Flaring Up? Don’t pop more pills just yet!

Happy Monday, all!¬† What an oxymoron that statement¬†is ūüôā

Just a little update before the main gist of my post…

So¬†I am¬†12 days¬†into my Autoimmune Protocol diet to begin to heal my Ulcerative Colitis, an autoimmune digestive condition (check out “The Paleo Mom”¬† with LOADS of AIP info, recipes, explanations and more).¬†Two big changes I’ve noticed in my colitis symptoms in the past couple of days are: 1) I haven’t bled in the last 4-5 days and 2) the heavy, “inflammed” sensation I was experiencing at the base of my tailbone has greatly subsided.¬† Don’t get me wrong, I’m still experiencing gas, bloating, and some urgency, etc. – but it’s a step in the right direction in my book, and my condition feels quite manageable for the time being.

My goal is to continue with AIP for at least 2 months before I begin reintroducing foods – MAN do I miss EGGS, though!¬† I’m thinking outloud here – the whole “Reintroduction” phase on this elimination diet scares the living hell out of me, because it seems like such a precise process where one slip throws 2 months of strict AIP down the drain!¬† I’m a worryer, so of course, I’m already stressing about what’s to come!

eat all the things

…Orrrr eat NONE of the things??

Have you had an experience with re-introducing foods on AIP/Paleo/Specific Carbohydrate Diet ??? How did you go about planinng for it realistically?¬† Or did you just choose to avoid these foods in your diet indefinitely?¬† Also I’m thinking about buying “The Paleo Approach” by Sarah Ballantyne – has anyone read this book and could give me a quick review??

the paleo approach

I suppose maybe this fear of “reintroduction” is what has kept me from truly implementing¬†“AIP” in my life for some time now – any feedback you can offer about your own trials, errors and succsses is greatly appreciated!

I’m not ready to post my next “3 Ways to Happy Post”, but I¬†did want to share some natural ways I like to calm my flare ups and symptoms when they hit, WITHOUT having to increase my medication.¬† I hope these tips help you, but please – I’m not a doctor.¬† If things are serious, get the help you need!

HOLISTIC FLARE-UP MANAGMENT TIPS:

—- Try sipping some aloe every day.¬† It soothes inflammation from the inside, just like it soothes sunburn on the outside!¬† I buy the Lily of the Desert brand from my local natural grocer.¬† If you don’t like the taste, add it to a smoothie and mix it into a low-sugar organic juice!

—- Drink some healing homemade¬†bone broth,¬†– check out my¬†first post for a¬†simple crockpot recipe!

—- Eat soft foods, while still getting nutrients.¬†¬†Steam or boil all vegetables to make them easier to break down.¬†¬†Puree fruits, drink smoothies with avocado and banana, eat less-fatty meats.¬† I personally really enjoy¬†certain¬†canned veggies like green beans and carrots.¬† Gross to some maybe, but to me they are the next best thing!

—- Consider taking a daily digestive supplement like GI REVIVE – a nutritionist I saw suggested I take it, and though I am not currently taking it, I still have some in my pantry on hand in case a flare-up rears it’s ugly head.

—- If I’m going to have a big meal, I sometimes take a swig of apple cider vinegar to aid in digestion and to ward off gas, bloating, etc., which worsen my flare-ups.¬† Try getting ACV into your diet in other ways like making your own delicious and health packed salad dressing!¬† I mixed up my own (below) in an empty glass spice bottle – 1 parts ACV to 2 parts olive oil, Himalayan salt and herbs to taste.¬† I used oregano, parsley and onion powder.

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—- Try to eat smaller meals during a flare-up to give your digestive tract a little break.¬† Big meals will force your system to work twice as hard to break down twice the food!¬† And if you have a slow digestive system like me, that spells big trouble…

—- Cut back on dried fruit – for me, dried fruit blocks me up, for some it does the opposite.¬† There is lots of sugar in dried fruit and cutting out that extra sugar can help regulate things.

—- Take up a calming hobby like yoga, jewelry making, reading, painting, writing, walking, etc.¬† Not only is doing something you like stress relieving, it will also get your mind off of harping on your current flare-up.

—- Sleep!¬† Sometimes a hot cup of chamomile tea and an early bed time can do wonders!¬† Snuggle up with a good book, sip some tea, decompress and conk out!¬† And don’t forget to breathe deep!

