to chronic health problems, low energy, weight gain, and feeling TERRIBLE.
It was eye opening to me, to say the least.
It took me 30 years to figure all this out by researching and studying nutrition experts, doctors, dieticians, weight loss experts and more.
But I've found the secret to feeling good, looking great and feeling super healthy and I am here to share it with you. I don’t live on a starvation diet or nuts, seeds and berries either! This diet benefits the whole body, your overall health, weight, and moods as well.
I love to eat. I HATE being hungry all the time and I like to eat really GOOD food!
Food that tastes great and makes you feel great. Satisfying food. REAL food, not some chemistry nightmare with ingredients you can't pronounce, let alone want to put in your body. The answer is simple.
REAL food. Preferably the kind with ONE ingredient.
Eat simply. Eat healthy. Eat healthy fats. Eat naturally raised meat—yes, our bodies need meat. Eat tons of fresh organic veggies. Eat a little fruit—organic preferably.
Eating has become so complex these days. While we have been led to believe that many of the foods we are eating are 'healthy', help us lose weight, and are 'natural'—but in fact, they are not. Many are unhealthy and addictive.
Most of the food you buy in the grocery store is a concoction of processed, industrialized, chemically complex substances that are far removed from its natural origins? Our bodies don't recognize these unnatural substances and the many modern diseases that are now near epidemic are rooted in these processed, factory foods.
Now I’ve come full circle. My diet consists of the best quality grass-fed beef (I was never a big beef eater until I started eating grass-fed—now I love it), wild caught fish, and free-range organic chicken, and LOTS of organic veggies.
I am absolutely amazed at the transformation in my body, my emotional outlook, my mental alertness, and my general wellbeing. Gone is that long list of health problems. Gone!! Absolutely gone. My energy is like that of a teenager, and I’m in the best physical shape of my whole life.
I even decided that I wanted to start riding a bike for fun and exercise at age 50, and at age 53, I’m now racing my mountain bike, road bike and cyclocross bike in an elite category against women half my age! And, I’m winning!
The takeaways from my story...
I realized one very important thing in this dietary journey and have since seen all the research on it—humans NEED to eat meat. It’s vital for our healthy survival, and I am living proof of that. I also eat tons of organic vegetables of all kinds, some fresh fruit, and lots and lots of healthy fats like organic grass-fed butter, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and lard. We do NOT need to eat grains (even ‘whole grains’), sugar, or artificial things.
It’s never too late to make a change in your diet and your health, and it’s never too late to reap the rewards. I feel great and look younger than my 53 years. Take my word. You can do this too—at any age!
What we’re TOLD is ‘healthy’ is often not. Don’t be fooled by fancy packaging or slick advertisements. ‘Healthy foods’ do not come in a box or can. They are organic, naturally raised foods with ONE ingredient. Know what you are eating.
Your diet, nutrition, weight loss, and health do not have to be complicated. Nutrition can be simple and you can start with eating foods that you recognize and that your body recognizes.
Here’s to You!