Note from Jennifer: Today, we have a guest post from Erica of Edible Attitudes. This 17-year-old has become my newest hero. She has battled severe symptoms brought on by chronic illness and is kicking them to the curb, one by one.
Her story is so inspiring, I asked her to share her story at 20 something allergies and even gifted her book to one of my clients.
Since I was an infant, I have dealt with health issues.
It started at six months old with my first of many ear infections and went on to include environmental and food sensitivities, cystic acne, and cracking joints.
My most prominent struggle though as been with chronic joint inflammation that started in 4th grade. I developed tendinitis in both of my knees and elbows, multiple fingers, left wrist, and right bicep by the age of 15.
My forearms burned from what felt like constant sore muscles; my fingers felt stiff and hurt to bend, and I couldn’t lift my arm above my shoulder without a deep stabbing pain.
I am a softball catcher and struggled to play because the pain had become so intense and even hindered everyday activities like walking, going up and down stairs, and bending down.
The Road to Recovery
My doctor made the connection that what I was eating was causing the joint inflammation.
At age 15, I began to try several different elimination and restrictive diets including the GAPS Intro diet.
I saw small improvement in my acne and joint inflammation, but the pain definitely was not gone.
In April of 2013, my doctor instructed me to remove all foods with moderate to high levels of salicylates. My diet was limited to 20 foods for several months, because I still followed the GAPS protocol while removing salicylates from my diet.
It was worth it though because only a few weeks later all my pain was gone. Completely gone!
Everything from not being to use scissors to running without pain disappeared in only few weeks.
Last year was my first pain free softball season in five years.
I have huge dreams and goals for my life, dreams that wouldn’t come true if my health continued to worsen.
I made a decision that I would not let my health prevent me from living my life to the fullest and accomplishing those dreams.
I have had to make some hard choices as a teenager. I thought the biggest difference from changing my diet would be physical but instead it has been mental.
I have learned life-long lessons. I have developed perseverance, discipline, self-motivation, and responsibility. In addition, I have learned lessons such as not being concerned about what people think of me because of how I eat.
I attend a public high school, and believe me people have commented on my lunches before which is to be expected when I bring a thermos of purple cabbage, peas, and turkey mixed together.
I have learned that my true friends don’t care what I eat.
The majority of the people in my life may not be able to understand what I have and am going through but that doesn’t keep them from supporting me. The people who truly care about me just want me to be well and don’t really care that I eat differently.
Sure, there will always be someone who makes a rude or mean comment about what I am eating or how I have chosen to address my health issues, but I have learned to ignore them.
I know why I am changing my diet, that it works and this is enough for me.
A Teenager’s Perspective on Food Restrictions: A Practical Guide to Keep from Going Crazy
It is a reflection of my personal experiences and offers the advice I wish I had received before and during my diet restrictions.
It is a short book written by a teenager for other teenagers, young adults or parents.
The book covers topics such as the reality of food restrictions and why they are particularly difficult for teenagers, but also the motivation it takes to continue.
I offer advice about how to explain your diet, maintain a social life, and go to school along with other topics.
The purpose of the book is not to say how to heal but rather how you cope with food restrictions mentally in addition to offering practical advice.
Note from Jennifer: The Amazon link to Erica’s book is my affiliate link.