In the kitchen

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Friday, April 4, 2014 thanks. I can't eat that. Or that. Or that.

Remember how a little while ago I told you I was putting my health first?  Remember how I said that I wasn't going to apologize for taking care of myself and that I was going to do whatever it took to get myself healthy?

Yeah, I was hoping maybe you didn't.

A month ago I had an appointment with a naturopathic doctor.  I wanted to know what I could be doing, in addition to yoga, meditation and a rather dramatic de-stressing makeover of my life, to balance my body and, specifically to save my thyroid.  I wanted her expertise to understand what might be happening in my body that I continue to have significant auto-immunity and, most importantly, how to fix it.

She ran some tests to get a read on where my body systems are.  I found out some fascinating things. Did you know that your entire immune system is in your gut?  Nope, neither did I.  So the GI issues I was having were connected to my ramped up immune system which ties into my overactive thyroid.  It is like chasing the problem to its roots.  I need more of the high test probiotics which will help restore the normal function of my GI track and also calm my immune system.  I believe this is what is called a twofer.

But it was when we went over the food allergy test that I understood the degree to which the Universe was putting my willingness to the test.

The idea behind testing for food allergies is that when you ingest something that you are allergic to it creates inflammation.  My autoimmunity and hyperthyroidism is already an inflamed state (immune system attacking the thyroid causing it to defend and make too many antibodies and thyroid hormone- or at least this is how I understand it) and adding allergens to the mix increases my already inflamed immune system.

The allergen scale is 0-3 with 3 being the most severe.  The naturopath said she usually sees a profile where someone is a 2 or 3 for just a few foods.  My results were somewhat shocking in that I rated a 1 on the allergic scale, but to 41 foods!  From what I understand this means that I basically have a sensitivity to these foods rather than a true allergy, but that elimination of them for now is the course to take if I am serious about decreasing the hostile environment in my body.

But wait until I tell you what the foods are!  For now I cannot (I am trying to reframe it as "will not") eat: oats, corn, yeast- brewer's or baker's, blueberries, salmon, all dairy products, garlic, onions, basil, peanuts, cashews, sunflower (and the associated butters), safflower, egg yolks, spinach, broccoli, barley, lobster, squash and lots of others things.  In other words, I am allergic/sensitive to the foods I LIVE on, which of course is probably why I have built up an inflammatory response to them.

It is kind of a vegetarian's nightmare, though.  Not only have I become an overnight, and somewhat reluctant vegan, but I also can't eat any yeasted bread (even gluten free bread has yeast), no wine (!),  no store-bought veggie burgers, very few types of crackers and, in case you haven't done any label reading lately, there is corn in everything!!

Thank goodness for small favors I can still drink tea and coffee (although not with the cream or milk I like) and eat sweet potatoes.  I can have almond butter and Ange did some quick thinking and realized I can make biscuits (which I have...twice) since they don't need yeast.  Soy cheese can make an egg white omelet palatable but without onion it sort of seems like why bother?  When I realized I couldn't have hummus (another vegetarian staple) because I can't have garlic, tahini or lemon, Ange once again came to my rescue and suggested the shallot.  Brilliant.  Who would have thought salvation would have come from a shallot?  Not I.

And then I happened to be glancing through the list again and onions are in fact on the NO list.  And an shallot is, you guessed it, an onion.  I momentarily felt that the loss of eating an onion might be the things that pushed me over the edge and driving to the nearest Dunkin' for a Boston cream.

It's like the clean food cleanse (which you can read about here and here) but even more restrictive.  I have to pack food wherever I go because the spectrum of what I can eat is so narrow.  I can eat almost nothing that comes in a package and, to be honest, that isn't a bad thing.  The plan is for me to do this for 3 months as an elimination diet and then reintroduce foods one at a time to see how I tolerate them.

The truth is, I am on day 9 and I actually feel awesome. This is my mentality:  I am choosing this.  I could choose the Western medicine route, have my thyroid taken, be hypothyroid for the rest of my life and forever dependent on a the associated pharmaceuticals.  I could do that and sit and wait for another expression of my imbalanced immune system to target another area of my body.  Or I can do this path, the path less travelled and certainly very challenging, and try to actually heal my body at the root cause.

The choice is mine and I am choosing this, even though I can only eat about 15% of the foods I usually eat.  Even though I am often hungry and grocery shopping and meal planning has become a new form of torture that takes well over an hour as I scour labels.

I was not planning on this.   I have worked for the past year to not have forbidden foods as a way to stop the craziness and fear around food.  I have learned moderation and peace around food.  It was initially very alarming to me to have such an extensive list of forbidden foods.  But, as is my new approach to almost everything in life,  I breathed and settled into myself and felt to my core that I could do this and it would all be fine.  Not a fight, not a muscle through, not a battle of will power, but a surrender, a choice to act on my own healthy behalf.

There need not be a resounding sense of deprivation here.  I am nourished in countless ways other than food.  What a concrete way to really drive this point home.

Plus, I realized I could have food beyond soybeans and salad without my favorite dressing.  I can eat Newman's Oreo cookies.  And some chocolate depending on the presence of milk.  I can eat my homemade banana bread and pasta and biscuits.  Oh, I already mentioned the biscuits.  I'm really, really happy about the biscuits.

I can do this.  I want to do this.  I deserve to do this for me, for my health, for the knowing that I have done all in my power to transform my health.  The truth is, even if the end result is the loss of my thyroid, I will not have lost anything from this process.

A year ago I wanted, needed to be stripped bare and have worked toward that end.  This is where that journey has taken me.  I accept the gift and opportunity graciously, albeit it with a slightly rumbling tummy.


Susan@theLibrary said...

I know exactly how you feel because I also have food inflammation issues. Corn,soy, dairy, oats and chocolate being big among them. I hope it works out for you.

Zoe Kreitzer said...

Total resets like this are tough, but I'm so glad you're already feeling better. Is there no end to your awesomeness?

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