Archive for constipation

“I used to think people that LIKED running were strange”

elisabeth-barlowBy: Elisabeth Barlow

My food history could be summed up by the phrase “meat and potatoes,” as long as we were talking about fried potatoes. I liked meat, dairy, chips, cookies, white bread, sugar, etc. and was a generally picky eater. As a teenager, I remember opening a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos after school and eating most of the bag by myself. I am shocked I didn’t end up with more health problems, but I was a typical teenage girl who didn’t want to eat her veggies.

Once I was married, the pounds started to creep on. By the time I was pregnant with my first child, I was 10-15 pounds heavier than when I got married. After the baby was born, I had a lot of weight to lose, but I didn’t do anything until my baby was almost two years old and I realized I was as heavy as I was when I was full-term pregnant. I joined Weight Watchers online because I thought it was a safe and effective way to lose weight. I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight after a few months, but I quit once I reached my goal and wanted to stop paying a monthly fee and obsessively track everything I ate. I went through the same cycle with each successive pregnancy until after my fourth baby which is when I found a better way!

I started thinking about my relationship to food after watching the Overcoming Addiction series that was put out by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. One of those videos was about a woman that overcame food addiction. I had never thought I had a food addiction, but I often felt like if I started eating a package of cookies or chips, I could never stop with just one or two! Many times I felt like the only thing that would relieve my stress was chocolate or a bakery item high in fat and sugar. I craved meals heavy in cheese and bacon. Although I knew I wasn’t eating the healthiest foods every day, I was resistant to anything that said to stop eating meat. I had read the Word of Wisdom before and knew that I could eat meat sparingly and that animals are for our use.

However, I was also worried about my health. I had a yearly blood draw coming up as part of our insurance requirements, and I wanted to be able to improve my numbers and not have to pay a surcharge if I had worse results than the year before. My post-baby weight loss had stalled, and to top it off I got sick with a horrible stomach virus or food poisoning and had to take two days off of work to recover. So, in March of 2016 when I found Forks Over Knives on Netflix, I was determined to try a whole food, plant-based diet. Now that I have been eating that way for 6, going on 7 months, I want to recap everything that has changed for me.

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“Our life will never be the same again!”

Markus and Caroline GappmaierBy: Caroline Gappmaier

I always thought we ate fairly healthy. Baking our own bread from grains I milled, eating only a little meat, and then basically no red meat, no drinking of soft drinks, etc. Of course, I did have a sweet tooth and liked cheese very much (you know, I’m Swiss, and those of you who have tasted our cheese and chocolate will understand!). Then, our family experienced an extended period of existential stress which brought me health-wise to a point where I hardly could eat anything anymore. I had suffered from severe rheumatism before, with chronic pain mainly in my shoulders, but with all the other joints suffering also (which meant never being without pain day and night). But now with this added stress, my skin had turned so yellowish that even strangers would address me about it. Around my eyes were deep, dark circles. I kept losing weight. I had random itches all over my body all the time. I started feeling as if my body could stop working at any given moment. My thighs had white marble lines on them and going to the toilet smelled like walking into some of those old folks’ rest rooms. I had to leave early for everything because hurrying was too much and got me out of breath. All the while I had no strength to deal with any kind of extra stress. I felt depressed constantly instead of being happy and easygoing, as would reflect my personality. I was always worried and feeling bad. It was miserable!

Realizing things could not go on like that much longer, I adjusted my diet. I had already let go of all refined sugar products. When I realized that cheese caused feelings of anxiety, I stopped eating that, too. Finally, I started eating only the things I digested well and made me feel physically good afterwards: fresh produce (fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds). For one year, I ate nothing else. Fruits in the morning (usually a fruit smoothie with some flax seeds, brown millet and pure honey in it) and a mixed salad of vegetables and lettuce with some seeds and nuts in the afternoon. Today I think this saved my life. As I got better, I started to reintroduce other foods again. A few years later, as my husband, Markus, also struggled with his health, we felt we should change to a whole food, plant-based diet. Our health improved slowly, but surely. I was able to go back to a more normal life style in general again, feeling less depressed and having more physical energy and no pain. Happiness came back and in the (early!) morning I started to be fully awake again. No more lead in the bones or short breath.

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“I believe that health is our birthright.”

Lara Johnson 1

My Russian father and Venezuelan mother on the day of my Russian Orthodox christening.

By: Lara Johnson

I was raised eating the Standard American Diet (SAD). I was often sick with colds and flus and constipation. As a teenager I suffered from acne and depression, and I struggled to manage my weight, which led to bulimia.

Lara Johnson 2

My face covered in acne on my wedding day.

When I got married I wanted to be a good wife and homemaker so I would make all kinds of delicious SAD meals for my husband. We had dessert every night. I developed painful ovarian cysts and frequent urinary tract infections (UTI’s). They were very painful and when I would have one I would have to miss work because I could not get off of the toilet because of the discomforting urge to urinate.

In this 3-year anniversary photo I was barely pregnant and didn’t know it yet.

In this 3-year anniversary photo I was barely pregnant and didn’t know it yet.

When I became pregnant with my first child, I developed a UTI that would just not go away. One of my best friends, Joylene Scott, told me about a health book entitled Fit For Life that promoted a vegan lifestyle. She said that everyone in her mission had been following it. She came home vibrant and healthy and fifty pounds lighter. I on the other hand had put on twenty-five pounds and was miserable. Read More→

“I planted the seed to see what fruits it would yield”

Maria FarleyBy: Maria Farley

My family has a history of high cholesterol. My father passed away in 1990 at age 54 of heart disease, and all six of my brothers are on cholesterol lowering medications. My cholesterol was also high, and I was on cholesterol, pre-diabetic and hypothyroid medications.

