Welcome to 2014! Hope you had a fab festive holiday time and, like me, are rested and raring to go again. I must say I had a lovely break and realised how nice it is to just ‘be’ if you know what I mean.
So, as per my usual habit, I have been thinking about the new year and what to do with all that lovely blank time waiting to be filled. I LOVE new year: such promise and excitement. I am annoying P (who can’t get excited about new year at all???!) and am bouncing about full of resolutions and enthusiasm. Currently he has shut himself in his voiceover booth to hide from me. Oops ;). His loss.
Anyway, here are my musings. First, let’s see what we did last year and then, importantly, read about what happened to me recently and why I am shifting the TGF focus…
This is quite a long post but do read it. If you want a quick gist, here’s a summary:
The upshot is that most people are getting better with the TGF, Barrier and other healing approaches whilst some people need a step or two before they can do that. The focus this year will be less on giving you TGF info and talking about it, not least because the Gluten Summit, resources and plans have everything most of you need now, and more on finding out what those pre-steps might be.
Last Year: TGF
Last year in TGF, over 130,000 of you read the new 133 posts I added to the blog chatting about everything from the safety of silicone bakeware to new diagnostic guidelines for coeliac children, I continually updated the resources like the Barrier Plan, the TGF Supplements Master List and the Pinterest recipe boards, pointed you towards other useful stuff like the SCD stuff on the Resources page, closed the 1-1 consultations to allow more time and set up and chatted away on the Facebook groups, organised across-the-board 10% discount codes for you, set up the new US supplement store and YHB for more awkward supplies and spent a HUGE amount of time listening to and analysing every interview on the fabulous Gluten Summit. Currently, I am adding all the Cyrex lab tests onto the shop for you as well as actually building a new cloud shop with better download facilities. Phew!
My Health: Up, Down, Up…
Health-wise, I was up and down. The migraines halved in frequency and severity which was VERY welcome! I realised the impact the continual mouth infection was having on my ability to heal and, half way through the year, I resolved to focus on that. The infection didn’t seem to want to respond to any natural treatment at all and I felt I had to go conventional with dental tests and several courses of really strong antibiotics. Sadly, they never touched the infection and just upset my gut still further and I lost a lot more foods as we came towards Christmas. I am living proof that the gut flora is absolutely key to barrier integrity, as we all know, however I am one of those people who cannot even tolerate the probiotics to correct it.
Even the normally annoyingly-optimistic person that I am became severely despairing at the end of last year as I became concerned about the ever-decreasing number of foods I had left and my nutrient levels were dipping making me very tired and just not functioning well at all. Happily, my natural bloody-mindedness kicked in and I resolved not to be beaten. I picked myself up, started a new approach and actually had a fabulously happy Christmas instead! More about this later …
Quick Review: Where Are We With TGF?
The original reason for setting up the TGF site was to raise awareness and basically log what I was finding out about gluten and grain illness. I am more than happy that awareness and acceptance seems to have mushroomed in the past year especially. The Gluten Summit, I think, will prove to be a defining moment in the shift in understanding about it. I feel I can stand down a bit now and point people to the wonderful resources – including mine, of course! – that just didn’t exist three years ago. In terms of treatment, I have explored, identified and even written the protocols needed to heal.
During the work on gluten illness, I realised that many people had multiple sensitivities to foods and chemicals and, for some people at least, this was probably caused by the zonulin upregulation from gluten in genetically-susceptible people. So, not only did the gluten have to be removed but the barriers had to be healed more effectively, thus the Barrier Plan was born. Happily, that has worked for a lot of people. I don’t think true gluten sensitives can ever go back onto the grains myself because of the zonulin increase that will happen again and cause the same barrier permeability issues, starting the whole cycle off again, but they can and do stop losing more and more foods. But that, of course, is dependent on being able to keep nutrient levels high enough to trigger healing, to lower inflammation and stop the auto-immune processes. What if you can’t do that, like me and, I know, some of you reading this? It needs a different approach.
Fact: Most gluten sensitives get well when they remove the grains and dairy, increase their nutrients, bring down inflammation and heal the broken body barriers: the TGF plan and wellbeing protocol plus add-ons in the Master list. Options 1 or 2.
Fact: Most multiple-sensitives get well when they remove the key allergens, lectins, saponins, cross-reactive foods etc and follow the Barrier Plan protocols to heal the barriers. It takes time, but they get there and most can put foods back in successfully. Option 3.
Fact: A small minority of hyper-sensitives can’t tolerate any of the what I term “ingestion therapies,” the supplements, broths, healing foods, meds etc, and are stuck in a downward spiral of sensitivity. This is a very scary place to be. I know because I am one.
My question for this year is: Is there a way we can use non-ingestion therapies to stop this spiral and move away from the avoidance approach?
New Focus …
So, my new focus this year – not least because I need one! – is to think outside the box once again and explore non-ingestive approaches. I am a biochemically and naturopathically-trained medical nutritionist and, to date, we have focused more on the biochemistry side of things. Now, I am going to turn back to the naturopathic roots and look at more ancient healing methods that might help. The two approaches are not mutually exclusive actually and, as far as I see it, the ‘trendy’ functional medicine approach is based on exactly the blend between the two.
