Ogden woman cures pain with whole foods

Tuesday , July 22, 2014 - 12:00 AM

Standard-Examiner correspondent

OGDEN -- For years, April Maw has suffered from severe headaches, stomach problems and pain in her shoulder.

Multiple visits to doctors and physical therapy did little to find a cause or alleviate her pain.

Then she tried a new diet and her pain went away.

During a 30 day period, the 33 year-old mother of four started eliminating certain foods from her diet, including sugar, soda, processed foods, legumes and dairy. It was extremely difficult, she said, but at the end of those 30 days, she felt better than she had in years.

"I have suffered with headaches, mostly hormonal, since my early 20s. I tend to have them for about two weeks each month and most days I can deal with them but there are days that a full on migraine occurs and its hard to function sometimes," Maw said. "But as a mom you do what you have to do."

Maw said she also suffers from horrible shoulder pain and stomach problems.

"I am not quite sure how or when the shoulder pain started, but I think it was about four years ago when my son Finn was born," she said. "He was a big baby and carrying him around in the car seat is maybe what caused it but I'm not sure. We even traded our Expedition for a Van so that I wouldn't have to lift him so high into the car."

Maw had been following a few people on Instagram who were doing a diet called the Whole30 food plan. It includes eliminating certain foods it claims causes inflammation in the body as well as weight gain. The foods include dairy, sugar, legumes, grains, alcohol and anything processed. Maw said she wanted to try it but was afraid.

"I love dairy and going 30 days without it seemed impossible," she said. "Until I did this program I did not realize that sugar was in everything. It actually made me mad when I was trying to find a salad dressing or even bacon. It's in everything in some form or another, so that made me realize that I had never really gone without sugar before because I had still eaten condiments or meats."

Debbie Williams, co-owner of Timeless Medical Spa and Weight Loss in South Ogden said sugar is added to many foods to make it taste better.

"In the 1970s the American Heart Association came out and said fat is bad and everyone went on [a] fat free frenzy," she said. "Well, fat provides texture and taste and without it people were getting bland food so the industry had to come up with a way to make it taste better, so they added sugar and high fructose corn syrup."

Those additives didn't help much in the way of weight loss, Williams said. In addition, she said, anytime you have fat in your system you are emitting over 100 harmful biochemical's into your body.

"They are surrounding and affecting every aspect of your body. Your joints, organs, muscles," She said. "And they can absolutely cause pain and inflammation. Sugar especially can cause insulin levels to surge. If you have high insulin it can trigger an inflammatory response."

Maw said she decided to stick with the diet and was more determined than ever to weed out all of the suggested inflammatory foods.

"I finally became so sick of feeling sick and having pain, I mean come on I'm 33 years old," she said.

Maw slowly began stripping the suggested foods from her diet and kept it up for 30 days.

"The first few days on the program were hard and no fun. I consider myself pretty healthy when it comes to food so I didn't think the transition would be that bad, but I had killer headaches and pains for the first three to four days on the program, almost flu-ish," Maw said. "By day 5-7 I was starting to feel really good. By the end of the 30 days, which I thought I would never be able to do, I felt amazing. I had not had one headache. The shoulder pain was gone, and I had not had any stomach symptoms at all. I was amazed."

As a bonus, Maw said she lost weight and her skin and nails were even healthier. She also had more energy.

"I had so much energy and was happy I never had the 3:00 slump and slept so good," she said. "I would hit the pillow and was out, where before it would take me an hour or more to go to sleep. The changes were amazing."

Then came the reintroduction phase where you add each food group back into your diet one at a time and wait to see what happens.

"I was a little hesitant to add the foods back in because I felt so good but was curious how my body would react and knew the whole30 lifestyle was a hard one to live forever," Maw said. "I choose to add dairy in first. I had a Greek, no added sugar yogurt and later that day had a string cheese."

By the end of the night Maw said she felt awful. She had horrible stomach pains and was very tired. The more dairy she added, the worse she felt. Eventually all of the foods had been reintroduced into her diet.

The pain came back with a vengeance.

"My shoulder pain was back and probably the worst its ever been. I have no idea if I was just having my usual flare up or if it was really something to do with the diet. But either way it's not been fun," she said. "I keep telling myself its time to go back on whole30 again but its been a crazy couple of weeks. I am trying to eat as healthy as possible but I've had sugar and grains and even dairy. I realized that I am not allergic to dairy like I thought I was but after not having it for 30 days and then all of a sudden adding it back in, my body was reacting."

Maw said she truly believes after eating healthier for 30 days, that the body wants to eat healthy, natural foods. She said the body isn't meant to eat all of the food offered in society.

"I think on occasion its OK to have these foods and it's really hard to avoid these days but I know my body loved eating healthy," she said. "I loved how I felt and I loved the changes I saw. I do believe that the foods I avoided caused inflammation. I have seen and felt the changes."

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