I’ll start at the beginning, because I really have to give my parents credit for the way I eat today.

We ate a lot of meals together as a family…balanced meals ( entree, vegetable, salad, and milk or water to drink)….food was never forced…soda was reserved for special occasions…and then there were the occasional “ice cream sundae” parties…the fun indulgences!

High School Days…

Moving on to high school…I was very active (cross country running, track and field, softball), but my eating habits took a temporary turn for the worse during my teenage years. Think Fritos and chocolate cake for lunch, and, on the flip side, crazy liquid diets to lose weight…oh, my!

College & Beyond…

Early college was a little better, but not much…I was still very active, but my idea of healthy at that time was eating lots of fat free foods, including fat free candy. Definitely not my idea of healthy these days. Fortunately, I took a nutrition class my senior year, and began my journey back towards healthy eating.

Having children brought me so much joy, but also health problems

Flash forward many years to the birth of my children. I had easy pregnancies with both, but ~ 3-4 months after the birth of both SiSi and Big Tex, I developed strange symptoms including numbness and tingling in my extremities, achey muscles,  joint pain, more frequent migraine headaches, racing pulse, insomnia, extreme fatigue, occasional dry eyes, and exercise intolerance.

After visits to several different doctors, I was finally given a diagnosis -“Probable Sjogren’s Syndrome” and “Possible Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”. Note: It took over 2 years for me to get this diagnosis, so I truly sympathize with those of you who have had a similar experience.

Although I was happy to finally receive a diagnosis, I wasn’t thrilled with the advice given to me…”There’s not much we can do at this time…” “We’ll watch it and see what happens…” “If it gets worse we can put you on medication…”

I’m SO thankful my parents brought me up to question things, and be an advocate for my own health, so I decided to research these conditions to see what alternative treatments were available.  

Ultimately, I found two supportive doctors at The Arthritis Center in Riverside.  They were both wonderful physicians who helped start me on the road back to good health.  Some of the treatments I used were antibiotic therapy, heparin therapy (Through testing, I found out I had a genetic predisposition towards abnormal blood clotting), and various supplements.  These therapies all helped to a moderate degree, but ultimately I decided I didn’t want to remain on antibiotics and heparin indefinitely, so I continued my research.

Eventually I discovered there is a link between celiac disease and Sjogren’s Syndrome, so I asked to be tested. Although my blood tests came back negative, genetic testing revealed I carry one of the genes linked to celiac disease, so I decided to trial a gluten-free diet. I also learned about MRT food sensitivity testing, and the LEAP elimination diet around the same time, and had the test done, which revealed I was sensitive in varying degrees to numerous foods, including “healthy” foods such as apples, tomatoes, and almonds, just to name a few.  

Regaining my health…

What I did next was very challenging, but 100 % worth it!  I completely eliminated gluten from my diet, and for the next 6 months I followed my LEAP elimination diet strictly, eliminating my reactive foods, and slowly adding non-reactive foods in to my diet.  After 6 months, I started re-introducing reactive foods in to my diet, and found a few foods that I still did not tolerate, but most  of the foods I was able to tolerate again.

After eliminating gluten and going on the LEAP diet, slowly, but surely my remaining symptoms started clearing up. That was almost 8 years ago, and today, I consider myself just as healthy as I was before my pregnancies.  I still get occasional migraines, but not like I did before.  My energy level is back to normal. {As good as it can be raising two active kids!} I sleep well most nights. My body aches and joint pains are gone.  I have no more neuropathy, and, gratefully, I am finally able to exercise regularly again.

One unexpected consequence of eliminating gluten from my diet and dealing with food sensitivities is that I re-discovered the joy in cooking that I had as a kid. My family still enjoys eating out, but more meals than not are cooked at home with fresh, organic, whole foods.  It is my hope that both my own health experiences and my nutrition expertise will help you in your journey towards good health.

I know firsthand, the difficulty, pain, and frustration of dealing with an autoimmune condition, and want to help others who are experiencing the same, so, please, if you have any questions, or need a friendly ear to listen, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me to chat!

Also, if you feel my story will help someone you love, I’d be honored if you share it. Thank you so much!