Foodie Firsts: Trying To Catch a Curveball

wooden spoons-001Foodie Firsts is a Move Eat Create weekly feature focusing on my adventures in the world of food.  Over the course of a few short years, I have transformed from a picky, fearful eater to a curious and open-minded foodie.  In a commitment to continue to expand my culinary experiences, I have started Foodie Firsts.  Each week I will commit to trying something new and sharing that experience with you.  My endeavors may include experimenting with cooking techniques I’ve never tried before, testing a single new ingredient, or drawing upon my creativity to combine foods in ways I never imagined.  Whatever it is, I will eat (or maybe drink) it and share it all with you.  You can decide for yourself whether you, too, would like to try.  Let’s be bold and eat good food!

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I had a whole Foodie First column planned for today.  I also had a post about creativity and confidence planned for earlier this week.  Neither has happened as planned and I want to explain why.

Life threw me a curveball this week.  A super curvy-curveball that I’ve been fumbling around trying to manage (yes, I did just mix those sports metaphors).  For the past couple of years, I have experienced a variety of health problems that, while not dire or life-threatening, have been persistent, problematic, and caused quite a bit of pain and discomfort.  I’ve gone through a series of frustrating tests and medical consultations without any answers or much concern given by the professionals I’ve seen.  I sought out a new doctor recently (a doctor of Naturopathic medicine) and am starting to get some answers.  They just weren’t the ones I was expecting.

I thought I had a pretty good idea of what might be the culprit and she agreed it was very possible.  In this vain, we decided to do some more tests and she also offered up another possibility that no one else had suggested in my medical visits: a food reactivity test.  I agreed, thinking it would be interesting and potentially helpful, but I didn’t really think it would be quite the game changer that it was.

The results came back on Saturday and they were pretty startling.  In a nutshell, I have been eating foods that my particular body is unable to handle properly, likely resulting in significant inflammation and a wide variety of painful and uncomfortable symptoms.  There are basically two categories that popped up that I have classified as:  The Super Big Bads that I will likely have to remove from my diet pretty much forever, and the Maybe-Possibly Big Bads that are causing reactions for sure (so they are off the table for a month or so) but may be able to be eaten occasionally once I’ve had a chance to get the current inflammatory damage under control.

So I have started an elimination diet.  All the Super Big Bads are gone for good, and the Possibly Big Bads are gone for the time being.  What are these foods?  Why did they completely derail my week and send me into a bit of a tailspin?  Here you go:

Category 1: The Super Big Bads

  • Kamut
  • Rye
  • Spelt
  • Wheat, Gliadin
  • Wheat, Gluten
  • Wheat, Whole
  • Yeast, Baker’s
  • Yeast, Brewer’s

(I’m still waiting for further tests to determine whether my gluten issue is in the category of gluten-sensitivity or Celiac’s Disease.  Either way, no more gluten for me.)

Category 2:  The Maybe-Possibly Big Bads

  • Almonds
  • Bananas
  • Chickpeas
  • Coffee Beans
  • Cranberries
  • Eggs
  • Green Peas
  • Milk (Dairy Variety)
  • Pecans
  • Pineapple
  • Sesame Seed
  • Sugar Cane
  • Whey
  • Yogurt (Dairy Variety)

It’s a grim list.  It’s very, very grim.

An example of how grim?

Most mornings this is my breakfast:

  • Two slices Dave’s 21 Grain Killer Bread
  • 1 tablespoon or so almond butter
  • 1 cup organic Greek yogurt
  • Coffee
  • Followed later by a mid-morning snack of a banana.

The rest of my day follows suit.

Since getting this information, I’ve been a bit of a mess.  I’ve had lots of emotions and am basically going through the stages of grief.  To some, this may sound over the top, but to me, it’s not.  As I’ve talked about on this blog, my love of healthy eating, cooking, and baking was only discovered in the last couple of years.  I’ve fallen in love with whole, real foods and finding new ways to prepare them.  I’ve discovered things I had never eaten before and was looking forward to eating lots more of.  Things like spelt muffins and scones (my absolute favorite flour to bake with these days), whole wheat grainy breads and cookies, almonds in just about every way you can imagine (almond butter, almond/fruit snack bars in the afternoons, almond flour, almonds in desserts, almond milk, almond yogurt), hummingbird cake with pineapples, and bananas eaten raw, used as sweetener in baked goods, and combined with dark chocolate.

