We Follow Harvard’s “Healthy Eating Plate”
Since 2014 I have had on and off bouts of some intense symptoms of fibromyalgia, POTS, and/or chronic fatigue syndrome, along with a few other health issues with my heart and skin that made me feel as if I was entering into a geriatric state. With three young kids at home and a husband whose career was growing quickly requiring overtime and occasional 1-2 week long business trips, it became difficult to manage even some of the basic household tasks. I was overwhelmed and desperate to find answers. Part of my personality is one to look for answers to everything! Obviously I researched and listened and asked a lot of people about these health conditions and tried to learn as much as I could. A main theme that came up was with food. Everyone had different ideas as to what would heal me. Doctors gave medicine, business men and women sold supplements, health nuts offered nutritional advice and diets, and anyone who had ever even heard of the disease knew exactly what would make me feel better. It seemed as time went on the overwhelm and confusion became more. I prayed and read my scriptures desperately and diligently to find answers.
In one weeks period, several people had mentioned how going gluten free had healed them. For whatever reason I still felt confused, though I was beginning to question whether diet really had any part on how I was feeling. I talked to my husband incessantly about this and he said he wanted to support me, that he wanted to help me feel better and was willing to try a new diet, but his stipulation was that it had to be one that was conducive to our whole family. A few days later he came back with a “plan” from Harvard University that made so much sense to me. It seemed so simple. It seemed easier. It seemed like a light had went on in my head. I knew this was our answer, and I was grateful.
I asked Scott to describe me in one word. His response was proactive. So obviously when I found this answer, the next day I spent cleaning out my pantry with anything that wasn’t on this list. I also made a plan, a theme, so to speak of how we would carry out and be consistent with this diet. I included alternative ways to some of our traditions. My husband was so scared. He takes things a lot more slowly, so just in case I kept a few extra “old foods” downstairs in my cold storage without telling anyone. Just in case we wanted to revert to our old ways. That night, on Thursday February 23 2017, to be exact we started our journey to regaining our health back.
Did it completely heal me? No. But in one weeks time, I went from NEEDING 1-2 naps a day, to having one nap the whole week on Sunday. I went from hardly being able to stand longer than 20 minutes without wanting to pass out or feeling extremely flu-like, to being able to cook every single meal. I would say I want from 30% of functioning to 60%. The improvement was huge. I definitely saw an improvement in my energy. I was able to do not all, but some of the things I had loved to do before I had my last flare. My plans for the future seemed brighter again. And the best part of it all for me, was seeing my families health problems mostly disappear, and teaching them by example what healthy eating habits are. My 4-year-old daughter who had been on laxatives for chronic constipation her whole life and was always bloated, for the first time without any added effort, pooped on her own, diarrhea even (which is a celebration for her for sure). Her stomach bloating was even noticeably reduced. My son, who almost daily was complaining of stomach and neck pain due to stomach migraines, hadn’t complained the whole week. the interesting thing was the Friday after we started we had pizza and game night at our friends home. Since our rule is we eat healthy at home, but we eat whatever people feed us at theirs, we had carry out pizza. That night, my son was complaining of stomach and neck pain. My daughter would be backed up, until a few days later after eating healthy food. This was consistent, as the next weekend we had cake and ice cream for a birthday. That night, they were complaining of not feeling well again. My husband had a lot of energy was waking up early to work out. He likes his sleep, so this was a huge step for him.
There has to be something to eating healthy. There has to be something to getting enough sleep and drinking enough water. And there has to be something to being active. I still can’t work out like I would like to. But I can do gentle yoga in the morning for 15 minutes. I can go on walks to my mailbox (which is down a big hill and a block away) without my lymph node swelling and feeling like I have the flu. This has been the biggest blessing and I can’t wait to learn more so I can further help my family.
*As a side-note, an added bonus has been in a months period of using this diet, my husband got off his heartburn medication AND we both lost weight without feeling restricted or hungry or like we were on a diet. My husband lost almost 10 pounds in one month and I lost 6. Definitely a bonus that we hadn’t planned on.
What plan we follow: Harvard’s “Healthy Eating Plate and Healthy Eating Pyramid”. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-plate/
Copyright © 2011, Harvard University. For more information about The Healthy Eating Plate, please see The Nutrition Source, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, http://www.thenutritionsource.org, and Harvard Health Publications, http://www.health.harvard.edu.
* We have also tried to eliminate any additives, preservatives, or processed foods. This means I make our bread, tortillas, pancake mix, dressings, etc., but the extra work is more than worth it, and really hasn’t been too hard as long as I have planned.
Friday Pizza Night
UPDATE: Now almost six months later we for the most part still follow this plan. We have found sauces at the store that are “homemade” without any additives and preservatives and we sometimes use these. We sometimes go out to eat and I feel like I have consequences after. Sometimes it has to happen. Sometimes, especially with the summer heat, which worsens my conditions, I have to survive, so we don’t always follow our rules. The key point though is that we are still following this plan and trying to be consistent and we have seen huge improvements. This HAS NOT healed me, but it has helped tame some of my symptoms. Following a well-rounded diet has been a huge blessing for our family.