I have been living with food intolerances for years now. Some I knew about. Others I had suspicions about. And still others were a complete shock to learn about.
I have shared many blog posts here about being sensitive to both gluten and dairy – even while I wasn’t always eating that way.
Here’s the short version of my journey to becoming gluten-free and dairy-free:
A few years ago, I was getting sick all the time. I had packed on the pounds. I had crazy acne, brain fog, was sleeping like a rock – or not at all, and had some major digestive issues. As I was making my way through the health coach training program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, it dawned on me that I might just be getting sick from the very foods I was eating each and every day.
I started in on some elimination diets. Some ridiculously intense. Some just involving cutting things out for a few days then introducing them again. It started becoming clear to me that both gluten and dairy were issues for me. I resisted, kept feeling like crap. Then months later, finally committed to changing my lifestyle.
Things improved drastically all around. I lost weight. My skin cleared like a miracle. No more brain fog. I finally felt lighter and -to put it lightly – just BETTER.
Fast forward to about a year ago when I was pregnant with my son, and I started getting cravings for dairy. I was scared to introduce it, because I had issues in the past with it. But I have always believed that cravings come from somewhere and while pregnant, I wasn’t about to deny any cravings. If my baby wanted dairy, he was getting it!
I ate dairy about 2 of the 3 trimesters and until just a few months ago. To be honest, I wasn’t feeling terrible. In fact, it didn’t seem to bug me nearly as much as it had previously. But some weird shit started happening to me that I (nor Dr. Google or a million mommy forums) couldn’t explain.
The best example is that I started breaking out in hives every time I breastfed. I had no idea what it was from… Hormones? Something else I was eating? Was I just straight-up allergic to my son?
On very little sleep and after weeks of dealing with these hives, I decided it was time to get some answers once and for all about my food issues. I scheduled an appointment with a local naturopathic doctor for a few weeks out and decided that if the hives had cleared, I would just cancel it beforehand.
I had the appointment – and the hives – a full month later. And after some discussion, we decided together that doing a quick little blood test to identify my food intolerances wasn’t a crazy idea.
Fast forward a few more weeks, I get my preliminary results via the phone (unusual unless there’s something drastic going on). My doc told me to immediately start avoiding dairy again – PLUS eggs (I’ll get to more of that in a minute).
Another week went by and I had my formal appointment with the doctor again and WHOA NELLY was I surprised to see what I did on those results! I was shocked to find out that I was intolerant to a ton more foods than I originally realized – plus my dairy issues from the past… yeah, that was a full blown milk allergy. Yikes.
Here’s a snapshot of my results:
It’s not easy to read, but here’s the rundown. Anything in black means it’s an allergy. Anything in gray is an intolerance. They are ranked from (0) to VI (six) in terms of reactivity.
As you can see, I’m sensitive to a boatload of foods that I had no idea about. No wonder I was getting all kinds of weird symptoms showing up again. Sure, I was staying away from gluten (also the reason it doesn’t show reactivity in the results) – but a ton of other foods were making my immune system go CRAZY!
So, as per the results, here are the foods I’m intolerant to – anything of a score of III (3) or higher:
- all dairy and cheese (milk allergy)
- all eggs
- slight beef allergy
- sugar cane
- baker’s and brewer’s yeast
After a conversation with my doctor, she didn’t think all of these foods needed to come out of my diet. So they haven’t. Right now, I’m not eating gluten, dairy, eggs, sugar cane, and have removed most almonds from my diet. She wasn’t at all concerned about the rest of the foods for now – and thinks that I was just highly inflamed at the time of the test. I definitely was, hence the persistent hives.
Here’s the kicker: after removing just eggs, dairy, and sugar for 3 weeks I started feeling great again. Now, I’m not too sure about how good it is for me to be eating these other foods at this point. But per her recommendation (and my sanity) at this point, I’m keeping them in until something else pops up.
So as you can imagine, I had a bit of a freakout for a few
days weeks on how to handle these new changes in my diet again. Like I have done in the past, I’m going back to menu planning to keep me sane and from feeling like I can’t eat anything that I love. I’m trying new recipes and making sure to stick to my planned meals every week.
Update: I have since tried an at-home food sensitivity test kit – and highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for some direction on where to get started with an elimination diet. You can check out my demo of the EverlyWell Food Sensitivity test kit below.
As always, I’m happy to share about my health journey – so if you have questions about any of this, feel free to ask in the comments!