Breakfast was the hardest thing to get used to when I first found out about my food allergies. Literally every American breakfast involves wheat, milk, or eggs. So I wanted to share some of my faves that don’t. A few of these you can make on Sunday night and will last you through the week. Click on the pic for the recipe!
Coconut Breakfast Cream with Sauteed Peaches
Berry Almond Crisp with Cardamom Custard
(Custard is actually made from rice milk. No need to add the spelt)
Peanut Butter Stuffed Apple
Almond & Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Carrot Cake Oatmeal
(no need to garnish with cream cheese, just top with walnuts and raisins)
Pumpkin Rice Pudding
(sub milk for soy or almond milk)
Sausage and Fried Apples
I know what you are thinking. You think I’m going to write to you about fiber and probiotics and drinking lots of water. Nope. That isn’t the problem. There is absolutely no reason why your body needs five tons of flax-seed to function properly. And no, you don’t just have a “sensitive” intestine tract or a misfiring colon. There are many reasons for your digestive ailments and here is where to start. This is part one if my digestive blog series focusing specifically on chronic cases. We will eventually work our way down to the every day ailments.
Let’s cut to the chase. If you have any of the following chronic or persistent challenges, you could have a food allergy:
- Digestive Disorders: Abdominal pain, constipation, Diarrhea, Gas, Heartburn, Acid Reflux, IBS, nausea, indigestion
- Emotional Imbalances: Anxiety, Depression
- Respiratory Conditions: Allergies, Asthma, Congestion, Sinusitis
- Behavioral Disorders: ADD/ADHD, Autism, Mental Fogginess
- Skin Disorders: Eczema, Psoriasis, Canker Sores
- Physical Ailments: Arthritis, Autoimmune disorders, Ear infections, Headaches & Migraines, Joint Pain
- Other: Anemia, Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Insomnia, other
Pretty comprehensive list right? That is straight from the doc that finally unraveled my gluten, dairy, and egg allergies and I just couldn’t believe it when I read it. I never realized I had food allergies until last year despite having migraines, ear infections, indigestion, and anxiety throughout my childhood (My first indicator was that I was colicky as an infant). It wasn’t until I started having intense abdominal pain that I decided to get to the bottom of it. Even then I waited until the pain was to the severity that I thought I had appendicitis.
Some people might take a look at the list and say, “Nope, not me!” but here is why food allergies are so sneaky: You may not have symptoms of food allergies until 1-3 days after eating it! AND it only requires a tiny bit. You may think that because you only drink a smidge of milk in your coffee from time to time it wouldn’t be enough to cause a problem. It is. If I had a drip of milk once, I would be in pain for 7-9 days starting 2 days after drinking the milk! Totally intense. And it’s not like milk causes one kind of reaction and wheat causes another. Milk could give you a bout of anxiety one day and major fatigue the next. This is because allergies are an immune response. Your body is trying to fight something off and is getting tired from doing it.
Why Do We Have Food Allergies?
I believe it is because of our melting pot culture. Up until 100-200 years ago, we lived in the same region that our ancestors lived in for thousands of years. Since transportation was slow and unruly, we didn’t get very far. People that grew up in Norway and Sweden ate fish and veggies. Europeans ate oils, meat, cream, and pasta. Asian countries ate raw fish, spices, rice. If every one of your ancestors ate the same way passed down through the generations, how can we expect to eat Mexican for lunch and sushi for dinner and be fine? We might not have evolved to be able to do that.
Another contributing factor I believe is overexposure. Wheat and milk are in EVERYTHING. Oh, and they just so happen to be the two post popular allergens. Imagine that. Prepackaged or processed foods mean you are getting a heavy dose of one kind of food over and over again. Take a look. I bet you anything that you eat wheat, dairy, eggs, peanuts, or soy every single day, if not every meal. Your body is going to hate you if you only give it one thing over and over again – that’s how an allergy develops! We didn’t used to eat this way. 100-200 years ago we ate what was fresh in the market and cooked everything from scratch. Variety was the spice of life and we rarely cooked the same thing twice. When I spent a semester in Paris my host mom made a different meal every night for four months. I don’t just mean a different meal, I mean sometimes there were organ meats, hoofs, or what looked like an entire parrot sitting on the table. A bit extreme, but you get my point.
Get Results, Get Tested
If one of the ailments I mentioned above is already plaguing you to the extreme, get tested. I went to the IBS Treatment Center in Seattle and got squared away. It was totally worth it. One piece of advice: If you aren’t willing to change your lifestyle for the sake of your health, there is no point in spending the money (or reading this blog), you will just have to live with your ailments for the rest of your life.
