Unrefined Thoughts

Maltby_Family-054 (Copy)Forewarning: I am a very wordy and talkative person…and apparently that is coming through on this page. It is a lot of information but I couldn’t decide what to cut out–so this is what resulted…

Here is a bit (make that a LOT) more detailed information on my health and why I have cut grains, refined sugars, and dairy out of my diet. I tell you this to give you a background. I feel that I have been very blessed by God in so many ways and that He has taught me many things through the various trials. I know that God is Sovereign and in control and that He holds my life and my health in His hands. That being said, I also think that God has used this diet to help in many ways.

I have had a number of different health-related “issues” in my life. As a child, I had a number of different skin problems and had seasonal allergies. My parents and I often heard, “I’ve never seen that before,” from the doctors. I still sometimes feel like a lab rat and I literally understand why it is called “practicing medicine”. I also worried about EVERYTHING. I would make myself sick with worry before going to school each morning because I was afraid I would get sick at school–silly, I know.

I was diagnosed with Mixed Connective Tissue Disease and Reynaud’s Syndrome after my first year of college. A year later, I was re-diagnosed instead with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) or what is more commonly known as lupus. My main symptoms were joint pain, fatigue, cold fingers/toes (reynaud’s).

I later discovered how much I am affected by worry and stress. After I got married, the worrying got worse. I worried about lots of things and was often in tears or not sleeping well because of it. The fall of 2007, I started going to Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). We studied the book of Matthew in the Bible that year. A few weeks into the year, we got to Matthew 6:25-34 where it talks about not being worried. Our teaching leader gave a lecture on the passage and said the following, “Worry, for the Christian, is an insult to the very character of God. It declares to the unbelieving world that God and His promises are not trustworthy…The opposite of contentment is worry. Contentment is found in thinking on the things of God.” She also said that worry is a sin–wait a minute!! A sin?? I always knew I was a worrier and just thought of it as my “problem”. It hit me like a pile of bricks. “This is something I have to deal with. It is sin and is an insult to God.” So I started wrestling with it–spending a lot of time in the Word of God and praying and eventually the Holy Spirit helped me to trust God more and worry less. I know that it will be a life-long struggle, but hopefully when I start to worry I will immediately go to God, confess my sin and start trusting Him again. All of this is to say that I have had a lot less joint pain since I’ve been less worried…

I had probably 10-14 bladder infections (UTIs) in the first couple years of marriage. I also had two miscarriages. After the second miscarriage, I had my hormones tested and found out that I am low in progesterone. I later that summer got tested for food allergies. The natural doctor I saw was convinced I needed to go off dairy and wheat and take Synthroid (prescription for low thyroid). The results came back and showed I was allergic to dairy and peanuts and slightly allergic to wheat. I started cutting out dairy and peanuts and noticed that when I would eat them, I either would itch or my joints would hurt. My hormones had also been tested and showed I was low in testosterone. I started taking both synthroid and DHEA (testosterone), but was promptly taken off of that by my OBGYN. (And now I am so glad he had me stop.)

I got pregnant again and this time took progesterone for the first trimester. I ended up in the hospital at about 33 weeks with preeclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnancy). I was on hospital bed rest until I was induced at almost 37 weeks. Eight hours into labor, my BP spiked and I had to have a c-section and our beautiful daughter was born. I ended up in the hospital again a few days later with postpartum preeclampsia. I later had multiple cases of mastitis.

The following fall I saw another natural doctor for symptoms of low energy and hormonal issues. I thought I had a low thyroid. She checked it and said it was fantastic. She wanted me to try going gluten-free for a while and see how I felt. I was gluten-free for 5 months and seemed to feel better (energy-wise) for a while, but then went back to being really tired and needing naps. I went off of gluten for about a month and then was recommended by my chiropractor to try the Paleo Diet for 30 days (for the same symptoms of low energy and hormonal issues). It sounded daunting (no grains, no refined sugars, no dairy, no legumes, no potatoes, no corn, etc.), but I was at the point where I was ready to try anything–plus, I didn’t have to buy any fancy supplements or drugs, I just needed to change how I ate. What could it hurt to try? And so the new diet began in April of 2011. My husband surprised me by telling me he would do the new diet with me. We prayed a lot about the diet that first month — for  God’s clear guidance as to whether or not it was something we should continue. I think for most people, they notice a difference within days or at least in the first couple weeks. For both my husband and I, the change was very gradual. After about 3 weeks, I looked back and realized that I had been less tired. And two weeks into the diet, I had actually cried for a good reason. (That sounds really weird, I know, but I felt like I couldn’t cry when I wanted to…one of the hormonal things I had going on.)

