I have a sluggish digestive system. If you were to peek into my small intestines, they would look like the surface of sandpaper. I have tummy troubles, digestive distress and bowel back-ups. If it relates to the lower organs, I think I’ve experienced it. I went to a Naturopathic Doctor and it turns out my body doesn’t like anything I put in it. I’ve already cut out gluten and thought that eliminating it would resolve all my stomach problems. Wrong. Stomach cramps returned and it felt almost like someone was wringing my stomach out like a washcloth. Twisting and burning sensations in my lower body would occur two to three days a week. It made no sense to me and I would I yell at my guts “I’ve already stopped eating gluten for you, what more do you want from me?!” It wanted more…much more. I phoned my local naturopath clinic after thinking about it for a week and I asked to make an appointment. When asked what my concerns were, my answer was “digestive.” I had to wait a week to get in and was told my first visit would take between an hour/hour and a half. AN HOUR AND A HALF. To hear I would be spending that much time with a doctor blew my mind. I see my family doctor for a very quick 10-15 minutes max. I was excited at the opportunity to sit down with a physician and discuss my concerns without feeling rushed or bad for taking up so much time. This time was mine since I paid for it out of pocket. I had to fill out a 4-page questionnaire, which I gave to the doctor who read it over and called me in. I think she had a good idea about what was going on before I even sat down. Most of the boxes under the “digestive and stomach” section where checked. We talked for about 40 minutes followed by a physical examination. She checked my heart beat, blood pressure and she also felt my stomach, pressing all over it with her hands. She told me what she thought was wrong. I needed a diet over-hall. This meant no gluten (which I had already eliminated—half the battle complete) no dairy, no sugar, no raw foods (salads), no caffeine, no red meat, take one pro-biotic supplement every day and take three-bean fiber supplements each day with a meal. I was to stop drinking ice-cold beverages and only have room temperature water and drinks. I needed lots of warm foods in my body such as soups and stews. I return to my doctor’s office in 3 weeks’ time to discuss progress and see if my stomach has unknotted itself a bit in this time period. On my way home from the office, I stopped to pick up the essentials for the morning. Since I could no longer have milk on my cereal, I needed almond milk. I picked up rolled oats, kale, hummus and quinoa cocoa puffs to have as a snack. I figured this should do until I have time to make a meal plan. I left the doctor’s office with a sample grocery list and some meal ideas. The Dr. said that she wants to see some rotation in my diet and for me to avoid making the same meals each week; variety is the spice of life, right? I’ve already bought most of the items on the list already, which is a great start. The true battle is to cook everything from scratch so I know what’s in it. Forbidden foods on my list are ones that are appear to be readily available, like fast food. I don’t eat out often, but every now and again I want a night off, and being able to pick up a pizza is a nice luxury. Everywhere we look in our society, temptation is staring back at us. Fast food restaurants litter the city streets where I live, making it difficult to focus on the diet changes I need to make. At one point in my first week I caved and got an almond milk latte — soon a caffeine headache set in and my brain was throbbing and foggy. In this case I just reminded myself that mistakes happen. Baby steps are okay and that one-cup of coffee won’t kill me. Changing 25 years of food habits won’t not happen overnight and as long as I believe I’m making an honest effort to change my diet, I feel okay about falling off the wagon once or twice. Have you have ever considered seeing a naturopath? I encourage you to take that step. Some insurance companies cover visits, so it’s advisable to check your policy before going to see if you have some coverage available. Go into the appointment knowing that you might have to make some hard lifestyle changes. Embrace them and enjoy the good hour you get to speak with a doctor about your health. After all, your health is the most important thing you have, right?