The Anti-Inflammatory Diet Experience: Week 1

One patient’s ongoing experiences with the Anti-Inflammatory Diet.

When Balanced Spinal Care offered me the Anti-Inflammatory Diet Plan, I jumped at the chance. I was a bit nervous at first because it’s an elimination diet that takes out all the toxic foods that I was eating, which was a lot, but I knew that it was worth a try. I was sent home with a plan that included a symptom tracker, wellness tips, snack list, shopping list for 4 weeks, and then the actual meal plan for the whole month. I was surprised, but very pleased. It is a simple thing to tell someone what to eat and what not to eat, but the failure comes when you are left on your own to come up with what to make. So anyways, this meal plan included choices of what to have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This plan included a whole bunch of recipes too! This made it even better. With these tools, and the help from Cathy and Dr. Noorda, I felt like there was a chance that I could stick with this one and actually see results.
For week 1, I kept track of my symptoms, and how I was feeling both physically and emotionally. The results were very interesting and a lot more than I expected.

Cravings: Yes, I have had quite the cravings during my week 1. It was unbearable for most of the time. I am quite the sugar lover so it was very, very difficult to even think of putting those on the back shelf for 28 days. And to make it worse, everywhere I went there were candy, cookies and ice cream taunting me. It made me more aware of how much sugar is added into processed foods, and even the breads I have been eating. It’s been tough staying away from these. I also had a problem with craving chips and salsa. This was always my go-to when I got the munchies for something crunchy and salty. And then of course the Oreos (my cravings for this started when I opened one of my cupboards and saw the double-stuffed goodness.)
What I have learned this first week with cravings is to 1.) Don’t have it in the house! Those Oreos are still there and driving me crazy. 2.) Push through those craving moments because they go away. Or better yet, find something to replace it. For example sweet potato chips helped me get through my craving of the chips and salsa. I just needed that salty crunch. 3.) Having family and friends as a support system is such strength with cravings. Whenever I felt down or that it was getting too hard, I had family and friends remind me what I was working for and to keep at it.

Hunger Pangs: Before I started the Anti-Inflammatory Diet, I used to ALWAYS skip breakfast. So that by the time lunch came around, I was starving. Snacks were far in between and then I would have a huge dinner. My meals were spaced far apart and I was just fine with that. Oh boy! But once I started this diet, I found that I was hungry ALL THE TIME. In fact, it was like I could never get full.
All week long my stomach felt off; like it was cramping with hunger 24/7. The strange thing was that it even felt that way while I was eating and also right after. After asking about this, I found out that my stomach was “rebooting”. My stomach wasn’t used to having a faster metabolism, and so it felt uncomfortable all the time. Another change I have found was that I was going to the bathroom a lot more often. Before, it used to be every 2 to 3 days, but now it is either everyday or every other day. My stools have been much softer and less painful as well.

Weight: This was my favorite part of the whole thing. At the end of my first week, I had lost 5 pounds! Imagine how ecstatic I was. After the first 4 days, I weighed myself and found that I had already lost 3 pounds. Never in my life has that happened to me, because it has always been a struggle for me to lose weight. And what made this even more fulfilling was that I knew that it was a healthy way of losing weight. That I was doing it the right way, and my body was thanking me by shedding some of those pounds!

Energy: I have known for a while that I have low-blood sugar. And what that has done for me was make my energy more like a roller coaster throughout the day. As I mentioned before, I wasn’t the biggest fan of eating breakfast, so by lunch time, if I was working and had to wait until 1 or 2 before I could finally take my break, I was at the point of weak muscles, shakiness, and lightheadedness. It was awful to feel that way on and off all day. But for this past week, I haven’t had the shakes a single time. I have noticed that my energy level stays constant; even when I get hungry I don’t get shaky. The only bad thing was the first couple of days when I felt like I couldn’t eat ANYTHING. That this diet was cutting out a lot of the things in my normal diet. My energy was low and I felt like I was starving for 2 days. It took a few more days for my taste buds to start liking what I was eating, and so I finally started to eat more as I made these given recipes.

What I have learned: It was actually the very last day of my week 1 that I came to this realization. I wasn’t living for food! A strange thought, I know. But think of this… once I was finishing up my first week, yes I was hungry all the time, but I wasn’t thinking of the next meal constantly. I felt that I was able to get more work done and concentrate on what was important in my day, like work, family, and doing the things I love. It was amazing for me to realize that before, I was always thinking about the next meal. What a strange mindset I was in without even realizing it. But now, I don’t think about food a whole lot. I look at the clock, and think “Oh! It’s lunch already.” Then I go eat and get back to what I was doing before, instead of already thinking about what I am going to have for dinner.

There is still a lot I need to learn from this experience, because I am not over the mountain yet, but thankfully I feel like I am getting there. I had prepared myself mentally before starting this, knowing that it will be hard, and I have found that the more I stick with it the more empowered I feel about it.

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