If getting healthy were easy and straightforward, everyone would do it with ease.
But the truth is, it’s rarely as black and white as we’d like it to be and there are more pieces involved than diet change alone.
There was a point in my healing journey when I realized this exact concept – changing my diet just simply wasn’t going to be enough to get me to where I wanted to be.
Don’t get me wrong, it helped a ton!
But something was missing.
With the help of trusted stool tests, I found out that a gut infections were one of the reasons I was still sick. And it wasn’t until I addressed them that my health began to turn the corner.
As it turns out, many people on this journey will need to do more than simply change their diet, and this was certainly the case for our friend Anna.
Read on, as Anna takes us through the ups and downs of her journey and graciously shares with us the tools and tips she used to overcome several challenges (including parasites, Candida, and H. pylori).
My Relationship with Food Was Unhealthy From a Young Age
Back when I was a teen, I secretly suffered from bulimia. I didn’t have a healthy relationship to food, in any sense of the word.
Bulimia allowed me to eat “bad” foods that made me feel gross, but then get rid of the guilt, fear, and pain associated with indulgent consumption. I would eat a massive white chocolate frozen yoghurt in a waffle cone, then take a walk and purge my shame into my neighbor’s bushes.
Many Things Contributed to My Diagnosis of IBS
I was officially diagnosed with IBS at 17, after the use of birth control and the harsh drug Accutane to control acne. My symptoms at the time were fairly mild, but the diagnosis only served to demonize eating and escalate my rotten relationship with food.
At the age of 25, I became very sick. My binge-purge cycle was replaced by strict diet control because I could hardly eat anything. Raging food sensitivities, severe pain after eating, major bloating, and indigestion/GERD/heartburn were my constant companions.
My Symptoms Were Starting to Overtake Me…
In addition, I also suffered with: itching, acne, eczema, brain fog, difficulty breathing, insomnia, yeast infections, UTIs, interstitial cystitis, PMS, PCOS, muscle pain and weakness, intense sugar cravings, fatigue, insomnia, depression, mood swings, and anxiety.
During this time, I had moved from the US to the UK, gotten married, and secured an awesome job as a makeup artist for top productions in the film industry.
I Was Scared, Lost, and Hurting – Both Physically and Mentally
I should have been flying. But I wasn’t. I was hurting, alone, scared, riddled with pain and ruining my marriage.
The doctor’s office was the only phone number I knew by heart and the mind-altering cocktail of medications I was on only stoked the fire that was burning my life down.
Something was wrong… so totally wrong.
But my doctors assured me I was perfectly well and in the prime of my life (even though I was a 25-year-old in a 95-year-old’s body).
I Was Convinced I’d Be Sick Forever…
Desperation led me to try anything and everything – all creams and concoctions, every pill and herbal tea – over the counter, under the table, expensive, cheap, high-end, homemade.
I saw specialists, herbalists, quacks, and highly-qualified patronizers. I became addicted to Google, and researched my doom on the daily. I hated my life, floundered at work, and resented my husband.
But mostly, I simply believed I would be sick forever – and that terrified me.
I Found the SCD Diet and Finally Started to See Progress
I devoured all the content and adhered to it religiously for two years without a single slip up. I was making progress and feeling good and healing in so many ways.
But I didn’t listen to Jordan and Steve’s advice about finding the right doctor and getting the right tests. I tried to do it on my own and didn’t want to spend any more time or money.
I Adhered to the Diet Religiously… But Something Was Missing
But here’s the hard part where I confess that the diet only helped so much. And the part where I tell you that I thought that if I was good enough, that if I followed the rules perfectly, I’d get better. But I didn’t.
I started going backward and could only eat about 5 foods. And all my symptoms were back and I gave up, ate junk food, stayed in bed, and hated everything. My eating disorder became my illness, my illness became my life, and my life became an unshakable nightmare.
I needed serious help.
I Needed the Help of a Trusted Practitioner…
“Yes. It’s very serious. You need urgent attention. It could be fatal.”
It was Christmas 2015. No doctor’s offices were open. I thought I was going to die.
My functional medicine practitioner read my test results to me over the phone. My heart, soul and mind felt like they were dying. Not only did I have parasites, but also H. pylori, SIBO, Candida, adrenal fatigue, fibromyalgia, and hormone imbalances.
I became a haunted, hollow body, full of inflammation and existential loss. And as bad as it had been up till that point, and as low as I felt in those moments, it was only the beginning.
