I’ve always heard that we ARE what we EAT.
We’ve known for years that ingesting too much sugar can lead to all sorts of diseases, such as diabetes, and that a high fat, high carb diet can lead to heart disease. But what happens when we find out that the healthy food we eat is the source of our infirmities?
I recently completed a blood test called the ALCAT to check for food intolerances. The ALCAT measures the way a person’s blood cells react to certain foods, chemicals, drugs, and other substances. A control sample of my blood was charted. Then pure food substances were added to samples of my blood. Lab technicians compared the activity of my control blood cells with my blood cells that had been exposed to a food. The reaction, if any, to the substance was rated mild, moderate, or severe. A hyper reaction is an indication that the body is not able to properly absorb the food, and this unabsorbed food ends up triggering inflammation.
My Testing Results
Severe Reaction: wheat, fructose, soybean, acorn squash, cabbage, leek, papaya, tuna
Moderate Reaction: cardamom, chick pea, kiwi, mackerel, maple sugar, mustard, raspberry, turkey
Mild Reaction: artichoke, black-eyed peas, buffalo, canola oil, cantaloupe, chicken liver, cumin, egg white, fennel seed, honeydew, jalapeños, licorice, macadamia, mahi mahi, navy beans, nectarines, okra, onion, parsnip, peach, pine nut, pomegranate, pumpkin, radish, sage, scallions, string beans, sweet potatoes, swiss chard, tapioca, tilapia, tomato, and veal
My first response to all this information has been one of denial. I can’t possibly be intolerant to WHEAT, can I? I tried gluten free last fall, and it didn’t work. I felt WORSE on the gluten free diet than I did off it. I hated having to read labels and watch for hidden nasty glutens in everything I ate. I have reactive hypoglycemia, which means I am supposed to eat every two hours. Usually I eat a cookie. How can I eat a cookie if I can’t have wheat?
And then I did some research and discovered that wheat and some other grains are chemically similar to my other intolerance, fructose. They contain fructans.
I already knew that fructose was a culprit. I’ve been feeling better ever since I eliminated fruit from my diet, and any time I added it back in, the bloating and extreme pain came back. So knowing that wheat is chemically similar to fructose is helpful — at least when I am thinking clearly and am not still in denial.
In the meantime…I have to find foods that don’t contain wheat, oats, milk, egg whites, soy, or fructose. Good luck with that, right?
Let’s take a stroll through the grocery store. Grab a basket and walk with me as I attempt to modify my diet. The store I usually frequent begins with produce. Skip all the fruit and go straight to the vegetables and meat. Grab some white rice but skip the pasta and the sauce. Red sauce has tomatoes, and cream sauce has…cream. Skip the bread and cereal aisle altogether. The baking aisle contains some gluten free baking mixes, but unfortunately they can’t go in the basket because they either contain fructose, inulin (another trigger for the fructose intolerant, I’ve learned), soy, milk, or egg ingredients. Ditto the gluten-free baked goods, for the same reasons. Skip the chips and dips — chips are cooked with canola oil. Don’t grab the nuts. The alternate choices for milk are out as well — coconut milk has fructose. Almond milk has almonds. Soy milk has soy. Rice milk? Bleh. (Been there, done that, and spit it out.) Skip all the dairy items, all soft drinks, all juices, all ready-made foods, either frozen or boxed.
Take a look at the basket. Inside we have a selection of meats (that I don’t like eating much anyway) and maybe some dried beans for protein. We also have vegetables. Meat and Veggies. Veggies and Meat. Maybe some white rice (that I ate too much of and ended up hating after my gluten free month ended). (Side Note: The ALCAT showed that corn was an okay food for me to eat. However, whenever anything that contains corn touches my mouth, I get an immediate pain in my tongue in two places…along the side of the tongue and also at the tip as well as respiratory symptoms. This pain continues for at least three days and makes it difficult to eat. Based on the immediate reaction, I am going to guess that my problem with corn is actually an allergic reaction. I need to get an actual test to confirm this suspicion. But since I was right about so much that showed up on the ALCAT, I’m going to avoid corn until I know for sure.)
Can I do this? Of course I don’t have to. I can continue to eat the things that cause my white blood cells to go haywire…and continue to have chronic inflammation, wheezing, pain, trouble sleeping, digestive problems. Or I can try to completely avoid the triggers and let my body heal.
Did I mention I am heavily in DENIAL at the moment? I don’t understand why God allows one man’s food to be another man’s poison.
If I could blink my eyeballs and become someone else, I’d turn myself into a person who can eat just about anything. It would be so heavenly to not have to stop and think about every bite…to eat cake and doughnuts on special occasions with my family. To not be afraid to try new foods. To sink my teeth into a delicious peach cobbler without it making my stomach expand so much I need to change into maternity pants.
If I am what I eat, I guess soon I’ll be turning into a Meat or a Vegetable. I really wish I could be a chocolate croissant instead!