Food. As allergy parents, we spend an awful lot of time thinking about it. What we’re going to eat, what we can’t eat, what could harm us or our child, how much we spend on it… It can get intense. So when my physician recommended I try out an elimination diet not for food allergies but for my own health, I thought he was nuts. But, I’m getting ahead of myself….
I consider myself a pretty healthy person, but for some reason I have had chronic inflammatory issues for almost fifteen years. It started with chronic tendonitis, but I was a pretty hard-core athlete at the time so I just figured it was from working out too much (definitely not a problem now). I had a history of asthma that would wax and wane, developed migraines (the family curse) in my mid-twenties, and around the same time I developed chronic GI issues. All of those things seemed completely unrelated though, so I would just brush them off and say “I’m healthy! Everything is good!”
As I’ve mentioned before, after having baby #1 7.5 years ago I haven’t really had time to take care of myself like I’d like. I’ve had a few too many Oreos, pots of coffee and #1 specials from Chick-fil-a (Whole wheat bun with a Diet Dr. Pepper, please!). When our youngest was diagnosed with food allergies, it was a huge adjustment. We went completely dairy-free and eventually ended up seed and nut-free as well. We’ve done the best we could. Yet, my own health issues have persisted. When I went to a rheumatologist last year for joint pain (from all the tendonitis) he recommended I try a pretty strict exclusion diet, stating I could have leaky gut or some sort of intolerance. I honestly blew him off because “Do you have any idea how restricted our diet is already???” But then my asthma came back with a vengeance and I ended up back in another Dr’s office. In addition to new prescriptions for inhalers, I went home with strict instructions for an exclusion diet, followed by the anti-inflammation diet. Again, I thought it was strange that a doctor was lecturing me about my food intake. But for the first time ever, this physician pulled all my seemingly unrelated health issues together. I read up on it and then decided it was too much work and forgot about it (I know, I know) until a THIRD unrelated physician suggested it. Our daughter has an amazing doctor that specializes in complementary and holistic medicine (and is an associate professor at Emory. Legit.) that suspects she has some of the same inflammatory issues I have. Once we got to talking, her line of questioning went into family history and then down the course of almost exactly the same thing the other doctor said about healing my asthma with my diet. At this point I finally said “Ok, I get it. I guess you folks are trying to tell me something.”
This week, everyone in our family except for the food allergic toddler has started a pretty intense 21-day exclusion diet. NOT because we have all have food allergies too, but because when our family history is laid out there’s a pretty strong link to what is called “leaky gut.” I’m still not 100% sure about the science behind it, but at this point I’m willing to give it a go. Now, in addition to being dairy, nut and seed-free, we’ve also gone cold turkey from alcohol, caffeine, gluten, corn, soy, fructose, sodas, and shrimp. We’re also taking probiotics daily. I thought my husband (Chris) would flip once we sat down to figure out what we’d eat, but he ended up saying “This will be ok. You can’t go wrong with more fresh foods!” So, away go the Oreos and other “safe” treats for a few weeks and on come the morning smoothies. Here’s one we made yesterday with strawberries, blueberries and homemade protein powder.
I have no idea how the next 20 days (not that I’m counting) will go, but I’m going in with a positive attitude and excitement about getting back to real food. We’ll be sure to post a few recipes and photos along our journey on this blog and our Instagram. Wish us luck!!!