25 Years of Health Struggles Overcome

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

My story won’t feature dramatic before and after shots. It won’t tell you that this diet will make you buff fast (though I think it will). Instead it portrays another reason many people go Primal – to address health issues – and outlines 25 years of health struggles, overcome.

I’ve never been more than 10 or 15 pounds overweight and I’ve always loved being outdoors and exercising. When I was in my mid-20s I started having terrible pain in the joints of my hips, hands, ankles, wrists and knees. Rheumatoid arthritis. I took a lot of anti-inflammatories and went on with my life the best I could, though I was limited in how much I could participate in the outdoor activities I had always loved (backpacking, fly fishing, swimming, cross country skiing, cycling). Got married, had a baby at age 30, and the joint pain eased up. Thrilled, I got a bike trailer and carted my little daughter all around in it. I had quit my writing job to be home with her and we lived off my husband’s modest salary as a newspaper photographer in Chico, CA. Life was good, despite fairly severe residual pain in my left hip (perhaps related to the fact that I was born with a malformed joint there/dysplasia).

After a few years I went back to school to earn a teaching credential and we pursued our dream of relocating to Oregon. Now I was the breadwinner and my husband stayed home with our daughter. We lived in the country and I worked long hours as I began my teaching career. My weight crept up from 115 to about 125, on my small 5’ 4” frame. I didn’t look too bad in size 10 clothes, but the hip pain was getting worse and I knew I needed to exercise more and take those pounds off. The only exercise that didn’t aggravate the hip pain was swimming, but with a young child, the demands of the job and having to drive a ways to get to an indoor pool, it was difficult to get many workouts in. Added to that were my increasing menstrual issues. I’d always had painful, heavy periods but now I was bleeding half the month. I was hesitant to have the uterus removed because I’d had abdominal surgery twice (at age 18, a doctor thought my pelvic kidney was a tumor and tried to take it out, and I’d had a c-section) so I knew this was not going to be fun. But with four conditions that caused bleeding and pain: fibroids, endometriosis, adenomyosis and a cyst on one of the ovaries, I finally relented and had the hysterectomy (kept both ovaries) at age 41.

A month later we moved from our country property to a nearby town, I took a transfer to a school near there and the three of us joined a gym. For the first time in my adult life I had easy access to an indoor pool, time to swim and no monthly pain and bleeding. My daughter, who could swim across a pool at 18 months (I had spent a LOT of time in the water with her when she was little ?), was now 10 and on the swim team, so I had to bring her to the gym three times a week anyhow. Two lanes in the pool were reserved for adult lap swimmers. So I swam while she did. I was determined to lose those extra 10-15 pounds to lessen the load on that joint. I asked a trainer at the gym to set me up with exercises to strengthen the muscles around the hip. So at that point I began regular resistance training as well as lap swimming. Apparently pushing off the wall during lap swimming is great for strengthening the muscles around the hip joints. The pounds came off, I got more muscular and within a year the hip pain had diminished to almost nothing. The coach encouraged me to compete in master’s swimming, which caused me to see myself in a totally different light. Swimming salvaged my health. For awhile.

My whole life I’d dealt with constipation, but after the surgery it suddenly shifted the other way. Loose stools. As part of my big health push when we moved to town and joined the gym, I’d cut out a lot of fat and “junk food” and replaced it with more fruits, veggies and grains, which is what my doctor had suggested I do to improve my terribly high cholesterol. My daughter and I would devour a loaf of warm French bread together after our 5,000 yard swim workouts. I was also drinking fruit smoothies, with the protein powder that the trainer advised. I noticed I had really bad gas and looser stools when my husband made our smoothies. The difference was that he was adding wheat germ. Also, at the time I was having more and more sinus and nasal congestion. I was on a treadmill of allergy meds prescribed by the GP for that. I went to see an allergist and he suggested I try food elimination diets. So I tried cutting out wheat and most glutens and my allergy and gut symptoms were vastly improved. Strangely, I did not test positive for celiac and my meticulously documented food elimination experiments showed that beer was not a problem, only wheat. I continued on like that for about a year, but then I started having the same issues with congestion and diarrhea. So I went back to the food elimination diets and experimentation and discovered dairy was also causing me these problems. So I eliminated that from my diet. Good for another year. Same problems again. Back to the drawing board. Sugars and fruit was causing the problem now, too! By this time I was seeing a GI specialist, who was a very good and helpful doctor. I can’t eat like this, I told him. No wheat, dairy, sugar…nothing’s left! He told me I could indeed eat like this and that a lot of people did so by choice. He diagnosed me with SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) and fructose intolerance and told me to look up the Paleo diet. The diet helped, for sure, but I still suffered with many flare-ups of my symptoms.

