Bryn loved to sniff my riding pants, captured by horse smell. She had no clue what sort of creature had created it, though, so, one day I took her into the horse barn, aiming straight for the first bench just inside, out of the way of everything, but offering a fine view of the heart of the big stable.
I got her attention, then issued the command, “Sit, and stay.”
Plop. Down she went. I followed. We took in the view.
Her eyes widened. Her mouth formed an O. A tall black horse, led by a stable hand, clip-clopped around the long aisle’s corner and headed straight toward us. My thunderstruck dog gave me The Look.
Boss, What! Is! That??
The curious mare caught her eye as she passed; Bryn glanced back at me: Is it ‘run for your life’ time?
“Horse, Bryn. That’s a horse. You must stay, and just look.”
Look she did. My dumbstruck doggie mimicked a statue. Only her eyes and twitching nose worked to make sense of these scents. 30 minutes passed. Not a muscle moved. There was so much to comprehend! Just ten feet away someone was brushing a beautiful chestnut mare, who seemed to enjoy the attention. Two women wandered by, chatting. A few horses poked their heads out of stalls to whinny back and forth. And Louie, the stable cat, ambled over to her bowl ten feet away to delicately eat her dinner. A CAT! Bryn’s long ears perked: she glanced up at me, amazed, but uncertain.
“It’s fine. This cat is having his dinner and the horses are chatting.”
Bryn licked her black lips and resumed her statue stance. The O softened as she continued to process this weird, wonderful place. Louie ignored her. Later, though, he pretended to stalk Bryn, creeping in exaggerated slow motion on little cat feet to the underside of our bench, there to crouch and glare. Only the tip of his tail twitched. Bryn stared down at him, saw me shake my head, and so dismissed Sir Cat. Giants were so much more interesting!
After an hour’s exposure, we reluctantly left. I drove straight to the dog park, only a quarter-mile away, knowing she’d run around like a wild thing, dumping energy. Horses were _______! She simply didn’t know what, or how, to think about them. Bryn was full to bursting with awe and intrigue. There were Big, Friendly GIANTS in there-Wow!
I was still mulling over WHY I could finally be around horses. What had changed in my life? Joe dismissed that I might have ‘aged’ out of it and instead, reminded me of a profound switch I’d made over three years ago, regarding food intake.
I’d been physically uncomfortable my whole life on the standard American diet. No one had had a clue why.
I couldn’t shed and keep off weight. Or, if I managed to for a while, I felt awful, not to mention desperately hungry, which would happen suddenly. So, I’d eat to relieve the deep need and avoid the shakes.
One day in September of 2015 I happened upon a book that would change my life: The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body, by Sarah Ballantyne, Ph.D.
An autoimmune disease means, in a nutshell, that a body has learned to attack itself. Once it knows how, the behavior can never be unlearned. The author related the shocking rise of MS, Psoriasis, type 2 Diabetes, Migraines, etc., and showed, backed by careful but still suggestive scientific research, how eliminating sugar, wheat flour and other suspected food culprits, may reverse these diseases’ devastating effects- for the rest of one’s life.
Deeply intrigued, I read the whole huge, beautifully laid out book- twice. Joe assured me the science was very intriguing.
It was hard to put down.
In September of 2015, I took the plunge. Most of the food in our home was permanently eliminated. Including anything containing sugar- sauces, jams and jellies, condiments- and all bread, crackers, etc., made from wheat-based flour. Very little in a bag or box survived. What I did save would be for Joe.
Two weeks into my New Approach I woke one bright morning a changed woman. After over 70 years there was No ‘normal’ abdominal discomfort. Its absence was shocking.
I could go on and on about what I don’t experience anymore.
This qualifies as another Miracle.
Furthermore, my dry, flaky skin (a supposedly normal annoyance of aging) had slowly changed, one cell at a time, into soft and silky. This metamorphosis took just under two years. I glory in it every day.
The Paleo Approach author interviewed people young and old who’d battled a more severe form of dry skin, Psoriasis, all their lives. They are now symptom-free.
A twenty-something MS victim abandoned her wheelchair and now leads a reasonable, normal life.
Migraine sufferers find themselves free of that curse.
The list of diseases that respond to the Approach’s benefits goes on and on. Impressed, physicians and researchers are looking closely at the possibility of connections between certain foods and Autism.
When one commits to this new approach, autoimmune disease is quiescent –IF- one remains committed to shunning foods humans are not designed to ingest, especially in such massive quantities. Every time someone gets cocky, or careless, his or her particular misery re-appears. With a vengeance.
Here’s another reward! Over 20 pounds of unwanted weight that I’d carried around for much of my life FELL off. I hadn’t aimed for this benefit; I’d long since given up that fight. But now my clothes were loose. Nine pounds vanished in the first two weeks. Over perhaps 20 months, my body gradually, gently eliminated a lifetime’s accumulation of sugar and wheat-based foods- that were poison to me. (And, by the way, throughout my life I routinely never over-indulged in sugar-packed food and drink.)
My body weight stabilized, leveling off at just over 100 pounds, I felt- and feel- brand new. I don’t own a scale. My body knew what weight was right for my frame. It hasn’t varied.
After one year on The Paleo Approach, I conducted an experiment. I ate a small cookie that contained a normal amount of sugar. PAIN! Cramps! Life in the bathroom for days!
Ingesting sugar affects me much like heroin withdrawal affects addicts.
I will never conduct another test. This one hurled me back into that other miserable life. My new body chemistry simply won’t tolerate it.
My daughters confirm this. Off sugar and flour etc. for longer than I, they, too, feel renewed. My younger daughter Lisa warned me that if I began this regimen I could never go back, and she was right.
I never will.
What evidence do I have that this new eating approach is why I’m allergy-free?
Just before exposure to Ballantyne’s book Joe and I went to the huge, month-long horse show held every mid-summer just outside Traverse City. I hadn’t once dared to attend it over the years, but maybe, just maybe, I might be able to peek at some champion jumpers from a distance...
Almost immediately, I was attacked. The very air I breathed, full of microscopic bits of hay and horse skin cells, produced a swelling throat, itchy eyes and wheals that began to rise ominously on my face and neck. Though I’d worn a mask and had been extremely careful to remain well away from the many gorgeous horses milling around, I was, apparently, still too close.
We left immediately.
That afternoon marked the death of the faint hope that I might have outgrown the autoimmune response.
I shrugged off my acute disappointment and moved on.
Shortly thereafter, the Book popped into view. Two years later, Horses appeared on the horizon. You know the rest.
Horses and I are consistently together, and the joy I take from that fact is indescribable.
Put succinctly, Ballantyne’s meticulous research and review of the literature provides very suggestive evidence that eliminating sugar and wheat flour, as well as other ‘trigger’ foods I won’t list here, will pay off big time.
‘You Are What You Eat’ is truer than we know. Ingesting foods my body recognizes as ‘designer’ fuel means my one and only machine will serve me very much better for the rest of my life.
**Next week: Bryn’s nosey horse prowess impresses her family!
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