By Jessica, Pure Matters
For about two years now, I’ve been sick. Not sick with anything specific, exactly, but experiencing a wide variety of seemingly unrelated bizarre health symptoms. An ache or pain here. A sudden, splitting headache there. Brain fog. A frequent numbness in my left arm. The list goes on and on. For what feels like forever, I’ve divided my time between going to doctors who told me there was nothing wrong with me, and googling my symptoms, which had me convinced that I had a different, often undetectable ailment daily.
The one doctor I didn’t go to was an allergist, because I was pretty sure I didn’t have an actual allergy. But after exhausting all of my other options (and being diagnosed with “hysterical woman syndrome” by an arrogant neurologist), I gave in. And I’m so glad I did.
She, too, was convinced that I didn’t have an allergy, though she gave me all the forearm pricks just to rule it out. Then we talked about environmental factors, as my moving in to the apartment I live in now and the illness started roughly at the same time. Since determining whether mold or other toxic chemicals were the cause of my illness was time-consuming and difficult, she had an easier (in theory) option -- an elimination diet, to see if I had a food intolerance.
I’d suspected I had a food intolerance, as most of the things I loved eating made me feel terrible. I knew pizza and wine were definitely a problem, but I didn’t know why and there didn’t seem to be a pattern that made sense for the rest of the time I felt awful. So she put me on a 30-day gluten-free, dairy-free, wine-free diet. And almost 30 days later, the results are dramatic.
I’m not going to lie: this is a hard diet to be on. I had been trying to cut down on all of the things I wasn’t supposed to be eating prior to my visit with the allergist anyway, but there’s a big difference between saying, “I’ll just have one small piece out of the bread basket” and “No bread at all.” I’ve always been a big believer in “everything in moderation” and completely denying myself of the foods I love is, simply-speaking, a giant bummer. A few things that have made it easier are focusing on what I can eat, instead of what I can’t; reminding myself that I’m doing something good for my health; and also reminding myself that this is temporary -- it’s an experiment, and when it’s over, I will be able to welcome at least some of these things back into my life, though probably in a lesser quantity.
Here’s what I eat on a typical day:
- Breakfast – veggie omelets with a starchy side or meat, or a fruit or veggie smoothie
- Lunch and dinner – soups, salads, gluten-free grains like quinoa or rice, vegetables and (usually lean) protein
- Snacks – veggies and hummus, nuts, fruit, popcorn
There’s good and bad news.
The good news is, I feel fantastic. My skin is glowing, I’ve dropped 10 pounds, and I have more energy and less aches and pains than I’ve had in years.
The bad news is that I still haven’t identified what it is I need to remove from my diet. It could be dairy, gluten, wheat, yeast, histamines, or something I haven’t even identified yet. But if I had to offer one silver lining, it’s this: for the first time in as long as I can remember, I actually have hope that I’m going to figure it out and get better. Plus, anything that gets me closer to getting back into my skinny jeans can’t be all bad.