I continued with my quest for health and outdoor fun, taking up running, mountain biking and rock climbing (my kid got me into rock climbing when she turned 13; it’s an activity we enjoy together). I kept up with my swimming and re-discovered my love of backpacking, skiing, fly fishing and hunting. I started eating more steak and eggs. A LOT more. I started getting a flat stomach and burly shoulders. I started needing much less sleep at night, and catching fewer colds. My cholesterol levels improved dramatically.

I felt good overall but I still was having gut issues at times. Pain, bloating, diarrhea. I saw a bunch more doctors and had a bunch more tests done. IBS wasn’t a really helpful diagnosis, especially since the diets suggested for that were often high fiber and full of foods that worsened my problems. And the bacterial overgrowth – was that the cause of my issue or the result? The doctors couldn’t offer an explanation but the paleo and Primal blogs online (especially MDA) gave me tools and useful information that I used to manage the problem. I studied charts of fructose levels to determine which fruits I could handle, and eventually I realized that limiting my overall carb intake helped. Above all, MDA helped me see that this was a viable and even preferable way to eat. I continued to study and research – Taubes’ book “Good Calories, Bad Calories” aided my learning quite a bit. Still, diarrhea would hit all too often and there’s really no good time or place for that (teaching a class of young children and hanging from cliffs being particularly BAD times and places). What was really frustrating was that I could eat some foods (especially fruits like melon) with no problems some of the time, but not consistently.

This winter, Mark included a link to the Archevore web page on MDA and I learned the term “FODMAP” for the first time. Everything fit and now I finally feel like I have a good understanding of what’s happening with my gut. In a nutshell, my body has a hard time breaking down short-chain carbs, and some of those (the fermentable ones) cause the bacterial levels in my gut to get out of balance, and then I get the symptoms. It all made sense: this problem emerged when I cut back on fat and upped my carbs. The Primal Blueprint diet eliminates many FODMAP foods. Most beer is not a FODMAP, which solves that mystery (happily, since I do like to drink beer). When I eat fruit separated from other foods by a couple hours, as suggested on the FODMAP diet, it gives my body the ability to put all its digestive efforts into breaking those molecules down, so I do OK with small amounts of low-fructose fruits when they are separated from other foods. There were a few foods I was still eating on the Primal Blueprint diet that are FODMAPS, and I’ve been doing much better having eliminated those. I am going to try adding some foods back into my diet and experiment with some new ones after a few more weeks on my strict FODMAP diet. I’m also figuring out how stress plays into my gut issues and working on addressing that. So I’m still learning and refining things to optimize my health and I probably always will be.

The kid is heading off to college in fall; I just turned 49 and am training to climb El Cap. I’m going to do that in one year, to kick off my next decade. It’ll be 2,900 vertical feet of climbing over three days, with two nights sleeping on the cliff. Being lean and strong is certainly nice, but what it’s really about for me is feeling good and being able to do the things I want to do. It’s never too late to get your health back and it’s certainly worth the effort.


The 2006 picture above shows me with my daughter on Mt. Ashland, a year after I had surgery and started swimming. I had just starting changing over to a Primal Blueprint diet. In the 2010 photo above, I am 48 and working a route at Smith Rock State Park. The last pic shows me bolting a new route a few weeks ago in Central Oregon.

More pics (click to enlarge):

On Gray Butte - October Day On Ocelot Flake at J Tree

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90 thoughts on “25 Years of Health Struggles Overcome”

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  1. Wow! What a story!

    Two takeaways: 1. I need to look into FODMAP. So interesting.

    2. My coworker has RA, major reproductive system issues, and a family history of celiac. She has got to read your story!

    Good luck on El Cap!

    1. I’ve not heard of FODMAP either. It does sound interesting!

      I do have celiac but eliminating gluten never solved anything for me. My own health was a pretty huge puzzle too. I’ve been researching for 8 years – after countless tests and doctors – and still don’t totally understand what’s going on. I have figured out, though, that I am well when I avoid fibrous foods all together.

      1. The human body sure can be strange and picky…some of us are like sportscars that must be perfectly tuned and fueled to run smoothly. Fibrous foods are FODMAPS, maybe you want to look into it.

        1. Thank you so much for your story, and particularly for the FODMAPS info.

          I started Googling straight away, found a list and immediatly started cutting certain foods from my diet.

          Two days later I couldn’t believe how good I felt. Now just over a week on and so many of the problems you had, and which I was having too, are GONE!

          Again, thank you (and of course MDA) so much! 🙂

    2. Such an inspiring story, thank you so much for sharing. i have to agree with the comments and add that my key take away is to learn to listen to our bodies! I was struggling with candida as well, despite following an anti candida mainstream diet with what I thought were the best anti candida supplements,,, Eventually I followed the advice of the candida experts group and did an oxygen colon cleanse plus avoided the flax and chia supplement I was using and was also advised to stop all the anti candida supplements,,, I started to feel really good in 2-3 days and didn’t get it.. aren’t flax and chia great for us?? …the experts group made it very simple,,,the flax & chia fiber slows digestion so much that they made me constipated and when this happens, candida will not go anywhere no matter what fancy supplements you take…I healed after a few weeks and never looked back…lesson learned,,,listen to your body folks!!

