I have never had to worry about food until recently. In fact the only reaction to food my body ever had was needing bigger size clothes. Now at 40 my body is changing what it can and can't tolerate. After much trial and error my doctor and I discovered three things my body couldn't tolerate; they are dairy, (which by the way can be inherited by someone who has it), MSG and gluten. Those sound simple enough, right? Well they are in theory. But in reality it wasn't so simple. This sudden change began about a year ago when my body began reacting violently to foods.
Because I knew my body reacted badly to dairy, when I went out I was careful of what I ate. If I did have dairy I waited a while until I my body digested it and sent it on its way. But this time the reaction was so violent I knew something was wrong.
The first time was at a restaurant I stopped at while on my way to the gym to work out. I was in a good mood and hungry so I ordered the fried shrimp plate, which included shrimp, carrots, green beans and a salad as appetizer and a soda to wash it down. Then for dessert I ordered a chocolate milk shake. Now knowing how my body was going to react I enjoyed a cup of coffee as I read a chapter from the book I brought. Before long I was heading to the bathroom as predicted and soon felt confident that I was free to continue on my journey for the day.
No sooner was I out the door and heading to the bus stop several feet away from the restaurant then my body began to react again sending me in a panic to get back to the restroom. However, I was stuck in the middle of two bathrooms and couldn't get to either quick enough. Moving now accelerated the need for the bathroom. Without warning I no longer needed a bathroom but a rock to crawl under because I didn't make it to either place. I say this not to embarrass myself but to let you know how violently it happened and how suddenly it can happen. I no longer needed a bathroom but a clothing store for a new set of clothing and shoes.
Finding a thrift store close by, I hurried there and found clothing. After explaining to the clerk what had happened I was allowed to go into an employee bathroom to change clothes and clean up as best I could until I got home. Before long I was safely home and in the shower. Needless to say I did not go to the gym.
Weeks had passed and I ventured out again this time not having dairy and trying a different restaurant thinking that maybe it was the way the food had been prepared at the first place. Nope. I was again running to the bathroom – only this time making it. With a still queasy stomach I headed home to relax the rest of the day. So by now I began keeping track of where I ate and what I ate.
Okay, restaurant one dairy and shrimp violent reaction. Restaurant two, no dairy and shrimp violent reaction. Okay, shrimp possible problem--so I eliminated shrimp from my diet. Weeks later I went out and ordered a crab salad sandwich and on my way home my stomach again began acting up and I was trying as hard as I could to make it home before having to go- unfortunately that didn't happen out-- it came. But this time I was within walking distance of home. By now I was more angry then embarrassed. Angry at myself for letting this happen again and for not knowing how to care for my body. Now after three chances to self diagnose and failing I went to see my doctor.
As I began telling her what was happening and what food groups were affecting my body she couldn't tell me what specifically was causing it. All she said was “Well stop eating the foods that are affecting you - for at least two weeks. She couldn't really tell me because it wasn't just one food or group. My job was to cut out those foods for two weeks and keep a food journal to record any reactions to other foods now that the three groups and specific foods were eliminated.
So defeated and bummed I went home to tell my husband that she had said no spicy, fried dairy or fast food for two weeks. Because those seemed to be all I was consuming I began wondering what was I left with, Fruits, veggies, grilled chicken and fish. Suddenly I thought my life was over. I was so used to eating anything I wanted all my life and now I was asked to change.
So f two weeks of altering my diet and writing in my journal as well as eliminating the foods listed above. I discovered it wasn't just those three groups that were affecting me. It was a wide range of foods.
When I went back to the doctor with my findings this left us with more questions than answers. But she did say I was suffering from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome.) The next thing she suggested was cutting out foods with MSG. So home I went and began looking up foods containing hidden MSG.
As I read this list I was shocked and dismayed at the foods that contained MSG. So I began making a list of foods to avoid. However because several of these foods were in my pantry I would not only have to avoid eating them but would need to go shopping for foods that weren't on the list.
Unfortunately I was still having issues so back to the doctor I went. Knowing how much I disliked drugs she then looked over my paperwork and put me on a gluten free diet. When I asked her if she had a list of foods containing gluten she told me that she had no such list because the foods containing gluten was so extensive. So when I got back home I began researching foods that contain gluten. I also began calling around for dieticians to help me with my diet. With my appointment set, I continued with my on line research for foods which contained and didn't contain gluten. I even searched to see just exactly gluten was. It is a protein that is contained in wheat rye and barely. If not treated gluten intolerance can be fatal. Honestly that was all I needed to read to know this was not just going to be a diet, but way of life.
As each day passed I continued to research and add to my list the foods which I could and could not eat, discovering just how many of my favorites I could still enjoy and a few which I hadn't enjoyed in years. Each morning I thanked God that He set me on the road to healing – as a friend said to me he didn't take my IBS away, he gave me a way through it.
Finally the day came when I was to see the dietician so off I went to get a better handle on my gluten free way of life. I was concerned that I was missing nutrients and vitamin's that gluten once provided in the foods I no longer ate. I’ve got to say folks she was much more encouraging and insightful then my doctor had been. I was talked to not at. She sat down with me and explained of course the food chart and told me all that I should be eating, then knowing my limitations, what I could substitute that would replace the foods I could no longer ate. She even shared some personal info she had learned from her sister in law who was gluten free. We researched on line together the stores and what they had that was gluten free including recipes and holiday ideas. I left our appointment feeling more empowered and encouraged then I felt going in.
It has been about a year in a half and I am feeling better and more energetic then I have felt in a long time. And I plan on staying this way for years to come. I no longer fear what might happen. Because being armed with information is the best way to be.