We made it to 27 days, went on vacation for a week, and totally blew it. The day after I started cheating, I woke up feeling less rested. Later that same day, the joints in my right hand began to hurt. “Weird,” I thought, but kept enjoying the yummy food. Each day of the week my joint pain became worse and worse until I realized I was having a lupus flare-up and that I had to quit eating that way. (This was when I realized it was clear we should probably make Paleo eating a way of life, not just a 30-day thing.) I went gluten-free until we got home and then went back on the Paleo diet. It took about a week, but each day I could tell I was feeling better until finally the joint pain was gone again. I also noticed on the diet that I seemed to be more motivated and not so “spacey”.

On another note, my husband didn’t have any “medical” complaints, but just thought he would join me in doing the diet because it would be good for us to eat more healthy. He lost 20 pounds in 2 months and is happy with his current weight. He doesn’t even mind most of the new foods I’ve prepared.

Even though I took progesterone, I had another miscarriage in July of 2011 (which just goes to show that we can’t control what happens). We know God is Sovereign and in control and that gives us so much hope. I felt that God was so gracious to me through it all. He is the reason we can go through tough times and not have our world come to an end. I pray that God will use our situation to glorify His name. A few weeks after the miscarriage (after my hormones had returned to “normal”) I could definitely tell a huge improvement in my hormonal issues.

I am thankful and grateful to God for using this to help in my life. I’ve heard of many similar stories of people with health issues or weight issues that cut out grains, refined sugars and dairy and notice a huge difference. I am not a doctor nor do I claim to be one, but I would encourage you to give it a try if you are looking for answers. I don’t know that this diet is for everyone, but the more I read and learn about grains and refined sugars, the more I think that it could be. I hope this website can be a resource and a blessing to you. The first two weeks of the diet were the most challenging in trying to find something to cook, but then it got easier! I want to share my recipes with you so that you don’t have to spend hours and hours researching new things to make.

God bless!

UPDATE: 10-31-11  Retesting Progesterone Levels and the Results!

“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell within me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.” 1 Corinthians 10:31-33

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  • Colleen

    May 29, 2012 - Reply

    I just stumbled upon your site, I love it. I just found out I have Lupus, but it took 9 years to get a diagnosis!! My ANA is slightly elevated, I have the butterfly rash. I went dairy free,sugar free and wheat free for 9 years. Gluten free didn’t help with the rash and I never felt right. I find it really hard to eliminate the inflammation. Juicing carrots/beets helps and green smoothies. Oh I do love almond flour/coconut baking, I have actually gained some weight. Everyone here likes what I bake, we are a family with many allergies.
    Any tips on dealing with Lupus would be greatly appreciated. I will check out your recipes.
    God Bless

    • Jennifer

      Jun 1, 2012 - Reply

      I will email you. I have had good results keeping my lupus at bay eating paleo, but there’s no guarantee that it will work for everyone.

  • Mireille

    Mar 1, 2012 - Reply

    What a moving story! Thank you for sharing it with the world. I am a mom of 2 kids I’m raising as naturally as I can. When I bake or cook, I don’t use refined anything as a matter of health choice. I am deeply disappointed with the food and healthcare industry for disrespecting their end users by pumping all kinds of junk into them. It is sites like yours that are helping educate people, to empower them to make healthier choices and live happier lives. I wish you all the success and look forward to seeing this site grow!