      Here is candida expert group guides I was referring to



      I feel like hiking now 🙂

  2. Thanks for this. My aunt is deathly afraid of RA (her father has suffered from it for a long time) and is worried about coming down with it herself. I will definitely recommend this to her.

    Congratulations for improving your health in such a drastic and important way, and this is a great example of how changing your lifestyle can affect much more than just your weight.

    1. RA is scary, I wondered for a time if I would even be able to continue working–even grasping a hairbrush in the morning was difficult. But there is hope. If I had RA in my family and knew what I now know, I would cut out grains and sugar proactively. Why not, it’s healthier anyhow.

  3. Congratulations on solving the puzzle, for a puzzle is what it is.

    I’m so glad after all those problems you are able to live such an active life. Great shots!

  4. Another inspiring story – my sister has Chrone’s and colitis and along with that comes some severe arthritis. i have yet to be able to convince her that her diet may be the issues, since she is a carb – holic. She doesn’t want to give up the food. Too bad too, because we have seen so many success stories such as this one.

    1. How difficult for you to see your sister in so much pain when it might be avoided simply by giving up certain foods. Diet is huge but so many people have no clue…I didn’t.

  5. Congrats on your success! You are an inspiration for the rest of us to go out and ENJOY our lives! To move past our fears and do something like real rock climbing!

    I wish you lots of luck on your primal journey!

    1. thanks! yeah climbing is just fun to me, i’m making up for lost time with my outdoor fun.

  6. This story was fantastic! 😀

    Good luck climbing El Cap. 2,900 vertical feet sounds scary to me!

  7. Congratulations on you better health! I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but I must add that my anxiety rose with every paragraph of your story. Your symptoms may very well be the conventional problems all humans have for eating the conventional diet, but they also sound an awful lot like celiac disease. CD can impact your immune system with even trace amounts of gluten. What might be no biggie for the “avereage” primal eater, could lead to cancer down the road for celiacs after repeated exposure. Also, if you have it, there is a good chance your daughter has it. I strongly encourage you to get tested. Sorry to be a downer. Best wishes in your health journey!

    1. Sorry, I’m a Debbie Downer and an idiot. I was freaking out before I got to your paragraph on CD. Please disregard!

      1. Yeah i even had the super sensitive genetic test done, no celiac

  8. Your story is very inspiring – thank you for sharing. Solving the puzzle indeed – a very complicated puzzle.

  9. Maybe no staggering before and after pics, but reading your health story and seeing you on those rocks is a pretty site

  10. Wow, thank you for sharing your story – I really enjoyed the details as I have had a lot of the same issues! (Well, the ones related to poor digestion.) I have got to read more about FODMAP – thanks for the mention.

    And, of course, CONGRATS on your progress!! Sounds like you feel pretty amazing now 🙂

    1. good luck, maybe we should start a FODMAP thread in the forum.

  11. Impressed that you are doing FODMAP with primal. I wasn’t sure if I could. I looked into the FODMAP diet a while ago and got sort of overwhelmed. I have been on the food intolerances quest and elimination odyssey for about four years and finally have given up fighting my multitude of intolerances as individual irritants. I believe I have issues with generalized inflamation and histamine containing and releasing foods and I still try hard not to eat wheat or sugar, or much dairy or soy. I do better low carb. It seems to eliminate a lot of inflammation. I believe the core intolerances just made my gut leakier. Now, I follow primal about 90 percent with a little peanut butter because I had trouble with tree nuts, although it makes me a little itchy and nasaly. I had a list of about 20 foods to avoid at one point based on an allergist’s intolerance profiles. I am also taking aloe vera, which seems to help, maybe. It’s a crazy ride. Thanks to a fellow traveller for the inspiration to look back into FODMAP.

    1. For me, the tiniest slip up sends things spiralling back the wrong direction. 90 percent compliance leaves me feeling a whole lot better than 80 percent but to really have no problems, I have to follow my diet 100 percent. I’d work it the opposite direction–start with a list of foods you know you can eat, get stable, then add in one questionable food at a time. It’s difficult, believe me, I know. For one thing, you have to learn what’s in everything. You can’t eat out or let others cooks for you. But for me, it’s worth it.

