Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday Reflections - Dizzy Spells or Iron Bombs - Those are my Options

I feel like I need to be an advocate for clean eating. Considering the name of my blog and all. A role model. An example of what wonderful things can happen in your life when you make healthy food choices. An encouragement to other to choose Chia over chips............

That's why I hate having to admit when I'm not feeling great. That's why it took me 3 months to mention that my stomach wasn't feeling great on the Candida diet. I didn't lie. I just didn't really mention it.

Well, this time I will keep you up to date in a more timely manner. Partly because when I journal about things I tend to deal with them quicker - actually reflect on what's going on and take action.

As a quick recap if you are just joining me...........

I have been battling on and off with adrenal fatigue for the past 3 years (since baby #2). I have been battling with insomnia as far back as I can remember - even as a kid. I have had stomach aches and "slow digestion" since I was born. I have had a sugar addiction forever. I have a bad case of intestinal Candida overgrowth. I have low B12, Vitamin D and iron stores. And I have a low white blood count, low stomach acid and some seriously poor absorption. Oh yeah, and I have RAVENOUS hunger. Almost all the time.

Plus, I've spent 70 of the past 81 months either pregnant or breastfeeding. WHAT???? I've never done the math on that before. Yikes - that's a LOT.

Less than one year ago I started eating a clean, gluten-free and low-carb diet to try and loose some baby weight. I lost weight very quickly but what was even more surprising (and amazing) was that I started feeling incredible. I had more energy than I could ever remember having. My stomach problems disappeared. I was sleeping. I felt rested. It was awesome.

But as the months marched on (it was actually March - hee, hee) I started to get really anxious and moody. Hello my old friends adrenal fatigue and Candida. My iron stores bottomed out and I got REALLY freaking dizzy and tired. I was not well. It was very disappointing and frankly confusing.

Since then I have been working incredibly hard to get my body back into balance. I see a Naturopath fairly regularly to try and help me sort things out. I can't navigate this journey on my own - it is way to complicated.

I eliminated any food sensitivities that were identified on my IGG Food Panels from my diet. Along with that I take herbal Adrenal support pills, eat clean, follow some strict sleep rules, avoid caffeine and try and reduce stress. I am happy to report the adrenal fatigue is still at bay.

If I follow my sleep rules I rarely get a bout of insomnia. Nights sweats - yes. Insomnia - no.

I have been on the Candida diet for over 4 months. Along with following the VERY RESTRICTIVE diet, I take probiotics, a herbal Candida cleanse, and garlic pills. I'm trying hard to kill off those sugar loving beasts. My Candida is not as rampant as it was but my moods can still be all over the place and I still crave sugar like crazy so it is definitely not gone.

But if you caught my post two weeks ago I think part of the reason the Candida diet and supplements are not working as well as they should be is that I was having some serious digestive distress and I'm still breastfeeding (and ravenous). For months (pretty much from when I started the Candida diet) I was walking around with a seriously bloated belly and all the discomfort that comes with that. Again, very disappointing. Again, very confusing considering how clean my diet was.

It was becoming my new normal. I was starting to just accept it. And then all the sudden I SNAPPED OUT OF IT. No way. This is not happening. I need to figure this out.

So August was a bit of an experiment month for me. I took some stuff out of my diet. Added some stuff back in. I figured some stuff out. I screwed some stuff up.

What did I figure out?

  • Roasted Chicory root, which I was using as a coffee replacement, was causing some MAJOR bloating. 
  • Adding yogurt back into my diet, plain unsweetened Greek yogurt every second day, keeps my digestive system moving and happy. OMG. Thank-you Dr. M for suggesting it. Plus its seems to be one of the only things that curbs my hunger. A bit. And its delicious.
  • Grains and psyllium husks do not agree with me. I was originally worried that coconut flour was also a no-no but I have tested it out and it was not the culprit - hallelujah! So relieved.
  • My stomach does not like IRON pills. We call the reprecussions associated with the digestive havoc its wreaks (no pun intended) on my system "Iron Bombs".  I can't believe I'm sharing that. Hopefully most people got bored a while back and didn't read this far.
Awesome, I think I figured this stomach thing out. Yay! 