DIY: Elimination Diet
If you have some time to try to figure it out, try an elimination diet. Be warned: It took me 6 months of not eating my allergens before I started feeling great and it definitely got way worse before getting better. So if you decide to go with the elimination diet, the only way it will work is if you be hardcore about it and commit. Some of you may feel better immediately, and some won’t for months, the only way to really truly know without spending the big bucks is to buckle down.
Alright, here is the drill: You need to cut out ALL of the following for two months:
- Gluten (wheat, barley, rye). Yes this includes beer.
- Dairy (Milk, butter, cream, yogurt, etc)
To be successful at this, your best bet is to cook from scratch, not go out to eat, and maybe know someone else who will do it with you. If anything says “natural flavor” avoid it. Beware of things like chapstick and licking envelopes. This is way hard and if you ever cheat because you are on vacation or something looks yummy, you will never know and might as well just get tested. You might cry at Whole Foods. Its ok. If you need help with recipes- look at my recipe collection on Pinterest.
If your symptoms have left the building after two months- YAY!! You know you have a food allergy. Now start finding out which one it is: Eat gluten one day and wait a week to see if your symptoms come back. If they do, you know what one of your allergens is, continue to avoid it. If they don’t, add it back into your diet if you would like to. Repeat for dairy, eggs, and so on. Just remember to try them one at a time since you may be suffering from multiple.
If you don’t get better you might have some obscure allergies (hint, it is usually the thing you eat the most of!). I am also allergic to cranberries, cashews, and beans which I never would have discovered on an elimination diet. At this point you have two options:You can go full on Paleo (which eliminates most of the other allergens) or you can get tested.
Regardless of which path you choose, you are making a step towards recovery and that is an important accomplishment. There are many people in this world who would rather keel over on the sidewalk rather than avoid cheese. Health is up to you and you should be stoked that you are on your way! Let me know how your journeys are going!
Talk to you soon!Read More
We all have our addictions
We drink coffee to wake ourselves up, have a piece of chocolate to fend off the 3pm blues, savor a glass of wine at the end of the day to unwind, and maybe we buy oursleves something pretty for a pick-me-up from time-to-time. Ok so maybe we don’t do ALL of these things everyday, but the point is that we rely on our vices. My husband Garret has an on/off relationship with his one vice per day rule- as in if he has coffee in the morning, no wine with supper. I think that rule is generally a good rule of thumb depending on the circumstances, but everyone’s body is different so a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t the way to go here.
We can all agree that coffee, chocolate, & wine all have loads of benefits
They are all major sources of antioxidants, can amp you up for a workout, calm your nerves, and provide a moment of comfort. The list can go on and on. If you are experiencing nothing but positive results, keep it up! Your body is loving it! However if any of the below side effects hit close to home it might be time to re-asses. For example, my eye was twitching uncontrollably for about a month until I realized it was time to cut back on caffeine! (That’s not pretty!)
Here is the rundown (alphabetically):
- Anxiety: Caffeine can give you more than just the jitters. If you are experiencing anxiety, herbal teas might be better suited for you than coffee (especially camomile! Super soothing!). I still see no problem with wine though. Its a good way to relax those nerves and unwind your day.
- Insomnia: Once again this is where caffeine can be hurting you regardless of what time you are drinking it (or eating it if your addiction is laced with chocolate!). Cut back on all caffeine or energy sources (red bull, 5-hour energy, etc).
- Digestive trouble: Too Slow: Coffee is a natural stimulant and helps get things moving along in a pinch. The more you drink coffee though the more your body requires it (just like a stimulant laxative). FORTUNATELY coffee is WAY easier to get off of than laxatives (see below). If your constipation is chronic- you might be allergic to something your are eating. Get tested. Too Fast: Try laying off ALL of these things! If you have diarrhea that is more than just occasional, you could be allergic to something you are eating. Get tested.
- Low Energy: Ditch sugar and coffee- they are making you lethargic! Your body is constantly adjusting to stimulants and leaves you exhausted once you crash. Give yourself some slack on the alcohol too. Pretty much all of these stimulants can leave you low on fuel.
- Eye twitches, muscle spasms: Definitely could be caffeine. And stress too. Time for some relaxation!
- Heart palpitations, flutters, skipping a beat, racing heart: All of these are insanely influenced by caffeine. If you find that your heart is flip flopping around lately, laying off the stimulants could be all it takes to get you back in gear.
- Hormonal changes such as getting off the birth control pill or menopause: Ditch sugar! It major messes with your hormones and can aid the constant ups and downs that you might be experiencing.
There is no need to deprive yourself of something that you love. But here is how to cut back:
It’s super tricky to lay off a vice since there is probably a reason you are using it in the first place. A good tip I took from “French Women Don’t Get Fat” is the principle of moderation. Personally, I drink herbal tea on the weekdays, and treat myself to an espresso on Saturdays and Sundays. I drink wine with dinner probably 3-5 nights a week. And I only eat sugar when its that time of the month. This loose plan means that I enjoy everything I want to without depending on it.
