Health Update: Cutting Out Dairy & Inflammation

As we get closer to my Approachable Outdoors Summer Fundraiser (hope to see you there!) it has me thinking about my last fundraiser, in the fall of 2022. It was such a fun time and we made a huge community impact, but it was also the time I saw a huge shift in my health.

Admittedly, I took on a bit too much. Approachable Outdoors is this wonderful side project, but it’s something I do on top of my full-time (somewhat demanding) job. When I was looking at the fundraiser I wanted to triple my merch sales and do an in-person event – it was all awesome! We sold-out the fundraiser and merch, I had so much fun meeting viewers and fellow hikers and most importantly I got to deliver a check to help Colorado families. 

What most people don’t know is that at the same time I had a major stressor in my professional life. The situation spiked my anxiety to its highest level in years and made going to work most days unbearable. Because of this, I started job-hunting. So in the course of three months I was working full-time with a 3am wake-up, executing a fundraiser, coordinating and shipping merch and applying/interviewing for jobs. 

I remember leading up to the fundraiser I was extra tired, which made sense. But I also noticed I was getting an incredibly bloated, distended stomach. Afterwards I was sleeping like I’d never slept before – I’d come home for work and nap all afternoon, wake up for a bit then go back to bed. In early 2023 I made a doctor’s appointment to get my bloodwork done – which came back normal. My doctor, who I love, said it sounded like inflammation and that something I was eating was likely causing a lot of the problems. He recommended a book, the Inflammation Spectrum

I was shocked when reading that I had almost all of the symptoms – most of which I’d dismissed because I wake up at 3am every day.

Symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Upset stomach
  • Distended stomach/bloating

The book suggests a very strict elimination diet which seemed incredibly daunting. After talking to my mom and learning I was lactose intolerant as a kid, I started with dairy and eggs (devastated for someone who was known for her epic cheese boards.) Almost immediately I started noticing my energy levels were higher, my stomach wasn’t as bloated and I was feeling better. But it wasn’t a quick or perfect fix. I could go weeks without problems, then it would flare up again. I couldn’t keep track of which foods had upset me because it felt so random. By the fall of 2023 it felt like everything I ate was upsetting me. It was frustrating because while I was trying to figure out why I felt sick constantly, I also work on tv: emails from strangers were coming in asking if I was pregnant or calling me fat. I desperately wanted to be able to figure out what was going on with my health without the opinion of people who had no idea what was going on. I wasn’t lazy, I worked out almost every day, ate healthy – something wasn’t quite right with my health.

Huge shout out to everyone who didn’t email me asking if I was pregant. Here’s your friendly reminder to never do that.

In November I ordered a food sensitivity test to see if there were other triggers. A whole slew of foods came back and I decided for a month I’d cut all of them out. After a few weeks I feel like my digestive system calmed down. I also focused on low fodmap foods to reduce inflammation in general. 

Thankfully the last few months have finally been consistently a lot better. I feel like a lot of the inflammation I had been dealing with for a year has improved – I can see it in my face, my neck especially. Honestly right now I’m basking in not feeling sick and focusing on eating as clean as I can. I don’t think this journey is done by any means, but right now it just feels good to not feel sick every day. 

I also want to acknowledge, this “feeling sick” was uncomfortable, slightly painful and frustrating – but by no means on the level of what so many people truly experience as chronically ill. 

I’m sharing this because as I started sharing a little about my experience, I realized I was definitely not alone. So many friends and family members can’t eat dairy or gluten – it’s not being picky, it’s what works best for their bodies. This is in absolutely no way medical advice, but if you’re feeling frustrated and looking for answers – you’re not alone. Talk to your doctor, read books and don’t be afraid of the elimination diets (it’s amazing how creative you can get with recipes.) 

Obviously if you watch Fox31 you know I didn’t leave my job. After a major improvement early last year things at work have been great. It was a fun couple of years and I just signed on to stay in this position for another year. 

Planning this fundraiser I’m prioritizing keeping the stress down. I do believe that the combo of extreme stress and anxiety I felt in the fall of 2022 led to these health problems. Stress can do crazy things to a body and it’s never worth it. This time around I’m approaching the fundraiser differently – stressing and panicking about if people are going to show up isn’t helpful. No matter the size – we’re going to make an impact and raise money and awareness for children’s cancer research with the Morgan Adam’s Foundation. 

As far as food goes, I’m more careful about where I buy my produce, trying to seek out local farmers. I also try to grow as much as I can at home in my garden. Thankfully in Denver we have an incredible restaurant community that already sources locally and with the best ingredients. This last year and a half was incredibly frustrating, but also super educational. 

A few favorite resources for locally sourced food:

Farmers markets – Thank goodness it’s almost farmer’s market season! This year I’m prioritizing getting my produce for the week at farmer’s markets and supporting local farmers. I love being able to talk to the people I’m getting my food from.

Spade & Spoon – This is a meal delivery kit but it’s all local, fresh produce and meat. Each box is delivered to your door with just enough ingredients for your meal (cuts way down on waste!) Plus, they always tell you the farms everything is coming from. My only qualm is they only deliver on Wednesdays – when I tend to cook at home earlier in the week. Highly recommend!

Nude Foods Market – In Boulder & Denver Nude Foods (awesome name) sells everything in glass containers (yay, sustainability!) but also source just about everything locally. The people who work there are super knowledgeable about where the food is coming from and loves to chat about it! 

Have any other favorites? Let me know in the comments so I can share!

Kylie Bearse

Kylie Bearse

When I’m not exploring the trails, I’m a Meteorologist! You can see me every weekday morning on Fox31 KDVR from 4:30-10am! Have a weather question? Don’t hesitate to ask!

Kylie Bearse

Kylie Bearse

When I’m not exploring the trails, I’m a Meteorologist! You can see me every weekday morning on Fox31 KDVR from 4:30-10am! Have a weather question? Don’t hesitate to ask!

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Kylie Bearse

Kylie Bearse

When I’m not exploring the trails, I’m a Meteorologist! You can see me every weekday morning on Fox31 KDVR from 4:30-10am! Have a weather question? Don’t hesitate to ask!

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