  12. Congratulations! You look like a 29 year-old! Giving up carbs was the best thing I ever did. There are some interrelated things that are not mentioned here. If you have ever taken antibiotics, your body can develop a yeast overgrowth, and it will not go away by itself. Carbs MUST be eliminated, as that is what feeds the yeast. When you eliminate the carbs, the yeast go to work sending your body signals to eat more carbs. Hence, the craving. It is why you feel so good in that restaurant, dipping that warm bread into olive oil and mmmmmm…..wolfing it down with that glass of Cabernet…those little parasites are getting what they want…sugar. Fungal overgrowths, according to some circles,cause many of the problems listed in these stories. When you take refined carbs and grains out of your diet, the fungus die off, making you “ill” for a short time. You will feel better in a few days…much better. I did, and I also lost 20 pounds that I had been fighting with for years. Cholesterol down to elite athlete levels. Go for it, folks! You will not regret the effort you make. Now…I need to look into this FODMAP. Thanks for the wonderful story of yur journey. Imagine…climbing at age 50! You animal!

    1. Thanks so much and that’s a great insight re: antibiotics. I had taken many courses over those years (immune system beaten down from fighting food intolerances + job with small children + congestion from food intolerances = many ear and sinus infections). Also my docs often wanted to put me on antibiotics to just nuke everything and see if it helped my gut. I did that a few times (didn’t help, at least not long term)and have considered that approach but now I’m convinced antibiotics are just really bad for my health overall. I hadn’t really contemplated how that might have worsened things in years past. I am taking probiotics now and also I gave up coffee to keep acidity down. (Though I am now back on coffee, decaf, with no apparent issues.) Antibiotics are overprescribed, IMO

  13. Great story…congratulations on your dedication to proactively addressing your health issues with research and nutrition.

    I was just in Yosemite for the first time this May. Watched climbers on El Capitan. All of you who can do that with no fear (sleeping in a sling hanging from that vertical rock?) impress me to no end. Not to mention the tremendous conditioning and fitness levels required. And talk about a PRIMAL endeavor…climbing 3,000 feet straight up a rock, pulling and pushing yourself up using your arms and legs. Incredible.

    Keep up the great life you are living!

  14. I can relate on the gut issues. I’ve been reading and following GAPS the best that I can and I’m not 100% yet but getting there. I will look into the FODMAP thing also!

  15. I was diagnosed with RA in my 30’s. Suffered to the point of crawling on my knees and elbows around the house because my ankles hurt so bad I couldn’t put any weight on them. I couldn’t even button up a shirt.

    15 months ago I discovered MDA, eliminated grains and started taking Cod Liver Oil (WAPF) and all my RA problems went away. I think my RA was caused by extremely high levels of Omega 6 my entire life, caused by a diet high in grains and grain-fed animal products.

    1. Oh and, I can totally relate to this story. This almost sounds like me, except I don’t rock climb.

      Congrats on your recovery from many many health issues…and I need to look into Fodmap.

      1. I wish I could say the same about my RA. Have been primal since January 2011. I function quite well but I feel my RA still.

    2. It’s an awful illness. Truly. So much pain and suffering, needless. All the meds and treatments, makes me think of bloodletting. Taubes says all the major “diseases of civilization” (cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes) are a result of the SAD. It’s such a simple solution–and yet so difficult for most people to embrace and implement.

  16. It’s not often that I can say a story which mentions both constipation and loose stools would be inspirational…and while I doubt that I shall ever see this again…this is certainly the exception. Congrats on your success. That’s quite awesome. Great climbing pics as well.

    1. Thanks, well it is somewhat embarrassing to talk about these things, but these issues are more common that we think and people really suffer. I really want to help others navigate these issues with a faster learning curve than I had.

  17. In researching FODMAP I see it is developed by an Austrailian doctor. She has some books but the FODMAP Diet Guide says it references “Australian” foods that are recommended for this diet. I’d like to ask the author how did she find diet information relevant to US residents?

    It also says it is essential to do this diet while working with a trained nutritionist?

    1. A lot of things are supposed to be done only under trained guidance. For climbing, yeah, I hired only the best AMGA guide to teach me how to climb with my daughter. And that’s what I’ll have on El Cap. If I happened upon a trained nutritionist who could tell me about the molecular differences of carbs and spell out which ones were short-chain/FODMAP I might hire that person. It would be easier to have someone to teach you about it. But I’m guessing only a handful of nutritionists know about this diet and since everyone’s gut is different, you still would have to experiment. For instance, sucrose (table sugar) is not a FODMAP but I still don’t tolerate it well. I log everything I eat regularly and put it in FitDay to make sure I am getting what I need, nutrient wise. That Australian food guide is not available as far as I can tell and, yes, probably not relevant to US residents. But I figure, if it’s a food that’s only for sale here or there, it’s most likely not a whole (real) food and I don’t want to eat it anyhow. (Unless it’s beer or tortilla chips.) So I just looked up FODMAP online and studied it and then scrutinized everything in my diet that had carbs. There are some discrepancies–some sites say certain foods are FODMAP and others say not. For some foods, it’s a matter of degree…sorta like a “yellow light” FODMAP. Eat a little sometimes. And some people can eat some of the FODMAP categories. The carbs I eat were already a short list so I just compared that to what the internet sites said were FODMAPs and went from there, paring down my former carb list. Pretty much the only things I eat with carbs in them now are leafy greens, bell peppers (not green ones), carrots, blueberries, tangerines, beer (no stouts or heavy beers, which can contain lactose), almonds, coconuts and a little potato, swiss cheese, tomato and melon sometimes. I find plenty of satisfaction in my simple diet (I could sure relate to that recent post on simple diets.) I do it up right for meats and oils…lotsa grass fed beef, coconut oil, farm eggs. I am really into pit cooking large hunks of meat. I enjoy my food, limited as it is. Pretty much all I gave up to go FODMAP was tomato sauce, onions, mushrooms, garlic and avocados. Guacamole and salsa was painful to lose but I was always limited in how many chips I could eat and I thought it was the corn but now I find I can eat endless “Food Should Taste Good” brand jalapeno tortilla chips with no problems, so the guac and salsa really was the problem, not the corn. Not that I think corn is healthy…those chips are a vice but handy in the pack! Good luck.

