After giving birth to her second child, Jan’s health fell apart. The advice she was given from her doctors just didn’t impress her – there must be another way!
Then a friend introduced her to a low-carb paleo diet – and although skeptical at first she started reading and it turned her health around:
I’m Jan, mum to three awesome boys and owner of www.healthyperspective.co, the UK’s largest Paleo and Clean Living Directory website. Websites that are over a 1,000 pages deep don’t just appear out of nowhere, there’s usually a story behind them. This is mine and I’m sharing it because I hope and think it will resonate with others.
Too often we hide away from sharing health issues and how we really feel for fear of being judged, looking ‘weak’ and that perception that we should be able to have it all.
My health had always been really good up to my mid-thirties (yearly tonsillitis was about as bad as it got), then after the birth of my first two children, it all fell apart. Depression, early-onset arthritis, awful monthly cycle issues that took me out of action for a week every month, problems with my blood, IBS (or so I thought) and just no energy, ever. To start with, I just put it down to being a mum of two, juggling kids and a business. I did the ‘norm’ and went to the GP:
For depression, I was offered antidepressants and a 12 month waiting list for therapy.
For arthritis, I was told to take paracetamol and ibuprofen to manage the pain, that was it.
For my menstrual cycle, I was offered numerous contraception options, most of which trigged off depression. I tried to explain I was sure it was due to a hormone imbalance. This went ignored. The only other option per the doctor was a full hysterectomy.
My blood was checked and I was told everything was in the normal parameters so there was nothing wrong with it.
For my ‘IBS’, I was told to eat wholegrains and fat-free foods.
I gotta be honest with you, I wasn’t impressed, things just didn’t add up to me and I felt that there had to be something I could do. Frankly at the time, I’d have tried everything. My life was revolving around my health and I felt broken (sounds so dramatic doesn’t it, but it’s the best way I can describe it).
Falling into paleo
I felt that there had to be another way. Around the same time, a good friend of mine told me about this new diet she was trying, called Paleo. I silently rolled my eyes at the ‘D’ word, I don’t get diets, yes you can lose weight but if you fall into old habits, the weight will return.She explained that it wasn’t really a diet, more a permanent way of life. My initial reaction was pretty much, “what no grain, dairy or sugar, you’re having a laugh? And fat is my friend? No way, low fat or no fat is what we’ve always been told by those ‘in the know’?!”My initial reaction was pretty much, “what no grain, dairy or sugar, you’re having a laugh? And fat is my friend? No way
The books that changed my view on food… forever
She thrust a couple of books into my hands and said ‘read them’. I did, thank god. They are ‘The Grain Brain’ by Dr. David Perlmutter and ‘The Paleo Diet’ by Robb Wolf. I’ve read many, many more great books since but these two turned everything I knew about food and wellness on its head. I’m the queen of cynicism and it takes *a lot* to impress me or change my thinking – these two books did just that and if I could be Santa for just one day I’d give everyone copies.
Life-changing, truly life-changing, and brain re-wiring. Everything I’d been told about ‘healthy eating’ was thrown up in the air. If I was going to change how I ate, to be ‘healthier’, then it had to be a permanent lifestyle choice or it wasn’t worth doing in my book. Paleo made sense, both in terms of making permanent food changes and the health benefits the books said would follow.
I learnt, amongst many other things:
- That the gut and brain are intrinsically linked. Feed your gut grain-filled, sugar filled, processed garbage and you’ll damage you brain in the short and long-term. Depression anyone?!
- That my blood problems may be down to the quality of the iron in it, not the quantity.
- That arthritis in caused by inflammation. Inflammation is caused from eating inflammatory foods (yes, mainly the ones we have been told for decades are ‘good’ for us).
- That my monthly cycle could be massively improved by removing grains, eating better fats, lower carbs and higher levels of iron, calcium and iodine.
- That modern diseases such as cancer, diabetes and degenerative brain diseases (e.g. Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s) have been proved through research to be much more prevalent in western diets high in carbs and low in fat.
- That holistic doctors and alternative therapists could help work out any imbalances and gut issues within my body (such as kynesiologists).
So that was it, the die was cast. I slowly moved over to a Paleo diet over a period of about a year, which then evolved into a Primal diet (mainly because I wanted some dairy in my diet still and my body tolerates it ok). Most experts state you should do a 30-day Paleo reset diet but it just didn’t work for me, I wasn’t prepared to throw 80% of my food away overnight and I had kids and a partner to think about. And the result?I’m healthier than I was in my twenties – and at 42, I’ll take that thank you very much.I’m healthier than I was in my twenties – and at 42, I’ll take that thank you very much.
- All IBS symptoms have disappeared.
- I’m almost pain free from arthritis. In the colder months if ever feel a slight hint of it, I head to the Chinese doctor for acupuncture and heat treatment which knocks it on the head.
- My monthly cycle is a non-issue for me now, no more illness and depression every month.
- I get very few bugs, colds and coughs – which with three kids is no mean feat.
- I’m more creative in the kitchen, I really taste and appreciate my food more than I ever did.
- I’m seasonal now with a lot of things I buy (making my food bill cheaper) and I question the sourcing of what I buy a lot more – is the meat from grass fed livestock, have the apples been sprayed with toxic chemicals etc?
- I also struggle to eat anything really sweet (and I NEVER EVER thought I’d say that!!!) – once you cut most refined sugar out of your diet, it truly changes your taste buds – for the better!
- I don’t get energy dips anymore, no more mid-morning or mid-afternoon slumps which means I’m more productive and I don’t reach for the sugary fixes.
Most interestingly, now I’ve cleaned up my food act, if my food habits slip at all, I feel it straight away – sluggish, the number of bugs increase, depression rears its ugly head. When you’re eating a high-carb, low-fat diet, you don’t notice incrementally all the carbs and sugar you’re having and the health impact it has.
My journey hasn’t just been about the food and drink I consume, it gets you thinking about all the other toxins we’re exposed too. Why remove all the toxins from your body thanks to poor food choices if you’re then using cleaning and beauty products which are full of other toxins. It really does open a can of worms with your thinking… with really positive benefits.
My hope with my website is to be a signpost for anyone thinking of eating healthier and want to learn more about the Paleo (and Primal) way of life.
What an inspiring story, Jan!
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