—- Ease stress during flare-up times by being over-prepared – meal prep for a couple of days with soft, healing comfort foods so you won’t be tempted to eat any problem foods when hungry and stuck in a pinch – this one is embarrassing, but pack an extra pair of undies (maybe even some¬†TP) in your purse,¬†book bag, gym bag, etc.¬†¬†Obviously, the plan is to NOT use these items but at least you know they are there if¬†need be!

—- LAUGH!¬† Go watch a funny movie, hang out with your funniest friend (my boyfriend in my case, yes I’m lucky).

Now – I’m SO interested to know – what are your healthy flare-up management tips?? Can’t wait to hear from all of you!

Stay tuned for my next “3 Ways to Happy” post in the next day or so!

 

In healthful happiness,

-Erika

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My story and the first “3 Ways to Happy” Post

Hello, world!¬† Ah, it’s great to be here, to be writing again – and writing about a holistic lifestyle, health and happiness.¬† I’ll skip the blabbing for now and get right to the story – my story – and the digestive illness and health concerns¬†that have inspired me to start “Holistically Happy”…(caution #1: parts of my tale are not for the “easily-made-queasy – caution #2: I use a lot of “potty humor” to stay positive about my journey, sorry if that’s not your thing!)

SO, here we go…..

During my senior year of high school,¬†I started seeing blood in the toilet when I went #2, accompanied by diarrhea, an increased urgency to use the bathroom, cramping, awful gas and bloating, severe fatigue and swollen joints.¬† Even as an¬†18-year-old, I knew that seeing blood when going to the potty was never a good thing.¬†¬†I was a really good student, played 3 sports, and was going through my first real “break-up” – I boiled¬†my¬†“issues”¬†down to stress and figured it would stop.¬† Plus, it was¬†an extremely embarrassing problem to have, especially as afemale teenger – I mean, I was just happy to have days now and then when they weren’t huge pimples on my face…¬†So, I chose to play¬†down my debilitating digestive symptoms and pushed through my senior year.

Fast-forward to 6 months later, and after a couple of misdiagnosed hemorrhoids (that took me 5 minutes to spell just now!),¬†the¬†impending doom¬†of a probable blood transfusion (my hemoglobin was dangerously low from passing so much blood when going #2), and¬†my first¬†colonoscopy/endoscopy, I was finally diagnosed by my GI doc with Ulcerative Colitis.¬† My¬†colonoscopy showed that 2/3 of my colon and rectum were inflamed with open, bleeding ulcers.¬† No wonder I’d felt so awful – I’d been like a zombie¬†for half a year with awful mental fog and daily exhaustion, running to the bathroom every 15 minutes (sometimes not making it in time –¬†you can do the math there),¬†bloating like a whale, bleeding all the time, and sporting a¬†greenish, sickly,¬†translucent complexion.¬† It all made sense now – I was sick.¬† Apparaently, really sick…

senior year

That’s me in the front row with a bunch of my friends senior year right after I was diagnosed.¬† I look happy, and I probably was, but was still working hard every day to NOT show my peers how awful I felt inside.

So what¬†DID a¬†diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis (UC) mean for¬†as an 18-year-old?¬†¬†Well, to start, a lifetime full of¬†a medication called “Asacol” (9 pills a day to be exact), no knowledge of¬†ANY cure, cause or treatment¬†for UC other than daily medication.¬† UC, a form of “Irritable Bowel Disease”¬†is an “incurable”¬†Autoimmune Disorder where my body attacks my own colon as a foreign object.¬† My doctors told me food played no role in my symptoms or the onset of my disease and that my only option was to pop lots of pills¬†to¬†control my¬†“flare¬†ups”, or periods of bleeding/inflammation/diarrhea/lots of¬†time in the bathroom.

Fast-forward again to today – coming up on my 6-year anniversary¬†of my UC diagnosis and a lot has changed, but not everything.¬† I still¬†suffer from¬†UC, along with some hormonal issues I’ve¬†been battling¬†since I was a pre-teen (I’ll go into¬†all that later, but it’s mostly excess testosterone).¬† BUT, in the last¬†year,¬†I’ve made numerous decisions to fight for my health that have changed my life,¬†including:

