PAST Journal Entry #1

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I have already failed in my quest to be healthy.  It is so much harder than I ever thought.  I believed that if I waited until after school had ended [note:  I found this out as I was finishing my thesis for my BFA] I would have the time necessary to start this crazy diet – but I didn’t.  Then I thought, I should at least wait until after Christmas holidays, that way the temptation of all those festive goodies won’t kill me.  I thought this was a good idea but it’s not!  My house is more full of treats, chocolate and cookies than ever before – at least it seems that way to the person who can’t eat any of it – which is me!

I don’t want to put it off for too much longer because I would like to finish my elimination diet before my birthday.  At least then I will be allowed to have a glass of wine (I mean, after all, it is St. Patrick’s day!).

I was very optimistic about my life change at first, but now that I am finally staring it in the face, I am afraid that I don’t have the willpower necessary to complete my task.  At this very moment my insides hurt! It’s probably the coffee I am drinking right now. Oh coffee!  So wonderful, so delicious!!  I don’t know how I can ever give you up!  We have had such a long history together.  We have shared mornings, and late nights writing papers; long days and stressed out overdue deadlines!  The very smell of you gives me goosebumps all over!

It’s just coffee, I keep telling myself.  I keep reminding myself that I quit SMOKING!! Cold Turkey! Never looked back!  It didn’t even seem that hard when I finally made my mind up and quit making excuses about it.  I just had to adjust my life to remove temptation.  This meant not hanging out after work and keeping busy with some kind of task or mission when I took my breaks.  But I work as a bartender in a pub!  Temptation is staring me in the face every single shift that I work!  The smoking part wasn’t so bad because around the time I decided to quit they started the smoking ban and so everyone smokes outside now.  Food is an altogether different story.  I can’t turn my back or look the other way for 10 hours at a time.  That is IMPOSSIBLE!  The smells alone of burgers and fries and pizza and chicken wings drive me mad!  Maybe I need to find a new job.

I am trying to stay optimistic.  I am trying even to be excited about this!  I want to make smoothies and start juicing and just overhaul my entire eating experience.  I have even decided that I will start a blog so that I can help people like me, who feel like this!  But now, I am staring it in the face – my failure!  I mean, what better day to start a life changing mission than the first day of the year, right? New Year’s Day.  That is the day that we start to fulfill all of those promises we made to ourselves when we were drunk the night before, right?  It is now 4 days later  and I have already FAILED miserably at my mission.  I have cheated on every single day since I started and now I am on the verge of making an excuse to post-pone it AGAIN?!?

How can I help others when I can’t even help myself?

I fear that I don’t have the stamina, the drive, to not only heal myself but devote real time into creating new recipes and a new way of eating and living for myself.  I guess my biggest challenge is that I don’t know where to begin.

Maybe I should begin by reminding myself how I got to here:

It all started with an awful pain in my lower left abdomen that just wouldn’t go away.  I still have it.  It varies in intensity but sometimes it is so bad that I need to take anti-inflammatories to make it just tolerable.  After seeing many doctors for several months now (around 6-8 months), having had multiple ultrasounds and tests that all showed nothing, even after seeing some specialists, it was decided for me that there is “nothing wrong with me!”  Apparently my “pain” is an enigma.  I was told that 60% of women experience pelvic pain that remains undiagnosed or unresolved and apparently that is normal.  I was even told by more than one doctor that it’s more likely that the”pain” was all in my head and that when I was finished school and some stress was relieved from my life – it would just go away!  Oh!  And if it really bothers me I should just take another pill!

I am sorry but I am only 23, and I don’t think this is the right age to start depending upon painkillers just to function in society.  I mean, it has gotten to the point that I have to take the pills to get through my shift at work!  I try not to take them at home because I don’t want to be taking them at all!  Recently they have stopped working as well, and when I went to the doctor, their response was to up the dosage, but now I need to be concerned with the fact that the pills may now destroy my stomach lining!?!  Really, this is medical science?

***[Note:  Please understand that I am not trying to bash on doctor’s here.  But one must understand the frustration that I was going through – the logic just wasn’t there.  And no one gave a shit!]

On someone’s recommendation (ie: someone who has FI), I went to see a Naturopathic doctor to discuss the possibility of FI.  It seems that FI and allergies are often overlooked by regular doctor’s unless the symptoms are severe.  There is also not very much in the way of accurate medical testing to help provide you with an idea of what your FI might be.

So, I had an Electro-Dermal Test. It was performed by a certified Naturopathic Doctor to determine the nature of my FI and if I even had them.  Electro-Dermal testing seems, to me, to be a very thorough and accurate form of testing, however, admittedly it is surrounded by much skepticism and controversy due to its nature and lack of “formal medical testing.”

I should also state that before I had this test I began to suddenly suffer from a very reactive cough that would cause an asthma-like reaction.  It seemed obvious that there was some kind of allergen that I was suddenly reacting to.  The immediate suspect was mold.

I rushed to have this test done more so to see if I was being affected by mold – the food test was my secondary concern and really just because I was already there.  In all honesty, when I was told about food intolerances my initial reaction was “I can eat anything! My stomach is like a steel trap!” But I was curious and desperate at this point just to find out what was wrong with me!

