“I noticed little things within the first few weeks after starting a paleo diet. My head seemed more clear. I was less lightheaded/dizzy. My energy got better.”
– Jennifer Robins
For years, Jennifer had treated her Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune thyroid condition. And with medication and a gluten-free diet, she seemed to have it well-controlled.
But after the birth of her third child, her health crashed. Given her history with Hashimoto’s disease, she blamed hormones.
Jennifer experienced neurological symptoms like brain fog and dizziness, along with migraines, severe fatigue and low energy.
“I couldn’t socialize or make plans or even leave the house quite frequently,” she says. “I was unable to drive often or go into stores.”
With three young children, she had to get her life back.
Antibiotics: Not the Answer for Her Lyme Disease
Searching for answers, she consulted conventional doctors, as well as energy workers and acupuncturists. She underwent a slew of tests, including MRI scans and bloodwork.
In response, she received at least 20 different diagnoses, including Lyme disease, chronic viruses, nutritional deficiencies and the MTHFR gene. The genetic variant causes a key enzyme in the body to function at a lower rate than normal and can be associated with a number of health issues.
With more insight into her health, Jennifer began addressing each challenge. That included taking five antibiotics for Lyme disease – at once.
But her condition quickly worsened. She thought she was having a Herxheimer reaction, or temporary worsening of her condition due to detoxing.
“I became more toxic even though I was detoxing and doing everything I was told to do when taking antibiotics,” she says. “I called it a Herxheimer, but I was just poisoning myself.”
She chose to stop the antibiotics, and her lab work backed her up. It showed high viral activity – not bacterial – which antibiotics don’t target.
“I’m not saying antibiotics don’t help,” she clarifies. “But for me, it was not the answer.”
The Game-Changer: A Paleo Diet
Mainstream medicine, thus far, had not helped Jennifer feel any better. Researching natural approaches, she learned that many had found relief with an anti-inflammatory paleo diet.
Jennifer was already gluten-free. A paleo approach would take her diet to another level by eliminating grains, dairy, refined sugars and processed foods.
“Before, I would eat gluten-free cookies or pizza, which was not nutritious,” she says. “It was just gluten-free.”
But one significant obstacle stood in her way. Learning how to cook more nutritious meals – even when she didn’t feel well.
“I didn’t really cook from scratch at ALL back then,” she explains. “I needed to learn some pretty fundamental things about preparing meals that didn’t start in boxes.”
With daily practice, her cooking improved dramatically. And seeing results kept her going.
“I noticed little things within the first few weeks after starting a paleo diet,” she says. “My head seemed more clear. I was less lightheaded/dizzy. My energy got better.”
With continued dedication to the diet, she felt better and better.
A Whole-Body Approach to Getting Better
At the same time, she added supplements to address nutritional deficiencies, to detox, and to help her body work more effectively. She takes a natural supplement for her thyroid, Armour, and occasionally a prescription medication to help control chronic viruses (Valtrex).
Mostly, it was trial and error.
For Lyme disease, she switched from antibiotics to herbs. But in general, she saw a bigger impact by addressing her overall health versus Lyme specifically.
“I do not focus on Lyme at this time,” she says. “I believe a lot of people who have been exposed to, or already are infected with Lyme, are asymptomatic, so for me focusing on general health has been key.”
In particular, she addressed her gut health, where a large part of the immune system resides.
“You can throw all the supplements and antibiotics at the problem, but they won’t have an influence in your gut if you’re eating the Standard American Diet,” she says.
Just as critical, Jennifer shifted her mindset to ensure that stress wasn’t bringing down her health. She started meditating and adding more activities that picked up her mood, whether reading or watching a funny movie.
“Stress management is KEY in healing, and for me personally, being a military spouse and mom of three, is the hardest,” she says. “Working on stress and fear have been instrumental in changing my perspective around healing.”
Likewise, believing she would get better, along with taking proactive steps, were critical.
The Winding Journey Back to Health
Jennifer’s path to healing hasn’t been linear. Mold exposure in a former house set her health back, requiring significant detox measures. Taking Takesumi Supreme, she says, was instrumental.
She also consciously pays attention to her energy levels.
“I still have to protect my energy and do have dips where I require more rest and downtime,” she says. “Fortunately, I am able to participate much more in my life than I once did, even if I have to take breaks to convalesce.”
Today, Jennifer has the energy to keep up with her three spirited children and run a thriving business. She started a food and wellness blog called Predominantly Paleo, which is packed with insights and nutritious recipes.
She’s come a long way from those early days of learning to cook, and has since authored FIVE paleo cookbooks. Jennifer also started a paleo products company called Legit Bread, which offers pre-made paleo mixes with simple ingredients for bread, pancakes and bagels.
As she inspires others to heal naturally, Jennifer stresses that it can’t happen without taking control of your own health.
“To heal, it’s important to make the shift from being a victim to being proactive in your own healing,” she says. “A big part of healing is shifting your mindset. And food is 100 percent necessary to make that change.”
Jennifer’s Tips for Starting a Paleo Diet
Switching from a standard diet or gluten-free diet to paleo can be a big leap. Here are Jennifer’s tips for making it easier:
- Ease in: Don’t try to switch everything at once, which often leads to frustration.
- Give up your BIG trigger foods first. For many, this means gluten, dairy and sugar.
- Find ways to enjoy some of your favorite foods, but reinvented with better ingredients. There is no shortage of creative versions of foods like pizza, cookies, and other comfort foods online. “I think incorporating them helps prevent us from feeling like healthy eating is punishment,” she says.
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