2016 was the hardest year of my life. I had almost zero support from my UK/NHS based physicians, who literally did not believe me when I showed them my test results; they said that I “probably didn’t have a parasite infection, and it was just a bad case of IBS and some neurosis.”
Getting Rid of the Infection(s) Changed Everything
In addition to a thorough herbal and supplement protocol, as directed by my practitioner, I had to take 3 massive rounds of debilitating antibiotics to squash the parasites. The infection was simply too serious and too far along, so we had to go straight in for the big medications.
It took me over two years to get rid of all the culprits (yeast, bacteria, parasites, and so on) – and that was with complete dedication and solid action taken every day. Keeping total wellness at the forefront, we focused on herbs and gentle supplements to bring my entire body back into balance. We mindfully resorted to pharmaceuticals when it was absolutely necessary, and always took care to restore harmony to the system afterwards.
Creating My Own Custom Version of the SCD Diet
My practitioner helped me create a version of SCD that was perfect for me. Instead of obsessing about what I was eating, the gentle parameters allowed me to feel safe and begin enjoying food again. It was really important for me to keep it simple for a long time.
It requires a lot of willpower and dedication, but taking the time to create my very own food safety zone and slowly customize a diet that works for me was an essential component to healing and maintaining results.
The Journey Was Long and Hard, But Worth Every Second
My journey was hard. It often felt impossible. I could have died – and felt that I was dying many times along the way.
I lost faith and friends. I wasted money and time. I got angry and blamed and criticized.
I became a victim. I wanted to be a victim. I’d spent over a decade degenerating, and didn’t know how to be a happy, healthy, thriving human – or that it was even possible.
All My Hard Work and Dedication Paid Off and It Felt Good
And all of a sudden, I could go on beautiful country walks with my husband. And food tasted good again. I could make healing blueberry jello and it was delicious and nourishing.
I felt well. Which was a novel concept, I assure you. I became myself again and saw the light, felt the freedom, and cooked food that fed my soul.
I learned to make space for healing – true, actual, long-lasting, and ongoing healing.
My 6 Tips For Overcoming Any Illness(es):
When I realized I was responsible for my own health and healing, I got depressed. I couldn’t handle the burden (or guilt). But when you choose to take responsibility, you realize that you can also choose to take control to get better, overcome blocks, and move forward on your own terms. (And not get hung up on that one doctor who told you that you were crazy, thereby wasting more of your precious life.)
Become Your Own Healer
Being your own healer is the essence of empowerment. It means building your own healing intuition, taking initiative, and being proactive, being open to all modalities of healing, trying what speaks to you, and then mindfully pursuing what feels right.
Be Your Own Advocate
Sometimes getting out of bed is the greatest achievement. I get it. It’s a slap in the face and a scandal to find out that no one is going to do this healing thing for you if you don’t (or won’t or can’t). It’s just bad news on a bad day at a bad time. But the good news is you are always going to be your very best advocate – because you know yourself best, because it’s your life.
Create the Right Mindset
This is non-negotiable. It means aligning your thoughts with your highest vision of health and healing. Honing your mind to expect success. Getting serious about your healing goals. Conditioning your mind so that you heal with every thought. Digging into your subconscious and uncovering habits and patterns that have brought you here and are keeping you sick.
I’m a chronic self-helper. I’m very independent, self-motivated, and determined – and this got me into deep trouble on my healing journey, because I was certain I could figure it out on my own. The result was years wasted and thousands of dollars spent on zero progress. It wasn’t until I employed the help of my amazing Functional Medicine Practitioner, Dr. Brie Wieselman, that I got clear about what was at the root of my symptoms. It was a step that literally saved my life and gave me back all the vitality I thought I’d never ever have again.
You are going to eat the chips, drink the wine, and skip your appointment, even though you know what kind of disaster is waiting. You’ll probably even hate yourself for doing it. That’s OK. Honor your human experience. And then, get up. Keep going. Finish what you started, no matter what.
Healing is a choice. It’s a lifestyle. It’s action taken every day that moves you forward on a journey of purpose, meaning and connection. Choose to heal. You got this.
Achieving the ultimate goal of becoming healthy can be messy and sometimes complicated.
But, as you’ve seen from Anna’s story, where there’s a will there’s a way.
Changing your diet is a great place to start, but for Anna, myself and many others, diet alone isn’t enough to become fully healthy.
To get started now, grab a copy of our eBook here and let us know how we can support your health transformation.
What is the number one thing you need help with? Let us know in the comments section below.