How to cut back on coffee…
- …and still not be tired: You will be tired when you are first getting off, but withdrawals are short lived. Pick a weekend when you don’t have a lot going on and stop drinking coffee cold turkey. You’ll get your energy back in under a week in most cases.
- …and keep things moving: Start out by drinking your normal cup of coffee in the morning. After dinner put 3-5 prunes in a pot and cover with water. Boil down until the prunes are plump and the water is a murky purple. This is called stewed prunes and it makes a yummy dessert! Once you have this basic recipe down, start playing with it! It is super delicious when boiled along with berries or apricots. And top with honey or cinnamon if you’d like! Sub your coffee for decaf and keep adding more and more prunes (up to about 7) to your dessert. Just make sure you set aside some time to relax, especially at the beginning. Keep in mind that it takes a little bit of time for your body to adjust- but it will!
- …and still have a morning routine: Replace it with herbal tea or decaf coffee. Try swapping out your coffee with decaf or herbal tea. If neither of those things interest you in the morning- try choffee- a new chocolate based morning drink without the buzz-its actually really good!
How to cut back on sugar: If you have a premonition that you may have a sugar addition, you could be right. There have been SEVERAL studies showing that addiction to sugar can be absurdly similar to nicotine. Your body is depending on the rush and crash just as with cigarettes. Removing it cold turkey is painful and not sustainable in the long run. Just as with cigarettes you need to cut back slowly. Save sweets for a weekend or have only one square of chocolate after lunch. If you put sugar in your coffee, slowly remove little by little each day until it tastes good black. If you have a major craving- allow yourself a small treat- like one Hershey’s kiss. That way you won’t feel deprived later and allow yourself to binge on a box of cookies for dinner (no one feels good about that!). Think of this stage as the nicorette gum- you are giving yourself less and less of a dose so you don’t crash as hard and can keep cravings from taking over.
How to cut back on alcohol: If you are out with friends, try my trick: I get one glass of wine that I drink sooooo slowly over the course of the evening so it lasts me all night! Or try drinking sparkling water with dinner if you are looking for something with more integrity then plain water. Or put some cucumbers and mint in your water! If you go out for drinks with your friends every night and are looking to cut back- order some bubbly water with lime so you still feel like part of the party!
Hope this helps!! Let me know if you have anything to add!Read More
Good morning! It’s such a beautiful day! It has officially been 8 months since my diagnosis of gluten, dairy, and egg sensitivities. Since then I have created an entirely new diet for myself from scratch and embraced myself for all the hardship that brings. It was hard for a while, and yet it occurred to me when I was walking to lunch with my girls this week that I have completely forgotten about how that walk used to torture me! I used to walk in horrific, silent pain every day and was happy to arrive back at my desk so I could rest and my pain would subside for a brief minute. Now that seems like a distant memory! Once I started thinking about it I realized that I haven’t felt even a stitch of pain in a whole month! Wow! How my life has changed! It’s funny how I had completely forgotten my pain!
Since then I have met many people who give the customary head tilt and sympathetic “awwwww” when I have to explain that I have food allergies. “You can’t eat cheese or butter? That’s horrible! You are allergic to everything!” So bizarre that I used to think the same thing! Cheese was my absolute favorite! But I don’t deserve that sympathy now because this is the happiest I have been in an eternity! My life changed without me even realizing it! And it really has! I could not be more grateful for my life than at this exact moment. I can honestly say that cheese doesn’t even sound good to me anymore. Amazing!
Let them eat cake!
And! I’ve even discovered that I can have birthday cake next year (if I ever crave it again that is!). Thanks to one of my fave celebs (who also happens to have the exact same food allergies as me) Zooey Deschanel, I have found Baby Cakes. Baby Cakes has gluten-free/vegan and sugar free cupcakes and cake at their NYC and LA bakeries. And they deliver all over! SCORE! And look how pretty they are (see picture above)!
So many awesome joys to this new life without pain! Hope that your journeys are going well too! It seems that food allergies have become pretty rampant these days! Good health to you all!Read More
Good Morning! 5-Months ago I received test results proving that I have food sensitivities to Gluten, Dairy, and Eggs. I told you I would update you about my progress so here I am!
A picture tells a thousand words: Here are my before and after pictures:
- Day 1: Found out about my food sensitivities and was advised to no longer eat them. I had to stop eating all gluten, dairy, and eggs. This includes items that say “Manufactured in a facility that contains…”
- Day 2: Relieved to have an answer! Cleaned out my cupboards with resolve!