      1. Thanks. I found a couple different FODMAP lists online and yes I also noticed some of them would claim a food is safe while others said the same food was not safe. I printed the most extensive list I could find and am now watching what occurs when I eat these foods.

        I’m glad to be enlightened by this as I keep having issues with bloating even after cutting out grains and I couldn’t figure out why!

  18. Wait A GI Doctor actually told you to go Primal? What is the world coming to:) Its about time the medical community gets passed the “unhealthy high fat approach” of the Primal and Paleo eating ways and recognizes it as a diet that actually restores health!

    1. yeah well he said eat paleo, later i found the Primal Blueprint diet just surfin round the net. believe me i had plenty of other docs tell me eat low fat…i had a team of 9 digestive experts from a major university hospital study all my records at one point and the lead doc said eat more carbs even if it makes you sick–you need the variety!!! my regular doc regularly advises low fat. i don’t know why I haven’t fired him yet.

  19. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Every person who refuses to give up on the quest for optimal health learns things along the way that can be of enormous help to others.

    Imagine where we’d be if we all just medicated our aches, pains and discomforts as the doctors said. Medicating symptoms fosters ignorance about the way our bodies work, and what they need.

    Good for you for not giving up….and I think your mention of FODMAP is going to help a lot of people!

  20. Thanks for the story, it is so timely for me! I’ve been suffering GI problems since I went from a Slow Carb diet to Primal (ironically) about 3 months ago. I have an appt. to see a gastro next week but have been trying to pinpoint the problem myself, and stumbled on some info. about the low FODMAPS diet. I would like to arm myself with as much info. as possible before I see the gastro and I would be so grateful if you could provide your sources on FODMAPS diet guidelines since some of the information I’ve found is contradictory and incomplete. Thanks again, you look amazing!

    1. Thanks! I wish I had good sources for FODMAPS info–the internet sites ARE contradictory so I was (and am) winging it, with no training or nutritionist (but a good AMGA climbing guide)… more info. above in my response to Daria…also I think the “IBS Free at Last” book/site/author are a good source of info.

  21. I’m glad you explained all this because sometimes we (okay,me) can be really judgmental… you know, “just quit eating the crap and you’ll be fine.” Seems like it took a lot of tinkering to get you to this point. Well done. Great pics… and you look nowhere near 50 🙂

  22. FODMAPs stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides, and Polyols. In other words, sugars that overfeed and screw up normal gut flora. It makes me so crazy that the world is still so worried about dietary fat, as we’re all in the process of killing ourselves in various ways with sugar!

  23. Fantastic story. I have RA. Diagnosed 2 years ago, right before bone that had been eroded by this nasty disease sawed through soft tissue and I had to have immediate surgery – grinding down my ulna and replacing it with titanium and then “rewiring” my fingers so they’d work again. Nasty disease. I’ve been paleo for almost six months and until recently had extraordinary results – pain, swelling, bp, everything vastly improved. However… had been doing a little “experimenting” and perhaps it was the gorging on fresh canteloupe or maybe the plethora of (sugar-cured, I’m sure) bacon, or just being a teensy bit more casual when eating out, but pain/swelling returned in recent days. I do not want another surgery and want to feel great again so am back at it. Will read about FOODMAP and gain true inspiration from your story. Thanks so much for sharing!

  24. Hi, thank you for sharing your story! Like someone else mentioned about the yeast overgrowth I second that problem as well as antibiotics. Candida (yeast) overgrowth is a major problem with so many people but it is not recognized or known by most doctors and I believe all these new diseases are really just being caused from the yeast overgrowth. I had all your symptoms as well. When I was a teenager I took birth control pills for some skin breakouts and antibiotics and that’s when all my problems started. Doing a primal anti candida diet has been the only thing that has helped my health! yay. I wish more people would make this connection and get doing a sugar free low carb primal diet to help with symptoms like you described. I also can’t do any fiber foods, no raw. I cook all my veggies well and can’t have coconut flour or any nuts and seeds. One day though!

