Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Guest Post: The Kim Chronicles Part 2

To read part 1 of Kim's story, click here.

In my last post, I talked about my history of depression and anxiety. In this post, I will share more about the foods I was raised on with the thought that these foods were healthy choices, and how in truth, these foods can contribute to depression, anxiety, and PMS.

A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with a good friend of mine about this book she turned me on to called Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. It's a cookbook, but SO much more. It's really quite amazing how this book and one other called Traditional Foods Are Your Best Medicine by Ronald F. Schmid, N.D. have completely transformed the way I think about food.

What began as a desperate attempt to save my sanity, and my relationship with my husband and children, has now turned into baby steps toward a healthier way of thinking about food, making meals and eating.

A total paradigm shift is in the works here, and I am amazed at the changes I have seen take place in me during only a few short weeks. In order to better see the big picture, let me tell you a little bit about myself.

I have been dieting and eating primarily lowfat, nonfat, sugar free, convenience foods for most of my life. I was raised on lowfat, sugar free foods (along with fresh fruits and vegetables) because, at the time, that was considered a healthy way of eating.

All of my adult life I have shopped with one primary goal in mind: Always purchase the lowfat, fat free, reduced sugar, low sodium, diet version of whatever product I'm buying if possible. I thought that was the healthier choice. Although my weight has been relatively stable, I have also always felt like I was overweight and needed to work out more, eat less calories and fat and just plain be in better shape.

As I discussed in my previous post, I have struggled with mild to moderate depression and anxiety, and severe PMS for as long as I can remember. I took Lexapro for anxiety for about 6 months and noticed moderate improvement. However, the side effects were not fun so it just wasn't worth it to me. I was willing to live with my anxiety in order to not be subject to the side effects of the drug.

So, the years went by. I gave birth to 3 beautiful daughters. I became less able to handle my depression and anxiety on my own through exercise and diet and the walls started to close in on me. It happened gradually.

My darling husband and I went from being great communicators and loving partners to simply coexisting as roommates most of the time. My erratic behavior, non-existent sex drive, mood swings, intense PMS symptoms and a menstrual cycle that would last a short 20 days took its toll on us. My husband began to close himself off to me emotionally. He still tried, but our communication was strained and I could feel myself disconnecting bit by bit.

Sounds pretty dismal doesn't it? Honestly, I didn't think it was bad at all until nearly 14 years had gone by and I saw myself in pictures, at least the few pictures I could find with me in them. My smile always looked tired, ragged and strained.

Then, a day came when I decided that I had to do something.

Life was short and right then, I didn't feel any passion toward my husband, my kids were driving me crazy, and I didn't know what else to do. So, I called my doctor and made an appointment. My plan was to get on some good antidepressants.

I went in for the appointment and for some reason (God) they had scheduled me with my old midwife. She could not prescribe an antidepressant, but she did notice that my vitamin D test taken a year earlier showed that my vitamin D was very low. She asked if I was taking a supplement.

Nope. I hate taking pills of any kind.

She then informed me that low vitamin D can directly affect depression and anxiety. It also, can increase my risk of dying from any number of cancers. So, she said, the first step might be to start taking a minimum of 1000 iu's a day. That seemed like a large dose to me since the multivitamin collecting dust in my cabinet only had 400 iu's of vitamin D and said that was 100% of the recommended daily allowance. She said, actually, I could take as much as 4000 iu's a day. Wow, I had no idea!

Taking a vitamin D supplement sounded a lot better to me than taking an antidepressant or antianxiety medicine. So, I went over to my local grocery store and in the health food section I found a fabulous chewable vitamin D supplement made by Rainbow Light called Sunny Gummies. Yum! They taste like sugary, lemony, gummy bears filled with sunshine. Each delicious drop of sunshine contains 1000iu's of vitamin D. It couldn't hurt to double up, so I take 2000iu's per day now.

As it turns out, that was a life changing decision. Within a week I was feeling noticeably lighter, happier, less grumpy and stressed. I was able to react more appropriately to stressful situations and my attitude toward my husband and children was much better. All that within a week. Within two weeks I literally felt like I had woken up from a long, foggy sleep. It had been years since I had felt that good.

During that time, I also purchased a juicing machine. I had read that drinking fresh fruit and vegetable juice on a regular basis is really good for you. Juicing breaks down the cell walls of the fruit or vegetable making its vitamins and nutrients easier for our bodies to absorb.

After juicing for a few days, I felt energized. I wasn't as hungry throughout the day, and was sleeping better at night.

Another unexpected bonus that came about from these two small changes was that my monthly cycle lengthened. Right away! The very first month it was 27 days! The second month it was 25 days. That is amazing. I've never had cycles that long. In addition, my PMS is markedly reduced. I still feel a little down a few days before I start, but that's it. Sounds good to me!

A couple of weeks after I started taking Vitamin D and juicing, my friend Lainie told me that she had found someone to get raw milk and organic eggs from. Hmmm, I was intrigued. At that time, I was already reading Traditional Foods Are Your Best Medicine by Ronald F. Schmid, N.D.

It had opened my eyes to the fact that pretty much everything I ate was contributing to my depression, anxiety, yo-yo weight, allergies, illnesses, acne and poor vision. Specifically, the lack of good quality fat, protein, veggies, and grains was the problem. What jumped out at me, was that it said I should be drinking only Raw Whole Milk and dairy products made from Raw Whole Milk.

Wow. Wouldn't I get really, really fat? Would I have a heart attack? I've been told my entire life that whole milk is the enemy. The idea of raw milk wasn't a new one to me. I had considered that before, but not whole milk.

This was going to take a major paradigm shift. After talking to my husband about it and receiving a shrug and an "ok" from him, I began buying raw milk and organic eggs from the farm.

It took a few days for my family to adjust to the different flavor and texture. My middle daughter went on a bit of a milk strike for a couple of weeks. However, now we LOVE raw whole milk. Whenever we run out and have to buy pasteurized milk at the store, everyone notices the difference and says they miss the farm milk.


We are on the road to health!

Kim from
This Little House

Go to Fight Back Fridays at Food Renegade for other stories, recipes and information regarding nutrition.

3 comments: said...

What an encouraging story. We're actually still wondering about taking a good cod liver oil as a supplement so we can get more Vitamin D & A in our diets. So many people I know recommend doing it. I think it would really transform things for me, as I know my Vitamin D levels are too low. Just fifteen to twenty minutes in the sun makes me feel like a new person, but some days it's hard to manage even that! That's why I'm thinking about supplements.

Kim's story is only reaffirming this conviction. Thanks to both of you for sharing, and for submitting this post to Fight Back Fridays!

(AKA FoodRenegade) said...

I was raised on the same kind of diet you were and found my postpartum depression worsening after each child, until it never let up. I found my depressive tendencies and now menopausal hormone shifts have nearly disappeared since being on a traditional diet. My daughters need a little more help with their PMS, and I have them on Maca and cod liver oil, as well as sunshine, fresh air and real food. It's amazing how a "small" thing like food can make all the difference.

Kim (aka- Kanga-mom and sometimes Rabbit-mommy) said...

I have read that taking cod liver oil can produce amazing results. I haven't started taking it yet, but it's on my list of things to try.

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