I’m going to preface this post by saying that I’m not sure how interesting it will be to anyone other than myself – I am really only writing it so I can organise my food intolerance-related lists, plans and thoughts in my head. I suggest reading my last post instead, because I’ve been a posting fiend today and the previous one was much better 😛
This month marks the third year since my allergies and intolerances were diagnosed. For the first two years I was extremely uptight about avoiding things that I might react to, but that was based more in fear of feeling/being sick than in genuine proof that I needed to be so strict. The only substance that I react dangerously to is milk, which makes me wheezy and itchy as well as sick. Milk is my only true allergy, and the others were all intolerances. I did have real problems with wheat at the time I cut it out as well – it upset my IBS a lot, and that’s all the detail I need to go into, anything else would be TMI!
The test I took back in 2007 was a York test, which is supposed to be the only intolerance test with scientific research to back up its efficacy, although that claim is now disputed by scientists outside the company. I was desperate for an answer to my severe and pretty terrifying digestive problems at the time because I could barely eat, so once I had the results I threw myself into changing my eating habits. My digestive system did settle down a lot once I’d cut out everything the test suggested, so I took the results as gospel and was too scared to reintroduce any of the foods I’d eliminated. During the worst of my anorexia I didn’t want to do that anyway, as the restrictions gave me excuses to avoid both high calorie foods and social situations. But during refeeding I started getting a bit restless and resentful of having so many rules to follow, when all I wanted to do was leave my highly controlled and restrictive way of eating behind.
This year I’ve finally found the guts to challenge my emetophobia and reintroduce some of the foods I used to avoid like the plague. I have no intention of trying out animal products other than eggs (which I continue to eat because otherwise all my protein would have to come from beans and nuts, and my digestive system would riot. Fibre is not the friend of everybody!) because my vegetarianism is a very long standing ethical decision, and it doesn’t seem to have had any negative impact on my health. I also won’t even attempt to reintroduce milk, because most of my family have problems with it – my brother has even started vomiting blood when he tries to eat something with milk in it, and that’s generally not thought to be a good sign! I have no desire to worsen my allergy to the point of anaphylactic shock, so milk is going to stay off the menu. But all those other restrictions are up for testing.
This year I have successfully reintroduced yeast and foods associated with yeast like vinegar, alcohol and dried fruits. I eat gluten free bread pretty regularly now, and although my digestive system gets a little odd afterwards sometimes I have no proof that the yeast causes that, because my digestive system is unpredictably odd whether I’m eating things I’m supposedly intolerant to or not! Put it this way: other than that one time dad made me such a strong vodka and orange that I got drunk really quickly and felt sick for an hour afterwards, yeast hasn’t yet made me noticably ill – and I’m fairly sure that drunkenness is not a symptom of food intolerance! I can say the same for almonds, which often feature in the store-bought cakes I buy when I can’t be bothered to make my own. Millet and hazelnuts, flagged in my first intolerance test rather than the retest I took last year, seem to have no effect on me at all.
Sesame seeds are in the “not sure” pile. The two occasions that I’ve eaten them I have felt fairly ill afterwards, but that might have been the garlic – usually sesame seeds turn up as a part of houmous. I am going to try eating them on their own sometime in the next month to make sure. Lentils made me ill once when I didn’t even have particularly bad digestive problems so they may well be something I’ll have to continue avoiding, but I’m going to try them again anyway. Pear juice is a sweetener in a brand of vegan cookies I buy sometimes and that doesn’t upset me, but I’ve not tried actual pears yet. The same goes for brazil nuts, which I just haven’t gotten around to trying, and I have no desire to try grapefruit because it’s a bit minging 😛
Garlic, onion, peppers, mustard and chilli are unpredictable. They weren’t even intolerances to start off with – just things that upset my IBS. I can eat them without consequence sometimes, then feel absolutely awful the next time I risk it. I think my response depends on how much of them I eat, in what combination and how much stress I’m under at the time. If I eat a lot of chilli I will feel sick as a parrot for the next few days. If I eat garlic and chilli together I will feel pretty rough. If I eat a bit of garlic in a lasagne I’ll probably be fine, but the same amount of garlic eaten when I’m very anxious might cause a hangover the next day. Mustard seeds give me horrific heartburn, but mustard itself or mustard flour/powder is fine if it’s in a small quantity and stuck in the middle of my favourite macaroni not-cheese. Gluten containing grains are odd as well – there’s a store bought salad I buy in town sometimes which has barley in it and that doesn’t seem to upset me at all, but oats often make me feel ill. Soya is truly strange, because I can get away with tofu most of the time but feel unwell after soya milk.
So millet, hazelnuts, almonds and yeast are okay. Garlic, chilli, peppers, mustard, onion, soya, barley and rye are okay in small quantities. Sesame seeds, brazil nuts, lentils and pears are still unknown. I have an ethical objection to meat and my body has serious objections to milk. That just leaves wheat. I’m a bit scared of wheat still because I’m certain that it was causing me problems in 2007. However, having avoided it for three years, my digestive system may be able to cope with it again. In my head it’s about 50:50 – if I try it I might be fine, but I might feel absolutely effing awful! Since I am terrified of feeling sick my wheat test could end up biased anyway – anxiety might cause IBS-like symptoms. I’m going to try it anyway, because I’m brave like that 😉
My plan is to try everything other than milk at least once, and keep a close eye on what happens. The worst that will happen is that I end up all crampy and miserable once or twice, because after my attempts at reintroduction this year I’m certain most of them won’t do me any harm at all. Fingers crossed! I’m going to document the results on this page – obviously more for my own benefit than the interest of anyone else 😛