- Week 2: Crazy frustrated can’t find anything to eat anywhere. Whole Foods is my new best friend. In a ton of pain. Can’t even walk more than to the water cooler without feeling like I’m going to need to be rushed to the hospital any second.
- Month 1: In sooo much pain! Maybe it IS appendicitis after all! Called Dr. Wangen. He said that this is very common and it gets worse before it gets better. I have to go through “withdrawl” symptoms before my body can heal. Hang in there! Discovered that birth control pills have milk in them. (see Tired of Birth Control Pills?) Ugh… Stopped taking them immediately!
- Month 2: Still in a lot of pain. Isn’t it supposed to be better now? I’m totally burnt out on cooking since I can’t eat out anymore and my kitchen is a disaster from all the cooking. I’m feeling a bit depressed that it will be impossible for me to ever travel or even visit my parents without doing tons of prep and bringing coolers with me. Ugh…I also discovered that the “bulk” food-bins at whole foods could have come into contact with my contaminants at and stage. They also don’t clean the scoops before putting them in other bins. No more bulk goods for me!
- Month 3: I see a small, dim light at the end of a long and winding tunnel. I still have pain, but it isn’t as severe as it used to be. I have one to two days per week when I feel only minor pain- the rest are still painful. I’ve been able to start exercising again though! Could it be working? I also discovered that a lot of my chapsticks/lipsticks may have gluten or dairy in them and that I should avoid licking envelopes. Also can’t eat anything that says “natural flavor. What is with all the hidden ingredients?? The list continues….
- Month 4: It’s working! I can sometimes be pain-free for a week at a time! I’ve also discovered that I can always order a steak and baked potato loaded with veggies and olive oil at a restaurant so I’m not completely confined to my home cooking. At this rate, I’m already starting to feel hope for the future of my health and happiness! I did watch Garret eat a pizza one night though and drooled with envy.
Month 5: I feel completely transformed and know that it will only get better from here. I have tons of energy and am starting to plan trips, runs, and ramping up my yoga with new-found fervor! I ran a 12k without any pain. Not only that, but I CAN eat out! And thanks to my local grocery store (The Good Earth) I can stop by the prepared foods section on my way home and pick up comfort food that I can eat. They even have gluten-free/dairy-free pizza loaded with veggies (and its GOOD). I still have pain from time to time but I can tell it’s when something might be slightly out of wack (as in I order something iffy at a restaurant or they don’t know what they are doing). Even then though- the pain is only SUPER minor and only lasts for a day! AWESOME!
I now feel complete confidence and through pinterest have discovered amazing meals that I can make. I used to feel uncomfortable making requests to friends or waiters and so I would go to my friend’s house for dinner but not eat anything until I got home. That is NOT fun. Now I let friends know upfront and I’ve found that they actually prefer to make something that suits you rather than have you drink wine all night. I don’t feel restricted at all. I also don’t pack my food anymore since I now realize I can eat at almost any restaurant, I just have to know what to order.
Here are some tricks I learned:
- Make reservations on Open Table! This is one of the best discoveries I have made! When my husband and I want to go out, I make a reservation through opentable.com which allows you to include a note. I include specific instructions on what I can’t eat. So far I have been completely impressed. Since the restaurant gets to know before hand- they have time to prepare. I have even had chefs bring me a completely personalized menu or plan my meal in advance so that I can still eat something exquisite. Sometimes they circle everything on a menu that I can eat. So helpful!! I love it! Open table also lets you leave a thank you note online so if they did a good job, I always express my thanks for making my evening stress free!
- Almost any burger joint will put your burger between lettuce instead of buns (and they almost always cook in oil and not butter- but you can always check).
- Steak is always a good goto if the menu is mostly contaminants. Just make sure it’s cooked in oil. Not with butter.
- I follow Paleo and Gluten Free boards on Pinterest when I need some more cooking options. Don’t want to get in a rut!
- Saveur Magazine features food from around the world that I have found are mostly fine to eat (or require only minor substitutions)
- Almost all chips and guacamole at happy hours are fine as long as they use corn chips.
- Don’t ever order fried food since the vats most likely touch other items. But you can make french fries, tater tots, and other goodies at home in the oven!
- Chipotle is an awesome goto for roadtrips! They post all their allergen info!
- When I ever do crave something from my past (like French Dip Sandwiches) I can order bread from Mariposa Bakery and they deliver to my house. And the bread is good! (and its gluten, dairy, and egg free!)
- Say you are allergic to wheat. Don’t say that you are gluten-free. Sometimes waiter’s don’t take that seriously. They think you are saying you are just on a diet.
I’ll keep you posted with more about my journey as I go!!! Have a good week!Read More