God has taken me on a long and arduous health journey, filled with both successes and failures, ultimately ending in my discovery of the Paleo diet. As I have traversed this path, God has been with me teaching me to trust and rely on His strength. Now I know God has put this story in my heart so that I could share it with others. It is my sincere hope and prayer that my story will encourage others on a similar journey.
From an extremely young age, it was apparent that something was off in my body, specifically with my intestinal track. When my mom first switched me to solid food, I had diarrhea for six months until someone suggested she put probiotics in my milk which resulted in improvement for a time.
Again, in high school, I started having some digestive issues; primarily a feeling that my food was getting stuck in my esophagus and not digesting properly. By college, it progressed to severe digestive issues. Imagine all the havoc that pizza, sandwiches and Raman noodles were wrecking in my body.
These issues continued throughout college and no one seemed to have any ideas about what was wrong until I had some blackouts and loss of control over my limbs upon our move Maryland in 2002.
Finally, at that point, I was diagnosed with celiac disease. However, it was discovered about six years later that I did not actually have celiac but rather gluten, dairy and corn intolerance, a hiatal hernia and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) with crohn’s disease antibodies in my blood. As you have already surmised, this was a long and painful process.
So I lived for several years gluten free, but I was still eating dairy and other things, such as rice and corn, that were still causing destruction in my intestinal track, leading to a return of many of my issues that had temporarily disappeared. No one really got concerned until I had a massive unexplained loss of blood the same month I had a fertility treatment.
Oh, did I mention that I am infertile? Our infertility journey is one fraught with tears and pain, as well as joy, ultimately leading us to God’s plan A for our lives, adoption.
But that is another story for another post. I mention it here briefly because God used my infertility to guide us to the doctor who would finally unravel many of my mysterious ailments. I never thought I would say I am thankful for my infertility but I am, praise God!
Following my stay in the hospital for a blood transfusion, I was sent to physician who was both a gastroenterologist and an integrative medicine specialist. After every GI test imaginable and some food allergy testing, he determined that I was gluten and dairy intolerant with the hiatal hernia causing issues.
Additionally, he found crohn’s antibodies in my blood and SIBO. So in 2009, we devised a no sugar diet with some supplements that temporarily relieved my SIBO. He explained it would always be around, waiting to rear its ugly head. He sent me to a nutritionist, but over time and distance (we moved from MD back to Texas in 2010) symptoms began to return.
My mother discovered an integrative medicine doctor in Dallas, so I decided to see her. After listening to the story of my life for four hours and evaluating every test I have ever had, she suggested I follow the Paleo diet, specifically cutting out all grain and eating whole foods, believing that would heal my body from the inside out.
She also discovered through additional food allergy testing that I was allergic to corn and bananas. And thus I began my Paleo journey to healing my gut issues.
So you may be wondering…
Yes, and no.
In theory, it should have been easy for me to implement this way of life, but in reality, I struggle with it. When I went gluten free, I relied heavily on corn and rice as a substitute for the sugar carbs that my body craved due to the SIBO. So I really struggled for several months leaving all grain behind.
Then, we learned that I actually am allergic to corn, so ok, I cut that out, but I still craved sugar carbs so I started allowing myself to eat rice on occasion and copious amounts of processed sugar which I justified as being gluten free and dairy free. My SIBO symptoms returned, I realized immediately what I had done and that my doctor was right in recommending no cheats Paleo! Rice and excessive amounts of high glycemic sugars wreak havoc in my system.
In the past year, I discovered the 21 Day Sugar Detox which is quite similar to the diet plan my doctor and I devised back in 2009. It has been a blessing to me with all the online support and recipes so I turn to it when I need to clear up my SIBO.
As I look back over my journey, I can see the fingerprints of God spread throughout, guiding me at each turn. He used my infertility and the Paleo diet to save my life. It isn’t always easy, and sometimes I fail, but God is always there just as He is when I fail Him. When I am weak, He is strong!
After struggling with infertility for five years, God led Suzanne Meledeo and her husband, Adam, to His Plan A for their lives—adoption! They brought their daughter home from China in 2011 and their son in 2013. After a career in DC politics, Suzanne now lives in San Antonio, TX where she works as a Pilates instructor while home schooling their children, advocating for orphans, writing and managing her autoimmune issues and daughter’s psoriasis with a Paleo lifestyle. You can follow their adoption journey and life on her blog, Surpassing Greatness, or on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.