2012 has been the year my tummy decided not to work properly.
In truth, it’s probably a result of what I’ve done and consumed over any number of years, but this year was the year that the consequences have been felt.
In fact, the only thing my tummy really has been able to do properly is accumulate weight.
Sure I have long standing underlying hormonal issues- PCOS at the risk of going into too much information- and those symptoms come back with a vengeance whenever my weight creeps up. This time not only have additional kilos come to stay, but they’ve brought friends and other added extras like creaky joints, chronic digestive issues, chronic metabolic issues and a stomach that constantly looks like I’m 8 months pregnant. And I’m not sleeping again either.
The thing with PCOS is that diet is the most natural way of controlling the symptoms- and a low GI diet at that. So I’ve been actively doing this, with the result being the slowest weight loss since official records began.
One friend (who knows about these things) is convinced I’m lactose intolerant. She could be right- my symptoms have definitely moderated since I reduced dairy.
Another (who knows about these things) is convinced that I’m gluten intolerant. I’ve gone cold turkey on gluten for a couple of weeks without seeing any huge improvement.
Another (who knows about these things) has recommended a diet that has worked for her. It involves heavily restricting all grains, and having one day a week where you can have whatever you want.
Another (who knows about these things) has kindly suggested that even though I’ve given up all other sugar, I need to go the extra step and (gulp) close up the wine fridge as well.
Quite frankly, I’m currently not as concerned about the fact that I can’t fit into my jeans (which are 2 sizes bigger than I would like, anyway) than I am about the fact that I feel so completely manky- and am more tired than I can describe. As hard as I try and actively look for the colour in life, more and more I’m seeing a palette of grey- and trust me, it ain’t the fifty shades variety! For the first time in many years, I’m more concerned about how I feel inside than how I feel when I look in the mirror.
So I finally went and saw someone. A professional someone- who knows about these things. And he tells me that I have, in additional to my wonderfully functioning ovaries (not) a candida infection. Apparently it’s also something that is common with PCOS* sufferers, but very often all our symptoms seem to meld into one another.
The thing is, I haven’t had antibiotics for many years- and could count on one hand the number of times I have had to take antibiotics in the last 25 years. Nor have I had any of the usual outwardly physical infections that go with this. I do, however have most of the other symptoms- the fatigue, the bloating, the digestive and hormonal issues, the spaced out feeling, the itches, the general blahs.
The good news is it can be controlled- with diet and good quality probiotics. The bad news is the nutritional changes I have to make.
Surely it’s just gluten, I said.
He shook his head and said no.
I would have preferred it to be gluten I think.
Depending on which literature you read- and there’s a lot out there- I have to give up (at least) the following…and this is by no means an exhaustive list.
- Anything containing sugars or fermented sugars. Yep, that means wine. Seriously.
- Anything containing yeast. Yep, that means bread- even my beloved sourdoughs, ciabattas and grains that have been allowed on my low GI regime. It also means vegemite. Oh how I love good bread…
- Anything that has been fermented. There goes vinegars (except apple cider vinegar), soy sauce, tamari, fish sauce. Most mustards are made with vinegar, so are also on the avoid list.
- Most fruits- the sugar feeds the infection.
- Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, kumara, peas, beets etc
- Most dairy- plain natural yoghurt is ok.
- Coffee has to also be limited as it can cause blood sugar spikes that my PCOS insulin resistant body is prone to.
He’s also suggested that I limit grains for the first few weeks to give my body a chance to concentrate on attacking the candida. Again, many people with PCOS have an added sensitivity to glutens.
I can reintroduce foods, slowly, once all the symptoms have been gone for at least a month, but sugar is something I should always stay away from- and fruit should be limited to low sugar varieties. He’s asked me to stay off alcohol for at least a month, but said I can have gin or vodka in moderation after this, and even a weekly wine.
The entire process should take about 3 months- if I do it right. Apparently.
I like to cook and try new recipes, but for the first month at least- with soy/tamari/fish sauce being on the avoid list, my favourite low fat, low carb Asian foods will also be not allowed.
Naturally I’m not starting until the last drink has been consumed for 2012- although I’m not tying this into any weight loss goal- it’s more that I know I have nothing social on in January! More importantly, I’m not setting a time frame or an end date- will just see how I’m feeling.
I’ll keep you posted, but if anyone has any great recipes for bread that doesn’t involve yeast, please send them this way! Likewise any ideas for breakfast- I think I’ll get sick of eggs very quickly.
So, it seems that all of my well meaning friends are at least partly right…unfortunately though, there’s no relaxing these particular rules for a day off here and there until a few weeks after the symptoms are well and truly gone. Rather than focus on the deprivation (I don’t do limitations well) I’m trying to focus on how good my tummy is going to feel- and that’s a good thing.
*Remember- all PCOS symptoms are not created equal…& Candida is often misdiagnosed as IBS, CFS & any other combinations of letters. If you’re suffering from any of these symptoms- or think that you are, get yourself along to a registered practitioner for diagnosis.