Since I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and related hypoglycemia at age 13, my relationship with food and fitness has been complex. I have been passionate about fitness my entire life, but my body was plagued by 10 years of chronic pain. I also suffered from numerous conditions believed to be related to fibromyalgia, including digestive issues like gastritis, acid reflux and hypoglycemia!
Cravings Controlled my Life
As a result of my illnesses, most of my adolescent and college years consisted of a very self-destructive and negative relationship with food. I craved carbs, sugar, and caffeine. These things made me feel like crap, but I couldn’t stop eating them! To deal with my fibromyalgia, hypoglycemia, and cravings, however, I was put on several medically-controlled, hyper-restrictive diets.
Diet Number One: A Candida Diet
The first medically-controlled diet was prescribed to me when I was 21 years old. I went to see a naturopathic doctor, and she diagnosed me with candidiasis. She then put me on a candida diet, which involved eating a lot of oatmeal, Greek yogurt, and vegetables. Apples were allowed, but no other fruit was permitted. Sweet potatoes were allowed, but no other starchy vegetables. Furthermore, no sugar, grains, or dairy were allowed. It was a severely restrictive diet, and I had to eat steak often because I was always starving! Despite all this, I still didn’t feel better.
Diet Number Two: I Never Felt Worse!
When I was being treated by another doctor for hypoglycemia, I was prescribed another diet. This diet included high fat, high protein, low carb, and no sugar. I ended up eating a lot of packaged “low sugar” foods to try to adhere to the diet, yet I had never felt worse in my entire life! I had no energy at all. Something had to change.
Diet Number Three: An Unprocessed, Gluten-Free Life
I went to see a chiropractor who thought that all of my problems were undiagnosed food allergies. He suggested only raw dairy and advised against anything processed. I was encouraged to eat lots of vegetables and protein. This is when I finally started to feel better, but I still wasn’t feeling my best.
Inspired by a friend of mine, I cut out gluten for a month, just to see how I would feel. After that month, I tested myself with a brownie full of gluten. My digestion stopped for a week! Now I know that I am sensitive to gluten, so I avoid it.
Finally Customizing a Diet for My Body
Today I follow a gluten-free, low lactose, low sugar diet. I really avoid white sugar, especially the overly processed versions, at all times. I enjoy less processed sugars, like agave, raw honey, molasses, maple syrup, and rapadura, as a treat. After all the years of restrictions I don’t like to live with many restrictions now. I try to eat as few processed foods as possible, do not eat gluten, and watch my dairy and sugar–that’s it! Also, when it comes to vegetables, the sky is the limit.
I’ve also learned how to manage my blood sugar, which is crucial for hypoglycemics! Almond butter and snack bars are my secret weapons. I always keep one snack-size bar and one meal-sized bar in my bag. I also don’t drink coffee because it is an appetite suppressant. I need to hear my hunger, otherwise my blood sugar will drop. The real key, however, is never going too long without eating.
So now, as long as I avoid gluten and I am smart about what and how often I eat, I can eat anything and everything else in moderation. I am slowly learning to love food again and have even learned how to love cooking! Take a look at some of my favorite recipes below:
Note: PLEASE consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.