One of the first places to start in managing Endo, in my opinion, is to remove sugar from the diet. Sugar causes all kinds of hormonal imbalances and wreaks havoc on the body, especially the liver, the adrenals, the kidneys, etc. Not to mention many of us find it is virtually impossible to manage one’s weight when there is too much sugar in the diet.
For someone addicted to sugar (like myself) it is no easy task to remove it from my diet completely. I have used sugar to deal with stress, happiness, sadness, feelings of unworthiness, celebrations…the list goes on and on. Sugar has been my go-to drug of choice for a very long time.
There have been a couple of times in the last 2 or 3 years where I have been led to be interested in the work of Dr. Mark Hyman. I bought his book The Blood Sugar Solution about 3 years ago because I knew I needed to kick the sugar habit. What I didn’t realize was that by about day 3 my blood pressure would start to plummet, and that caught me by surprise (although with some additional research I now know that is supposed to happen). For most people that is a great benefit. But since I have been genetically blessed with low blood pressure to begin with (my normal blood pressure is around 90 over 60), it caused issues for me. Everything slows down, I feel weak and I can’t function nearly as fast as I normally can, I get winded easily, etc. When recovering from an illness experiencing this is one thing, but while needing to be highly functional at my previous high-stress job, it was challenging. So I abandoned this way of eating and went back to my old ways…even though I fully believe that a diet without as much sugar has many benefits and is a better way to live.
Then this spring, a friend asked me if I wanted to do Dr. Hyman’s 10-day Detox Diet. I thought I would use the lessons learned from my last experience with this and that I could put some measures in place to deal with the blood pressure drop (as much sea salt as I could stand on all of my food, with added cell salt supplements as needed). What I like about this detox diet (although I am not intending to promote it – everyone needs to figure out what speaks to them individually) is that it is a whole food diet, focused on blood-sugar balancing foods including lean meats, vegetables, and limited fruits. It wasn’t gimmicky and it made intuitive sense to me.
What I didn’t expect this time around was that two days into the diet I could feel so sick for most of the first week. Apparently as my body realized it was now being supported by healthy nutritious foods, my liver decided it could dump all of its toxins it had been holding onto, probably for years. I would end up with these debilitating liver headaches right behind the eyebrows that would last all day long, and unlike the migraines I am used to dealing with these didn’t go away with an hour or two of sleep. Funny enough they sometimes did go away when I would take my migraine medication (which technically isn’t on the detox diet, but sometimes you just need to do what you need to do to deal with the pain and be able to function a little bit!)
I felt fortunate to be on the detox with someone else, and I had signed up to cook for us both because I had the time and she didn’t. Most of those early days I was astounded that the simple task of going to the grocery store and coming back and cooking two or three recipes over a couple hour period would be all the activity I could handle for the day. However, I was able to cut myself some slack and give myself permission to do what I needed to do to get through it. This was “my job” for the week. Had I not had the accountability of my friend doing this with me, I would have been likely to have abandoned it. But I refused to let her down and as a result stuck with it. The irony that I would have been more than willing to have let myself down has not escaped me…how many of us do this?
On day 4 we both felt badly enough that she suggested that we get a colonic, which was a new experience for me. She said it would make us feel much better to proactively remove the toxins from our bodies, and she was right that it did make us feel better. After that I no longer got the liver headaches, and could then turn my attention to more actively managing my low blood pressure.
On day 6 I started feeling better. Much better than I had felt before beginning the detox, and after all of the pain I went through to get there, I decided I would from then on out think differently about what I put into my body. Which lasted until Day 17 when I went on a week-long vacation. I didn’t go back to my old habits all at once, but slowly over time I went back to some of them….but also kept some of the good habits from the detox like the morning sugar-balancing, protein filled “smoothies” (no dairy, sweetened yogurt and sugar laden fruits here). For the record I did not lose the 10 pounds promoted by the book, but rather I lost 4 hard-earned pounds and experienced a significant reduction in inflammation.
Now I am finding that the detox prepared me well for the change in diet I hope to sustain over a much longer time period this time around. I have been on a whole foods, partially raw diet for 6 days now and I haven’t yet had the liver detox issues I had last time around. I also haven’t had any blood pressure issues yet.
Now that I have the motivation to keep myself out of the OR and off of long-term hormone manipulating medications, my mindset about it has completely changed. I am not as focused on what I have to give up. I am completely focused on “what do I need to feed my body to provide the best nutrition possible so that it can heal and function properly?” In my case motivation and mindset have made all the difference. I have control over what I feed my body, and a newfound belief that what I feed my body really does matter. Maybe this is a large part of what I am meant to learn from this experience of receiving the recurring diagnosis.
Now it is your turn. In the comments below share some of your experiences. What are some of your experiences with sugar detoxes? What worked well for you? What have you learned about yourself as a result?