“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” Jim Rohn
It will come as no surprise to my family and friends at all that the second half of 2019 was a difficult path of self-education for me when it came to my diet.
Having suffered on and off with digestive problems in my twenties, I thought I was suddenly cured after my chemotherapy treatment in 2010. Was this the positive needle in the haystack full of negatives perhaps? Unfortunately, they returned with a vengeance in late 2018 and well into 2019. Countless doctors’ appointments led to me being told to keep food diaries to work out the trigger. One day, I was reacting badly to cheese; the next day, to yeast. In spite of doing as I had been told, the results were not clear cut and I was told to go back and repeat the same thing. It was becoming more and more frustrating. A colleague had a similar experience and did a blood test for food sensitivities and recommended the Nutrition Link. What did I have to lose? It was costly, so money, I suppose. However, knowing that this could possibly make me live a more normal life and not have to worry about urgently needing to find the nearest bathroom made me jump at the chance of taking this test.
A few weeks after paying the fee, the testing kit had not arrived. I sent an email and it arrived after a few days. A disappointing wait, but better late than never. Kindly, Colin assisted me in taking the blood. I am highly experienced at visiting the phlebotomy department at the local hospital (so much so that back in 2010 and 2011, the lovely phlebotomists didn’t even need to see my paperwork for my NHS number as they had memorised it, having written it down so many times!). Unfortunately, it took a little while for the blood to come out and filling the tube to the given line was rather more challenging than I had anticipated. However, after just under ten minutes, we were successful.
Another wait longer and then I finally received the results of the test via email. They indicated red foods (those which I should avoid for at least three months), orange foods (borderline foods, which could cause an adverse reaction) and green foods (ones which I ought to have no negative response to at all). Seeing the red list, I almost cried. Horror at what I would have to give up, but also the thought of there possibly being an end to this regular suffering.
I knew I was going to find the elimination of so many of my favourite foods a challenge, but there was a kind of spark of excitement knowing that I could experiment in the kitchen a bit. I gave up: dairy (cow’s milk was the only one mentioned, but I reacted to goat’s cheese too), egg white, wheat (not durum wheat), yeast (brewer’s and baker’s), hazelnut, cashew nut, pea and barley. Out of the window went chocolate, cheese, bread, fresh pasta… it certainly was a challenge. I began looking at vegan foods and was able to use some of those to get my sweet hits. However, a lot of vegan ice cream contains pea protein and other vegan products have yeast in them.
My shopping now takes me a lot longer as I have to analyse every label, ensuring that the product’s ingredients are suitable for me. Although changing my diet really has been difficult, I feel so much better for it. My tummy is rarely bloated now, I have lost weight, I am fitter and healthier. Eliminating these foods truly has changed my life.
Today’s food… I have leftover chocolate brownie (vegan and gluten-free, but actually pretty tasty!) with vegan whipped cream. No doubt, I will also have something with gravy too – I have stocked up because it disappeared off the shelves for around six weeks and I really struggled!