Duffy’s WFPB Journey — April 2014

scale upside downIts May 3rd and I’m just now getting to writing this blog post. I suppose if I told you my computer crashed, it might garner some empathy. But the honest side of me would have to admit it crashed last night… May 2, two days after I should’ve had this essay done and ready to post.

So lets talk about April. I’ve stayed 100% Whole Food Plant Based for 4 months, 1 week and 2 ¾ days. In other words, now just over 1/3 of the year! My coworkers have gone from asking me if I was still doing my New Year’s Resolution to exclaiming in surprise “You’re still doing that? Wow!” I think the best thing about this is the confidence I am gaining in myself. In the past, I haven’t always kept promises to myself, especially when they revolved around food and exercise.

I spent this month mentally preparing myself for a doctor’s appointment and the what-comes-next depending on the results. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been dealing with IBS-D since about age 12, so seventeen years now. I’ve never before seen a doctor about it. I had believed for a long time that my bowel distress was diet-related, and I expected a full resolution when I went WFPB. Unfortunately that has not been the case. While I no longer have diarrhea on a regular basis and in fact my stools are well-formed and bulky from all the fiber in this diet, I’m still experiencing urgency! I have to go at least 3 times in the morning before work and 6-10 times per day, average. Each time, but more especially in the morning, I experience the symptom of I-have-to-go-right-this-second-or-its-gonna-get-ugly-in-here. Its one of the main reasons I’ve never enjoyed traveling. Well… that, and that I’m a confirmed homebody at heart.

I had decided to get my blood and stool tested to rule out any parasites, bacterial overgrowth, etc. If the results came back negative, I would go on the elimination diet in order to find out if this is food-related. I had my doctor’s appointment Monday afternoon- the 28th of April- and the results came back negative. My doctor also threw in a celiac sprue test, my 2nd, and it also came back negative. I admit to being fairly worried about that one, so I bought a pack of Ezekiel 7 grain sprouted English Muffins the day before I expected the test results back; if I was going to learn I had celiac disease, I was going to eat wheat bread first!! Truth be told though, I’ve been eating a lot of those English muffins this month. I started craving bread a whole lot and so I brought them back into my diet this month although I’d previously eliminated all refined flour products to reduce calorie density.

Before the 28th of April, my last blood test had been in February 2013. At that time I had a 6.3 A1c, with 6.4 and above being considered in the diabetic range if confirmed. I was supposed to go back 3 months later to re-test but I never did since I hadn’t managed to clean up my diet. When my doctor wanted to retest it earlier this week, I said okay since it’s a test that’s supposed to measure the 3 month average of your blood sugars and I’d been WFPB for just over that amount of time. My current A1c came back at 6.0. While it’s not as much of a drop as I’d hoped for, and it’s still in the pre-diabetic range, I’m very pleased that it did come down. And who knows, maybe it’s more of a drop than I’m aware of since I hadn’t had it tested in over a year and most of that year was pretty hard-core SAD eating. The number could have gone up without my awareness.

I also had a surprising test result: my thyroid is low and TSH is high. A nurse called to set up a phone appointment with my doctor; since she’s on vacation right now, it’s not until the 28th of May. I’m feeling like 4 weeks is kind of a long time to wait but it’s the soonest they had available, and I don’t really want to talk to another doctor since she has my history. Apparently low thyroid function is a common enough condition, is hormonal, and Dr. McDougall thinks that it’s not diet-related and is one of the few conditions he regularly prescribes medication for.

My doctor recommended that if my tests come back negative, I go see a GI specialist. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to be scoped unless absolutely necessary, per the warnings that Dr. McDougall has given about it. When I wrote him an email about my situation, he suggested that when patients don’t respond to dietary treatment, he uses a bile acid sequestering agent like Colestid. I told my PCP this and she said Metamucil would do the same thing. Hmmm….

I have a little less than 4 weeks now until my doctor/phone appointment. I’ve read in several places, including Dr. McDougall’s newsletters and scientific journal abstracts about a connection between dietary sulphur and colitis, of which IBS is a mild form. For this reason, I still have hope for the elimination diet. Right now one of my main suspects is mustard because of the vinegar content. I could spend some time taking out one thing at a time from my diet, like the mustard, to see if it resolves. Or I could go all-in and do the ED for at least 1 week to see if my symptoms resolve then start challenging individual foods. While the former plan is more appealing because of my extreme pickiness as an eater, the latter seems more appropriate in light of the doctor’s appointment a few weeks away and my desire to know whether I should accept the GI referral or not. My plan at this point is:

  1. Elimination Diet
  2. If that fails, try Metamucil (read this in a skeptical tone of voice, please, as intended).
  3. If that fails, try other types of probiotics per a list on one of Dr. McDougall’s newsletters (so far I’ve only tried lactobacillus).
  4. If that fails, talk to my doctor about a bile acid sequestering agent.

