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
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
Paleo diets have been popping up everywhere. Based on the idea that human beings could not have evolved in the 10,000 years since we were hunter-gatherers, the paleo diet (also known as the Primal or Caveman diet) advocates an eating style sans grains, dairy, and sugar. The thinking behind this diet is to eat the way humans ate before the dawn of agriculture, which advocates say was mankinds’ downturn. Crossfit gyms, athletes, and many others are finding out what this eating style can mean for their health. I believe there may be a reason for its success for some individuals, but a one-size-fits all approach might be taking it a bit too far. In my opinion, there are two flaws with the caveman diet: 1) It assumes that all human beings on earth evolved the same way, which is simply not true. And 2) Modern day hunter-gatherer societies do not eat this way. So why does the diet work?
Many claim that the Paleo diet enables a life free from inflammatory and digestive conditions as well as eliminates pain and/or more serious conditions such as cancer and heat disease. However, this may be attributed to a simple problem faced by up to 12 million Americans: Food allergies. The caveman diet eliminates two of the most common food allegens: Dairy and Gluten which could explain its success. That leaves an important question: Why do we have food allergies? Is it because we have not evolved to be able to tolerate the agricultural advancements that milking cows and milling wheat has provided to us? On the contrary, I think it is because America enabled people of every ethnicity to mingle. The famous melting-pot of America meant that people from all of the world, who were evolutionary predisposed to eat they way their ancestors had eaten for generations, were suddenly combining forces and creating a culture full of foreign foods no one had eaten before.
Until fairly recently different cultures ate one way, passed down from ancestor to ancestor. You can bet that in 1900 you wouldn’t have caught a Spaniard eating raw fish for breakfast- yet that is what those native to Japan did daily. Different customs and rituals surrounding food were largely separate for the majority of human history. Now we live in a culture of cultures. I can eat a European breakfast of radishes with butter and a baguette for breakfast, sushi for lunch, and have a Mexican feast for dinner full of corn tortillas, peppers, and tomatoes. No wonder our health has suffered!! 90% of African and Asian people are lactose-intolerant. 70% of the population in Finland are gluten-intolerant. Introducing new foods to a belly that doesn’t know how to handle them can create a digestive system that is constantly on the defense. This could be the primary reason behind food allergies and intolerances, not to mention a host of horrible diseases.
In addition, the Tarahumara people who live in cliff dwellings in Copper Canyon Mexico are modern-day hunter-gatherers and eat a diet of mostly vegan foods rich in corn and local spices. Not only are the Tarahumara healthy and thriving, they can run 60 miles a day without any problems! Maybe the one-diet-fits-all approach isn’t the right plan of attack.
Food intolerance is hereditary, which makes sense considering that you are of the same genetic makeup as your parents who evolved to be able to digest the foods common to their ancestral heritage. Knowing your genetic background could mean major differences in your health. The book “The Jungle Effect” while not specific to food allergies, gives insight to eating like your ancestors for better overall health. My heritage is mostly Northern European so I’ve been working to get more fish into my diet as well as other traditional delicacies (which explains why I can’t tolerate dairy, gluten, and eggs!). After three years of a lot of pain and suffering, I finally found answers by doing an ELISA blood panel (more info here). The blood panel can give you insight into which foods your body is rebelling against. Abstaining from those foods can bring you a whole new world of health! (It has for me!).
I don’t follow the Paleo diet, but I do abstain from eating gluten, eggs, and dairy after I received my panel results which is pretty similar. Find out what works for you, not whatever diet trend is the new thing. My motto for health remains the same: Lots of plants and water, a sprinkle of sunshine, and avoidance of your allergies!!
Talk to you soon! Good Health!!Read More
I hit a wall. But that is what lead me here, to a place where I finally have answers that will hopefully shed light on problems I’ve seen faced by sooooo many people! And there ARE answers! People with IBS, Crohn’s, Celiac, or the perpetually undiagnosed CAN find out what is ailing them and make positive changes with their life! All it takes is a little bit of info and some positive life changes!
I have struggled with digestive issues on and off for the past couple of years. When “on”, I could easily slide myself into a stress funk (which makes it even worse)! I would think, I have appendicitis! A tumor! Something had to be seriously wrong judging by the intense stomach pain I felt. Only cuddling up in bed could provide me any relief. Over time I have researched and researched and researched to try to get to the bottom of what is causing my pain. After a three year struggle to get to the bottom of it, I finally found good news. In other words, we aren’t all doomed.
What the Experts Say (and can we believe them??)
After dealing with bouts of colon pain I decided I wanted to get to the bottom of it and try to rid it once and for all. I started with a few doc visits. After a lot of money and time, here’s what they had to tell me: Doctor number 1 tested me for Celiac (negative) and said I might be lactose or gluten intolerant. Doctor number 2 laughed it off as IBS (no cure, you’ll have it till you are 50-sorry!). I went to an Ayurveda Practitioner who chalked it up to stress as well as diet factors such as not enough fiber, and too much cheese and bread (common in the west). Lastly, I saw a Clairvoyant who told me that she could see that I was holding long-term trauma in my stomach. Alrighty, soooo stress, food intolerances, diet, and a doomed future…. I’m going to need more information.
Thus began my research online. On the web, there are thousands of conflicting sites that all claim to know how to solve digestive ailments. Google IBS and you will find advocates who say a Paleo diet is the true solution, or that the Mediterranean Diet is the cure. Some say low-fat, some say high-fiber; some say good fats, high-omega 3′s, low-carb or no carb. There are “experts” who say avoid fried foods, sugar, wheat, milk, and pretty much every other food under the sun. Exercise, take supplements, probiotics, enzymes, laxatives! Drink raw milk, no milk, no dairy. No gluten or no grains period! What advice are we supposed to follow? It seems that these “experts” aren’t any more knowledgeable than the general public! If we are to follow all of the advice that’s out there we would be on a water and vegetable only diet and a heavy load of supplements that will contradict each other! (Trust me, that is not the answer).
The Good News
After 3 years of complete agony, and the millionth google search about what my symptoms could possibly mean, I stumbled upon an excellent article in Natural Health Magazine. The article talks about food sensitivities, and although I have tried to eliminate items from my diet before without success, it gave an excellent piece of advice: get tested. After the author tested his mother for food sensitivities and discovered she reacted strongly to egg, removing that element from her diet gave her a whole new life.
I started looking up different means of testing, when I found a true gem. The IBS Treatment Center in Seattle. I read every testimonial on the site and found a ton of people EXACTLY like me, with the same symptoms, the same “life threatening” feeling that I was constantly feeling!!!! Empowered, I scheduled an appointment with Dr. Wangen and flew up to Seattle to see him. After a blood and stool/DNA test, I received my results this week. Like many before me I found some answers! Food intolerances.
I cannot even describe to you the relief! Gluten, Dairy, & Eggs (“The Big Three” as they are called) are my culprit. I eat all three of these things daily! Two days ago I revamped my kitchen, planned menus and am on my way to a new life! A life where I will be able to run, do yoga, go for hikes! I can’t wait to see the results from my new diet and hope to be pain-free in no time! I will let you know my results as I hit the 1 and 2 month marks. (about how long it takes for your digestion system to repair itself after the poison’s are removed). There will be some recovery ahead, but at least there are finally answers! I hope that my answers can be of some help to others going through the pain of discovering what ails them. It is a hard process, but there ARE ANSWERS! I promise!
I would be happy to talk with anyone that finds themselves in the same scenario! Email me at email@example.com
Good Luck! and Good Health!Read More