As you might know, I struggle with a really miserable autoimmune disease called Interstitial Cystitis. While I was able to go into remission a few years ago by getting my health in order naturally (after many failed attempts to get better through conventional Western medicine), it came back with a vengeance 18 months ago in the stress of selling our house and moving to the farm.
For several months I was in pain 24/7, had severe fatigue and brain fog so bad it was hard to even respond to text messages without feeling overwhelmed. It’s taken months to recover my health (even though I’m not 100% in remission yet) and deal with the bummer realization that beating IC once doesn’t mean it will disappear forever—I HAVE to stay on top of my health or else I’ll be paying for it for months afterwards.
Since I think I’ve learned a ton over the past year and a half, I wanted to share some of the big changes I’ve made (or recommitted to) that have helped me be pain free again:
Cut out the sugar.
This is basically misery for me because I have always been a Sugaraholic. That’s probably why I have the health issues I have in the first place. Overconsumption of sugar can result in Candida overgrowth which is a major factor in my IC. When I’m eating sugar I get blood sugar issues (crazy spikes and crashes) and feel like a truck ran over me when I try to get out of bed in the morning. I even get a racing heart and other weird symptoms so although I’m NOT 100% sugar free (because my willpower is weak), the less I eat the better I feel.
Cut out the gluten.
When my oldest kid, Benjamin, was hospitalized for the first time due to his asthma (another autoimmune condition), we insisted that he see an allergist because I was convinced that some of his triggers were food-related, probably gluten. The doctors brushed me off but we were adamant and they finally gave us a referral. Lo and behold his test results showed a gluten allergy! Mom instinct vindicated. I know GF is seen as a fad diet, but after seeing the difference in my kids and in myself, I’m convinced some of us just can’t handle it. Since gluten is inflammatory and can be detrimental to gut health, we just cut it out for all the kids and rarely eat it at home ourselves. Again, I’m not 100% perfect in this department, but gluten is a rarity and I feel better without it.
Green cleaning products.
If there’s nasty stuff in your environment, your body is going to be working harder. A few years ago I switched to green cleaning, either some trusted products or making my own cleaning products with simple ingredients and essential oils. I don’t miss the toxic stuff.
Eating more veggies.
I didn’t meet a vegetable I liked until high school when Daniel cooked for me and I wanted to impress him by eating something green. I’ve never been a big veggie eater but that’s changed in the past decade. Because my symptoms get much worse when I’m eating/drinking an acidic diet, all those alkaline veggies are a must.
Getting more sleep.
Your body can’t heal if you’re not giving it enough rest. While getting a full night’s sleep almost never happens (one out of three of the kids always wakes up ALWAYS) getting 7-9 hours of sleep is necessary for me to feel well and not get worn down again.
Cutting out coffee and alcohol.
I know, I know. Giving up alcohol is miserable but giving up COFEE?! That’s my life blood. Unfortunately, drinking coffee or alcohol results in weeks of pain for me. While I miss coffee desperately, it’s not worth writhing in pain over for days after I consume it. At first I thought I would surely die with it and I cried almost every day for a few weeks. Then I thought about how much I wanted coffee constantly for six months. THEN it got better. Now I rarely think about it. I get herbal tea or a vanilla steamer when I go to a coffee shop (black and green tea is still too acidic for me) and I don’t want to punch Daniel in the gut when he’s making his morning coffee. I do grab his cup to smell it and remember the good ol days.
More quiet space in my life.
One of the things my acupuncturist helped me see is that my life had very little quiet space. I homeschool three boisterous little ones which is physically AND mentally taxing. And then as soon as they were down for nap or bedtime, I’d open up my laptop to write posts, answer emails, or interact on social media. While that’s not a physically taxing activity, it’s a loud activity for my brain. I had very little time that was quiet time to just relax, drink a cup of chamomile tea, read a book, take a bath, pray, reflect, etc. So quiet space is something I’ve been carving out time for.
Since my third baby was born and I stopped teaching ballet, I really didn’t replace it with any kind of good movement. And when my IC flared up, I really COULDN’T do any kind of movement without being in serious pain. So now that I’m feeling much better I’ve been adding in walking and some good stretching/yoga I do in my living room.
One thing I’ve realized is that you kind of have to get better to get better. You have to start with one thing and that thing will positively impact other things and then unlock other possibilities. Movement and exercise is really good for my health, but until I got well enough to not be in pain, it wasn’t an option. It was the same thing with food. Eating a variety of veggies and fruits is a good thing, but when anything slightly acidic made me writhe in pain, it couldn’t be on the table. Now that coffee, tea, and alcohol are the only things I can’t tolerate, I can really focus on getting all the nutrients I need from good veggies, fruits, and proteins.
Finding an expert to help you meet your health goals.
Last October I was falling apart emotionally because I felt like all I did was Google things that might help my IC and was overwhelmed without a real guide to help me find the right information. That’s when Daniel told me I really needed to find a health practitioner because the extra stress was only making me worse. The internet is such an information overload that if you don’t have someone helping you curate it all, you can just fall into despair. I started going to a highly recommended Catholic acupuncturist and she has been amazing! With a combination of Chinese herbs and acupuncture treatment, my symptoms started diminishing and now I feel almost like a normal person again.
Because not everyone can go to my acupuncturist, I wanted to point you in the direction of a fantastic resource that does some of the heavy lifting for you. The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle removes the overwhelm of finding quality resources to help you take charge of your own health. It’s a treasure trove of wellness resources on everything fro healing your gut to paleo eating to raising healthy kids. But it’s only available for TWO DAYS!
You can grab it for just $29.97!
While not every book and ecourse will apply to everyone (and really, who has time to read 68 books!) at that price it’s such a steal even if you only use 4 or 5 of the resources. Some of the courses are more than $300 if purchased separately and the free bonuses alone are worth more than $150 (I am definitely grabbing the Maca Powder! Love that stuff!).
Definitely take a look at what’s included if you want to improve your family’s health but need a push in the right direction. I’ll even sweeten the deal. If you order through my affiliate link, you can take your pick of any of my 4 ebooks and I’ll send it over as a thank you. You can choose from my liturgical year books: Feast! and More Feasts! as well as Daniel’s gluten-free breakfast cookbook and Making Big Life Changes Together–my book on pursuing your dreams while maintaining a healthy marriage. Just fill out this Google Doc with your email and which ebook you want so I know where to send the PDF! But remember the sale only lasts til Monday (and it’s 99% off, so you really don’t want to miss it!)
But the sale only lasts until Monday, so check out all that’s included before it’s gone!
Disclosure: Links to the bundle sale are affiliate links which means that at no additional cost to you, a portion of the sales made through my links will benefit my family. Thank you so much for supporting Carrots!