With the medications not working and my health getting worse, we have decided to take more action around my diet. We have known for a long time that a sugar-free, gluten-free diet has helped me, but I always have such a hard time sticking to it and I found ways around eating healthy. I would just eat tons of gluten-free substitutes and artificial sweetener and I still didn't feel well. Also, I get wrapped up into the whole "one piece of cake won't hurt you" mentality and it is all down hill from there.
|Photo by Jeff Norris|
In looking for a better diet for me we found that quite a few people with mood disorders have had success with a Paleo diet, and my doctor has mentioned trying it as well. In short a Paleo diet means you eat lean meats, vegetables, and some fruits and nuts. You also make an big effort to buy "happy meat" (grass-fed, pastured meat) and local as often as possible. We have decided to kick off the Paleo diet with a Whole30, which is an even more strict version of Paleo for 30 days that makes sure you cut out sugars, dairy, and soy even in things like the sauce on your meat. This way your body can really reset itself and be free of all the things that could be bothering your system. Then if you want you can add in some things like gluten-free substitutes or a bit more fruit and see how you react so you can create the perfect diet for your body.
I will be writing a few posts over the next week with more information about the research behind the link between sugar and bipolar disorder and other effects our diet can have on our mood. As one article in Everyday Health says "For people with bipolar disorder sugar and other simple carbohydrates may harm more than help. Carbohydrate cravings in bipolar patients are legendary, so much so that increased intake of sugary treats is considered a clue to bipolar disorder during diagnosis."
This may seem like a drastic step to some, or even ridiculous that food can affect your mood, but, the medicines don't work and I have to make the choice to either let my bipolar control my life or choose that I deserve a good life instead. Michael Ellsberg did the same thing with his decision to use a sugar, coffee, and alcohol free diet to treat his bipolar II. There is a 20% suicide rate for bipolar II disorder and I am choosing to save my life even if it means a strict diet that doesn't fit in with societal norms.