How many times has the healthspo community preached Hippocrates’ “Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food” quote? We can all agree that a nutritious diet grants us a huge array of benefits: energy, bright eyes, thick hair, clear skin, less body fat, and possible cures for certain medical conditions like heart disease, Eczema, hypothyroidism or hyperglycemia. If it weren’t for the processed man-made ingredients in the food industry, a lot of our health dilemmas would be relieved by a milestone. But to what extent would people go in order to completely rid themselves of any sickness just by eating clean?
Scarred by my epilepsy causing proneness to overheating and seizures, I was one of the extremely determined few. I was sick of sitting on the bleachers instead of playing on the soccer field, taking standard P.E., not running in the sunlight and popping two pills when I woke up and three before I’d go to sleep. 80/10/10-ers online inspired me to find a diet that would cure me of my condition after I read their stories that they healed their bodies from cancer and diabetes. With some research I learned about ketosis that could cure epilepsy, or at least allay it dramatically.
According to the Epilepsy Foundation, the ketogenic diet focuses on a ratio of high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate consumption. This causes the body to utilize ketones as fuel rather than glucose, and increase levels of ketones which are linked to less to none seizures. The diet also promised more muscle tone, lower blood pressure and more frequent calorie burn at rest. To rid myself of epilepsy and to look great at the same time? I was completely sold.
On my first week of the keto diet, my symptoms disappeared like magic. Even though I sometimes forgot to take my medication and drink a bottle of water during my HIIT routines, I did not get a single headache or trace of nausea. I could fry whole eggs in coconut oil and eat as much avocados and peanut butter I desired without any worries of eating too many calories. I lost six pounds and loved what I saw in the mirror when my stubborn belly fat finally shed.
Little did I know that once I eliminated a single problem, I’d gain ten more. I frequently blacked out and constantly felt fatigued and sore. My nails were brittle, my hair shed effortlessly, my skin was pale and dry, and not surprisingly my cravings went wild: I constantly yearned for an apple, a slice of sprouted bread or a sweet potato but drank another glass of water or ate more fat and protein to fend my appetite, which didn’t work because I’d end up binging afterwards and feel worse.
Carb limitation also damaged me mentally. My lack of glucose reduced the serotonin production in my brain and caused my apathy and moodiness. I’d spend hours thinking about my next meal: Where are we going for dinner? What if I want to order a carb-heavy meal? What will I do then? The moment I baked a multigrain muffin, ate it to savor the taste and flavor and then privately spit it out in the trash can to not feel guilty about swallowing, marked the fact ketosis was unsustainable without living in secret and obsession for me.
I will not lie and say that recovery is entirely difficult but no way will it happen overnight. My social circle was disappointed in me for lying. Fruit and gluten were still suspicious to me because after one bite of carbs I ballooned. Sometimes I had panic attacks and cried in bed if I overate oatmeal or brown rice. Nonetheless, once I sat down at the dining table and only focused on the smell, taste and texture of my food, I was happier in general. My vitamin deficiencies, love for exercise and food variety were restored.
When you follow any diet, even the healthy ones (paleo, 80/10/10, vegetarian, gluten free, eating clean, etc.) there’s automatic restriction. It’s why when you cheat after a long time of strict clean eating, you bloat more and gain more weight than if you were to eat a little bit of naughty food often. Instead of calling certain foods “cheat meals”, we should just call them “food” and incorporate them into intuitive eating. The more flexible I became, the less I craved and the more my belly fat peeled away when my body gradually fueled itself with glucose again.
Taking a couple pills every morning and evening is worth putting up with because a small task along with a lifestyle of abundance and freedom is much more sensible than not taking the medication and sacrificing delicious foods. So do let your food be your medicine, but don’t forget that Hippocrates also meant your spiritual medicine. Even though I almost rid my body of epilepsy, I plagued it with dissatisfaction, nutritional deficiencies and orthorexia. Ridding of one small problem can allow many more to come. Limiting my palette and happiness just to cure my epilepsy is not worth the stress.
And besides, I’m just not cut out for that type of commitment. Sweet potatoes taste too good.
Love as always,
P.S. This is only my story. If you do want to invest in curing a medical condition with dieting, just know that this decision takes a great deal of commitment and change. Do your research, reevaluate and let your environment know about your goals. And if you know someone or have cured yourself by switching diets to heal any health problems, share your or that person’s experience in the comments! That is one of the best miracles known to man and I send my warmest congrats!