My Food Allergies Explained – FINALLY

Two months ago I completed food sensitivity testing. My Rheumatologist and Nutritionist ordered what’s called Mediator Release Test. They can take insurance but my insurance didn’t cover the cost of the test. It cost me $275 out of pocket, which I was more than happy to pay to get some answers to my nagging GI issues.

I went to the lab and had four vials of blood drawn. I then overnighted these vials to the lab in Florida. My nutritionist called a week later to schedule my follow-up appointment to review my results. All in all the process was pretty simple.

The results however, were not. Turns out I’m allergic to a lot. At the top of the list, wheat. No surprise there. While my celiac tests had come back negative, I suspected I was highly sensitive to wheat, which the MRT confirmed. I’m also allergic to American cheese, rye, mushrooms, and honey. Seriously I’m allergic to HONEY! I love honey, so I’m slightly pissed about this.

On the highly sensitive to list: buckwheat (there I go with the wheat again), cauliflower, codfish, cottage cheese, cow’s milk, green peas, mustard, papaya and pineapple (good thing I don’t live in Hawaii), peanuts, pinto beans, pistachios, Red #40, Yellow #6, and acetaminophen (yes I’m allergic to Tylenol).

I must note, my allergies are not the “eat it and my throat swells to the point of death” type. Rather when I consume the aforementioned ingredients I feel sick to my stomach and generally sluggish. Most of these can increase my autoimmune responses and could increase lupus flares.

Honey

My reaction to all of this: I’m super pissed about the honey and pineapple; I don’t like mushrooms, mustard, or cottage cheese anyways; giving up cow’s milk means no ice cream which is sad; sensitive to food coloring and acetaminophen is a pain in the ass. Have you found a cold medicine without all three of these? The only ones I found were then naturally flavored with honey = fail! All but two multivitamins at my local pharmacy had food coloring in them. Those that didn’t were super expensive.

I have to be a lot more conscious about reading labels. I grabbed a carton of rainbow sherbet the other day at the grocery store and come to find out it has pineapple and food coloring in it. But, like an idiot I discovered this AFTER I had eaten a few spoonfuls from the carton. No immediate reaction but I have to be more careful.

I’m happy I discovered what I’m allergic to. In a disease like lupus which has no rhyme or reason, it’s nice to have control over something. Totally worth $275.

New Juicing Recipes

I thought I’d share some new juicing recipes, perfect for the warm summer weather.

Juice

I created the Morning Burst to try to get some more Vitamin C and hopefully prevent any allergies/sniffles from progressing into a full blown sinus problem. It was a great kick first thing in the morning.

For the Thirst Quencher I added water based cucumber and watermelon, then poured in some coconut water. I’m not a fan of coconut water, frankly I hate the taste but this C2O brand is the least repulsive I’ve found. (I only seem to find it at Whole Foods, not Publix or Kroger) Since I only added a little bit of coconut water to my drink, it was very refreshing. I think this may be a summer afternoon staple.

When a cleanse doesn’t work

Disclaimer: I’ve been saying I’ll outline my current health issues but have yet to do so because I’m afraid of the sensitive nature of this post. GI issues are often embarrassing and uncomfortable. I will try not to be too graphic for your sake and for mine, but if you’d rather not hear about go ahead and skip this post.

As January came to a close I saw a bunch of friends successfully finish the #Whole30 which consisted of a month of whole eating, or essentially the paleo diet. Other friends completed their New Year’s detox programs, 21 days of no alcohol, no caffeine, clean eating plus some supplements. They all raved about their bodies. Yes, they lost some weight, but more importantly they felt better, had more energy, clearer skin, fixed many nagging health problems.

I am not going to outline these programs for you. I’m not going to sell you on some miracle diet. You may say “well they worked, why don’t you try this? Maybe you’ll feel better.” Problem is, I live that way every day and I’m still sick.

I read the Kris Carr book detailing her curing her cancer with diet. I am constantly checking websites like The Whole Journey or following my friend Evelyne’s San Diego Health Coach Facebook page. I don’t eat red meat, gluten, or mass amounts of sugar. I don’t drink soda, limit my dairy intake and I haven’t had a cup of coffee in months. I use coconut oil or applesauce instead of unhealthy oils when cooking. I juice or make a green monster every morning. I haven’t eaten fast food since one Chick-fil-a breakfast pre-UGA game in November. I follow the 80-20 rule (perfect 80% of the time with little room for indulgences). I follow the rules. I’ve eliminated the bad stuff from my diet. Yet, I’m still sick.

