Paleo Energy Bites + My Health Journey
Okay, so get ready for a life update post. I have to let you guys in on what's happening with my health right now, because it affects the food I eat so much. And because I'm hoping that by sharing, someone else can be encouraged to take ownership of their health as well. If you don't care about the health stuff, feel free to skip down to the recipe at the end - no hard feelings! ;)
Ever since my pregnancy with Everett I have been experiencing weird symptoms. Symptoms like rashes, hives, major fatigue, brain fog, PPD and intense stomach pain. All of these symptoms would kind of come and go over the last couple of years. Overwhelmed, I never went to a doctor, fearing they would just prescribe me medicine and not get to the root of my problem.
After Jordan persuaded me, I finally went to a chiropractor a couple of months ago. They helped a bit, but I knew I needed something more to find the cause. A friend recommended a nurse practitioner in town who specializes in gut health and functional medicine. I've been seeing her for about a month and so far this is what I know:
From everything she could find in blood work and my symptoms, she thinks I am suffering from candida overgrowth. Until we can find the real root (provided this isn't the real root cause of it all...which it very well could be) I am on a very strict diet and supplement plan. I am taking a ton of supplements, so if you're interested in knowing about them all just comment and I'll fill you in. The main ones I have noticed a major difference with have been upping my probiotic to 1 million CFU's and taking a digestive enzyme with every meal.
The diet I am on is called the Candida Diet. There are a lot of differing opinions out there on it, but the basic outline that I am personally following is this:
NO: sugars even maple syrup or honey, fruit (I have had a little bit of strawberries and seem to do fine), starchy vegetables, grains, dairy, soy, vinegar, processed meat, legumes, gluten free grains like oats or brown rice, all oils except those listed below.
YES: Any other vegetable, meats (limiting red meat and pork that is harder to digest), fish, nuts and seeds, quinoa, stevia, coconut products (thank GOD), olive oil, coconut oil, ghee.
WHAT GOD IS TEACHING ME
I have been amazed at how steady the Lord has kept me during the transition in my diet. It has been amazing to see God's hand in the food I have eaten over the last 4 years. He has slowly educated me and changed my desire and taste buds to enjoy a more Paleo version of eating. Seeing how He led me to do a Whole30 this summer** is pretty amazing, because having already done that has made restricting the other food so much easier.
On the other hand, I'm not going to lie and say it hasn't come with hard moments. It can be pretty depressing to find out that even some Whole30 favorites I loved aren't "allowed." It's been hard to figure out a new rhythm especially on weekends when we are out of groceries and a more convenient food would be great while I prep more food for the week ahead. Meal prep has become my lifeline now because I can't do much convenience related anymore (my one go-to is a lettuce wrapped burger with added avocado and homemade ranch I make myself).
I spent a good while in a pity party a couple of weeks ago, crying over not knowing what to make for dinner. I grabbed my Seasonal Meal Planner and re-did my seasonal recipe rotation. Just having a plan set in place ahead of time decreased my anxiety tremendously. Being able to look at these organized (albeit messy) pages brought me so much peace knowing I wouldn't have to endure the "what-to-eat" anxiety every week.
God is teaching me to let go and surrender to Him even in the unknown. I still don't feel confident that I have found the root of my problem, so my NP and I continue to dig. When I get discouraged, overwhelmed, or want to just eat "whatever I want" and not the same "boring" thing over and over again, I have to run to the Lord and ask Him to fill me with contentment and gratitude. Gratitude that I CAN eat and am still able to enjoy delicious food. Gratitude that I know how to eat healthfully already, so this hasn't come as a complete overhaul, but more of an adjustment.
I'm sharing in hopes that someone else going through something similar might take ownership of their health and fight to get to the bottom of what is causing weird symptoms. I think we live with a lot in this country that we think is normal, but really aren't normal for our bodies at all. If that's you, I hope this helps encourage you in some way.
SNACKS + EMERGENCY FOOD
I've been struggling to find a portable snack that will give me a quick dose of protein and energy. My go-to's right now are peeled hard boiled eggs and these energy bites! If you aren't on a restricted diet and want to, feel free to add mini chocolate chips and sweeten with honey instead of stevia...mmm :)
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
- 1 cup cashew butter (or any nut butter, see note below)
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- a pinch of pink or sea salt
- 4-5 drops of liquid stevia (or 1 tablespoon honey)
- Optional - add in mini chocolate chips
* Note: This recipe works best when using freshly ground nut butter. These are very easy to get at most grocery stores (locally I know of WinCo, Natural Grocers and Kroger that carry grind-your-own nut butter). The thickness of freshly ground nut butter helps it stay in a ball much better. If you just have regular nut butter that is very smooth and runny, add 1/2 cup of nuts (almond, cashew, walnut, whatever you have on hand is fine) in when blending the coconut flakes and flax seed. This should help the dough form up a bit better, but also you will need to store them in the freezer so they stay in tact. Just let them thaw slightly at room temp. before eating.
- Pour the coconut flakes and ground flaxseed into a food processor and blend well until it's a fine powder.
- Add cashew butter, cinnamon, pink salt and stevia and continue to blend. You may need to scrape down the sides a bit, but keep blending until it becomes a dough ball.
- Form into small balls using your hands and keep in the refridgerator for 1 week.