In April of 2018, I put out a blog post titled “Why I Stopped Being a Bikini Competitor”, where I discussed how my health took a turn for the worst after competing. Long story short – I began having an influx of symptoms that I never had before such as:
- Brain fog
- Extreme fatigue
- Getting sick (flu-like symptoms) after a workout
- Extreme bloating
- Chest pain
- Irregular bowel movements
- Low immune system
The symptoms began in 2016 and after dealing with multiple doctors to rule out minor things in 2018, I still wanted to get to the root of my issues. I began seeing a new functional medicine doctor, but being that she doesn’t take my insurance plus the testing/supplements she recommends, I’d say I’ve spent over $3,000 alone. Yet here I am, still silently suffering.
We did blood, urine, stool, and breath tests to find the following:
- Positive for SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)
- Adrenal fatigue
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Iron deficiency
- Extremely high estrogen
- Extremely low cortisol levels
I’m no doctor, but it’s my belief that the amount of stress I put on my body during competing caused many of those issues. For example, my cortisol (stress) levels were probably so high, that once I stopped competing, they were shot and couldn’t return to normal levels.
While all this insight was great, the next steps were to tackle them via supplements and diet. I followed a low-carb Paleo diet for 3 months which did remove the SIBO bacteria from my gut. I ended up losing a lot of unintentional weight in the process. Pair low carbs, no sugar, alcohol, dairy, grains, and gluten with a global pandemic plus stay at home order… it was a recipe for disaster to my mental health. Although some of my symptoms were improving, I’d notice feeling symptoms even when I was eating Paleo-approved foods… none of it made sense to me.
I came across the EverlyWell Food Sensitivity test, as I saw they were looking for influencers to partner with. Unfortunately, I didn’t get selected for the partnership, but I still moved forward with purchasing a kit and giving it a try. The process from start to finish was extremely simple: I ordered the kit, took the test at home where you prick your finger, give some blood samples, and send it back using their shipping label. The kit was sent to me fast, and I got my results fast too. Your results are then presented to you in an easy to read way:
Below is the full list of foods I have a mild sensitivity to:
Chicken, coffee, GARLIC, ginger, gluten, oats? It’s also not as cut and dry as this. If I have a sensitivity to apple, that includes Apple Cider Vinegar. With oats, now I can’t have oat milk in the coffee that I apparently can’t have either. I found it interesting that all of these came through as mild, but it’s possible that the combination of them could be presenting me with severe symptoms.
Ignorance is truly bliss because I can’t really say these results made me “feel” better. Part of me is grateful to have this information while the other half feels like I’m being robbed of the things I love in life: amazing foods, meals with friends, working out. I feel like I’m self-sabotaging myself when I eat something now, knowing it will cause me to feel pain, tired, or just sad. I also hate being that person in a group setting that has to constantly say “no, I can’t have that” or excusing myself from a gathering because I’m physically exhausted. I haven’t yet brought myself to complete a true elimination diet with these foods, but I know it’s something I need to. EverlyWell also provides different ways to test your reactivity such as:
Quick elimination diet
- Eliminate one food at a time for 4 days, starting with your high reactivity foods and working your way down.
- Eat one serving per the USDA serving size on the label for 1 day. Or if the food doesn’t have a nutrition label, such as fruits or vegetables, do a quick internet search for the appropriate serving size.
- Completely eliminate that food again for 2-3 days while watching for symptoms.
- Repeat with each remaining food until you find the cause(s) of your symptoms.
Overall, I would recommend EverlyWell based on how easy it was to use. The test itself was $160, and that included free shipping to both receive the test and send it back. They also accept HSA/FSA payments and offer tons of other tests related to your hormones, heavy metals and more. I’m definitely interested in exploring their other tests and giving them a try as well.
In the age of social media where everyone shares the highlights of their lives, I felt that it was important for me to share this for anyone else who might be struggling too. It’s okay to admit when you’re not okay. Sometimes I get so angry because it’s unfair that this was as a result of something I thought was good for me… I feel like I take care of myself and always try to do what’s best for my health, but it’s like swimming against the current at this point. Wish me luck.