The No Coffee Experiment

Well, I’m on day ten of drinking tea instead of coffee to see if it would affect the burgeoning joint pain in my fingers.  I decided to try this because my mother has some bad joint deformity in her fingers at 81 years old, and I noticed that my pointer finger knuckle was looking like it was about to take the same journey. I can’t say I have pain necessarily, just some swelling and tenderness if I squeeze it. I am not giving up caffeine, just the coffee. However I estimate I’ve gone from 500 mg of caffeine a day to about 150 mg, which is the equivalent of about 1 cup of brewed coffee.

So on day ten I’m about to throw in the towel, because I’m not noticing one bit of difference in my hands. I did a blood test last year that didn’t show any inflammation from coffee, but I know not all inflammatory markers are measured in every test so I did the elimination to see if it made a difference. Coffee is listed for exclusion on autoimmune protocols, and since I know I can’t consume nightshades, gluten or dairy I figured it would be worth a try.

I haven’t noticed any improvement in sleep and I mostly just feel more tired at the end of the day. My digestion is the same. No miracle skin improvement or energy boosts. For the most part I’m just sad because I can’t have my coffee. I don’t like tea and half the time it upsets my stomach. Therefore in the spirit of not depriving myself further joy, I’m going back on the juice! Upside is I’ve greatly decreased the amount of caffeine I have to have, so I’m going to stick to just one cup (12oz size) of the magical java daily for now.

 

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When a Whole 30 Isn’t Enough

Starting your journey to health with a Whole 30  is a brilliant idea. The information and community support is tremendous. You will feel better and understand the power of eating REAL food. What I’ve learned though is sometimes it isn’t enough. What? Giving up all the food that makes you joyful isn’t enough? That’s crazy talk! Well, it is my truth. Would I go back to eating processed food and too much sugar? No way.

My “only” lingering health issue after several years of real food eating is migraines. I have abnormal ones. They come on first with a visual aura and last 2-4 hours. Occasionally I will go months without one. Sometimes I get a couple a month. If I had to guess, I’d say they have something to do with my hormones as I’ve addressed diet & lifestyle. However I haven’t had to take antibiotics for five years and I cannot remember the last time I was really sick. Oh wait I do remember; it was when the hospital made me get a flu shot before I could see my new granddaughter four years ago. I felt crappy for a few days, but was not bed ridden.

My point of writing this is to say even though your health might not be perfect after you clean up your diet, it will be improved in noticeable ways. The bottom line is you can’t take a pill or supplement and keep making poor food choices if you want to improve your health, lose weight or feel better long term. For improvement in your health to need to heal your gut. And for healing to occur in your gut, you have to eat real food, have good sleep and stress relief hygiene (yoga, meditation), and move. Walk outdoors and lift heavy things and surround yourself with good people. You have to do this for a long time before you “cheat.” Maybe a year, maybe two, maybe three. I was forty when I found out I was gluten and dairy intolerant and had what I now know was the beginnings of autoimmune issues. Real food, real activity, real sleep is a lifestyle, not a diet. You are kidding yourself if you think one Whole 30 is going to fix you forever. It is a stepping stone to get you on track for having a better quality of life. You have damaged your gut over a lot of years and you need to honor yourself enough to give it time to heal. Use the wealth of free information on sites like www.Robbwolf.com , www.thepaleomom.com, www.marksdailyapple.com, www.everydaypaleo.com, and www.radicatamedicine.com to get started. Check out the books links in my resource section for help too. You don’t have to pay for meal plans or shopping lists, because people who live this way (like me) want to help you. Recruit family and friends to do it with you and have planning dates and batch cooking parties. It is work, but it is beyond worth it. If you put in the work, down the road you can have some of the celebratory treats on special occasions, but you might not want them.

Paleo Is Not A Diet

What I like most about eating real food is that it has impacted other aspects of my life. Leading me to the decision to write about the fact that paleo is not just about the food. It has made me a more mindful person when it comes to the lifestyle choices I make, the importance of my food sources and the people I listen to.

Lifestyle adjustments are important. You must make a conscious effort to lead a life with as little stress as possible. This means learning to say no. I am a giver, fixer and problem solver. In years past I would over extend myself (constantly being busy) thinking it was a good thing. It’s not. I thought volunteering for booster clubs, helping friends in crisis on top of going to college and raising my family was just the way it had to be. I’ve learned in middle age that other people (including employers) not planning well in their own lives is not my problem. I’ve learned that taking care of myself first helps me be better for the people I love the most. For me what is important is my family and friends and being able to spend quality time with them. Material things are not what nutures our spirit. What matters are the relationships we build. This “paleo” lifestyle has taught me to expend energy in a way that fosters relationships. Group dinners and gym potlucks, coffee or workout dates with friends are examples. Reach out to those around you and plan events that improve your health and help you connect with your community.

Where your food comes from matters. I do my best to buy local organic vegetables, pastured eggs and grass-fed meat. I grow what I can during the summer in my own garden which provides me with healthy doses of Vitamin D and joy from digging in the dirt. If you don’t have your own room to garden check out community gardens in your town. Some schools or local farms have gardens that will exchange produce for weeding time. It is a way to connect to the land and teach yourself and your children about where food comes from. It also offers the opportunity to try new fruits and vegetables in the real food recipes you are making. If gardening is out of the question, find your local farmers market and make it a weekly excursion.

What inputs you allow into your head are important. We are saturated in media these days and it is vital to find sources rooted in solid science when it comes to our health. I have read voraciously over the past six years trying to expand my knowledge of nutrition and have listened to many health lectures that were way over my head. To be honest I rely on people with a background in science to decipher it for me. Chris Kresser, Sarah Ballantyne, Aglaée Jacob and Robb Wolf are people I trust to give me honest information, because they have scientific backgrounds and understand how to look at the efficacy of a scientific study. They also will adjust their nutritional and lifestyle advice based on current research. Be a skeptic when it comes to nutritional advice. Educate yourself and never assume what you are hearing or reading is fact, because every study can be funded by someone with their own agenda or a desire to protect their money. Ideal health comes from doing your own research and determining what your optimal diet is through elimination and reintroduction of foods.

Be selfish when it comes to your wellbeing, because in the end it makes you healthier and happier for the people that matter the most.