  25. Thank you for sharing your story as it is EXACTLY my story and I’ve only recently, two months ago recent, put the pieces of my puzzle together. After being diagnosed with SIBO and IBS two years ago I was put on a probiotic and given the list of bad fruit/good fruit, tested for Celiac Disease (negative)and told to eat more fiber in the mornings specifically oatmeal. LOVE oatmeal but didn’t know until two months ago that I was causing my own issues by eating the oatmeal and other grains. I cut them out of my diet and two days later all symptoms GONE! If I make poor food choices (usually when I’m stressed) I’ve paid for it. I’m still struggling with the fruit a bit, but I’m working on it! Thank you again for sharing!

    1. yeah i love oatmeal too, with cream and blueberries….and it’s not a FODMAP according to some internet sites…but it does worsen my condition…wah. spelt didn’t work for me either. try the fruit separated out by other foods by 2 hours–that helps me anyhow. also i have a chart of the different kinds and amounts of sugars in all fruits that really helped me–it was from paleodiet.com but i don’t know if it’s there anymore–i don’t see it under nutritional tools anymore. anyhow i just stick to blueberries and tangerines now–low fructose.

      1. I followed a link from the paleodiet site which lead me to one of Mercola’s pages. He has a chart of fruits/serving size/grams of fructose if that would be of any help to you. I’m sure you could just search for fructose on his site and you’d end up at any one of a number of pages that has the chart on it.

        Other than that, it’s so refreshing to read about someone who was willing to take matters in their own hands, do the research and listen to what their bodies were/are telling them without getting caught up in CW and what the doctors say they “should” be doing.

        My doc sent me to a dietitian who ended up telling me to do pretty much was what causing the problems! Sound familiar? I still have the notes I took from that visit and laugh every time I look at them.

        Thanks for your post and the very best of luck to you on your continuous journey (especially the vertical ones!) — you really are an inspiration.

    2. Celiac testing does have a lot of false negatives. Hate to say that. Obviously you have cut out gluten becasue you feel better, but just want you to be careful in case you really do have celiac.

      1. Yeah that’s what my doctor was concerned about; he ordered this $500 genetic test for celiac that’s supposed to be very sensitive. And I have given up beer for periods of time and carefully documented the results…beer has no impact on my symptoms (except heavy beers like stouts, which contain lactose I think). Beer is the only thing in my diet with gluten. They make gluten-free beer and I’ve drank that, but the results are the same. No impact. An apple or a few sips of milk will cause problems within 15 minutes; bread or any wheat will cause problems the next day that can last for days. Mark’s wine drinking ways are probably far healthier, but wine always gives me a headache and I don’t even like it. I could become a teetotaler but studies show moderate drinkers live longer (probably correlative) and I’m not quite that dogmatic.

        1. “except heavy beers like stouts, which contain lactose I think”

          Only a “Milk Stout” such as Mackeson’s would contain lactose. A traditional/regular stout such as Guinness (mmmmm…Guinness) does not.

  26. Wow thanks everyone, major warm fuzzies! I can’t tell ya how happy it makes me that this journey I’ve been on might help others. The support from this community is AWESOME!

  27. Great story, life is a wonderful journey and its way more fun when we get involved. You are definitely involved. I too love to experiment with what does what to my body. I’ve noticed that the better fine tuned it is, (the body) the easier it is to determine what foods have what effects, NEAT. Just one thing though…why would you move from a place where a great beer is made?

    1. Chico? yeah, true. I do miss Chico at times but Oregon is pretty good for craft beer and coffee, too. Chico got a little too crowded–had to migrate to better hunting grounds.

  28. DThalman, Thank you so much for sharing your very inspirational story. I am looking up Fodmaps right now 🙂

  29. Good on ya, Lady. Your story is so much like mine, like so many of us! I echo everyone’s compliments to you. Today is the last day of my Robb Wolf 30-Day Paleo Challenge diet for those with auto immune issues, RA specifically for me, too. I have had a definite improvement, even while gradually reducing my weekly “toxin” that I take to control the disease. I hope to get off the drug completely. I will check out FODMAP, but meanwhile, I am looking forward to eating a whole slew of eggs tomorrow!

    1. Hang in there on the RA; it often goes away. I will hope this is the course of yours, too. My daughter will be heading up there to attend u of o in fall…great town, Eugene.

    2. Cathryn, I am also primal in Eugene. I wonder if we could get a meetup started? I need some folks to WOW with.

  30. Great testimony!!! These stories of health transformations are just what I am looking for to keep me motivated. GI issues, achy joints, insomnia, and the onset now of some raging hormone changes… such a challenge. Getting leaner and losing 5-10 pounds would be a welcome bonus… but minimizing or giving these vitality sappers that is the real deal! Thanks for sharing and best to you on your climb and continued journey!

