Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Food Allergy or Intolerance? And Update on My Own Journey

Here is a great little primer from Oprah's website on food allergies in children and the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance. Food intolerances are not life-threatening where as most food allergies are life-threatening. Thus the appropriate vigilance at schools and in our communities for children who suffer from food allergies.

Food intolerances cause discomfort and pain but do not threaten your life. I have food intolerances. I have called them food allergies in the past because I wasn't terribly clear on the distinction myself, but I vow to be more precise in my language from now on.

I haven't mentioned my food intolerances since May and June. I am still abiding by what I called "the allergy-free diet" and what I think would now be better named "the intolerance-free diet"--except that name doesn't have quite the same ring to it. Really, I just eat a lot of veggies, fruit, meat, some whole grains, nuts, seeds and lentils. And coconut flour, coconut milk and coconut ice cream. And almond flour chocolate chip cookies. Hmmm, coooookies. I'm suddenly hungry for cookies.

I experimented some this summer with my food intolerances. Okay, and by "some," I mean a whole lot. For most of the month of July (and a good chunk of August) I went back to my wheat-eating, dairy-eating, sugar-eating previous lifestyle. Initially, I was just going to challenge the elimination diet I had been on, but it turned into a bit of a free-for-all instead.

There is just some screw that turns in my brain when I start eating those foods and I don't know how to turn it off. It feels strong and powerful and it sets me on this physical roller coaster that takes weeks to turn around. And yet, when I'm on the roller coaster, I forget so quickly how much better I was feeling. It may not make sense or sound logical but it is a very visceral experience for me. And going off those foods feels a bit like getting over a drug addiction (at least I imagine!). When I'm in that vortex or on that wild roller coaster, I can't foresee my life without wheat, dairy, sugar. I can't imagine the sterile, pale existence that will be mine if I can't eat them every day. And yet, about three weeks after I've gone off all of them, my life feels calm and peaceful and my energy is good again and I don't have intense cravings all day long.

I'm not going to assume this will be my life forever. That's too hard to think about right now. But it is my life for now. And, surprising most of all, I'm loving it. Or at least, I seem to be enjoying the ride. As long as I just keep reminding myself where I end up when I go off this path.

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