Many people ask me what they should look for if they think they have a food intolerance or allergy. Being that I have many, I feel like I have a pretty good idea what to look for.
There is so much to the story but I will start with the basics, my beginning. However, since I am not a doctor, I'd like to begin by saying that I can only tell you what I did and offer my support. I completely understand how frustrating and overwhelming the process can be and talking about it and having a support system is really important. I would love to be a listening ear if you need someone who's been through the ups and downs of belly aches, adult acne and just knowing something was wrong with my body.
About four years ago I was at my wits end. I was just about to turn 29 and I was dealing with things that, as an adult, I thought you didn't have to deal with. Severe adult acne was taking over my life. I was consumed by the thoughts of clear skin and felt cheated I wasn't having that experience.
On top of consistent acne, my stomach was constantly bloating, I had regular constipation, lethargy, and just felt rather depressed. Honestly, I didn't feel like myself and something inside me was hinting that something was off with my body.
I made an appointment with a naturopath because I believed that whatever was ailing me wasn't going to need a pill but an honest, holistic look at the whole picture. I can't say this enough. I truly believe everyone should have a naturopath, someone who will look at the big picture and realize that we need to take a deeper look at all areas of your life.
I sat with my naturopath for and hour and a half. Yes, you read that right. Ninety whole minutes were dedicated to discussing me and my heath and we discussed my history and my options. She explained that because of the many surgeries and the amount of antibiotics I was on in my early twenties, that my body was out of alinement, especially my intestinal tract. (I'll get into the surgeries more later)
She ran blood tests and a fecal test. I know, TMI. But given my history, I do love a good poop talk.
The tests were to see if there were some food intolerance/allergies going on. She also put me on a strict Candida cleanse. I left feeling relief for the first time in a long time. Like maybe, just maybe, I'll start to feel better soon.
About three weeks later and way over the hard part of the cleanse I went back in for my results. What came back was shocking. I had a severe intolerance to potatoes and a wheat sensitivity.
"What? POTATOES!" Was my response. Relieved to have an answer she handed me the piece of paper with everything that had potato or it's counterpart in it that I should remove from my diet. I decided, to give you the best idea of what this entailed, and just show you what that looked like below:
Potato includes white potato, sweet potato, and yams. Potato relatives include Kabuki squash, Jicama, and Jerusalem artichokes (also known as Sun Chokes). Any food containing potato, potato flour, or potato starch must be avoided. Many soups, stews and other prepared foods contain potato in some form.
B vitamins are cultured from a potato base. The B vitamins (Niacin, Thiamin, Riboflavin) are used to enrich most baking flours, pasta products, breakfast cereals and rice. Do not eat any enriched bread or pasta products. The alternative is whole grain pastas from natural food stores and whole wheat flour which you grind yourself or buy to make your own bread.
Dextrose is a potato sugar derivative. Dextrose is found in canned foods, bacon, lunch meats, ham, and iodized salt. Read labels and do not eat foods containing these ingredients. Iodized salt has a bad flavor, so dextrose is added to it in processing to make it palatable. Be aware that most sea salt is now iodized and has added dextrose as well. Use a pure sea salt or “Real Salt.”
Most baking powders contain potato starch which may not be listed on the label. If baked goods bother you, try those without baking powder or make them with baking soda instead.
Most yeasts are grown on a culture which is made from potato. Baking yeasts, beer yeasts, and nutritional yeasts are potato for this reason. It is recommended that you make your own sourdough starter and use this for your bread. Red Star yeast is a non-potato yeast which works well, even in bread makers.
Other potato derivatives include modified food starch, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, vegetable broth, MSG (also labeled as “natural flavorings”), propylene glycol (the key ingredient in antifreeze, this is found in soda pop and ice creams), some plastic wraps or food storage bags, and all penicillin-type antibiotics.
Yep, I had the exact same reaction. My head started spinning, my heart started pounding harder, and that all to familiar feeling of panic and overwhelm started to settle in. It wasn't that I was afraid to give up these things. It was the sheer fact that my life was about to get a little more complicated before it got easier.
I now had the task of checking every single label, limiting the amount I ate out, observing how I felt after I did eat something with a possible potato substance in it and to be frank, it kind of just pissed me off.
Don't get me wrong, I was grateful to know what was wrong with me but I remember thinking, why do I have to deal with this? Why can't I just eat what ever I want?! Compared to my potato intolerance, eliminating wheat and gluten was a cinch!
So trust me when I say that I completely appreciate how overwhelming this process can be. I totally get how emotionally draining it is when there is something wrong and the only way to find out is to run a million tests. That sometimes seems like the daunting part until you realize you have to do the work to get the positive results.
When you are just starting out on this journey, learning the importance of removing those food that are hurting, not healing your body, it's easy to just throw up your hands and say this is all too much. First and foremost, I believe in the importance of eliminating those things that hurt and not heal your body. Food should be looked at as a pleasure however, it is also your medicine, and if you know that your body is allergic or intolerant to something, then removing it is vital so your body can finally heal and operate at your optimal level.
You deserve to live the best life imaginable and this is part of that puzzle of figuring out what that may entail for you. Do this for you because you love yourself so much that you want to be as healthy as you possibly can.
A few other things to think about:
+ Explain to your family and friends how important it is that you remove these things from your diet and understand that they may go through a bit of a mourning process as well. Especially if it is a spouse or your children. They love you and will want you to feel and function your best but it will take time to adjust. Tell them you need their support because you want to live your best life and this is part of doing so.
+ Fill yourself with knowledge. Educate yourself so that you can feel empowered and not like a victim. It's easy to fall victim when there is a big change involved. However, we can learn all we can about our intolerance/allergy and feel ready to take on what ails us instead of feeling sorry for ourselves or defeated.
+ This is a great opportunity to reach out to a someone who is familiar with what you are going through. Lean in. Be vulnerable. Ask for help, resources, prayers, etc. There are so many people who can provide you with the support necessary to face your challenges head on. They can lend support, tips, advice, and most importantly, and listening ear.
Imagine feeling empowered and excited to take on the day instead of fearful of leaving your home because you have no idea what may happen with your belly.
It takes courage, vulnerability, and commitment to make the changes necessary. But I promise you, are you not alone.
I invite you to leave a comment below and share a part of your journey so that we may all feel a little bit more connected.
Much love to you and yours.