So I have the test done expecting to hear that I have severe mold allergies and instead receive the shock of my life!  I have a long list (ie: 100+ foods) that are potential intolerances!!!

Having had this test, and having started to consult with a Naturopath, it became apparent that although I ate very healthily, there were most certainly a number of foods that were not only causing my sudden cough but more importantly the probable cause of my elusive pelvic pain!

It was also brought to my attention that due to these intolerances, my digestive system was most likely a mess and therefore my immune system weakened – which explained my ability to catch every flu that ever came within sight of me!  This had now allowed for my lungs, liver and colon to develop problems and there was also a good change that my candida levels were all out of whack as well.

I had been feeling pretty unwell and fatigued for a long time and believed that the stress of school, work and lack of sleep were the culprits.  Although, they certainly didn’t help, it seems my body was actually sending me warning signs for a long time that something was wrong.  I just didn’t understand the language.

To be told that some of your major organs have been weakened is kind of an awakening moment.  They haven’t even really begun to show their symptoms YET!  My cough was just the beginning of what could very quickly become much worse!

So my job now is to begin an elimination diet to not only avoid certain suspect foods but also, because I will be eating only clean foods, I will be allowing my body to heal and strengthen itself again – finally!

But this is really hard.  Of all the habits I’ve had to break in my life, I think this is by far the hardest one.  Your first instinct, as a human being is to EAT.  You are born and your first job is to eat.  It is a primal instinct – an urge that is seemingly uncontrollable.

I know it seems like I am over reacting!  But this is the list of foods that I need to avoid (without cheating) for a minimum of 3 months:

– all GLUTEN – basically wheat, Durham, white flour, bran, whole wheat, barley, cornstarch, hops, kamut, malt, oats, rye and spelt.  Bye Bye beer! Bye Bye fresh-baked bread, and sandwiches, and pasta!  The list could go on forever!

– corn – which is in everything, as a starch, as a thickener, as an oil, as a sweetener – This is a hard one too!

– nightshade vegetables (because as I have found out they are inflammatory):  tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes (red, white, yellow, doesn’t matter), bell peppers, hot peppers

– okra (don’t really care about that one)

– mushrooms

– honey-dew melon (apparently for its mold content)

– green olives (fermented)

– bacon, duck, ham (too fatty, which means hard to digest and pork is also inflammatory)

– any and all dairy: cow milk whey, albumin, casein, etc., also butter, any kind of cheese, yogurt and milk

– peanuts and pistachios (also inflammatory)

– paprika (because it’s made from peppers)

– any and all sweeteners, preservatives and dyes (aspartame, equal, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, molasses, MSG, pectin, corn syrup, dextrose, splenda, beet sugar, cane sugar, corn sugar, turbinado sugar, sweet and low, sodium benzoate, sodium nitrate, and sulfites) That is basically anything processed or packaged!

– any and all alcohol (beer, wine and spirits) 😦

– CAFFEINE, which means coffee, cocoa, chocolate, tea

– ketchup, miracle whip

– corn oil, peanut oil

The majority of my diet exists in this list!  How do you completely change your entire diet overnight!  I mean what is left?  It seems like nothing, right?

– nothing processed

– only fresh whole foods

– lots of meat, fish, fruits and vegetables

– only whole “ancient” grains (non-gluten containing) like quinoa, rice, millet and buckwheat

What the hell is quinoa (pronounced keen-wa)?

I need to devise some kind of strategy to deal with all this.  Right now I am still too overwhelmed by such a huge undertaking.  I don’t want to feel sorry for myself because I can’t eat certain things.  At least I have food to eat!  But I shouldn’t be so hard on myself when I am about to change my entire food experience, possibly for the rest of my life!

Like when I quit smoking I just need to quit making excuses and adjust my life to remove temptation!  Sounds easy – we’ll see…

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Hello world!

Hello and Welcome to my blog!

It was in November of 2008 that I first discovered that I had food intolerances.  At first, it was both overwhelming and depressing.  No one really understood what I was going through (including my doctor) and no one really understood that it wasn’t a choice that I had made to  avoid certain foods but a necessity.   As I learn more and more about food intolerances and food allergies, I have come to discover that there are a lot of lost and depressed people out there trying to deal with the same uphill battle that I have now been dealing with for the last 20 or so months.  I’ve  kept a journal as a way of dealing with everything and I have decided to share it with you in the hopes that my experiences will help others not to feel so alone.

We live in a time of pre-processed, pre-packaged, and pre-cooked food.  Fast food is all around us in different forms.  Whether it is going to McDonald’s, ordering take out or heating up a pre-cooked frozen pizza, food is meant to be fast and efficient.  Very few people feel they have the time to make a meal from scratch or even make a meal at all!  Time is the first obstacle to anyone dealing with food intolerances (FI).

You have to learn to make time to:

1 – source the right foods (in many cases, whole foods are the only option and a lot of label reading for the rest)

2 –  plan ahead (it is much easier to keep on track if you pack a lunch as you are more likely to cheat if you have to go out in search of food when you are already hungry)

3 – cook for yourself (and sometimes just learning to cook in general)

Now that I have introduced myself, I will begin to post my food experiences through my past journal entries.

If this helps even one person, it will all be worth it!

Eat Well and Enjoy Food!

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