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AIP Stories of Recovery is a success story series about regular people from the Autoimmune Protocol community who are changing their lives using the protocol. Each month a new person is featured and readers have the opportunity to discover all the different health challenges that are being overcome by folks just like themselves on the same path. At Autoimmune Paleo we hope you’ll be inspired by, empathize with, and learn from these stories. If you are interested in sharing your story, please email us through the contact form.
Meg White was 24 years old when she started taking her chronic joint pain, mood swings and digestive distress seriously. She’d been living with them for as long as she could remember but despite their severity, doctors continued to tell her her symptoms were “all in her head.” For that reason, it wasn’t until she became determined to lose weight that the Paleo and AIP lifestyles came into her life — and things haven’t been the same since.
What health issues are you dealing with, when did they begin, and how long did it take to get a diagnosis?
I am dealing with many health issues, such as chronic joint pain (rheumatoid arthritis?), numerous food intolerances and allergies (among which is Celiac’s disease?), chronic fatigue, and intestinal distress (IBS?), as well as a few others most people don’t believe to be linked to diet (though I now know better), such as cyclic depression and mood swings. I have felt the slight effects of these issues for as long as I can remember, though they really flared up around the age of 16, with each getting worse and worse, one right after another.
There are question marks behind some of the issues I listed because I can’t be sure I have those exact conditions. I was never diagnosed with anything because doctors were positive “it was all in my head” or that “I was exaggerating my symptoms.” I gave up on doctors and self-diagnosed my problems in 2013, the year I took my health in hand.
Describe what the lowest point on your health journey was like.
My lowest point had to have been the winter of 2012 to 2013. I was constantly bloated and irregular. I was beyond exhausted and I snapped viciously at everyone who tried to talk to me. I could no longer go walking or hiking with my husband, nor could I stand at the front of my classroom for more than a couple minutes due to joint pain. I generally gave class from a stool and I cried myself to sleep each and every night. I was 24 years old, yet I felt as if my life were ending.
What challenges influenced you to look for a solution? Basically, what was the tipping point?
The tipping point was, ironically, something as superficial as my weight. I was looking at photos of myself from New Years and I hated what I saw. I decided that something had to change – thankfully.
When you found a protocol to help you heal, what was it and what was your first indication that it was working?
I first started out with “clean eating” – and that was the best decision I have ever made! My crippling joint pain was GONE after just two weeks of banishing any and all processed foods. After researching food additives and how they affect our bodies, I was led to articles about gluten, which I cut out after. Then I realized dairy was also an issue and cut that out. With each “cut,” I was feeling better and better – I hadn’t even realized how horrible I had been feeling all this time! Paleo came next, then a SIBO cleanse, and finally AIP, of which I’m following a modified version (I was able to successfully reintroduce many of the eliminated foods).
What resources have you used on your healing journey so far and how did you find them?
I have used numerous blogs and websites, as well as books, to help me along my path to better health. I think the resources that really helped me pinpoint my lingering issues were The Paleo Mom’s blog as well as her resource and cookbook companions – I bought the cookbook, The Paleo Approach Cookbook, thinking it would be enough…then I won the resource book, The Paleo Approach, and read it cover to cover! It gave me such insight and helped clear up some mysteries.
Did your doctors suggest any treatments that you rejected and if so, why did you choose to try other methods?
All my doctors suggested I continue living as I was, because I was fit as a fiddle. I rejected that answer because I knew I wasn’t – I was sick, very sick, and getting sicker. I wish I would have taken the whole-foods route earlier, and for a better reason than not liking how I looked in my New Year’s dress, but I got there – and there is where I’m staying!
It can seem like our lives are consumed by a chronic illness, but there is so much beyond those struggles. What brings you true joy right now?
My family brings me true joy, even through illness. My husband’s family had to witness most of my decline, as I was living in Belgium when things got real bad. They supported me through every bit of it – including my diet change, even though it meant more effort on their part as well. It makes me happy to know I am so well loved.
My side of the family has benefitted from my dietary changes as well, even though I only get to see them once every two years. Both my parents eat Paleo (though I just can’t get my dad to give up gluten for good, even though it causes him distress) and my brother lost quite a bit of weight during the time he spent eating Paleo. It makes me happy to see my family eating for their health.
My little family, which is comprised of me, my husband, and our Continental Bulldog puppy, brings me the most joy. Even my puppy is Paleo, though she is a #safestarch advocate (like me and the hubster). We recently moved to the countryside next door to my in-laws and being in touch with nature and family daily has done wonders for my mood and level of happiness. The green plants, the happy animals, the laughing children – all that and more bring me true joy.
The opinions expressed in “Stories of Recovery” are those of the authors and not necessarily representative of the Autoimmune Paleo platform, its creators, or other contributors.