  31. Thanks for the story! As they say,
    “Been there, got the t-shirt!”

    A good book to help those learning about FODMAPS.
    “IBS Free At Last” by Patsy Catsos,MS,RD,LD She has a web site too.

    I will say since watching my intake of FODMAPS, and keeping carbs down, my tolerance has increased. I can now eat fruit, all fruits, and cruciferous veggies without suffering! I don’t push it too often but, it is nice knowing I can now enjoy foods I once couldn’t tolerate. 🙂

    I don’t eat gluten, ever.

  32. AWESOME STORY! I’m going to college in Ashland, OR so reading about Mt. A made me smile! Just recently started getting into climbing and I’M HOOKED! Do you have any advice to share?? I know this isn’t a site about climbing but there are not a lot of paleo climbers out there… Good luck at El Cap!!!!!

    1. We oughtta start a thread in the forum for primal climbers! yeah i rode the watershed trails night before last, so pretty up by Bull Gap. Rogue Rock Gym is where I train–Rattlesnake is my favorite day trip and mostly we climb at Smith. Friend me on FB and I can share some local spots. –Danielle

    2. Small world, Taylor and I have two mutual FB friends…this is too much fun, people who like talking health/diet AND climbing!

      1. Just for further ideas, I was pointed to the following blog post this week. It’s geared towards people with celiac/gluten intolerance who are still having problems after going GF.
        Just a bunch more options, one of which might just click for someone reading here.

        And it is nice to see a fellow Oregonian. UO is a great school, although I now find myself to be a Duck in Beaver territory. 🙂

  33. Great story. I too have never been more than a few pounds overweight, but have had health issues that the paleo/primal diet has cured. I want to add that nightshades ( Potato, Tomato, Pepper, Egg Plant) tend to worsen auto immune conditions like RA. Good luck in Yosemite!

  34. Nice arms! Good luck on El Cap and thanks for a great story congrats to you.

  35. I will second the GAPS diet recommendation for all of you still suffering from aliments like RA, IBS, etc. I developed a cascade of food sensitivities and have reversed most of them with GAPS. I have numerous friends that relieved anxiety, healed /lessened IBS and lost weight.

  36. Great story, and congrats on figuring out so much of this complex puzzle, your a smart lady.

    A couple things I will mention you might want to look into to ‘complete the puzzle’, from some with similar story here.

    – autoimmunity, Leaky gut.

    You mention role of stress. It can play into these two .. stress can trigger increase autoimmune response, and stomach permeability(leaky gut). Its impossible to eliminate stress, far better to look for ‘stress triggers’ and learn management techniques etc of course FUN/EXERCISE are excellent as your doing! ..but tendancy in people with this problem is to ‘over dose’ on exercise, and tend into an up/down cycle’s – over longtime this will cause more problems ( adrenal/cortisol related).

    As regard candida – I don’t have time to write a thesis but the bottom line its IMPOSSIBLE to eliminate – because even in ketosis, blood glucose is maintained and keeps some candida in body ..and eating ANY carbs it will regrow. IF you have overgrowth, it means you have IMMUNE DYSFUNCTION – could be due to antibiotics, environment pollutants or severe stress – so aim is to REBALANCE IMMUNE System not try to kill all candida ( also look into T1/T2 immune dominance and immune modulators)

    Doc’s – current medical science does not have deep enough understanding of the CAUSALITY of health, heck, it can’t even decide if fat is good or bad! ..let alone the complexities of entire body system and immune system. So, as you’ve found, your kind of on your own, and done an amazing job BTW!

    So there is little ‘hard science’ ( i trained in science, so I know), its mostly an ‘experiment of one’ i.e. form a theory, test it on yourself ..if it works for you, that’s what matters.

    I hope you continue to have improving health.

    1. The immune system information is interesting–I have had elevated white blood cell counts during every annual physical exam for many years and I could feel my lymph nodes swell up during bad gut events, in the past. Now that I am not having obvious symptoms, it’s harder to know what to add/cut out of my diet to further refine this/improve immune system function. I’m guessing the chips (yucky oils, omega 3/6 balance) would be the first thing to go. Would that impact immune function, if I had a poor omega 3/6 balance? I do eat a lot of fish and fish oil supplements and grass fed beef/pastured eggs. Probably I should lose beer and potatoes. I’m hesitant to give up bell peppers because even though they are a nightshade, when I don’t eat them I get leg cramps. Maybe I need a different source of potassium? And if I give up chips, beer and potatoes, I would be WAY down on my carbs and lose weight. I mean, leafy greens and carrots just aren’t many calories and I am limited in how much fruit I can eat, due to fructose sensitivity. I could keep eating corn, though–maybe just just masa or popcorn made with coconut oil. Any ideas?

