On stress and healing through nutrition

This new year has been a whirlwind of things that can be summed up by this sketch I did at work one day.

Crushed, by too many things. Ink pen on sticky note. Momo Lambkin 2014

First, I got over the high of being a new Master’s student, and really got into the hard part of working full time and being a student.  Like working late into the night with assignments and course readings after a long 9 hour work day.  Like not having enough time to make food to feed myself.  Like the only source of nutrition I was getting was from the milk I put in my coffee.

Then, February came.  February meant no sunlight, on top of not getting the recommended intake of fruit and water daily.  Fruit`s expensive in the winter, people! February also saw me prepare and write 2 exams, deliver a really *really* big project in Asia, and at the same time, finish a final project for school with a remote team.  Oh and 2 less days in the month in which to do all of the things.  What kept me going were my amazing classmates, colleagues, and Donica from the Café Vérité who made delicious and nutritious meals at my workplace.  You might notice that I didn’t put friends in that list because I simply had no time to socialize.

Despite my support network, I felt like I was being crushed.  I had migraines and/or massive joint pain every day, I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning, and I wanted everything to just end.  I had a health crisis.  I needed to do something about it, and so I went to see a naturopath-nutritionist.

After several blood tests which left my arms black and blue, we discovered several things – some I already knew and some that completely blew my mind.

Things I already knew:

  • I was totally stressed out
  • I don’t have enough vitamin B and D
  • I don’t eat enough fruits or vegetables (being a vegetarian that is really something)
  • I don’t drink enough water

What I was not ready to hear was that I am intolerant to things that I eat every day.  Including: coffee, cane sugar, dairy, and most importantly, eggs, almonds, soy, and some lentils.  At least wheat was still ok – I held onto that like a life-vest.

But that just about removes… all of my protein sources.

With a hefty list of things that were no longer allowed in my ingredients list, I decided that the easiest option was to become vegan.  But what about protein?  The all powerful energy source that helps me do all of the things that I need to do?

That question became moot as soon as I completed my 30 day detox during which I cut out everything on my no-go list.  Although the first week was horrible – I felt even worse than I did before I started the detox (had to take a week off work), I quickly bounced back and started feeling amazing!  I don’t have random sugar cravings anymore, and I don’t even need coffee!  I get out of bed on time, I feel energetic, and most importantly, headaches and joint pain were much reduced and I can pinpoint the foods that trigger them.

My body was healing itself because I was flooding it with nutritious food (part of my detox also included drastically increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables), and removing all sources of inflammation.  Having a healthier body also meant I could deal with stress much better.  Through a change in diet, I became myself again.

Over the next year, I will be challenging myself to continue eating more fruits and vegetables, changing things up so that I am getting a variety of nutrients.  I will also be trying out new recipes that are free of cane-sugar, vegan, but still delicious.  Although I will eat the occasional fish or seafood when I am out in the world, at home I will be eating vegan.

Looking forward to this adventure!


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