From Meat and Potatoes to an Elimination Diet?

LifeonSprings advocates sharing as a part of the healthy lifestyle experience. Someone’s story might hold your solution. This guest post is submitted by contributor and health seeker Mandy (Amanda) Webber.

food-75073_1280Growing up on the farm in the Midwest, supper is a meal to look forward to. Steak, potatoes, crescent rolls, corn, dessert –YUM! Oh, and don’t forget to pass me seconds! That’s how I grew up. Honestly, my eating habits didn’t change much from then – this year. Except the steak all the time, I found cheaper ways to get my protein. I’d been reading up on Paleo and looking for healthier ways to eat, just never fully implemented what I was learning.

As I look back on this year, I can’t believe how quickly it’s gone by. Health has been a big focus for me – my New Years Resolution was ME. I got engaged October 2013 and decided besides planning my dream wedding, I wanted to look and feel as good as possible. HA! Easier said than done… Life happened – things got nuts. I started traveling a lot for work, my fiancé fell off a ladder on the job site and hurt his back, my 94 year old grandpa passed away, I was planning a wedding and I felt like CRAP all the time – tired, moody, skin rashes and my stomach was always in constant pain. It’s safe to say “stress” and “overwhelmed” were frequently used words.

The turning point: For cinco de mayo I went out for some Mexican food and felt sick for about a month and a half before my boss and fiancé told me to stop complaining and go see a doctor. “You mean I can feel normal and not have constant pain?” I thought. I went to a Quick Care and told them about my symptoms – you have IBS he said and told me I needed to see a physician. So I got an appointment and went in… to feel like an inadequate human. The questions they were asking and all the ‘well it could be…’ were scary. I was told I have IBS again and to avoid dairy – no surprise here, in college I found out I was lactose intolerant. He took blood tests and told me he would give me results for Krohn’s and Celiac’s. I left freaked out and scared.

I got a call back that I was negative for both tests a couple days later and was told to go on an “elimination diet”. WTF is that? How do I even start? I was shocked at the lack of support I got from my doctor and began to do some research. I looked up Elimination Diets, how to get over IBS, lactose intolerance, paleo diets, etc. I researched and researched and did more research. I printed out tons of stuff, talked to friends who dealt with food sensitivities, and made a binder to act as both motivation and a food journal for my journey.

All that work and I was ready to start my elimination diet. I would cheat for just one meal, then another meal, then a whole day. Who was I kidding? Wedding planning and traveling for work were taking over my life. I didn’t have time for this – I was lucky to eat a meal with my busy schedule, let alone make sure it was “approved”. It showed… I was strung out, exhausted, groggy, and my stomach was a mess. The wedding was getting closer and closer and I was miserable. I accepted that I couldn’t handle it right now and moved forward. It wasn’t until about a month after the honeymoon, I felt under control enough to get my binder back out and start trying to figure out how and when I was going to do this.

I have a friend coming into town…

I want to tailgate…

The holidays and my birthday are coming up…

I can’t start it on a Friday/Saturday…

I was full of excuses. I looked hard at the calendar and realized if I don’t start now, I will always have an excuse for why I can’t. I made an appointment with a health coach at work, told her about my struggles and my goals. To confirm I needed to do this, she weighed me and I’m embarrassed to say, it’s the most I’ve weighed in 3 years. We set a day to begin the elimination diet – and I did it!

Preparing for a lifestyle change is HUGE – you can’t just jump into it. I went through everything edible in the house with my husband, I made shelves of food for just him if he wouldn’t let me throw it away, created a color system for what I can eat to help both of us.

Green sheet = things I can eat, Yellow = temporarily eliminate, Red = NO! I went grocery shopping, printed out food journals so I can log my meals and symptoms, started a sticky system for a countdown and told my support system. I was ready to start my lifestyle change journey!

Days 1 and 2 were awful – I had terrible headaches and was super tired.  Currently, I’m on day 8 – down 8 lbs and feeling great. I’m looking forward to day 23 – re-introducing coffee, figuring out eggs, oranges and corn among other’s I’ve been missing. Once I get through all my “yellow” foods, I’ll have a very clear list of what will and won’t work for me and my body, hopefully then I can have a cheat day once in a while. The holidays coming up, will be a real tough challenge – but I have my eye on a much bigger prize – FEELING GOOD!

I’m proud of where I currently am on this journey – I’ve been educating myself on what’s going into my body, I’m making smarter choices, I’m making strides towards a healthier me, and I’m proving to myself that I can do this. What seemed like a really lofty forced goal at the beginning of the year, is quickly turning into my new, improved way of life.

Mandy (Amanda) Webber is a Midwest farm girl with a big city heart, she showed cattle in 4-H for many years. Mandy is a health nut with a sweet tooth who knows how to “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” She even won an industry boxing match in Chicago! Mandy was born and raised in North Liberty, Iowa but has spent the last several years living in the “Windy City” where she was able to work for a few commercial real estate companies learning how marketing and business development help shape the construction industry. She met the love of her life at a Real Estate Conference in Las Vegas and made her way back home to Iowa with Tom. There, Mandy works for Transamerica as an Innovation Manager and enjoys the title “wife”. She is a sports fanatic, passionate about helping others, and slightly obsessed with cupcakes. Mandy enjoys traveling and was lucky enough to spend a semester abroad in Bilbao, Spain. She is a graduate of The University of Iowa Tippie College of Business with a BA in Marketing.