  37. AWESOME STORY! Inspirational, from someone in the same agegroup; female & almost 54. I agree it’s sad the medical community isn’t generally on board with being primal. It so easily (duh!)makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. For those of you in Portland, Oregon, my doctor (Dartmouth graduate- I just found out, female, same age group, coincidentally) actually promotes primal, paleo and low-carb. LOVE HER! (google, OMWL.)

    Went in over a year ago for roller-coaster dieting (you know the drill- low-cal, low-fat), found I was in the hyperinsulinemia vortex and now continue improving with much better numbers, more limber joints and a wealth of information. I found Mark’s book(s) and website from her! As well as the Eades’ Protein Power and Fragoso’s Everyday Paleo. Thank you all, and thank you Mark.

    Your RA and gastro info I’m forwarding to my sister and a friend at work.

  38. How’s rock climbing with fivefingers? I LOVE climbing in them but I’m still kinda an amateur. What’s the expert’s say on it?

    1. 5 fingers aren’t for climbing; we have special shoes. I love to run in mine though, and stand in small trout-laden creeks! 🙂

  39. Yeah, for sure check into what candida overgrowth is at Bee Wilder’s Natural Healing website. It looks a little hokey and I wish I could personally re-design it, but the stuff I finally learned on that website was amazing – and of course frustrating because I was learning all this so late in life. The symptoms and causes and solutions just made so much sense, I couldn’t believe it. Thing is, it’s still so unrecognized as a serious problem that I personally haven’t told anyone the reason my diet’s been so restrictive is because of this – I’m afraid they’ll all think I’m a hypochondriac. But I have memories of frequent infections as a child, have always been overweight even in very active periods of life, feel incredibly better on an anti-candida diet and my mom told me the first time I had antibiotics was when I was 6 weeks old – which probably screwed me up right then. Everything on there just makes too much sense – check it out!

  40. I just finished reading T.S. Wiley, et al’s “Sex, Lies and Menopause,” and cannot recommend it highly enough.

    It has answered almost all of the questions I’ve had as to “what the heck is wrong with me” that I’ve had for nearly 30 years.

  41. One other really great way I found to test for food problems, since I’ve had the same issues for years, is BioSET. It’s a way of quickly testing for food allergies and sensitivities. A trained practitioner has an electrode hooked up to a computer with their program on it, and they wrap the electrode with a moist paper towel and you hold it in one hand while they use a stylus to press on a certain meridian on the other hand. Then they test you on all the foods you question, and can tell what you’re sensitive to. I found that in addition to glutens, which I’d known about for years, I also had problems with dairy, eggs, coconut, and chocolate; but I can keep the wine, especially the red. Who knew?

  42. Now this might be a strange comment, but I have to say it anyway.

    I have a pound puppy (part hound of some sort and part German Shepherd). At 1 year, he was diagnosed with SIBO after nearly dying when he stole a whole bag of flour one day. I tried so many different diets for him but no matter what he would have episodes of explosive squirts and couldn’t put on the weight he needed to. While he gained about 10 lbs after the diagnosis when he was put on a pro-biotic, he was still underweight at 50-55lb.

    I finally got fed up, and the last straw was my rescue 1 year old lab suddenly dying from potentially contaminated dog food (all 3 of my dogs were on their own special diets-weight management, large breed, and a special food for my SIBO dog). I started doing extensive research on diets and dog foods and everything else. I actually came across MDA during this search.

    My dogs and I have been living primal since October and it’s the best thing that could have happened to us-especially Tucker. He’s now a powerful, cut 75 lb beautiful beast and all his intestinal issues have virtually disappeared. It truly is amazing what this lifestyle can do for both people and animals.

  43. Danielle, Thanks for sharing your inspirational story. I’ve been researching FODMAPs ever since I read this. I already don’t eat a lot of the things that are high FODMAPS, like gluten and dairy. Now I understand why things like mushrooms, broccoli, and cauliflower give me problems too. Thanks for turning me on to FODMAPs! Rock on you rock star 🙂

    P.S. From a fellow climber.

  44. It must have been a lot of fun isn’t it. I love adventure sports too, but rarely get the time to do them regularly.

  45. I was sure you were going to realize you may have mast cell activation syndrome. Can’t do most fruits, fermentation, wheat, tomato, spinach, many others.. Also involves bleeding issues.

  46. I am so happy I stumbled across this story! I thought I was a healthy, fit person….then at 36 I started noticing (really noticing) bloating and digestive issues. I too thought it was wheat or gluten and for years had experienced random reactions that never seemed consistent. I have been on FODMAP for nearly 2 weeks and I feel so much better! I am still having some issues and am wondering how I can keep things flowing smoothly with no grains or fibrous foods? I miss garlic and cheated and had boring gluten free pizza at a restaurant last week and I felt great after:) Whatever was m the dough must have been to.erable so I’ll need to find out the recipe.