I love food. Oh, I really love food! But quite a lot of it doesn’t love me back.
Sixteen years ago I had what I now recognise to be as one of my first sensitivity reactions to food. That mushroom stroganoff was delicious but it just went straight through me like a dose of salts. It wasn’t the first time it had happened, but it was the first time that I was able to reproduce the reaction by making the same dinner the next night. Then I knew something wasn’t right.
For the next 6 years the battle with my belly got worse. I spent most of the time feeling sick … and the other distressing gastrointestinal symptoms, I won’t go in to … When I decided that I wanted to spend some time on the mountains in Canada I knew that I had to do something. I knew that I needed a dietician and an elimination diet.
So I went to the doctor with my symptoms. She was pretty unsympathetic, and frankly disbelieving. I had to BEG (beg?!) to get a referral. It still think the only reason she gave it to me was because I was lucky enough to have private health cover so wouldn’t be clogging up the NHS with my silliness.
I embarked on 4 months of restricted eating, which I don’t recall invoking much suffering, but apparently my friends disagree. I could reintroduce one food every few days and then monitor any reaction. Some were somewhat obvious – after 2 pints of milk over 2 days, I spent another 2 days on the loo. It took me an entire week to recover from the bloating, lethargy and mind-fuck caused by eating wheat.
So my final list looked like this:
- Citrus fruit
- Raw nuts
- Raw kiwi and apple
I think I missed something …
Let me tell you, that is pretty limiting, especially when it comes to eating out. But I count myself lucky that chocolate and booze aren’t on that list or I would have found a tall building to throw myself off.
Over the next 10 years, further experimentation, and some VERY CAREFUL reintroduction, I’ve managed to resolve the list to now look like this:
- Absolutely no wheat – I’d rather cut off my right arm; my fiancé would help me – but ok with spelt, rye and barley
- No milk, cream, soft cheese (except in moderation in the privacy of my own home) – but ok with lactose-free versions and hard cheese
- NO BEEF, EVER. EVER!
Now that my insides have settled right down, the other culprits seem to be manageable in small doses.
But there are plus sides to this rather unpleasant medical journey.
- I can’t eat any processed food – bonus! No one needs that crap. I eat more healthily – my cholesterol ratio is so good that it’s off the good side of the chart
- I have to make everything I want to eat from scratch myself – this has nurtured an interest in cooking that I’ve had since childhood, thanks to my mum.
- Now I’m here, doing what I love and sharing it with you!