For months I’ve had trouble keeping down food. Homemade squash and carrot soup has made my stomach churn and I’ve even vomited apples (literally, all I had one morning was an apple before I went to the store and I threw it up in the parking lot). The only things I consistently keep down are my green juice and plain oatmeal. I had celery with organic peanut butter and a few strawberries for lunch and within an hour was sick. Fruits and vegetables are making me sick!

I started by seeing my primary care doctor, thinking maybe my B12 deficiency was the root cause. Nope, I’ve been taking B12 shots for months now so that’s not it. Next the doctor pressed on my stomach and I felt the aching pain everywhere.

Next, I took a trip to the GI specialists. Blood work found I don’t have celiac (but that doesn’t show if there are gluten sensitivities present). They did an ultrasound on my upper and lower abdomen; nothing abnormal. Then, I had a HIDA scan to test the function of my gallbladder; 69%; not good, but not bad enough to warrant surgery any time soon. The next round of tests includes an upper endoscopy and a colonoscopy. So I sit and I wait. I wait for the test results, wait for the doctor to call me, wait for scheduling to call to make the appointment for the next test, wait in pain.

Part of me wants to say “Screw it!” and eat what I want. If I’m going to throw up I may as well indulge. But, the smarter part of me says continue to juice and follow the rules. Keep trudging along. Even if following the rules isn’t “curing” me now, I know it can’t hurt.

Guide to Juicing

I blogged many moons ago about Green Monsters, basically fruit smoothies with spinach/kale in them. I love smoothies but in the past year I’ve graduated to juicing. 3813913687110p

I bought this bad boy at Bed Bath and Beyond last year. It’s the Breville Juice Fountain Plus. It’s easy to quick, easy to clean, and the pulp is dry which means I got every last bit of juice out of my ingredients. This is the same juicer featured in the documentary “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.” If you haven’t seen it, go rent it on Hulu or Netflix NOW. While I haven’t been “cured,” my blood work has shown serious improvements and generally I feel a whole lot better (ignoring the current GI situation, which I have yet to address I know – post coming soon). So here’s how I juice:

Grocery Store

Every five days or so I hit the grocery store and load up on the following:

  • 2 bunches Kale (whole leaves)
  • 3 Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • 5 Apples or Pears
  • Ginger

When I get home I divide my juicing ingredients into five bags, one for each day. I split up the ingredients evenly.

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my daily juicing bag

At Home

Each morning I pull out a bag and get to juicing. To ease cleanup I line the pulp catcher with the veggie bag. Just tie off and throw away when done. (Don’t put scraps down the sink. It’s ok if a few get down there but it can clog up your garbage disposal real quick).

I put the kale in first (I get more juice from kale if the grater is clean). Then I throw in the rest of the ingredients. I’ve already pre-washed my veggies and there’s no need to peal or core anything as the juicer will extract the seeds and peel.

image

The irony of drinking green juice out of a beer cup

When it’s done I have a tall glass of green goodness. The best part is the foam. The apples or pears give the juice a sweet taste, not too sweet though. If I don’t drink it quick enough, I’ll continue to stir between sips. But, I usually chug this in about 10 seconds. (This is my everyday juice. Sometimes I’ll buy beats and carrots and oranges but I prefer the greens).

I clean my juicer right away. It disassembles easily and because I’ve already bagged the pulp there’s less work to do. I scrape the excess pulp from the large top portion into the bag to avoid more pulp in the drain. When it comes to the blade I scrub with the included brush, outside first to loosen the pulp, then inside with soap. The Breville can go in the dishwasher but usually I don’t have enough dishes to run mine every day, so I hand wash my juicer most days.

Juicing is a huge trend right now. The Wall Street Journal even wrote an article on it, saying sales of juicers have gone up 71%. Personally, it’s not a trend for me. I’m not one of those week long “juice cleanse” people. That’s too extreme. But drinking a glass in the morning is an easy way to get veggies into my diet and a nice boost of energy instead of drinking coffee. Who can argue with more vegetables?

Do you juice? What juicing recipes do you use?