My weight is down this month but only around 8 or 9 lbs, I think. I keep track of my weight loss in an excel spreadsheet on my computer, which has crashed. So it’s been a slower month for weight loss, but any loss is good, especially compared to the alternatives. J I did have a 5 year-old ask me earlier this month “why are you so fat?” Children are notorious for their honest inquiries and lack of social graces so I’ve gotten this or a similar question (or statement: “you’re fat!”) many times over the years from children. In the past I’ve always felt some level of despair because I wasn’t successful at losing weight, and consequently usually drowned that emotion in more junk food. This time however I didn’t feel any despair. I bit my tongue to keep from telling him what I really wanted to say (“because I ate too many preschoolers for breakfast!”) and gave a standard non-answer, “that’s just the way I am.” That was enough to satisfy him and he went on playing.

I plan to be reporting next month that I’ve reached a new century… or as some folks say “Welcome to Twoterville.” My ultimate goal weight of course resides in “Onederland,” but I’m happy to soon be crossing this next milestone.

With love and affection,

Duffy, daily less fluffy

Comments

  1. I’m glad you are sticking with this. You are an inspiration to me. It’s amazing what listening to the Lord can do for health. You are the poster child.

    When I suffered from some bleeding bowel issues a couple years ago, I used an herb called slippery elm. It is wonderful at soothing, healing the intestinal tract, and firming up (but never constipating) loose movements. Of course an MD won’t agree with this. Nevertheless, it’s been used historically for many bowel issues. Athough not about intestinal issues, an interesting anecdote told by Dr. Christopher about slippery elm involves the little boy that had his hip shot out at Haun’s Mill. His mother packed his wound with slippery elm for weeks. While it didn’t become a new ball and socket, it did heal well enough for him to walk again. Anyway, it can’t hurt you. A couple times a day, mix a teaspoon or two of the powder in a glass of milk and drink it down.

  2. I encourage you to continue eating Whole Food Plant Based way beyond the four months you’ve done already. From my experience I’m positive that You will be “singing a happier song” before not too many more months pass you by. I personally have been blessed to have remained 100% for two and a half years and I don’t even have head aches, colds or anything else that most people experience regularly. I really love all that I eat, but many of those I associate with at church on a weekly basis most likely don’t have any idea that I’m as healthy as I really am! If they did perhaps before long each of them would begin eating like I do and lose a good number of pounds and experience good health like they never before have.

    It is challenging but doable for me to do all of the cooking I have to do with my wife not eating as I do, but somehow I actually enjoy all that cooking! As you may know from what my daughter Jane has written about me in her book, this diet you are on has helped me become a new man health wise. I look forward before too very long to read your having written that the same has happened to you too! I turn 83 years of age next February 13th! I pray the Lord will be able to bless you as you continue to move forward in eating His way!

    By the way, in the now distant past I suffered from Diverticulitis, Type 2 Diabetes, and high blood pressure and had to have several growths removed from my intestines. That is in the way distant past! I’m actually a new man in many ways!

  3. I admire you for your strength in spite of all the seeming setbacks and disappointments.

    I believe one of the best things about eating this way is that you have a foundation for eating you know to be good: the Word of Wisdom. You may have to tweak it, but at least you have a place to start that is truth.

    Bless you in your journey. Thank you for sharing. You are an inspiration.

    • I love the way you put this, Orva! We don’t know everything when it comes to health and nutrition, but if we start with the Word of Wisdom, we know we have a good foundation. It is not just wise counsel on health, but wise counsel from a loving Heavenly Father. Living the Word of Wisdom will open the doors of revelation so we can receive further light and knowledge.

  4. I would agree with justme. I have bowel issues, too, and using slippery elm daily for a few months cleared it up nicely! Slippery elm is a great pre-biotic to take before your probiotics, to give the right environment for all the healthy bugs to make a home in your gut. Your gut may also be related to the thyroid issue–those friendly little guys do more things than we can imagine. I had thyroid problems for a long time, and the medication didn’t seem to make much difference in the symptoms. I started taking kelp capsules, and within a week, my symptoms had cleared for the most part, and I also found that thyroid was part of the problem with my bowel.

    Your journey is truly inspiring, Duffy! Thanks for being willing to share.

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