  • Camille

    Feb 26, 2012 - Reply

    A blogging friend linked to your site and I am SO glad she did! I have bookmarked your blog for future reference. It is such a blessing to read of your trust in the LORD and HIS Sovereign plan for you! We are in a similar boat with our precious son who was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease last year. We are seeking to manage his disease with diet and natural supplements. What a journey it has been! We, like you, look to the LORD for HIS guidance and leading in our lives. I am thankful HE led me here tonight. Thank you so much for taking the time to share all these recipes here…I have already bookmarked two to try. 🙂

    Many blessings,

    • Jennifer

      Feb 27, 2012 - Reply

      Thanks for your encouragement, Camille! I appreciate it! I hope that you can find some relief for your son. Way to go for trying to help him with natural ways! It is so wonderful to know that God is Sovereign!

  • Rachel

    Feb 26, 2012 - Reply

    I have visited your site off and on and I love your recipes. I have been gluten free for a year with good results, however, still dealing with inflammation. I have considered going sugar free and grain free. I appreciate your site as a great resource.
    May the Lord bless all your efforts!

    • Jennifer

      Feb 26, 2012 - Reply

      Hi Rachel! Thanks for the comment! If you do go sugar-free and grain-free, keep me posted! Dairy might be something to consider as well for inflammation…I don’t know if you have considered going dairy-free, but I noticed for a while, that if I had much dairy, my joints would hurt.

  • Michelle

    Feb 26, 2012 - Reply

    I just back-tracked to your site from Wellness Mama. I’m so happy to have found you! Love to read your thoughts and recipes, as I am more in line with your beliefs than the standard “paleo” sites. Thanks for being here!

    • Jennifer

      Feb 26, 2012 - Reply

      Hi Michelle! Thanks for the encouragement! I love Wellness Mama’s site as well!

  • Jana

    Jan 28, 2012 - Reply

    I just found your site and I love it! Such great-sounding recipes. We’re starting GAPS soon and I know these recipes will come in handy for our new way of eating. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

    • Jennifer

      Feb 2, 2012 - Reply

      You are welcome! Hopefully these will be helpful. I’m not as familiar with GAPS or SCD but I think some of my recipes work for those diets.

  • You are doing a great job. Encouragement and kudos to you! Let me know if I can be of any help along the way- I just went grain free. Not excited about it but I am feeling pretty good with the exception of the bad night’s sleep that I got last night :-).

    • Jennifer

      Feb 2, 2012 - Reply

      Thanks, Adrienne! I hope you start sleeping better!

  • Jolene Wester

    Jan 15, 2012 - Reply

    Great blog! Very informative and attractive. Good writing and photos and the recipes look good. Thanks for going this.

  • Sara

    Jan 12, 2012 - Reply

    I just came across your site and I am so thrilled! It is such an encouragement to read of a fellow follower of Christ who is making a difference on the web and not afraid to share God’s goodness and what He’s done for her. May God richly bless you for it!

    As for your recipes and diet, I am also glad I found your site because I’ve really been having a hard time learning about this grain-free diet and trying to implement it. I have been looking for more family-friendly (I’m fifth-born in a family of ten kids) recipes. I’m finding it so hard to know how I can best help feed my family and make recommendations to my mom that are tasty, nutritious, and economical. So many of these ingredients are really expensive, especially when you’re feeding so many mouths!

    It seems that many of my questions will be answered on your site… Keep up the great work!

    • Jennifer

      Jan 13, 2012 - Reply

      Hi Sara! Thanks for your comment! I order/buy a lot of my ingredients in bulk. I buy things like nuts, eggs, raisins, fruits/veggies at Costco and buy a lot of other ingredients through Azure Standard. Hope that will help!

  • Jennah

    Oct 13, 2011 - Reply

    I LOVE this! Great work, Jenn! You have such an amazing story to share, and I know that God is using you and will continue to use you to bring hope and peace to others (And great food too, of course)! 🙂

    • Jennifer

      Oct 14, 2011 - Reply

      Thanks for your encouragement, Jennah! I appreciate it!

  • Karen Dunham

    Aug 17, 2011 - Reply

    nice job, Jen!!

    • Jennifer

      Aug 17, 2011 - Reply

      Thank you for your encouragement, Karen!

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