Thursday, April 11, 2013

Like a Really Bad Breakup

With great trepidation, I went to my regularly scheduled appointment with Dr. Gage on February 26th.  By this time, I was going twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I had a feeling that the test results would be in by that appointment and I was hoping for good news.  GOOD GRAVY did I miss all of my beloved gluten-laden foods.  Especially chips - tortilla chips to be specific.

The testing I had done was by Cyrex Laboratories - the specific test was the Gluten-Associated Cross-Reactive Foods & Foods Sensitivity Test.  You can see from the results below, I had a sensitivity to every single thing tested.

Dr. Gage didn't want to give me the results.  In fact, he'd had them since the Friday before but waited to talk to me in person because the results were so shocking.  In short - dairy (including eggs), gluten and the widely used gluten substitutes were to be completely eliminated from my diet.  Even quinoa.  I had been careful  about not eating everything else on the list of foods to avoid but I had been eating quinoa practically every day.  When I didn't eat quinoa, I was eating hummus made with tahini.  In case you're not familiar with tahini, it's a sesame seed paste.  Yeah, also on the list.

I cried.

I asked him if these were typical results. 

His reply was very diplomatic and sympathetic.  "No.", he said.  "We typically see one or two sensitivities but it's very rare to have a reaction to every item on this list."

"Have any of your patients had results to this extent?", I asked.

"  You are the only one.", was his reply.

I still cried.  I couldn't help it.  It was as if I was being dumped by a beloved.  With no explanation and very little hope for the future.

Dr. Gage tried to console me by saying that maybe, someday, after a complete detoxification and healing of my adrenal and intestinal systems, I may be able to introduce one or two of them back in to my diet.  But more than likely, it would be for a special occasion or one or two times a year.  It wasn't very likely that I could introduce all of these things back into my diet without serious consequence.

As I've modified my diet and thought about the way my body was reacting to these things, I'm not sure I ever do want to eat them again.

Several weeks later, I was in a local specialty grocery store and in my desperation to eat something bagged, crispy and salty, I found a bag of falafel chips which I believed to be made completely from beans.  In the aisle of the store I stood, analyzing every label and much to my surprise, I had found something that I could eat!  I rushed to the checkout, headed to the car and broke open the bag.   They tasted good!  They crunched like regular corn tortillas chips!  I even called my sister and made her listen to me crunch those chips.  Elation doesn't even describe the happiness I felt.

I got home, put the groceries away, all the while munching on the chips.  Since these chips were so "safe" for me to eat, I browsed the maker's website to see what other tasty items of goodness they must have.  I clicked on the chips and the list of ingredients came up.  First thing on the list?  ORGANIC, NON-GMO WHOLE CORN.

I was heartbroken.  How did I miss this?  I missed it because I wanted to, I guess.  I wanted something that seemed normal.  I wanted a comfort food. 

About two hours later, I started to feel nauseated.  So much, that I wanted to throw-up.  I had to go to bed to overcome the desire to vomit.  My head was killing me.  I had a headache (as I usually do) before eating the chips but by the time I went to bed, my head throbbed.  

If this was how my body was going to react to reintroduction of these foods, I decided it wasn't worth it.  I was good learning to live without it.

Now, I'm very careful about what I eat.  With the exception of nuts, I've pretty much eliminated everything that has a label.  I've spent a great deal of time looking at recipes using nut flours and egg substitutes.  I think I've actually tried one of them and it was awful.  Maybe if I didn't know the difference, I would accept the way they tasted.  But, since I know the goodness of a homemade flour tortilla or homemade yeast rolls slathered with butter and jam, there's no substitute on this planet that can taste that good.

I mourn the loss of these things from my diet just about as much as I have mourned the loss of my Dad.  I, in no way, want to trivialize the loss of my Dad by comparing it to food but the loss is just as significant.

Last year I met a gal that claimed to have an egg sensitivity.  She was also gluten intolerant.  I gave very little credit to her claim - I didn't know another single person (I have since met several) that was allergic to egg.  I admit that I even told others I thought she was crazy.  If I knew how to get in touch with her, I'd tell her how sorry I am for thinking that.

This has been one of the more difficult things that I've ever gone through.  Saturday will mark eight weeks since I've had a single slice of bread, eaten anything with milk, cheese or egg or had anything with sugar or chocolate.  Since February 26th - with the exception of that time I accidentally ate corn - I've been faithful to the list of allowed foods.

Coincidentally, since February 26th, I've lost nearly 25 pounds. 

I'd never lost weight after a breakup before.

Until now.


  1. LOL. At the last part. At the other parts....=( Going without delicious tasting food can be so difficult. Especially with your new diet. Have you tried cacao nibs? Can you have dates? Like think Larabar? If you put the cacao nibs in with the blended dates it *almost* tastes like chocolate instead of just the cacao. I forgot if you said you could eat fruits or not. I kind of feel like you said you couldn't. =(

  2. Thank you for sharing your journey. I wanted to mention something, in case it is the same for you. My mom is allergic to raw eggs, but can eat them if they are cooked well, or baked in something.

    I'm sorry you have to mourn so many things.

  3. I am so impressed with the weight loss, knowing what a challenge it has been for you. Thanks for taking the time to explain so much of this. And for being willing to hang out with us even if those rolls are still making the rounds and I know it's not easy. But I've loved the foods we've shared with you - HEALTHY, HEALTHY, HEALTHY! Not one thing wrong with veggies and fruits and nuts. Which is pretty much what your life has boiled down to, I know, but look at you! What a turn around!

  4. Oh my, I bet we grabbed the same grab of "safe" chips! lol I discovered with the same horror that I had somehow overlooked the word mesa corn on an ingredient list as I happily munched down while re-reading the ingredient list. Nooooo! It can't be! I feel your pain....I have to give up all grains (except rice), quinoa, corn, dairy, potatoes, tomatoes and soy. And with the exception of tomatoes, you'd be surprised how frequently all of these ingredients crop up in common foods ;( I say going gluten-free would actually be easier than this. It's rough, for sure, but I have now lost 40 lbs giving up that stuff and feel SO much better energy-wise, even before I had lost weight. Grains were making me miserable, foggy-brained, depressed and lethargic. btw, congrats on your weight loss!