Small problem.

I confirmed the iron pills were bothering me by going off the iron pills. 

I felt incredible for about a week. And then I started to have problems. And I'm making note of them so I remember in case this happens again. 

After about a week my legs started to get weak at the gym. Things I was doing weeks/days ago I suddenly didn't have the strength to do. Big tear - I can't do 10 one legged squats on each leg anymore. And my left knee started to feel achy. Weird. Or I should have thought it was weird but I didn't really pay attention. I was just happy I didn't look pregnant anymore.

Another few days passed and then I started to not wake up rested. I was sleeping for 9 hours and waking up (or not waking up as the case may be) still feeling tired. When I complained to my husband, who is not a morning person, he said "not everyone just jumps out of bed in the morning". Well, I do. I did. Weird. Now I was starting to get suspicious. So I tried starting my iron pills up again. MY STOMACH was not happy. Stomach pains. Bad ones. So I stopped again.

Then a few more days passed and BAM - HERE WE GO AGAIN - DIZZY all the time. EXHAUSTED. MOODY. 

Low iron. Low B12. 

DARN IT. I was only off the iron for a total of about two weeks. If that.

Apparently, the combination of my poor absorption (even with digestive enzymes at every meal and eating tons of clean iron rich foods) and breastfeeding is just too much to keep my iron and B12 levels where they need to be.

So what now. 

Well, I went for a B12 injection from my Naturopath. And I decided to try out a different brand/type of iron. I was reluctant to switch as it was something given to me by a regular doctor. Shudder. I shouldn't be so sarcastic because we do need doctors - they are just not so helpful when you have adrenal fatigue, Candida and food sensitivities. Or they haven't been helpful to me.

The jury is still out of whether my stomach will handle these any better. So far my digestion hasn't slowed down, I don't look pregnant and my stomach feels okay. These could be the answer.

The dizziness is SLOWLY subsiding. It gets a bit better each day. Now its not with me constantly, just when I move suddenly. Especially from sitting/laying to standing.

And I'm still tired. I have to take a short nap to make it through the day. If I can squeeze it in.

I'm in a vicious circle of Candida and hunger. And another vicious circle of low iron and stomach problems. With two common links - breastfeeding and leaky gut. 

So I'm not the picture of health today/this week/this month. I'm not thriving at this moment. I've been much worse, but I'm not thriving.

So what is the morale of this LONG story. 
1) Be careful when you go off your supplements or change something in your diet, routine, sleep, etc.
2) Pay attention to your body. Watch for signs that something is not right.
3) Digestive issues are complicated. Fixing them takes hard work. Fixing them takes time. Fixing them takes persistence and vigilance. 

So maybe I'm not the best example of what amazing things clean eating can do. Today. But I will be again. Soon I hope.

But I think I can be an advocate for listening to your body, not accepting anything less than feeling the best you can, working hard to heal yourself and persisting. I'm going to figure this out. I'm going to get back to that place where I feel AWESOME. Where the amount of energy I have annoys the heck out of my husband. I will get there. Hold me to it. Hold yourself to it..............


  1. Hello I am going on the anti candida diet tomorrow for the second time in my life and needed some recipes and motivation- you're blog is great! Thanks for sharing. I'd never heard of adrenal fatigue but the whole story fits me to a t. Suzy

  2. Glad you find me. Hope my ups can be motivation and my downs remind you that you are not alone. The Candida diet is HARD, which you already know, but it can be done. You just need to find some snacks and food that are convenient and satisfying for you. And "pretend" desserts never hurt.

    Adrenal fatigue seems to be something us ladies are getting hit with a lot these days. Trying to do too much!

    Hope you are feeling better soon. Let me know how the recipes turn out for you! Good luck! All your hard work will be worth it.