I’m a mother of five children and part of a blended family that added three more children to the picture. Though I was a dancer in college, I now work full time outside the home in an office sitting at a desk. In addition to family and work, I’ve always had busy church callings. I was tired and my body ached all the time. I slept poorly and was frequently constipated so I took sleeping aids and extra fiber. I wasn’t very happy and dealt with depression despite my “push through it” attitude. In 2010 I started visiting doctors more frequently to try to address this general “not feeling well” cloud that was hanging over me. I tried eating better, walking for exercise again, and started all those medications.

Despite the things I tried to get healthier, it didn’t seem to make a whole lot of difference. After four years, I had come to an “I don’t care, it doesn’t seem to make a difference” frame of mind, which included my eating patterns. Then in July 2014 a brother who is four years younger than I had a mild stroke. That really shook me up. I realized I was on the same health path that he was. I was 47 years old at the time, and at 5′ 11″ I weighed 215 pounds.

Shortly after my brother’s stroke, because of my expressed concerns, a son-in-law invited me to watch the DVD Forks Over Knives, and my daughter gave me a copy of the book Discovering the Word of Wisdom by Jane Birch. They were living with us at the time and had wanted to adopt a whole food, plant-based way of eating, but had not successfully converted fully over.

After watching and reading this information and being introduced to additional scientific evidence from Dr. Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn, the enlightenment of the truths found in the Word of Wisdom (that I had not paid any attention to previously) came to life for me. This whole food, plant-based diet lined up in my mind so well with the counsel given in the Word of Wisdom that I decided to put my faith to work and give it a try for 30 days. You could say I planted the seed and was testing it out to see what kind of fruits it would yield. I was blessed to have my daughter and son-in-law joining me in this “experiment upon [His] words” (Alma 32:27).

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“The Spirit confirmed to us that we were on the right track”

Mantlo FamilyBy: Leslie Mantlo

My daughter Meg, now 11, has struggled with bellyaches, headaches, stiff achy joints, and troubled sleeping for many years. I have taken her to the doctor time and again, but there have never been any real answers. It has been so frustrating. When I have taken her in, the doctor would attribute her bellyaches to constipation, which was partially true, but she wouldn’t really take the problem seriously. Her “solution” was to prescribe the regular use of laxatives (to a small child?) and give her gummy fiber supplements.

We tried everything the doctor suggested, hoping for results, but we never got lasting results, maybe a day or two of relief was all. It was very trying, especially for our daughter. No matter what she ate or drank it ended in a bellyache. She wasn’t sleeping well at all. It got to the point where she was not able to concentrate during learning activities so schooling was incredibly challenging.

I finally heeded a friend’s advice to contact a doctor in Colorado Springs that she’d had great success with. I counseled with him on our daughter’s symptoms, and he immediately suggested that she likely had an intestinal yeast infection. He made many dietary recommendations that, initially, I found pretty heavy. He pulled us off of white flour, white sugar, cow’s milk, artificial colors and flavors — all five days before Halloween 2013. I was like, “What are we supposed to eat if we can’t eat any of that???” He also prescribed particular supplements, including probiotics, and asked us to faithfully keep food diaries.

For me this was “experiment upon the word” and “come and see.” We were at a point where we just needed solid answers and solutions. We needed for our daughter to get better. We needed a medical professional to take the situation seriously. It was affecting all of us. So we jumped on board, supplements, food diaries, and all, faithfully! It was very challenging, but I was amazed at how our whole family rallied around our daughter. We all did this new diet together.

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“I’ve decided to stick with revelation on the subject of nutrition”

Barbara CramerBy: Barbara Cramer

I am 61 years old, and from the time I married at age 20, I have always been interested in health and nutrition. My parents were ahead of their time in that they believed in cracked wheat cereal, whole wheat bread, and eating lots of fruits, vegetables and salads every day; however, there was always plenty of meat on the menu, and drinking milk at every meal was gospel.

I have enjoyed good health most of my life, and through vigilance, never had a weight problem. However, about six years ago I started having severe knee pain and was diagnosed with osteoarthritis. I visited an orthopedic doctor and was seriously considering surgery on my right knee. I had also had a couple of colonoscopies with several pre-cancerous polyps. My cholesterol levels were on the high side, although not dangerous. I was always constipated and also had rosacea, a skin condition.

My mother (now aged 92) has severe osteoporosis and arthritis, and my father (an amazing and active 94) has used statins and blood-thinners for years; both have had bouts with cancer (now seemingly in remission after surgeries and radiation). My husband’s father died at age 62 from heart disease, and his mother from stroke. With all this in the family, I became interested in finding ways to maximize our health possibilities.

About five years ago, I started making and drinking lots of green smoothies, per “Green Smoothie Girl.” This helped my digestion, but I continued to use lots of dairy every day, plus some meats and eggs. Then, three years ago, a friend recommended the book Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. The next week, we had lunch with friends who told us they were on a vegan diet and that it had cured their migraine headaches and prostate cancer. Then yet another friend recommended the book The China Study by Colin Campbell. I wondered why I was suddenly having all these encounters with whole food, plant-based (WFPB) information, but I did the reading and became convinced that the science was reliable.

I decided I would try the diet for three months and see how I felt. I had read and studied a number of diets before, so it was like a light went on when I realized that the WFPB diet was really just the Word of Wisdom stated anew! Now when people present me with information that contradicts it, I just say that I’ve decided to stick with revelation on the subject. Otherwise, one month it’s this, and the next month, it’s that. Tossed to and fro . . . whom to believe? But with divine counsel, it’s easy. Why did it take me so long to come to this understanding? It seems so obvious now. But cultural influences are powerful and had prevented me from embracing it sooner.

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