Now these things are off limits and I don’t really know what to do.  Yes, it’s an opportunity to try more new things and yes, it’s a chance to get even more creative with my cooking, but right now I just want a slice of healthy, grainy toast with almond butter and a good, strong cup of coffee.

I don’t really think that’s too much to ask.

So my last few days have been spent purging my pantry and kitchen, carefully reading ingredient labels, spending hours (and lots of money) at the markets, and just figuring out what is safe and what is not.  Hence, the lack of blogging this week.  Do you have any idea how many foods contain gluten, yeast, and/or almonds?  Forget about the fact that cane sugar is on the list – it’s in nearly everything.

I realize that was a long explanation for my absence and I could have just said ‘sorry’ for dropping the ball this week, but I wanted to share some information about what’s going in.  I’ll be back next week with regular posts and I’ve no doubt that this new part of my life will be included, as it will surely impact those topics that near and dear to me here on this blog: healthy living, running, cooking, and overall brain and body wellness.

Also, in my absence this week, I failed to post that Monday marked my one-year anniversary with this blog.  I was sorry to have missed honoring that day and saying thank you to everyone who has stopped by, tried a recipe, took a running tip, left their own advice and input, and generally joined me in my little space on the Internet.  You all are fantastic and I have loved putting Move Eat Create together over this past year.  I have a lot more planned for year two!

 

44 comments on “Foodie Firsts: Trying To Catch a Curveball

  1. Julia says:

    Although it’s great that you may have finally discovered what is causing your health problems, I understand that the idea of changing your diet so drastically is hard to take. I also get that your reaction is like working through the stages of grieving. I’m sure I would react the same. In fact, I have … not to a change in diet, but to a change in activity. Anyway, keep following all the wonderful vegan and gluten-free blogs out there, and I’m sure you’ll find your creative way through your dietary challenges.

  2. Holy s–t! That would be most of my diet as well. I understand your grief, totally.
    I have a friend who went through something similar, adjusting from a super healthy diet to trying to create a healthy diet with other, non traditionally healthy foods. She just ran the Delaware marathon Sunday.

    I will keep an eye out for recipes for you. Hang in there.

    Sending you positive vibes.

  3. allainamae says:

    My mother just 3 months ago found out the same thing. She had to go all the way down to plain brown rice and had cross reactivity with almost everything. It does get better eventually. Have hope. HUGS!

  4. EcoGrrl says:

    Oh my dear I know how you feel when it comes to the trauma of eliminating great foods go. The first two weeks of the elimination diet are the hardest – it’s very PMS’y feeling. But you know what? When you test out reintroducing foods, and find the culprits, it makes it a lot easier to say no to them, and say yes to your body. All I can say is be thankful you’re in Portland where you can go to places and not be looked at like you’re crazy if you have food inquiries. It’s a new way of life, for sure, but once you go through the initial cleans (emotionally and physically), I’ll look forward to hearing your happy ‘voice’ again on this blog as you start feeling better.

    Amen for naturopaths though, right? A regular doc….sigh…. I love my n’path!!

  5. Jim Brennan says:

    Health always comes first. I found when I was diagnosed with celiac about five years age that once I got in my head what I could and couldn’t have that adapting was easier. You will adapt. There are many great gluten-free blogs. Try Sophie’s Foodie Files. Good luck, you will be fine.

  6. colossalgarbage says:

    Wow, that really sucks. I hope you’re able to adapt especially considering how you’re vegetarian. It seems like every time there’s any health condition, doctors are encouraging an ultra-uber-super-duper high protein diet. I find that kinda sad. Oh well. Take care and good luck (both emotionally and financially!) on your dietary modifications.

  7. Red Hen says:

    I completely understand your reaction to having foods eliminated. I adore wheat too and strongly suspect that it does not adore me.I`m following your changes with great interest. There is a terrific range of gluten free products around now too and lots of info on coeliac disease.

