The Make It Your Own Story and Philosophy

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Catered to the self. That’s the motto, that’s the way.

A bit of background on me – I grew up loving food and many different forms of art. Music was (still is) a huge part of my life. I studied in a competitive high school, so I had my mind set on going to a great college. Fortunately, while I was working like crazy in high school, there was time to really get involved in the music program, my creative and soul-soothing escape at the time.

After getting into Northwestern University, I was set on Chemistry and Flute Performance as my majors. What ended up was that I majored in Economics and Music – combining both the analytical and creative sides of the brain.

I had a taste of digital marketing at an internship while at Northwestern and really fell in love with some of the quirks of the digital marketing world. Next step – content marketing. I was drawn to content marketing because it has a really strong focus on pulling the user as opposed to pushing and who doesn’t love a good “Top 5 Ways to Get Rid of Acne” article? Oh, maybe that’s just me…

To say the least, the job was stressful. The company lacked culture and a support system to foster my growth. Close to the start of the job, my stomach always seemed to bug me. I went to some doctors, took a food diary, and that was pretty much the end of the beginning of it.

Then, things really started to get bad about 6 months into my job. Everything seemed to hurt my stomach when I ate it. At this time I knew I was lactose intolerant and was avoiding gluten for the most part, as my mind just assumed this was the issue based on the gluten-free fad (more on this later).

Enter the lab rat phase of Western Medicine. Got tons of tests and lots of advice from a mix of people and health professionals. Nothing seemed to be an issue until I was finally diagnosed – SIBO.

SIBO or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth is just like it sounds – you have too much bacteria in your small intestine. This bacteria prevents your body from absorbing key nutrients as it should and creates pain and discomfort as your food is being digested by bacteria in your small intestine. It was always like my belly was full of secrets when I had SIBO.

The Western medicine treatment for SIBO is antibiotics. I was so excited when they told me this because I thought, “Finally, I’m cured!” Took a course of Metronidazole and felt incredible after the first week of the 14-day course. Then, the side effects of western antibiotics kicked in.

Felt pretty good for a time as the SIBO remained manageable, but the root of the problem still wasn’t fixed – what was I missing? Was there a diet that I should be eating to make it go away?

This phase is what I like to call the pulling at strings phase. I was learning from the people around me and I was staying open to finding an answer. I started with the Autoimmune Protocol Diet (AIP), buying into the reducing inflammation fad and the fact that it was a diet that took things to the extreme, the extreme Paleo as some call it. I did the Paleo diet in the past so this was pretty approachable to me. During the diet, I was very strict. I wanted to heal so there was no point in breaking the rules. The food and recipes were great and I really enjoyed making bone broth and trying that out as this was trending.

I felt ok on and after the diet. And overall was at about a “meh” level of health.

Idea time – decided to cut out meat and see what happened. At first, I was eating legumes and grains again which caused a little discomfort, but after I honestly felt almost cured. My energy went up, things were improving.

Duh duh duh! -  my old friend SIBO came back even as a vegan?! I was tested using the Hydrogen Breath Test and to my surprise, the test came back negative. There is always room for these tests to come back with false results. Based on my past symptoms, my doctor recommended another round of antibiotics. The antibiotics helped in the beginning, but again the side effects of antibiotics were not so fun.

Frustrated and feeling defeated, I worked really hard to find a solution in whatever way possible. Among other things, I tried supplementing with stomach acid, apple cider vinegar, digestive enzymes, switched only to whole plant foods, talked to a nutritionist, and started going regularly to acupuncture. Both my nutritionist at the time and doctor were on board with a Low FODMAP diet.

The Low FODMAP diet basically works to cut out foods that tend to ferment in the gut, causing excess gas and possible discomfort. The main struggle here as a vegan and working to eat Low FODMAP was finding a diverse source of foods high in protein. The main protein sources I would eat would be Soy (Edamame, Tofu), Quinoa, and a small portion of garbanzo beans. I did see a pretty strong reduction in my bloating and pain, but the diet itself was very specific and hard to maintain in a social setting.

Then I began to listen to the biggest factor that contributes to gut issues – stress. My job was the biggest culprit. I stayed at the content marketing job for quite some time – just over one and a half years. Some may say that more than a year and a half is a long time to stay at the same job that hurts your health. To that, I like to respond by saying that my illness prevented me from seeing the truth or facing the truth. I needed to heal in order to get my grounding and had to support myself financially. Once I had a better understanding and once I was ready to heal, the healing came in full force. The healing was already within.

Steps to healing:

  1. Accept the current state of your health and experience

  2. Listen to the body to understand what you crave, what you are missing, what you feel is needed

  3. Become closer to the self and the experience created from the adjustments made

  4. Listen to others for advice – many people have already been through what you’ve already gone through

  5. Give yourself the time to heal – whatever feels good to you in your gut and helps your whole body and soul sing, do more of that

Supplements and Practices Incorporated:

  1. Herbal Antibiotics for SIBO – Garlic, Neem, Berberine Complex

  2. Digestive Bitters, Digestive Enzymes

  3. Ginger and Ginger tea – I would take ginger capsules between meals to keep things moving

  4. Eliminate trigger foods and re-introduce when you feel better

    • I didn’t eat gluten for a while, but now that my digestive fire is strong, bread is something my body craves and does really well on. Gluten is not your enemy unless you have Celiac disease or a diagnosed gluten sensitivity!

  5. Yoga & Meditation – especially Kundalini and Hatha yoga. Also check out Calm, Headspace, and YouTube vids for guided meditations. Post on how to meditate coming soon :)

Note: I am not a doctor, please consult with your healthcare practitioner before using any of the herbs, supplements, or products mentioned within this website.

No one diet is meant for everyone. You have to make your own diet based on your philosophy and your body. Listen to your body and how it speaks to you from different foods. My recipes are always customizable. You can add your protein of choice to a lot of them if this is what works for your body. The only thing I strongly recommend is finding a sustainable and organic source.

Also, if your job is making your stomach hurt or you feel it down in your gut, really take the time to evaluate your situation. Is this the best job for me right now? Is it the right time for me to change? Is it something in me that I can change? Is it something I can talk to someone about at my company?

Along with your diet, it is important to surround yourself with healthcare professionals that can help support your path to healing. For me, the real healing came from within, as cheesy as it sounds. As soon as I figured out how to listen to my body and how to support my current state of affairs, my body took over. I physically felt the healing and continue to feel the healing in my body when things are out of alignment.

From this journey, I have come to realize a purpose – I must heal other people through the medium that speaks best to each individual. I will be working to bring healing to my friends, family, and everyone else looking to heal by working with me. We all know that gut feeling we get when something just isn’t right. You must listen to this gut feeling. Your body is trying to tell you something. As the saying goes, follow your gut. To add my own twist, I like to say “Follow Your Gut and Make It Your Own.

Peace and Love, Merci, Namaste

Matt

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