The road to wellness isn't straight, clear, or predictable. It's a path you forge yourself.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Wheat, dairy, and sugar

After giving up the "bad stuff", and adding in the "good stuff", the next step on my journey was to figure out if I had any allegies or food sensitivities.  There's a difference between an accute allergy, in which you have immediate symptoms, and a sensitivity in which the symptoms may appear later on.  (As much as 3 days later sometimes.) You may not be able to pinpoint certain foods, especially if you eat them every day.  It is estimated that 75% of the population may have a gluten and/or dairy intolerance and not even know it!  The most common allergens are:  wheat, dairy, eggs, citrus, nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers). 

What's the best way to find out if you have these intolerances?  Give all of them up for 2 weeks.  Also, you must get off of all the substances you're addicted to (in my case, sugar and caffiene).  Then, eat a lot of wheat on one day.  Wait 3 days.  You'll be able to tell if you have a problem with wheat.  Then, do the same thing with dairy, then eggs, then citrus, and so on.  It seems like a daunting task, but I did it even while I was working full-time.  It just takes some advance planning and you have to buy all of your food on the weekends.

How I did it:
After you get used to cooking your own food, it's much easier to replace dairy and wheat containing foods with alternative ingredients.  I would plan my whole week's worth of food.  That way, there was no second-guessing and I didn't have to think about it when I got busy during the week.

I did NOT give up all of these at once!  There's no way I could've stayed on it if I had. 

1.  First, I gave up dairy.  This wasn't that hard because I don't drink much milk anyway and I like the taste of soymilk or almond milk on my cereal.  (Cheese, yogurt, and ice-cream were harder, but they have such good alternatives these days!  Soy cheese, coconut milk yogurt and ice-cream, etc.)

2.  After 3 days, I gave up wheat (and all gluten-containing products).  Wheat also wasn't that hard because they make perfectly good rice bread and other gluten-free things.  I found some super yummy gluten-free ginger snaps!  (I was still eating sugar at this point.)

3.  Eggs, citrus, and nightshades were a little harder, but I found ways around them.

4.  After another 3 days, I gave up caffiene.  I got some decaf green tea and had it with soymilk in the morning.  This actually grew on me and now it is my drink of choice!  Caffiene wasn't as hard to give up as I thought it would be.  I only had a slight headache for 1 day and then I was fine.

5.  Sugar was the LAST thing I gave up, and by far was the hardest.  For 3 whole days, I felt like I had the flu!  I even had to take 2 days off of work I felt so bad.  (severe headache, sweats followed by chills, achy joints, crazy nightmares, nausea, depression, etc.)  I had no idea that sugar could do all this!  I am certain that sugar is an addictive substance for me.  These were withdrawal symptoms.  Before, I never could get through a whole day without sugar in some form (especially in the afternoons).

After staying off all of these for two weeks, I added them back in one at a time to see where I had problems.  (Not the sugar though.  I did not want to go through those withdrawal symptoms again!)

My Food Sensitivities:
1.  Wheat - wheat makes me SUPER sleepy!  I used to have to have a nap in the afternoons.  Sometimes, I literally could not keep my eyes open.  (Then, I'd have to have a Coke to wake up.)  When I don't eat wheat, I do not get sleepy during the day, I do not require a nap, and I don't crave Coke or sweets.

2.  Dairy - If I slip up and eat it, I get digestive issues and feel bloaty and fat.  While in Greece this past Christmas, I ate some Saganaki and had a terrible migraine within an hour after eating it.  (Saganaki is cheese, usually Haloumi, fried in olive oil until it gets crusty.  It's probably the best tasting thing on the planet so of course I strayed and ate it!)  Cheese is definitely off-limits for me.

3.  Sugar - I need to stay off of it.  I'm like an alcoholic, but with sugar.  If I have even a little, it unleashes the cookie monster inside of me and I cannot stop!  Also, I absolutely cannot lose weight as long as I eat sugar, even if I eat very few calories.  These days, I eat a lot more calories than I did when I was on Weight Watchers, but none of them are from sugar.  (I lost maybe 5 pounds with WW and gained them right back even though I never went above my allotted points!)

4.  Nightshades - I feel bad after eating tomatoes (they give me canker sores), eggplant (makes me feels sick and tired), and peppers (give me digestive issues).  Sometimes, I treat myself and have sauteed eggplant, but I take enzymes first which help my body deal with it.

I hope this has inspired you to do this for yourself and has helped to convince you that it IS possible!  (If I had told myself I'd be doing this before I started, I would've absolutely rolled my eyes at myself!)


  1. How interesting (and not really surprising) that the non-toxic members of the nightshade family can cause sensitivities. After all, other members of the nightshade family are among the most deadly poisons known...

  2. Ha! I figured out the specific order of operations to be able to comment. It involves special incantations and spinning counterclockwise while facing north.

  3. Thank goodness you are skilled at chanting special incantations while spinning in a counterclockwise manner!
    I'm glad you're able to comment now. I was afraid I had had things on a weird setting or inadvertently put the "Pauline filter" on. ;-)