Hi there! My name is Heather Arold. Welcome to my blog and adventure down a path of self healing through diet.
My journey to this point started on February 10th, 2011 – I was watching TV one evening, when out of the blue a headache suddenly hit me unlike any other headache I had ever had before. I immediately jumped up and reached for my bottle of Tylenol hoping to stop it before it got any worse. Five days later, and having added Advil, Excedrin, and Aspirin to the mix, I found myself sitting in the first of many doctor’s offices and being prescribed the first of many migraine medications. Nothing seemed to work. After almost six months of non-stop pain my Neurologist found a medication that stopped the pain (mostly) as well as minimal, tolerable side-effects. I had to take the maximum dose allowed and then there were additional pills for when the headache ‘broke through’ the medication. Added up I easily take approximately 100 pills each month.
This past August marked the one year anniversary of my daily medication prescription. I wanted to try to come off the medication and my Neurologist was hopeful that the daily medication had done its job in breaking the migraine cycle. Leaving his office, I started following the withdraw plan he had scheduled for me. The month of October was the first point I reached where I was completely free of the daily pills – I had no less than 22 migraines. Coming off the daily medication was not going to work. I felt very defeated and frustrated to say the least. My doctor’s plan? Get back on the medication and look into alternative migraine solutions which included Botox injections into a nerve in my neck (ummm….NO!), laser therapy abrasion, where they would go in a burn part of my nerve (definitely NO!), etc.
I should mention, that all the while I was taking medication I was also trying to seek out alternative methods as well. I tried chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, cupping, and massage therapy. I also saw several specialists to rule out additional problems: Optometrist, Orthodontist (to rule out TMJ) – everything came back ‘normal.’ My eye doctor tried to convince me, back when this all started, to go gluten free with my diet. She was the first person convinced that my symptoms would disappear with a change of diet. I wasn’t ready to hear that. A close friend of mine, who is a nutritionist, is the first person to mention the GAPS diet. Again, I wasn’t ready to accept that. I could live on pancakes, cereal, and baked goods! There was no way I was going to give up what made probably 75% of my daily diet!
This past October made me face my new reality. And this journey started to take real shape. When I describe the GAPS diet I usually say it’s a Gluten free diet on steroids. GAPS actually stands for the Gut and Phycology Syndrome. Created by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, the diet consists of all healthy, natural, and organic meats, vegetables (except those high in starch), fruits, nuts, eggs, and some dairy. Absolutely NO processed foods are allowed on this particular diet. Raw honey is the only sweetener allowed. Homemade yogurt, Kiefer, sauerkraut, pickles and other fermented veggies are strongly recommended for their high level of healthy probiotics. Because I have no medical training of my own, it was important for me to run this diet by my general practitioner as well as our pediatrician and get their opinion. Both doctors viewed this to be a very healthy way of eating and saw no reason for any of us NOT to participate. While my goal is to get my three-year old daughter to eat this healthier lifestyle, it has been challenging and I do still provide her the foods she is used to eating along side the healthy options I’ve prepared for each meal. Also, we do not prevent her from enjoying food provided at schools on special occasions such as birthday parties or holidays. In the end I am hopeful that we can ease up and reintroduce some of the healthier whole grains back into our diet and follow an easier gluten free diet – at least for me if gluten ends up being the primary migraine trigger. But for the beginning I thought it was important to remove more out of my diet and then test if certain items could be reintroduced at a later date. If you plan on trying this diet it is recommended you purchase the book to get a full understanding of what you’re doing and how to follow the rigorous diet. You can purchase the book directly from Dr. Campbell-McBrides website here, or find it on Amazon.com. A new edition is expected to come out April 2014.
Since starting the diet I have come across many other people who either are or have tried the GAPS diet and have come up with wonderful recipies. I do not believe I would’ve made it past day two without their help and knowledge. I will reference them repeatedly throughout. While their recipes have been a lifesaver (and absolutely DELISH), I do not always agree with their philosophies on medicine, child rearing, and general life experience topics – probably just as many of you may not agree with mine. My goal for this blog is to keep it strictly about the diet and and my family’s journey to self-healing through food.