—-> Following a couple¬†diets¬†called the “Autoimmune Paleo Protocol”,¬†and the¬†general “Paleo” or “Caveman” diet¬†– I’ll get into specifics later, but you can learn more about¬†AIP here¬†at one of my favorite blogs.¬† While following AIP,¬†I do my absolute best to eat no gluten, grains (including corn), dairy, refined sugar, eggs, nuts, seeds and nightshades,¬†and¬†try to keep my natural sugar¬†intake as low as possible.¬† Many of my posts will pertain to this subject, as every day is a new adventure and/or struggle with keeping¬†this¬†restrictive diet in check.¬† In¬†fact,¬†my hope is that this blog (and hopefully a handful of followers in the future) will force me to¬†take¬†even more accountability and responsibility for my health when it comes to my diet.¬† I’ve definitely been loosely follwoing AIP for the past coupls of month, and I’m ready to get more serious¬†about ultimately healing my UC through this seemingly promising regimen.

—-> Practicing Yoga when I can (I should do it daily).¬†¬†The wonderful, deep breathing I’ve discovered through Yoga is the only thing¬†I’ve found that truly calms me down¬†and clears my head.¬† I love following free videos on YouTube or http://www.doyogawithme.com/.¬† Stress very negatively affects my UC symptoms and flare-ups, so keeping my stress levels as low as possible will continue to be an important part of my healing.

—–>¬†Visiting a¬†couple Holistic¬†Health Practitioners who introduced me to various digestive and hormonal support supplements that I have used to literally “supplement” my¬†AIP diet.¬†¬†My¬†learning curve with supplements has¬†made it even clearer to me that the secrets to my healing success lie somewhere within Mother Nature’s¬†caring embrace.¬† I’ve tried a handful of different supplements and will comment on their effectiveness, price, etc. throughout my posts.

—-> ¬†Experimenting with¬†DIY personal hygiene and home care products like¬†toothpaste,¬†makeup, remover and¬†all-purpose cleaning spray, to eliminate as many toxins from my daily routine as possible (and to save a little money!) to protect my already compromised immune system.¬† This is time consuming, but so worth it for the peace of mind and money saving – and it’s kinda fun!

But, seriously – WOW do I feel better!¬† I’ve lost weight (about 20 pounds in the last year, without really trying), I have more energy and more mental clarity, reduced bleeding and “flare-up” severity, less bloating, less acid reflux, reduced joint swelling, clearer skin.¬† This is all great, and call me crazy for wanting my UC to be GONE – but I believe that with time, effort and perseverance I can ultimately reverse my condition, too.¬† I’d love to hear about your journey – email me at ezaborny@gmail.com so we can connect!

At this point,¬† I want to introduce my 1st “3 Ways to Happy” post, a weekly (hopefully daily in the future) feature where I will include 3 “projects” I’m currently working on to improve my health and happiness holistically.¬† A lot of my inspiration comes from Pinterest – people, if you aren’t “pinning” already, what have you been doing with your lives????¬† Please follow me on Pinterest HERE!

1)¬†¬† Our garden plans are in the works!¬† My boyfriend, Seth, and I moved in together about 6 months ago and we are so excited about starting our first garden!¬† We picked out a handful of organic seeds from Seed Savers Exchange, a non-profit company with a GREAT selection of hundreds of seeds.¬† I’ll definitely be keeping track of our garden’s progress on “Holistically Happy”!

Seeds ordered from Seed Savers Exchange!

2) My first experience with gut-healing chicken bone broth Рthis recipe could not have been simpler.  I simply put chicken bones, skin and cartillage left over from a whole organic chicken we used for soup in our crock pot with a couple cups of water (less if you want a stronger broth), a couple glugs from my Apple Cider Vinegar bottle and some himalayan salt, garlic powder and parsley.  Man, is a warm mug of this stuff comforting!  My goal for right now is to try to have one cup a day, and eventually increase to 2-3 cups daily.

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3) Bracelet Making¬†– for a little extra income and as a hobby!¬† I’ve been making leather beaded wrap bracelets for the past 2 years that¬†I sell at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, which is about 20 minutes from my house.¬† Not only do I make a little extra money from selling these bracelets, it’s also a great stress reliever for me – most days!¬† I create custom size/color/length/design bracelets, so if you’re ever interested in purchasing one of my handmade creations, email me at ezaborny@gmail.com!

Iphone 010

Whew – that was a novel of a first blog post – but, boy, that felt GOOD to just get it out.

What are 3 things you’ve done lately to take care of yourself in the name of being holistically happy and healthy?

Yours truly,

Erika

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