Focusing on Fighting Inflammation

This post has been a long time coming, and I’ve put it off. I found myself, after my January Whole30, in a transition period. How do I want to eat moving forward? How do I take what I’ve learned and make it work for me? And, when hit with another injury, how do I work around that? I felt like I really didn’t have anything to say because I was so unsure about so many things. But then it hit me – we’ve all been there. And maybe me sharing this little struggle might hit home for someone else. So I pulled myself off the proverbial blog bench and got to it.

The quick and dirty version:

  • Finished the January Whole30 strong. After doing my first full Whole30 in March 2016, I wanted to do a better job this time around of taking the reintroduction phase seriously.
  • I found the only food categories I seemed to have an issue with was dairy and gluten. Dairy seemed to trigger an epic four-day long migraine (anyone who gets migraines knows how horrible they are for 20 minutes, let alone four days). I had no idea dairy was a common migraine trigger, but apparently it is, and I’m grateful I was able to figure this out. I know it’s not my only trigger, and I know that just a little bit doesn’t seem to do it, but it helps to know what I’m getting into if I’m thinking about diving face first into some ice cream or pizza or milk or cheese, etc. Also. The bloat. UGH. It just generally doesn’t make me feel stellar.
  • Gluten also caused some bloat and just general fatigue but not as bad as dairy, or so I thought. Then, a week or so later, I started to have severe shoulder pain. I had previous impingement issues in my right shoulder, but now it was my left that was killing me. I could barely lift my arm up. But I had no way of know whether diet caused a flare up, or something else.
  • After doctors appointments, x-rays and an MRI, I was diagnosed with impingement syndrome in both shoulders, otherwise known as swimmer’s shoulder (which sounds much more athletic and badass as far as injuries go). Basically the area between my shoulder joints are too narrow and when my rotator cuff tendons are inflamed, they pinch and it hurts a lot. So I wondered if it was something I did at the gym or at home, or if something I ate caused inflammation. For those of us with autoimmune disease, inflammation often goes hand in hand, and it’s been a constant problem for me.

So really this left me with the question… how do I move forward? And I took a few steps.

  • I set up an appointment with an allergist. I want to get new allergy testing done (I haven’t had it done in years), and this time include food allergens. There may not be an actual allergy that’s causing a problem, but I’ve never actually checked, so it can’t hurt to finally make sure.
  • I’ve been researching anti-inflammatory foods, and on the other end of the spectrum, foods that cause inflammation. I think I am going to try to mindfully eat for the next few weeks to exclude inflammatory foods and see if that helps. I’ve tried a lot of things as far as diet goes, but just focusing on foods that fight inflammation and zeroing in on that issue has not been one of them, and I’m excited to give it a try.
  • I’m going to spend a few weeks food journaling as well. I’ve tracked my food a myriad of different ways over the years and now done two Whole30 reintroduction periods, but I admit, I’ve never kept a plain old journal where I just wrote what I ate, and how I feel, on a daily basis.

So really, the name of the game the next few weeks is going to come down to mindfulness. Mindfulness in what I’m eating and how I’m feeling, and just taking care of myself. 2017 has become more and more the year of self-care. I’m learning to say no more, I’m learning to focus on things that make me happy, and I’m learning not to repeat the same old mistakes (note to self: write a whole blog post on this soon).

When I turned 30, I felt my 30s would be my best years yet, and I feel like I’m finally starting to figure it out. Very. Very. Slowly. But I always try to remind myself – progress, not perfection.

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