After Almost A Year: New Elimination Diet

I have been on my current “automimmune diet” for over 11 months (essentially, no grains, no legumes, no dairy, no eggs, no tomatoes). I actually don’t feel like it made any difference to my life except taking away the joy of food and eliciting many meltdowns when meal times came around and I had nothing to eat. I know I would have had some fun with this diet if I had the energy/ability to research recipes, shop for ingredients and cook my own dishes ~ it would have been a fun challenge to come up with tasty, healthy meals and given me a bit of a hobby ~ but, when you are incapacitated by exhaustion, dysautonomia symptoms and muscle wasting… it’s too much. It’s also too much to think about changing things up after such a long time, which is why I’m not more excited about the switch to a DIFFERENT type of elimination diet. It was a difficult learning curve for my husband to figure out what I could and couldn’t have while shopping for us. Now, he’ll have to relearn, reread all labels.

The good news is, I get to have gluten-free grains again (which means rice) and legumes except for peanuts (which means hummus and fun soups!). The bad news is, I have to eliminate pork (oh god, no bacon), beef (no steak!), cold cuts (no salami, ham, turkey slices!), soy (no fake milk for my tea, no fake mayo), caffeine (oh, I don’t need fake milk because I can’t have my black tea. I’m starting to panic), salad dressings (are you kidding? This makes me want to cry), maple syrup, honey (what do I make my granola with?), chocolate (kill me now), and any type of sugar. There are other things I have to omit like oranges and shellfish and soft drinks, but I don’t really care. Oh, and I have to continue to avoid corn, dairy, eggs, and tomatoes.

IMG_20130731_134253

I have a few things in the house I want to use up before embarking on this change, so, after the Rice Chex, Almond Bites, bacon, chocolate and leftover filet are gone, I will commit to the new diet. 😀

I’m out of granola, so I am going to try a new recipe. For a long time I used olive oil and a mix of maple syrup and agave nectar. Then I changed to coconut oil and local honey. Now, since I can’t have honey, but I can have brown rice syrup and stevia, I’m experimenting with a new mixture… Stay tuned.

1 hour later: I actually might prefer this recipe to my previous versions. Score! Now I just have to win the lotto so I can afford the gluten-free oats and organic stevia and brown rice syrup. 🙂

Here’s what I did:

IMG_20130731_132023 (1)

E.M.’s New Granola (dairy-free, refined sugar-free)

4 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1/2-1 cup raw pumpkin seeds ((or mix in half sunflower seeds, but pumpkin seeds have a lot more magnesium and tryptophan)
1 cup chopped nuts (any kind: I like ones that are low in omega 6s: pecans, cashews, hazelnuts and walnuts)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup flaxmeal
1 tbs cinnamon
5 tbs coconut oil
3 tbs brown rice syrup
2 droppers-full of liquid stevia (which is really only about 1/2-3/4 of the dropper)
2 tsps pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
dried fruit (raisins)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine dry ingredients. Heat oil, honey and vanilla over low heat until it is runny but not boiling (or microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute). Pour over dry ingredients, mix thoroughly and spread over 2 baking trays lined with foil or parchment. Bake for about 25 minutes until golden. Let cool. Be cool. 🙂

Advertisements

Allergies and all.

I wonder how much of how crappy I feel is from allergies. I wonder this all the time because I have never been able to accurately pinpoint my allergy “symptoms”. I don’t think I have any, but doctors continue to insist that I do. When I was a toddler, doctors did a whole slew of skin-prick tests and told my mother I was allergic to half the things on earth. I’ve seen the list: dogs, dust, insects, newspaper, hog hair (?!)… it goes on and on. Of course we ignored it and I don’t remember being plagued  by any allergy symptoms throughout my life (or maybe I was and it was “normal” to me, who knows?). Then, during a check-up about 5 years ago, a doctor told me I was “boggy” in my nasal cavities and said I should use Flonase to help with the symptoms, but I didn’t know anything different, so I never thought I had symptoms, so I never used the Flonase.

Then, after I fell ill with ME, I had some skin prick tests done again (searching, like so many of us do, for any answer to my problems). I was told I was allergic to dogs, cats, and dust mites. This time I took it marginally seriously and began the endless quest to kill dust mites (mattress, duvet and pillow covers, new allergy comforter, new latex pillow, wash bedding weekly in dust mite-killing detergent, HEPA air filter, UV and bright light, wet dust etc.) and started the lonely nights in bed without my pups to cuddle. Nothing about my symptoms changed. My ME/CFS symptoms, that is. Like I said, who even knows if I actually have symptoms to these supposed allergies at all? I don’t sneeze, I don’t itch ~ could my allergy symptoms simply be tiredness and a “bogginess” I never knew existed? “Yes,” the allergist said. “You will be able to breathe better and have so much more energy to play with your dogs, that you won’t mind not having them on the bed.” Never happened. Then I was tested for allergic reactions to trees, weeds, grasses, and molds.  I was allergic to all of it, especially alders and birch trees (see photos below).

birch tree reaction

birch tree reaction

alder tree reaction

alder tree reaction

Uh oh. There are birches all over our neighbourhood ~ we have one in our garden. There is an alder tree next door, looking over our yard. I looked up the current pollen count for our area: HIGH for trees, especially birch, alder and juniper.

Screenshot_2013-04-13-12-26-25What do I do with this information? I took a child dose of Zyrtec because I thought I should do something, but, as usual, I can’t really pinpoint symptoms. Yeah, my nose runs and my eyes feel … annoying… But, they don’t itch and I’m not sneezing and spluttering like those poor souls in the ads on tv. Should I be taking more antihistamines more often? Could it eventually help some of these allergic reactions I don’t even know I’m having? The doctor last year gave me Nasonex and oral steroids. They went in the drawer, unopened, of course. Maybe my allergic reaction would be more obvious if I went outside and rubbed my back up and down our birch, Baloo-style.

baloo - Edited

bare necessities

And I haven’t even started into the yes-you-have-food-allergies/no-don’t-trust-the-results arguments the doctors have when it comes to my positive blood antibody tests to tomatoes, cod and egg. I’ve always thought, if it’s not anaphylaxis, who cares? Unfortunately, with ME/CFS, it seems I HAVE TO care because reducing my body’s inflammation and stress hormones and toxins and oxidative stress and everything else that life throws at us is the only sure-fire way to feel better. Maybe Dr. Cheney was right when he joked that he’d like to be able to put patients in a coma to facilitate recovery ~ and, while he’s at it, how about we lie in a sterile bubble in a hermetically sealed room with no visitors, happy images fed into our subconscious, and nothing but anti-inflammatory glop in the feeding tube?

I’d rather curl up with my dogs (and the hogs) in the dirt and grass of the garden, under the shade of the alder, with a cold Mac & Jacks, and eat an omelet with some pico de gallo … and a cod and chips… with mayo and ketchup… fried in something other than coconut or olive oil… and live life. Allergies and all.