Ulcerative Colitis ran in Makenna’s family and her doctor told her she would need to get her colon removed. She said no way! Instead, Makenna turned to food to heal ulcerative colitis. Inspired by Danielle’ Walker’s story in her book Against All Grain, Makenna realized the diet changes – a clean eating diet – made a huge difference in managing her IBD.
Years ago, my grandma was told that she only had months to live and with a simple “so-sorry-good-luck-nothing-you-can-do” was sent on her way. Well, that wasn’t a good enough answer for her. To the library she went and dug her heels into the firm ground believing that there had to be another way and a better outcome. She was right! Not only did she overcome her sickness, but she lived much, much longer than her original prognosis.
Fast forward two generations later, and I found myself in almost the same situation. When I was 18, a doctor gave me the news that I had Ulcerative Colitis with little sympathy and a “so-sorry-good-luck-nothing-you-can-do” attitude. I was sent on my way with pills and promises that these strong medicines would leave me feeling better, despite the fact that I could contract so many other sickness with a compromised immune system. Almost on a final note, and to complete my feeling of doom and dread about having any form of a normal life, I was told that I would at some point in the future need to have my colon removed. Excuse me?
My dad has had UC since his early 20s, and so at first I wondered if I should just give in to my genetics, and just go down the path that the doctor insisted on. Lucky for me I have an incredible mom that was determined to allow me to feel better, and immediately committed to this journey with me. My mom refused to just give up, and dug her heels into the same firm ground as her mother before her, believing that there has to be another way besides medications, steroids, and removed colons. Together, we would find another way.
There was one clue that really helped us. While in the fifth grade, I had an extreme psoriasis outbreak that left my skin peeling in layers and put me out of school for days. I was extremely alarmed and embarrassed, but my mom jumped right in to help me. We visited a friend of my grandmothers who did blood analysis, and we discovered that I was filled with candida. This specialist recommended a sugar and yeast free diet. This is not something that a sugar loving 10 year old wants to hear! But my mom stepped right in and searched high and low for the best recipes that would help me get better, while not feel completely deprived of all sweet things. She did an amazing job considering that this type of diet wasn’t popular in 2005. There weren’t food bloggers back then who had recipes on websites or other social media. Eventually, after months of being sugar and grain free, I was a healthier, happier little girl-no more psoriasis!
Well, now years later, I was dealing with a different type of inflammatory disease. My mom wondered if perhaps UC could be controlled with a similar diet. So, we dove right back into the research, just as we had nine years before, and as my grandmother had done many, many years ago. There was another way, there had to be.
In true New Years resolution fashion, on January 1, 2014, we decided we would make the switch back to what we’d done in 2005. Little did we know, this would put us in motion on our Paleo journey. A couple of weeks into our new way of eating, my mom found a book called “Against All Grain” by Danielle Walker. Once we read Danielle’s story, we realized that she had experienced a battle with UC and had resolved her issues by going grain and refined sugar free. Well, if diet changes helped her heal ulcerative colitis, why shouldn’t I give it a try? And so once again, we began my journey of healing and working towards my goal of being symptom and medicine free.
From January until about the end of March, I slowly weaned myself off the medicines. Pill by pill, week by week, I became completely independent of any drugs, and I felt much better than I had in months. I was able to start exercising again, and I began feeling much better emotionally than I had in a long time. That same Spring, I was able to finish a 10K mud race with one of my best friends, and I wasn’t completely exhausted the next day. I had much more energy than I used to, and I was thrilled to get back into my regular, active everyday life.
Danielle’s book changed our life. From following her on social media and her blog, we were introduced to the whole “clean eating” community that we are a part of today. From this community, we have learned more things about health and wellness than we could have ever imagined. It’s an incredible support system, and keeps the excitement around eating responsibly for your body.
Now this isn’t to say that I am perfect or that I never eat anything that isn’t “clean eating.” I don’t think there is anyone out there who can claim that. I like to indulge in some real “normal” gelato from time to time, but that’s what is key. My indulgences and “cheats” are done very sparingly, and I really try to pay attention to how my body feels.
Just like my grandma before me, and side by side with my mom, we decided to seek different solutions to help our bodies instead of the “so-sorry-good-luck-nothing-you-can-do” dead end. Eating this clean diet is something that has changed my life, and will forever be a part of who I am. My mother and I started a blog in which we include recipes and other inspirations that have helped us along the way. I strongly encourage others suffering from health issues to think about what they’re putting into their bodies. We can’t expect our bodies to function at a high capacity when we’re fueling it with junk. Whole foods heal!
Want to read the same story that inspired Makenna to heal ulcerative colitis with diet changes? Read Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain.
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