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*A little disclaimer. I’m not a doctor and what worked for me may not work for everyone. I feel this story is important to share because it really explains why I grow and eat most of my food from my garden and cook the way I do.*
After the birth of my third child, I got sick. I suffered from postpartum depression, anxiety, and soon my stomach decided to revolt too. I would wake up in the morning, eat, and soon after have so much stomach pain I couldn’t stand up. The same routine happened almost everyday for months. When you have a 4 year old, 2 year old, and baby, laying on the couch all day just isn’t an option. My first three are very active boys so you can imagine how hard it was to be in pain and care for them.
I went to a doctor first. I got tested for so many possibilities. I ended up actually going to 8 different doctors by the time I got a firm diagnosis. The end result was the doctor said it was IBS and acid reflux. And unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), the prescriptions never worked for me. I wished for an easy way out of so much pain. Soon after, I watched the movies, Forks over Knives and Food Inc. and decided to try to heal myself through diet.
I was vegan for six months. The stomach pain got to the point where it was manageable but I still didn’t feel good. Next I tried to go gluten free. Another 3 months experimenting with that and I still was sick. Finally I tried the Paleo diet. Paleo worked the best of all the options, I think because I had an overgrowth of bad bacteria in my gut. When you eat zero grains and little sugar any yeast bacteria inside you have nothing to feed on. However, the thing about the Paleo diet is that you lose weight. As someone already relatively small, it got to the point where I was too thin (I dropped 15 pounds and two sizes). It was not healthy for me.
Improving my health was a long process and didn’t happen overnight. The most improvement I found was not from any fad diet. It started from doing one thing, fermentation. That was the gateway to health, for me. I started to eat kimchi everyday with breakfast. At this point in the journey my body didn’t like any milk products so kefir and yogurt were out, and kimchi was the best alternative.
I also read Sally Fallon’s book, Nourishing Traditions during this time.
What she explained about eating the way our ancestors ate made so much sense to me. I started made bone broths and soaked every grain I ate. I eased back into eating bread by making my own sourdough. To this day, six years later, I still make sourdough bread a few times a week for all of my family’s bread intake.
In the summer, I ate prolifically from my backyard garden. There is no comparison to vegetables from the store. When you eat vegetables from your own garden you can taste, smell, and feel the difference. I don’t need a scientist to tell me vegetables grown in my garden have more nutrients. If you pay attention to how you feel, the evidence is written on the wall.
The last thing I did, was I cut out almost all processed food from the store. I made just about everything I ate from scratch and as a bonus learned to cook during the process.
It was the combination of all these things that healed both my stomach pain and my acid reflux. I can’t really say the depression and anxiety is 100% gone because it’s not.
However, growing a garden helped my depression an enormous amount. The act of growing and the visceral response to digging the earth and being in the sun made and still makes a huge difference in my mood. The action of growing actually doing more of the healing than perhaps consuming those vegetables. I feel million times better than I did six years ago. It was my food and my garden that made all the difference.