Sunday, November 16, 2014

Learning to Live with Food Allergies

This past month has been a discombobulated whirlwind in which life as I knew it is no more. Even as I type, my mind is adrift in foggy waters brought on by my latest allergic reaction to foods that I enjoyed the majority of my life.

Recent bouts of unexplained illness and gastrointestinal mayhem led me to request food allergy testing from my medical doctor. The results were positive for eggs and peanuts -- foods which have always been part of my diet. I began the necessary steps to rethink, retrain, and relearn my methods of eating and cooking. My assumption was that my five-month-old's eczema would clear up once my body recovered from those foods. It did not.

He's too adorable to suffer from my food issues!
Continued illness in myself and eczema in my sweet son left me confused and upset. How could someone who is so careful and intentional with a healthy diet continue to suffer? Why was my adorable, innocent baby plagued by scaly skin and rashes? When I vented my frustration and despair to my trusted mommy tribe, a beautiful friend suggested muscle testing, and gave me the name of a holistic doctor she herself had used. I was in his office the next morning at 8:00am with both of my minions.

Through the use of Nutritional Response Testing, he quickly identified that my body negatively reacted to ALL grains (not just gluten) and whey. He then tested Keane to figure out if there was anything else in my diet contributing to his eczema...there was. Soy.

Let's recap that growing list of food allergies: eggs, peanuts, wheat, gluten, rye, barley, spelt, corn, rice, oatmeal, dairy, and soy. I haven't yet mentioned the host of other foods that cause stomach aches and exacerbate eczema (but aren't diagnosed allergies): avocado, banana, strawberries, blueberries, mango, passion fruit, kiwi, watermelon, most raw veggies, tomatoes, and the handful of others that I can't quite remember until I accidentally eat them.

Cute, right? The eggs in this paleo recipe made me sick for two days.

Initially, I felt excited that I could "fix" everything. I smiled at the thought of no more debilitating stomach aches; no more red, rashy cheeks and scaly skin for my baby; and no more guessing about what might cause my body to betray me. I had answers. The next step was to implement changes. Lots of changes.

I became proactive. I bought paleo cook books; I cleaned out my pantry; I bought new allergen-free ingredients to fill the voids in my pantry. I began the new journey with fervor...but after a week I was exhausted of reading labels and cooking every meal from scratch. I found quick fixes in drinking bone broth or eating apples for breakfast, tuna for lunch, and throwing soup in the crockpot for dinner.

Diced apples, cinnamon, honey, and almonds for breakfast

Alternatively, fear crept into the back of my mind. While I looked calm on the outside, I started avoiding mealtime out of fear of accidentally ingesting something that would make me ill. The hours grew longer between breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Water and homemade lemonade filled my stomach instead of necessary nutrients.

Tuna, spinach, sauerkraut, dill relish, pine nuts, & sunflower seeds for lunch

The fear was (and is) based in reality. Allergic reactions leave me feeling sick, exhausted, and mentally fatigued for days. It's difficult to will myself out of bed for early morning workouts after lying awake in fetal position half the night. I went from missing one workout to one week of workouts...then two, now three. My mind and my body suffer. I err on the side of caution far more than usual, and it gets easier to make excuses to skip more workouts. That reasoning spills over into every aspect of my life, and I hate it.

Baby steps are key to my success. Doubling dinner recipes and freezing meals will be my new modus operandi. Simple, easy-prep, no-cook foods will become commonplace for breakfast and lunch. I literally cannot leave the house without packing my own food -- that misstep leads to guaranteed failure. As daunting and overwhelming as it may be, it's imperative that I keep a positive attitude and remain proactive in the kitchen. The alternative is to hide under the covers and atrophy into a shadow of myself. That is simply unacceptable.

Recover. Survive. Thrive.

1 comment:

  1. I am sorry to hear of your fight against such a senseless disorder. I too suffer from a ton of allergies and unfortunately I cant eat any of the big 8 foods without a problem. Everything you wrote really spoke to me because I am going through the same thing, although I do not have a child. Hopefully by the time your child grows up, medicine will be able to catch up and offer a world free of allergies, so that they may grow and thrive. I know I cannot win this war. But I too intend to try and Survive as long as I can just like you. God bless you and you're family. Stay Strong.

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