I was fat and in pain. I couldn't sit, stand or walk without hurting. Inflammation contributed to a heart attack. Then I took charge of my health and healed myself with food. I share my secrets here on Recipe Idea Shop.
Can My Story Of How I Healed Myself With Food 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 learned to read nutrition labels very carefully. Read more about that here.
Miserable And In Pain, I Learned to Heal Myself With Food
I felt like an old woman. I was 50 pounds overweight, you can see that in the 2008 picture below (that's me in blue). It particularly shows in my chubby, round face and middle.
But today, I feel terrific. Healthy, young and full of energy. How did I lose 40-some pounds, rid myself of inflammation and gut pain, and regain my health? Let me tell you how I believe I healed myself with food.
A Light Goes On
Around 2012 or 2013, I began to suspect my problem might be food allergies. When I mentioned it, a friend recommended the book Is This Your Child? (affiliate link) 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, nuts, 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 you can be allergic to raw apples but not cooked apples. So it takes a while to sort through it.
Elimination Diet Helped Me: I Healed 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 think 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 perimenopause 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! Immediately. Like, within a day.
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 right now. 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 (primarily 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 (most of the time! I'm not perfect.). That means no breads, sauces, foods dipped in flour, and 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 organic unbleached 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 hyper ticklish! (So I'm obviously sensitive to it.)
That's the weirdest symptom I have from gluten. I have always been super ticklish and I am no longer as 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 in 2015, 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, unless I mess up and eat something I shouldn't). My diabetes is totally under control. I haven't had a heart pain in years. I just realized it's been more than 14 years since my heart attack! Woo hoo! And all my lab work is always completely normal, including total cholesterol (which is generally around 120-130). I am so glad I healed myself with food.
Food (or Lack of Food) Healed Me
Quite simply, I healed myself with food by eliminating the foods 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 more than 40 pounds and am down 2 dress sizes. It came off so slowly, maybe a pound or 2 a month, until I leveled out at 152 pounds for awhile. The weight loss continues VERY slowly, and I weigh between 145 and 153 today. My goal is to get to 135 (without dieting). We'll see if I get there. I still eat tons of food and lots of carbs and fats, so I didn't lose the weight because I cut down on calories. I walk and do yoga, but I know I could do more exercise.
It Ain't Just The Diet
I'm here to tell you it ain't just the diet that is making you hold onto all those extra pounds. At least, it wasn't for me. I couldn't keep weight off for love nor money. When I stopped eating the foods that caused my food sensitivities and seasonal allergies, I lost more than 40 pounds. The weight just slipped off and stayed off.
I tell you my story, explain exactly how to test yourself for food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances, and give you the tools to do it in my new book, It Ain't Just the Diet FOOD JOURNAL: A Daily Guide to Finding & Managing Your Food Allergies (affiliate link). And in October 2021 I will publish my health memoir/cookbook, It Ain't Just the Diet COOKBOOK: How I Beat Allergies One Bite At A Time. For updates and to get your own copy, subscribe to our email announcement list.
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Affiliate Disclosure: This website may contain affiliate marketing links, which means we may get paid commission on sales of those products or services we write about, including Amazon. Editorial content is not influenced by advertisers or affiliate partnerships. This disclosure is provided in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Disclaimer: The author is not a health professional or nutritionist. She is offering her research and personal reflections about her health journey and is not providing any type of medical or nutritional advice. This post is for informational purposes only. It is offered as a tool for people to discover their own suspected food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities. Readers are highly encouraged to read, write, and reflect on the ideas presented. Consult your healthcare professional before initiating any dietary or exercise program.
This post was first published on Recipe Idea Shop April 28, 2016 and updated September 29, 2021.