I've been getting that question for over four years now and the answer hasn't changed a whole lot until last week (upon introduction of the Paleo Approach).
Mid-2010, after a blood test told me I was allergic to/intolerant of a whole host of foods I embarked on a new way of eating. I had been diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid condition, Hashimoto's wherein the immune system attacks the thyroid to the point it stops working properly. I had read that food allergies/intolerances* could cause that problem so I cut out all the foods I tested positive for. After several months of eating that way (about 85% of the time) and not taking my thyroid hormone, my blood work came back worse than it had ever been. I was very upset. I discounted the fact that I felt better than I had in years, and I started this yo-yo thing with my nutrition that has been the bane of my existence. I would eat "bad" food, enjoy it in the moment, feel bad a day (or three) later, resolve to be "better", start eating "well" for a while then some temptation would come along and derail me all over again.
I was caught in this cycle not only because food tastes good and I like to eat but also because I wasn't convinced this list of food was really all "bad" for me. I didn't know what they were doing to my body other than this test said they spiked an immunoglobulin (IgG*) at the time of the test. I had read a lot of research that said the kind of test I took is notoriously unreliable and would likely give different results every time. I had also read some on "leaky gut" which basically (in a very small nutshell) says that eating "bad" food causes intestinal permeability (leaky gut) which allows microscopic bits of food to enter the blood stream causing the immune system to attack. The immune system sees that thing as a threat to the body and develops antibodies to it. Autoimmune conditions develop when the system goes into over drive and/or the antibodies attack tissue in the body that looks like that attacker. (From what I have read thyroid tissue "looks" very similar to gluten to the immune system. You know that saying "they all look alike"? Well, apparently our immune "cells" can't see very well...)
Anyway...every thing I read lead me to believe that I wasn't doing myself any favors by simply replacing all cow's milk with almond milk. All I might have been doing is developing antibodies to almonds. I "knew" I needed to heal my gut, but I didn't know how. The only thing I could really find on that topic basically amounted to "doctors" trying to sell expensive services that may or may not work.
Then along came a friend who told me about the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). She was sold on the "diet" because it had helped her immensely. I wasn't sure I wanted to try another diet. What I really wanted was to go back to school to learn about the immune system so I could figure out WHY my body was attacking itself. I didn't want something that was going to "fix" it as much as I wanted to know why it happened in the first place so I could make sure it didn't happen again.
One day after another big "I-don't-care-if-it-kills-me,-I'm-going-to-eat-whatever-I-want-to" weekend (or month), I read a post on a private AIP Face Book group I'm part of that talked about this woman with Hashimoto's not taking meds and finally feeling really good because she was strictly following the AIP. I googled AIP and found this: The Paleo Mom website. I watched the video describing what's in her book The Paleo Approach and was particularly impressed with all the science in it. She wasn't just going to tell me what not to eat/what to eat, or give me recipes that were impossible for me to follow, she was going to tell me WHY I shouldn't eat certain things and WHY other things were so good for me. She was going to tell me WHY my body was attacking itself and what I could do to change that!! (EXACTLY what I wanted!)
So I ordered the book and have read about 75% of it. It reads like a very well written textbook. The Paleo Approach not a cook book...that's a companion book I also bought! We started this new way of eating Thursday.
The biggest question I get is, "what can you not eat?" Well...there's a pretty long list right now. When I start giving that list I invariably get the question, "what DO you eat". Meat and veggies....but only certain veggies. There's a good long list of veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes....too many to list out really. I also eat berries and some fruit. I don't eat ANY grains, seeds or nuts. (When I tell people this they invariably give me the "whaaaat" look...if they haven't already.)
Will this be forever? If I feel better and my body starts healing...yes, it will be. Why wouldn't it? Are Oreos really worth the price of my health and well-being? (No...the answer is no...)
Until next time...