In November, after my annual physical blood draw results came back showing I was anemic with low ferritin and low-ishl B12 levels, my doctor prescribed that I take an over the counter iron supplement for the next three months which would increase my iron stores.
But also, in the nurse’s words, it would give me some digestive trouble, too.
After the years of hormones when we were trying to get – and stay – pregnant, I’ve turned into a bit of a nut about what goes into my body; I’m just not keen on putting stuff in there that isn’t food, or at least food-based. I DEFINITELY wasn’t into putting more metal into my body. I decided, no, I’m not really into taking something that is going to HURT me for months, thanks.
So I increased my red meat and spinach intake and decided to make an appointment with a holistic doctor in the hopes that he’d have a better way for me to get more iron into my system, hopefully by using food, not pills.
His methods of diagnosis were a little, uh, out there. But as it turns out, he believes I have a nutrient absorption issue, rather than an full on iron or B12 deficiency. Essentially, he told me, my sympathetic nervous system – the part of me that governs exercise and movement and adrenaline – was overworked… and my parasympathetic nervous system – the one that helps with recovery and digestion and sleep – wasn’t working enough.
It made SO MUCH sense to me.
But then he told me that my body was reacting to most every grain I was eating.
And I walked out with a piece of paper that said this:
Avoid soy, wheat, corn, gluten, and high fructose corn syrup*.
Ummmmm. I’m an endurance athlete. Which means that wheat, corn, and gluten are pretty much staples in my diet.
(Also, was I really jumping on the no-gluten bandwagon? Because I have to tell you, as a mom of a child with life-threatening, very real allergies, the words gluten interolerance bother the everloving crap out of me. My child nearly died from anaphylaxis when he ate a cashew. Gluten intolerance IS NOT A REAL ALLERGY.)
But the doctor told me to give him three months. If I can’t fix your issue by then, I can’t fix your issue.
So I gamely decided, okay, fine, I’ll cut them out and see what happens*. I stopped eating my morning sunflower bread. I quit the cookies, and I gave away the rest of my homemade (also the. most. amazing!) gingerbread. I stopped snacking on tortilla chips. No more tacos, or pasta, or bread. Or beer. Fine.
You know what happened?
I had a day where I felt like absolute shit. But then? It was like magic. I felt GREAT.
Because I’ve basically had a stomachache for the past three months.
And I didn’t realize it – until it was gone.
*There’s more to his diagnosis than just cutting out the bad stuff. I need more salt, some cider vinegar, and probiotics, all of which I can get from food. He did give me some supplements – calcium and vitamin D – which are food-based as well. He told me that at least until February, I should avoid the stuff which causes me trouble, mostly because my stomach is reacting to everything right now. Once it’s healed, then we can see if I can tolerate a bit of it here and there.