Planes, trains and automobiles

In both the sports reporter and marketing worlds I’ve done my fair share of business travel. Some trips have been better than others (don’t even get me started on the time the tv station sent me to a bowl game expecting me to sleep on the floor). But, there’s a way to travel for business avoiding a flare, but still getting your job done. Here are some of my best tips:

1) Pack like a pro

Type A personality here. I not only make a list of what I need to bring but pack efficiently. You don’t need a fancy Louis Vuitton suitcase to pack correctly. I know everyone has their own way but this web app made my life better! Not only does a little organization make my trips less stressful but also taught me that my roller suitcase is a lifesaver.

2) On the room service menu – seasonal vegetables.

Sometimes you’re in a hotel with nothing around but fast food. Instead try room service. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Most hotel restaurants and room service menus list some kind of vegetable as a side and most of the time  those “side” items are full plates or bowls of fresh grilled/steamed veggies, for the same cost as a Big Mac. Just because you’re on the road doesn’t mean you have to give up eating healthy.

Soup and Veggies for under $10 via room service

3) Bring your own pillow

Or whatever else helps you sleep. I love a big hotel bed, but I know many others don’t. So pack your own blanket, or pillow, or whatever you can to replicate your best sleep.

4) Take a half day

Most of my trips involve looooonnnggg days. Like 15+ hours of being on my feet. Last week I was on the golf course at 6:30am, worked until I had to leave for the airport at 8pm for a 10pm flight and didn’t get home until 2am. The next day = half day. Work it out with your boss if you can but even if you can’t, it may be worth it to take some unpaid time. In the long run a few hours of extra sleep is better than missing a few days later when the lupus flares up.

A lovely but long day

What tips do you have for business travel with a chronic illness?

Friday Five

Instead of being a debby downer I thought I’d post a fun non-lupus Friday Five.  Five things I can’t live without (in no particular order and clearly not the full I can’t live without it list):

1) Internet: I think it’s pretty obvious but the internet is amazing, especially now that I don’t have cable and can watch my TV shows online. Another point for the internet.

2) My Boys: I’ve always been one of the guys and these boys have taken care of me like their sister.  Heartache, sickness, the best nights of my life, these boys were there and I know I wouldn’t have made it this far without them.

A Few of My Favorites

3) Fresh Fruit: Delicious, healthy, and the more I have the better I feel.

4) My Chi: This is the best straightener EVER!  My hair is naturally wavy and unruly.  Only on completely lazy days I wear it scrunched but to me it looks like a mess and very unprofessional.  Without my Chi I wouldn’t be able to go on air,  I would feel self conscious leaving the house, and my hair would be a frizz-tastic mess.

Courtesy of Chi4hair.com

5) Bread: If someone told me I had to be gluten free I’d say forget it!  Maybe it’s my jewish heritage but damn I love bread.  Challah on Fridays and when that isn’t enough I can eat a whole loaf of soft sided Italian bread in one sitting (with Olive Oil and Cheese YUM!).  I live on my PB&J sandwiches for lunch. I need some sort of bread to go with my salad.  For this jew, going without bread for a week during Passover is hard enough.  By the end I’m dying for my bread.

I hope you enjoyed this edition of Friday Five and got to know me a little better.  I have plenty of idea posts in the works and plenty of rough drafts.  I just have to find the time to get them going.  HAPPY FRIDAY

Tricked

I’m sitting in the laundromat waiting for my clothes to finish drying.  The combination of the warm weather and the dryers running made me want a refreshing beverage.  The Pepsi vending machine didn’t offer water so I bought the next best thing:

Looks innocent enough right?

So I’m practically done drinking the bottle (it’s pretty good and hits the spot) before I turn it around to read the ingredients label.

Look Closely, 2nd ingredient listed

The first ingredient: Water.  Ok well that’s good.  The second ingredient: High Fructose Corn Syrup.  The actual Tea is the fourth ingredient listed, which in my mind means that there is more damaging High Fructose Corn Syrup in this than actual Tea!  It’s almost as if that little stamp on the front that advertises the great antioxidants is cancelled out by the HFCS.

I’ve been trying to be good about eating less processed foods and eating clean.  I have been drinking my green monsters every day and cutting back on the white flour and white sugar and definitely trying to eliminate HFCS from my diet.  I’m not going crazy, I did eat two fudge pops yesterday, but I am trying to eat healthy in an attempt to rid some of my lupus symptoms naturally.  So thinking that I am choosing a healthy drink option but then to find out it’s not that much better than drinking a soda really irks me.  I feel tricked by Lipton!

This makes me believe more than ever that I should really make my own everything. Food, tea, what have you.  That way I know exactly what’s in it.