Monday, April 8, 2013

Food Intolerance and a Glimpse of My Future...

I am four weeks into this experiment of no wheat (gluten) and no dairy (lactose). The changes were immediately noticeable. The puffiness of my face and hands is gone, I have lost almost 10 lbs., the headaches are gone, my mind is not clouded and I can think more clearly, I have more energy, and most importantly, I have less general pain. The future is looking good!

If you are saying at this point that you would never be able to give up bread or ice cream, believe me, I have said this too, fought against it for years, and finally decided it is not worth the hassle. When I have even a little dairy or wheat, it causes what is probably best described as spasms in my legs, arms and back. It wakes me up at night, and bothers me all day. It makes me weak, it irritates my feet and makes me off balance, and to put it nicely: cranky. There is sensitivity to light and sound, with headaches and at the very worst of it, it causes pain to wear clothing or shoes. Also, at this point, I should say that I did not make the connection until this month: some food = pain. I never talked about it with people, but I am wondering how many suffer unnecessarily with this? My doctor has been an amazingly patient with me and after systematically going through all of the tests and options, suggested just cutting out lactose, but I already knew that wheat bothered me, so I cut that out too. I would suggest that if you have trouble that can't be explained - talk with your doctor about cutting out gluten and lactose and just give it a try.

With the numerous products that are just as delicious as wheat and milk – for instance coconut or rice milk, buckwheat flour, rice crackers, hummus, goat cheeses, fruit, greens, vegetables, meats, etc.  I don’t feel deprived, I feel empowered that I can live a different life, and it is based on my decisions. I can educate myself and choose combinations of food and drink and test them to see if they work as fuel and have no negative side effects. I can also go out and have a couple of drinks and be sure that there will be no negative reaction.

Here are some guidelines I set for myself - these aren’t rules, and except for the first one, I will change them as needed:

Change my relationship with food: Food is fuel, I need fuel to live. If something isn’t going to be useful fuel, I’m not going to consume it. This is really all that matters. It may take a little more effort to prepare or think through a menu, but food intolerances and everything that goes with it is not going to define who I am, food is not a reward for some behavior, food is not the only way to enjoy spending time with people and it can be adapted for special meals and holidays. Food is not an escape from my problems.

With few exceptions, I will not be eating out. I’m giving this at least 6 months because I had lunch out Friday and was sick all weekend again with pain and headaches. I’m tired of wasting my time like that, in bed with a migraine. Not the quality of life I’m looking for, especially when I have seen the difference of having no headaches and less pain.

Packaged food is not an option. For the most part there are too many additives and coloring in packaged food anyway, and very few are without corn syrup, soy, gluten, or lactose.

Eat as much local and fresh food as possible. I’m not doing the raw food thing, and I will never be a vegetarian. I am unapologetic about my love of lamb and bacon. I have noticed that I feel better eating fresh food that is as close to its original form as possible. I can’t wait to start growing greens and veggies and am looking into a way to grow arugula and lettuce year round indoors. We are changing our shopping to be sure all of our meat and eggs are locally raised and purchased from the Mass Local Food Coop

Smaller portions and more variety:  I have never really had an “allergy” to anything – just sensitivities. That’s what puts me out of commission for days. I’ve had every test: celiac, lupus, etc. etc. and everything is negative. I have Fibromyalgia, I’ve had vitamin deficiency tests and my Vitamin D level is now up to normal. “Nothing” is ever wrong with me, so why do I never feel well and am sick every time I eat? So, to prevent myself from developing reactions to food, I have very small portions of a variety of things – spread out in smaller meals/snacks every couple of hours during the day, and then have a regular (but much smaller portion) of dinner with my family at night.

This is what my day looks like:

     6:00        Juice, vitamins, 1 coffee, and an egg (protein is crucial for my morning)
     9:00        coffee, diced fruit (variety of apple, pear, blueberry) and 1-2 Tablespoons of goat cheese. I never knew there were delicious goat cheeses like salt and pepper or orange-cranberry. I use the peppery one for savory (vegetables and salads) and orange-cranberry with fruit.
   11:00       rice crackers and hummus – vegetables and hummus
   12:30       vegetables roasted or steamed with ½ cup rice or sweet/red potato, salad with fruit, seeds, veggies, or leftovers of dinners, but two days after, not the next day. It seems that if I have leftovers the next day of something  that doesn’t bother me, it is too much, so I skip a day  or two.
     3:00       2 rice cakes with fruit spread (whole fruit/no sugar or corn syrup) and Tea
     6:00       Dinner is stir-fry, stew, curry, salad. We do a lot of stir-fry and stew substituting potato flakes for thickening and balsamic and spices for soy sauce. Of course, my favorite food is lamb Rogan Josh and that still stands as a great choice, as well as other curries. We cook turkey, chicken, lamb, beef, but use meat as a smaller part of the dish and vegetables as primary part. 
                   With dinner or in the evening, a glass of wine or port.

I am looking forward to trying more baking with buckwheat - with coconut as my go to for milk. Also, I found a pizza dough recipe and can imagine a delicious pizza crust with sauce, veggies and goat cheese. Although tomato may be a once a week thing for awhile…I’m still working on this one.

It takes a little imagination and a lot of patience, but it’s so worth the quality of life that I can have in exchange for a little work.

1 comment:

  1. These are my favorite crackers.
    They are so so yummy. It looks like the toasted sesame is lactose free too.

    And I looooooooooooooooove goat cheese. :) Goat cheese + rice crackers = in my tummy. :)