  8. Firstly, I’m so sorry to hear about what’s happening to you. Being unwell is bad enough, but finding out that food is the cause is a bitter pill to swallow. Especially when other vices (such as smoking or drinking too much) are clearly ‘bad’ it has been hard for me, at least, to accept that some of what I had been told were ‘healthy’ foods just weren’t for me. I’ve eaten my fair share of junk food, don’t get me wrong, but on a day to day basis cooking fresh ingredients from scratch including fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, wholegrains was what I did. And now some of those things make me sick. Go right ahead and grieve I say! It sucks to have your whole way of life upended.

    It seems from what you’ve said though you’ve only just been told really what foods to eliminate. All else being equal this means in a few weeks you will feel well. I agree absolutely with EcoGrrl. You are already doing the toughest bit – feeling rough while not eating the things you love. I’m keeping my fingers crossed you then experience the massive ‘up’ that is waking up, feeling good, and knowing you’re back in control of that because you can choose what to put in your body. Hang in there.

    • Thank you so much! I really appreciate your feedback and support. Plus, your blog is certainly an even bigger resource now to me than it ever was before! I’m thankful to all the amazing gluten free bloggers I’m finding out there!

  9. I understand how finding out that news could completely derail your week. It isn’t something any healthy foodie would want to find out. Giving up what we’re used to having can be tough. Grieving is not an over reaction.

    It sounds like you are off to a good start by cleaning out your pantry. One thing that helped me when I was on the low FODMAP diet was focussing on all the foods I could eat and meal planning around those. I’ve found some delicious looking gluten-free recipes on Angela’s blog, Oh She Glows. I look forward to hearing more about your journey in the coming weeks.

  10. Eeh Bah Mum says:

    Nooooo! I feel your pain but i’m looking forward to reading what you come up with to replace your old favourites.

  11. EcoGrrl says:

    PS there’s a gluten free fair tomorrow in SW Portland at the Mittleman Jewish Center from 11-4, consider stopping by 🙂

  12. cwalder says:

    As someone who is has just passed the two-month mark of my elimination diet (gluten, eggs, dairy all included!) after doing a similar test, I just wanted to offer some support!! I know it can seem so overwhelming at first; I remember what it was like to go to the grocery store the first time and literally spending 3 hours pouring over the ingredients list of every food item only to have to put back once-loved foods onto the shelf. I hated the thought of going out to eat with friends and not being able to indulge and having to explain why I couldn’t eat certain dishes.

    But I just want you to know that it DOES get easier. Once you start looking at this as an opportunity to try all these different foods that you never would have considered before and as an opportunity to really improve your cooking (since you will be making more at home), you will actually start to get excited about it! I know that may sound a little crazy, but you will start experimenting with all new ingredients and it will open your eyes to endless possibilities! Most importantly, as your health problems start to fade away, you will begin to feel so much better about yourself and you will be so proud of yourself for sticking to your diet.

    Hang in there and be strong – the first weeks are the hardest! Know that you are not alone and that we are so lucky to have so many resources at our fingertips. And know that eliminating these foods is not necessarily forever, but after seeing your health improve you may see those foods differently than you did before 🙂

  13. Joanne says:

    I am so sorry about all this, chica! I can’t even imagine how frustrating and scary it must be, but I agree with what everyone else here has said…if you focus on what you CAN eat, everything you can’t may just fade into the background! I just know you’ll become stronger as a person AND as a cook because of all this! Definite silver lining.

  14. Kristin says:

    How frustrating – starting from scratch with cooking and ingredients! I think the biggest difference is that it may not feel like it’s by choice this time. Hang in there – you are such a creative and resourceful baker that I’m excited to see what all you come up with. 🙂

  15. Stephanie says:

    My single survival suggestion is to sit down and make of lists of what you CAN eat. It’s much more encouraging. Use categories of all kinds– food type, eating occasion, need, etc– and refer back to them when you feel really frustrated. And I often used non-traditional breakfast foods during the most restricted parts of my elimination diet (which turned out to be pretty unnecessary, but was nice to have it to psychologically support test results). Lentil soup? I’ll now eat it any time of day, happily. Some caegories might be breakfast, brunch, snack to go, snack at home, main meal, veg, soup, potluck, hot, cold, salad, grain dish, high protein, crunchy, sweet, etc. Most of us eat fairly similar meals, so even five or six items under the different categories can be a varied diet.

