Do you struggle with diet and writing? Do you fight sugar and caffeine cravings?
I used to. Or worse, when my writing lagged and the words would’t flow, I found myself foraging in the pantry, though I didn’t hoard words in there.
I shared a little bit of my health journey in previous blogs. On February first, I started the Elimination Diet. It kicked off with a 5-day fast, to which I’d resisted at first, but my doctor insisted.
A fast. Ugh.
Eliminating the Undesirables
One doesn’t get to the Elimination Diet because one feels like it. For me, it was the last solution, the last frontier, the last hope. I’d consulted several doctors, suffered the charming procedure of a colonoscopy, and in general felt energy depleted and just blah, even with my healthy lifestyle. Did I mention despite my efforts, I could not lose weight?
That was really frustrating. I did everything right but my body resisted. With my BodyBugg, I could measure how many calories I burned, how many I ate. I wrote everything down. My calorie deficit consistently was over 500 per day. Doctors scratched their head and all they could say usually began with “at your age…”
Screw my age. I knew something wasn’t right.
When I met Dr. Davis from Lifelogics, he listened. And he proposed to start the Elimination Diet so I could determine which foods my body didn’t appreciate.
Between Allergies and Intolerances
WebMD says a food allergy “is an immune system response. It occurs when the body mistakes an ingredient in food — usually a protein — as harmful and creates a defense system (antibodies) to fight it. Food allergy symptoms develop when the antibodies are battling the “invading” food. The most common food allergies are peanuts, tree nuts (such as walnuts, pecans and almonds), fish, and shellfish, milk, eggs, soy products, and wheat.”
An intolerance “is a digestive system response rather than an immune system response. It occurs when something in a food irritates a person’s digestive system or when a person is unable to properly digest or breakdown the food. Intolerance to lactose, which is found in milk and other dairy products, is the most common food intolerance.”
The symptoms are also different:
Allergy symptoms: rash or hives, nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, itchy skin, shortness of breath, chest pain, swelling of the airways to the lungs, anaphylaxis.
Intolerance symptoms: nausea, stomach pain, gas-cramps-bloating, vomiting, heartburn, diarrhea, headaches, irritability or nervousness.
As you can see, many symptoms are similar. Which makes the diagnosis difficult. Allergy or intolerance? Immune or digestive system related?
I say both. I say sometimes the line is so fine, it becomes indistinguishable. I say when you need an epi-pen, it makes it easy to define the symptom as allergy. But the immune system doesn’t always make it that easy. Doctors might disagree with me.
I don’t care.
The Elimination Diet made it possible to determine which food I react to. The first step is to clean up the system, to clear away all the inflammation. That’s why it’s so drastic at first.
Hence the 5-day fast.
What’s the relationship with writing, you ask?
Keep me on track, why don’t you? <smile>
Have you ever suffered from brain fog?
You know what I mean, when the clock rings 3 pm and your mind is vacant and can’t focus and you think it’s time for a caffeine shot? That brain fog.
There’s varying degrees of brain fog. There’s the I-can’t-stop-playing-those-FB-games fog, the roaming-around-the-house-wondering-what-I-need-to-do fog, the I-need-a-nap fog.
Brain fog can be a symptom of food intolerance.
After 3 days on the fast, I’d never achieved so much brain clarity in my life. After the 5th day, I didn’t want to eat anymore. But the good doctor said I had to. He’s always the villain in this story.
The Elimination Diet is similar to the Paleolithic Diet. Allowed foods are most vegetable, low glycemic fruits, fermented foods (Kombucha teas are awesome, I discovered), meats and coconut. Foods to avoid: all the rest, meaning sugars, grains, gluten, dairy, soy, alcohol, nuts, coffee (gasp!), corn and processed food.
After a month on the ED, I lost 5 to 7 pounds easily. I point again, easily, since I’d been working out like crazy to lose 5 pounds in the last 3 years.
But miracle of miracle, no more brain fog. Writing became so much easier. Sugar and caffeine cravings went to knock on other doors.
The goal of the ED is to determine which foods I am intolerant to. Pretty much everything, turns out. Each week, I tried something new, and I was so excited at first – almonds, yay! – only to be disappointed. Because once my system was clean, when I introduced something new, the effects were immediate.
There can’t be no doubt that nuts are out. And peppers. And sweet potatoes. And lettuce. And corn, soy and gluten.
At some point, I stopped re-introducing new foods. Because each time, the symptoms came back, bent on vengeance with claymore in hand.
I told my doctor I wanted to keep my diet as it was. No more new foods. At this point, I’d lost 15 pounds so I felt good in my body.
I’m ready now to go further in this journey. My energy has been lagging a bit lately. I want to re-adjust my diet and set new goals.
What about you? What foods do you think you should let go? Here’s a clue: usually, it’s something you really like. Let me know!