Ahh.. sitting in the sun while writing this is a nice relief from the really crazy weather we were having in Ontario. Dare I get a HOT COFFEE instead of a cold one? The answer is yes, haha.
So I got my results back from a stool test I took via my Functional Medicine doctor. AAAAND I have a yeast overgrowth as well as 2 parasites. FUN. So I had the choice between taking herbal supplements (which, having studied the basics of herbalism from an herbalist there are some pretty powerful herbs out there) or wait to convince my GP Family Doctor to prescribe me something. I felt as though I would risk it and try the herbal supplements. I mean, I guess the prescription medicine would be a risk, too, given how sensitive my system has been lately.
People often ask me why I’m gluten intolerant, specifically what physical symptoms made me realize that I was. None. I really didn’t feel like I was suffering from chronic IBS or anything else gastrointestinal except during my period. I thought it was normal for me to have horrible symptoms during it. Guess I was wrong and guess I’ve had a PARASITE contributing to it (let’s hope when it clears I will no longer have those symptoms.)
Back to how I found out. I suspected I had some sort of food intolerance when I would drink wine or beer and feel my throat closing up. Scary. So I went to one Ontario Health covered allergist and they told me the couldn’t test for a food allergy. Okay. So then I found out a NATE allergist practiced in Ottawa as recommended by my friend. LOOKING BACK, I question the legitimacy of that allergy test but that’s another story.
The allergist told me to cut out all grains except for quinoa and rice, all dairy, all legumes, all nightshade vegetables (potato, tomato, eggplant, peppers) and sulphites (which was in the alcoholic beverages I was having an allergic reaction to). Around the same time, I was suffering from very severe paranoia, depression and panic attacks. Because I saw an alternative allergist, she conducted a thorough health history so I listed these things. She told me about how eliminating these food groups as well as supplementing with a few different vitamins could help heal me.
WELL, I was fucking desperate to live, literally. I went with it full force to the incredible annoyance of my employees at the time (I made gourmet sandwiches for a living so I completely understand), my Italian (now) in laws (though they never showed it) and my friend group at the time. Said friends were so convinced that I was lying to them that I had an allergy to alcohol to avoid hanging out with them. I know, how high school.
Anyway, I know this now, but these food groups are also cut out of an Autoimmune Protocol meal plan (kind of like a deeper intervention version of a Paleo / Primal diet) as well as Dr. Gundry's Plant Paradox. So whether or not that allergy test was legitimate or not, it allowed my gut to heal and for my psychological symptoms to dissapate, most likely due to the fact that I was actually absorbing nutrients again and therefore my nervous system began functioning properly. Not only that but my skin eczema went away as well as chronic hip and knee pain I was suffering. Wild. This was a point in my career where I realized that food can be healing and that I would incorporate it into my work as a chef.
I know this is a long entry but I also want to speak from the point of view of people like Michael Pollan and Sally Fallon, two proponents of eating grains and dairy how our first farmers did. These two, and rightly so, argue that grains and dairy aren’t inherently bad, but it is how the modern food industry has processed them that eliminates our ability to digest them. I spent many a month eating grains solely this way and eliminating dairy prior to my allergy test with little physical benefit but there could be other reasons why I wasn’t feeling well. I was mostly vegetarian and I now know that we need animal fats to absorb certain vitamins in our body.
I know!! It’s complicated but only because we have been so far removed from the natural way of eating. Plant Paradox author Dr. Gundry is gaining some traction too along the with many parallels to Pollan and Fallon. He has found that our digestibility, particularly of legumes and nightshade vegetables, need to be processed how people did during pre-industrial times. A lot of it is in the science!
I would like to suggest the following advice that pushed me to finally dish out the cash monies and pay for a Functional Medicine doctor. If you try a diet and heal, that’s great. It’s even better if you can work with someone who can monintor your symptoms and understand your blood work. I chose this much more costly approach because I had been tired of guessing what foods I ate affected me in which way. I think I now realize, though it's interesting to know, it's not what's most important. I want to approach food in a healthy way and and not have it rule my life. I'm happy I spent some years obessing over it because I learned a lot about myself and the way food impacts our well being. But now, after my gut heals a bit, I hope to not think about it so much.