    And it’s ok if you cry on the ice cream guy when he asks cup or cone and you have to get a cup. Don’t forget to ask for a clean scoop.

    • That’s a great suggestion. And, I also appreciate the acknowledgement that it’s okay to cry on the ice cream guy! Those sorts of situations are already tough. Thanks, Stephanie!

  16. Alaina Maeve says:

    I am inspired by your quick action to clean out your pantry and re-stock with good-for-you ingredients. I have been putting off diving more deeply into foods that I react with to eliminate inflammation causing “really bads”. I can tell you that I struggled with “quitting” wheat, but six months after letting it go, I was very aware of how much better I felt and even thinking about trying to consume any wheat set red lights flashing in front of my eyes. It does get easier. 🙂

    A year an a half ago, a friend of mine was doing the elimination diet (much like yours – but a longer list of do-not-eats) , and I was able to make three different kinds of cookies for her birthday (which all turned out well) without any wheat, chocolate chips, spelt, sugar, or oats! It is totally possible, and you’ll start having fun with new combinations, soon! I think you have inspired me to go check out a food reactivity test… So, Thank you!

    • You’re welcome and thank you for sharing your kind words and experiences. It’s been a rough, rough first week on this, but I’m seeing minor improvements and hoping to see more soon. The symptoms I’ve been living with day to day are really obvious, so I’m hoping to have them reduced, or eliminated, and know what it’s like to feel ‘normal’ again! 🙂

  17. […] now at this very time while still dealing with the new life changes I implemented last week due to health issues (which, trust me, has NOT been […]

  18. Jennifer Szescula Flanagan says:

    WOW! You are such an inspiration. (I am another one of those who knows I should be giving up stuff but I haven’t gotten there yet. I have started playing with alternatives and I am finding them more satisfying so take heart! It seems you are already on the way.) Hope it continues to be a positive change for you as you take your health back.

  19. Eddy Gilmore says:

    Welcome to the rabbit hole friend. Unfortunately it seems to just get deeper, lol. But, with a sense of humor and adventure it can be fun. My wife started down the path of vegetarianism first, then was advised to eschew gluten, then all grains completely, and more that escapes me now. Since she does most of the cooking we all eat her diet. Amazingly we still seem to be able to eat well due to her creativity and ingenuity. Tonight we had a fabulous homemade spaghetti sauce on top of spaghetti squash, greens, and curtido. Anyhow, since I’m naturally more of a meat and potatoes man, I’ve actually enjoyed the journey that has been placed before us. Just a hunch, but you might find the following website helpful – http://realsustenance.com

  20. Roar Sweetly says:

    Just stumbled across your blog. Slightly off topic, but I remember when I found out I had gestational diabetes and it meant for 6 months being on a radically different diet. I didn’t think I could make my body or my food preferences change. But the funny thing is…I just got used to it and ended up trying lots of different, tasty, filling dishes I never would have otherwise. A whole new world of eating will open itself up to you and you’ll probably find that you feel a whole lot better because of it. Good luck with your journey.

  21. leabrebs says:

    I feel your pain. Have been through it myself xx

  22. Ellen says:

    It sounds like you had the mediator release test…? I’m in Beaverton, and saw a dietitian who recommended the test, and helped through the follow-up. I remember the first few months being so hard, but now, I hardly think about it. I still scrutinize labels, and I’m pretty strict about what I have in the house, and what I cook for my family. The good news is that now, several months in, I can afford to be a little more lenient when we’re out and about. After you let your body adjust and the inflammation calms down, your body can handle small doses of your ‘yellow’ foods without being thrown into a tail spin. I hope since you’ve written this that you’ve found a happy medium.

    • Thanks, Ellen! I didn’t have that exact test done. I had a very large food allergy/reactivity test done. It tested for over 100 foods!! Things are looking up and have gotten somewhat better – though I still have some healing to do.

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