What Does That Mean In Practice?
Well, I don’t really know yet in truth! I have already started trying some approaches which bore definite fruit over the Christmas period for me. Up to about the 20th December, I felt very low. I realised the damage the antibiotics had done – and the mouth flared up 2 days after I finished them again anyway, thanks! – and I lost many of my staple foods. I had no idea what I was going to eat, nor how I was going to cope over Christmas with visitors, parties, people staying etc. I was dreading it. So, I resolved to change my attitude and just accept what was happening. To be honest, I was sick of worrying. I didn’t do anything formalised and I know how trite this sounds but every time I noticed a worry about eating something or felt a symptom like the mouth or muscle pain, infections, migraine, skin stuff etc, I just acknowledged it, told myself it was temporary, distracted my mind away from it and replaced the worry by thinking about cuddling my cat!
I must have done this about a hundred times a day. It was exhausting but I could feel something changing so I carried on. I grinned at myself in the mirror when I felt really bad. Did you know your brain can’t tell the difference between a real or fake smile? I remembered that from somewhere and used it. I felt a right prize Charlie but I did it. What had I got to lose?
I put all the recent lost foods back in. I just refused to lose them. I’m not saying the reactions didn’t happen. I’m not saying they weren’t horrid, although most were much milder than expected as I paid them less attention. But somehow I coped with them better and that seemed to help. I didn’t feel so upset when I saw others eating all the Christmassy stuff I couldn’t have. I told myself the food I was eating was really good for me, was nourishing etc every time I ate. I still had reactions but I didn’t let them get to me as much as usual and generally I have felt much happier and less of a victim. I even managed to ‘think’ my pain down several times, which was very exciting!
I told you this sounds trite!
But I don’t care. Something has to change and I have learned just how much stress and our minds can have an impact on how we feel physically. I’m not saying that the symptoms are all in our minds – which I know many of our doctors would like us to believe! – but that I am starting to wonder if we can use our minds to change or somehow stop the reactions and encourage healing. It’s obvious we can use our attitudes etc to cope better but I wonder if we can actually use our minds in some way to trigger healing. P, as some of you know, was a very successful clinical hypnotherapist, and we saw many supposedly intractable cases change dramatically and I have been wondering for a while now if there is something in that for allergy and intolerance. True, we need to do the biochemical healing, increase nutrients etc but what do some people need to do before that to open a window into the body for healing, if you see what I mean? How do we get in there to get the work done? Do some people just simply need a radically different approach anyway? Have their bodies forgotten how to heal and how do we turn that switch back on again?
Anyway, I am waffling on and I think you get the point by now. In effect, I am changing the focus this year. I have done the ‘ingestion’ therapies for you – the TGF and Barrier Plans – and now am moving onto non-ingestion exploration. The first change will be to continue this positivity approach because it has really helped. Personally, I will be spending the next few months exploring and trying things to see how they might help and I will hopefully be able to report back to you with a formalised non-ingestion approach of a sort. I might not, but it has got to be worth looking at, hasn’t it?
This will probably mean I am quite quiet on the TGF front for a good while so bear with me. Most of you already have what you need on the site and I will help direct you of course. Thank you to those lovely people well-versed in TGF world and helpful on the FB groups – I am indebted to you for helping others and taking some of the heat off me and hope you will continue! Those of you who need the different approaches, just trust that I am working on it for us.
To start with, I need two things from you if poss.
First, if any of you have been using any non-ingestion approaches (ie. where you don’t take anything by mouth or skin) that has helped you, please do let me know. I am a natural cynic but I am suspending all disbelief for now and making myself open to different approaches. But ONLY tell me about them if they have genuinely helped lower your sensitivity levels, not just made you feel better, if you know what I mean.
Second: please be positive on the Facebook groups and comments etc. There are loads of places you can lament and despair but can we try an experiment and only be very supportive, helpful and positive on our TGF, Purehealth and Barrier groups, blogs etc? The vast majority of comments are anyway and I am proud of all the help and solutions you give to each other, but it’s worth making the point I think. I am and have always been eminently suggestible, and I do wonder how much talking about health problems all day every day has affected me over the years; we were actually warned about this possibility in training. And, if it can affect therapists like me, what effect could chat groups have? It may be total hogwash but I quite like this new positive feeling and want to share it with you. (Blimey: it’s like an alien has taken over my head!)
Anyway, I hope that waffling helps you in some way. The upshot is that most people are getting better with the TGF, Barrier and other healing approaches whilst some people need a step or two before they can do that. The focus this year will be less on giving you TGF info and talking about it, not least because the Gluten Summit, resources and plans have everything most of you need now, and more on finding out what those pre-steps might be.
For those of you already getting better: fabulous and keep it up! For those of you who still need to get there: we WILL get better in 2014; I’m flippin determined!
Onward to a brand new year, let’s see what we can come up with