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Friday, May 1, 2015

A Year Without Grease: Taking Back my Health

This May marks for me one year in which I have avoided all fast food that does not nourish my health. Yes, that means no fast-food burgers, french fries, fried chicken (strips, nuggets, or sandwiches), and no soft drinks. It marks one year in which I have consumed almost no fried food except that which is fried in olive oil or coconut oil. It marks one year in which I have eaten no potato chips except baked ones. It marks one year since I realized I had to make some drastic changes in order to gain my health back. I wouldn't trade all the fries in the world for that.

Why? You see, last year I was given antibiotics for a small illness and was not told of the dangers they can pose. I was not told that they would clean my stomach of the good bacteria along with the bad. I had never heard of that before. But they did, and I was left with serious health problems. I soon felt sick every day, and eating even a small amount of food made me feel far too full. Then, foods with grease in them caused almost unbearable stomach pain, and the doctors I went to merely handed me more medicine. Pain medicine, antibiotics, and medicine to repair the lining of my stomach, which they suspected was basically worn away.
I was given morphine one night in the emergency room that did not even phase the pain. Yes, it was a traumatic time for me. Though doctors ruled out more serious causes, they never did find out exactly what was wrong. They said it was likely a combination of a shortage on good bacteria, a severely damaged stomach lining, and probably an ulcer. I appreciate the doctors who worked with me and did help me greatly, but I was not finding any answers for how to gain back my health. In desperation, my mom and I began researching and turning to natural methods of healing. We were determined to save my health.

First, I eliminated items that seemed to irritate the problem and cause pain. That meant I had to say goodbye to Bojangles' chicken strips, Burger King's whopper juniors, even Chick-fil-A's classic chicken sandwiches and waffle fries. Any pizza not made in olive oil had to go. (Okay, so I did have a small portion of hushpuppies at several points throughout the year; for some reason they do not seem to bother me in small amounts.) ;) Was it hard for me to give up those things that I enjoy? Yes, it was difficult, but not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. Having experienced the crippling pain that followed the consumption of these foods, I did not consider them to be worth the risk at all. I determined to rid my diet of all unhealthful food. My mom was an absolute lifesaver in this endeavor (Aren't moms always lifesavers?) She cooked delicious, healthful meals while I was living at home, and as I observed, I learned how to cook nutritiously for my family someday, as well. Now, being married since January, the skills I learned from my mom are invaluable. My husband and I enjoy nutritious, tasty meals, and we are thankful to have established our home this way from the beginning of our marriage.

What fast food places can I still enjoy? Let's be honest. Sometimes, we all just need to stop somewhere and grab a quick meal. Some days are like that, and there's nothing wrong with it. When I need a fast to-go meal, or when I'm traveling with a group and have to eat where they want to stop, I can almost always find options.  
My favorite fast food places to enjoy now are:
  • Chick-fil-A, where I can choose from such items as chicken noodle soup, a grilled chicken sandwich, a chicken salad sandwich, a salad (without fried chicken on it), or a yogurt parfait
  • Panera bread, where I can eat many of their sandwiches, soups, salads, and pasta
  • Subway, where I can choose from all kinds of scrumptious options
  • Bojangles, where I can enjoy a country ham biscuit (or another type of biscuit) and several side options
  • Cook Out, where I can enjoy a char-grilled chicken sandwich with honey mustard and lettuce
(Of course, most of these options involve gluten, which I can eat but not in large amounts. If you suspect that gluten may be causing you pain or other problems, try limiting yourself to a small amount weekly to see if it makes a difference.)

Are there options at other common fast food places? Yes.  Almost every fast food place offers salads or chicken wraps now. Many have grilled chicken options. Salads tend to be more expensive, but for better health, the few extra dollars is worth it. 

Have I really experienced a notable difference in my health? Absolutely. I am still on the road to recovery, but these changes in diet have eliminated the terrible stomach pains and the daily sickness. It took time, effort, and prayer. I went through frustration, discouragement, and tears in this battle for my stomach health. I am not 100% yet, but I have progressed farther than I ever thought I could.

Did just eating healthfully make all the difference? No, there is one other habit I have formed this year that helped tremendously. And I intend to continue the habit for the rest of my life. I take a high-quality probiotic capsule every day. In an upcoming post, I will share what brand of probiotics I use and why I like them so much!
Last, the major objective that has caused such big improvement in my health is God. My Heavenly Father has heard every prayer and been with me every step of the way. He has provided wisdom and answers, and He has used many factors to heal my body. He continues to heal me, and I praise Him!


Betty Draper said...

Bravo for you, bravo. In this easy fast world we live in the easiest thing to do is grab the fast and easy which usually is harmful to us in more ways then one. Your desire to be healthy caused you to add one of the fruits of the Spirit, self control, bravo.

Emily said...

Thanks so much for your encouragement :)

Tarissa said...

Congrats on making it a year since your diet change! The effects seem to be turning out great for you.

This story of yours reminds me of my mom -- she has had similar health issues. She now takes probiotics and enzymes every day, which are helping her too.

God bless you!

JES said...

Thank you for sharing your encouraging journey towards a healthy lifestyle on the Art of Home-Making Mondays this week! :)