Can My Story Help You?
Hi. It’s Lois at Recipe Idea Shop, telling you how I healed myself with food. Several years ago—at the age of 55—I had a heart attack and learned I was diabetic. Quite frankly, I’m lucky to be alive. I was also struggling with leaky gut and widespread inflammation. (Do you know inflammation is a root cause of heart disease?)
I found it painful to sit for long periods of time, stand, ride in a car and bend my fingers. I felt sluggish and had a foggy brain. I would lie awake for hours at night. Several times a week I would have severe gastric distress.
I was miserable.
And I was 50 pounds overweight—you can see by the pictures that I weighed more than I do now. It particularly shows in my chubby, round face and middle. I felt like an old woman.
But today, I feel terrific. Healthy, young and full of energy. How did I lose 35 pounds, rid myself of inflammation and gut pain, and regain my health?
Let me tell you.
A Light Goes On
I suspected my problem might be food allergies. When I mentioned it, a friend recommended the book Is This Your Child? by Doris Rapp, M.D. I bought the book and read it. A lightbulb went on over my head. And I began the process to heal myself with food.
Published in 1991, Is This Your Child? is a fabulous book that talks about how to identify food allergies in children (or anyone!). The author discusses various patient cases—the names and identifying details were changed—including physical symptoms, mental symptoms and behaviors. I could easily identify people I have known with similar symptoms. And some of the symptoms matched mine. I began to think certain foods might be the reason for my illnesses.
The book discusses a couple of methods to determine food sensitivities. It suggests there are a few likely culprits—wheat, milk, soy, egg and corn. I began to keep a food journal, recording everything I ate and how I felt after eating it. I am really quite dense when it comes to cause and effect.
The thing is, there can be a time-delay between when you eat something and when you have a reaction, so it’s easy to think that one food is causing a problem when the culprit is something entirely different. In addition, the problem might be some kind of food pairing—like eating cheese and drinking a glass of wine. Or it you can be allergic to raw apples but not cooked apples. So it takes awhile to sort through it.
Elimination Diet Helped Me Heal Myself With Food
When I suspected a particular food was causing a problem, I eliminated it for awhile. And then I tried it again. This went on for months. I began to suspect that soy was a problem for me. I had added soy to my diet when I was in my late 30s when I read that it was considered beneficial for reducing peri-menopause symptoms. It didn’t help mine, but I liked the taste better than the lousy low-fat milk I had been drinking for years.
And voila! My hay fever symptoms completely disappeared!
I thought, “Huh. Why don’t I have itchy eyes? Is it soy? Let’s check it out!” And I got a soy latte. HOLY COW! Within 15 minutes, I had a severe reaction—sneezing, watery, itchy eyes, stuffiness, etc.—and an antihistamine did not make me feel much better. Well, I got my answer. I haven’t had soy milk again.
I am, however, able to eat tofu and soy sauce without a problem.
The next thing I eliminated was milk. I read all the labels, avoided cheese, sour cream, casein and all milk-related products (good thing my favorite chocolate is dark chocolate!). Within 4 days, my joint pain went away. COMPLETELY. So I tried a piece of mozzarella cheese. Within an hour, severe joint pain. And the pain lasted 5 days.
Pretty crazy for a girl from Wisconsin to be allergic to milk, ai’na?
Later, I found that I am not allergic to A2 milk; it’s only A1 milk that makes me sick. So I started drinking full-fat A2 milk, and I am one happy camper. I’m not going to go into the whole A1/A2 milk discussion here. But you can read about A1/A2 milk here if you want. Basically, I’m not allergic to the milk I drank as a child (mostly Guernsey); I’m allergic to the stuff they sell in the grocery store (mostly from Holstein cows).
I tested (one at a time) eggs and corn. No reactions to either. Thank goodness I’m not allergic to corn—it is in everything, even salt (unless you get sea salt).
For me, the hardest food to test has been gluten. My doctor did the gluten test. Nope. Not allergic. I eventually eliminated it anyway when I couldn’t figure out what else might be causing my problems.
“Hmmm. I seem to be feeling better. But I love bread. So maybe I’ll just have this one little piece.” No reaction—at least, not immediate. Three days later, I suddenly have diarrhea. Did I understand? Nope. I had to try it many times.
I would cut it out for awhile and try again. Three days later, gastric distress. I eventually figured it out. Now I avoid gluten entirely in restaurants. That means no breads, sauces, foods dipped in flour, no pasta because I get sick. If I’m on a trip, my best choice is to eat at a diner. I know I can eat fried eggs and potatoes and not get sick.
But you know what? It’s the darnedest thing. I can make my own French Bread with Pillsbury Unbleached All-Purpose Flour and eat 4 pieces and I won’t have gastric problems. However, if I eat too much homemade bread or items containing gluten, my head and back start to itch. And I start to get ticklish!
That’s the weirdest symptom I have from gluten. I have always been super ticklish and I am no longer ticklish. No one could touch me; I was so hypersensitive. Of course, my family always thought it was funny to tickle me. They didn’t realize that it was truly abusive.
My Gut Is Healed
I reduced the stress in my life when I left an unpleasant job a year ago, and I am now sleeping much better. The only other thing I changed was to start eating oatmeal (whole grain, not quick) every day. I’m happy to say, I no longer suffer from leaky gut. My inflammation seems to be entirely gone (nothing hurts). My diabetes is totally under control. I haven’t had a heart pain in years. And all my lab work is always completely normal, including total cholesterol (which is generally around 120-130).
Food (or Lack of Food) Healed Me
Quite simply, I healed myself with food by eliminating the ones that were causing my problems. I think my body thought I was starving myself because it couldn’t use the foods I gave it. I have found that if I eat the foods that cause my allergic reactions, I not only feel sick, but I feel hungry and I crave the very foods that make me sick.
Over the course of 4 years, I lost 35 pounds and 2 dress sizes. It came off so slowly—maybe a pound or 2 a month—until I leveled out at my current 152 pounds. I still eat tons of food and lots of carbs, so I didn’t lose the weight because I cut down on calories. And I don’t exercise regularly, but I should.
It’s time to exercise and take off those last 20 pounds! Oh, heck…I’ll start tomorrow.