Health Check-Up

I have not been eating super healthy so far this year. The chaos of the new year and a second job made it easy to eat whatever was most convenient, regardless of how unhealthy it was. After some nasty breakouts (due to my overconsumption of dairy, I assume), I have decided that what I’m doing is ridiculous.

I completely avoid peanuts, beef, pork, and lamb, because I’m allergic. But I’m also allergic/sensitive to wheat, dairy, soy, and eggs, and I eat those whenever I want. No, I don’t break out into hives or go into anaphylaxis when I eat these things. But they do make me feel pretty crappy. So why in the hell do I keep eating them?

Good question. Convenience, mostly. If I strictly avoid all those foods, I’m inconveniencing my husband, my family, my friends, and myself. Because I love dairy and I enjoy foods that contain gluten (hello pizza!). What I fail to focus on is that these foods are negatively affecting my health. And I shouldn’t be compromising my health just because it’s inconvenient.

I finally told my husband that it’s just nonsense that I completely avoid certain foods I’m allergic to and not others. So we’re going to start focusing on avoiding foods that have anything I’m allergic to in them. I’m not going to worry about whether what we’re eating is paleo or Whole30. I’m just going to focus on not eating the foods that make me sick.

What a revelation! To make it seem a little less overwhelming, we’re taking it week by week. No, I’m not going to die if I eat cheese or eggs. So if we end up at a restaurant or family dinner where certain things are unavoidable, I’m not going to sweat it. But I am going to make more of an effort to find restaurants where I can eat without having to make those compromises (if you have any recommendations, please send them my way!).

I have to stop saying it’s okay to eat these things whenever I don’t feel like inconveniencing someone. They don’t make me feel good, so I need to stop eating them. No, they don’t always make me physically sick. But they show up in other ways: Dairy makes my skin break out in nasty pimples and I get eczema on my toes and fingers. Too much gluten upsets my stomach. Eggs really upset my stomach. It’s too difficult to try to moderate how much dairy I can have before I start seeing its effects on my skin. It’s much easier to just cut them out of my daily diet altogether. So that’s what I plan to do.

Do you have food allergies? What are they and how do you deal with them? Any good restaurant suggestions?

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More on Food Allergies

When I first got tested for food allergies, I asked them to test for beef and pork, as well as peanuts. They also tested for dairy and wheat, as I’ve had problems with those in the past. Apparently, they tested me for several “basic” food allergies. They made such a big deal about the peanut allergy and the beef and pork that I paid little attention to whatever else they tested me for.

When I got tested, I thought the scale was from 1 to 10. Some of my allergies were a 5 and others were a 7, so I thought my allergies were pretty serious. After some more investigation (more than two years later), I found out that the scale is actually 1 to 15. So what I thought were pretty serious allergies don’t seem to be as serious as I thought. Here are the foods they tested me for and the severity:

Beef: 7/15

Pork: 7/15

Lamb: 7/15

Peanut: 7/15

Egg white: 5/15

Soy: 5/15

Wheat: 5/15

Codfish: 5/15

Milk: 5/15

After all my Whole30s, I know how dairy affects me. I get eczema-like dry, itchy skin on my fingers and toes. And I tend to have more pimples when I eat too much dairy. Too much wheat/gluten upsets my stomach. Things on that list above that I neglected to really pay attention to were soy, egg white, and codfish.

Later, I broke out in hives after accidentally eating soy. So I assumed I was allergic. I didn’t even think to look at the list of things I got tested for. More recently, I’ve still been struggling with dry skin and some awful digestive issues. I decided to pull out my list to see what I have and haven’t been tested for and saw the egg white and codfish. I don’t eat much codfish (almost never as far as I know), so I’m starting to think maybe the eggs are part of the problem.

Now, I’m no saint. I go through periods of avoiding gluten and dairy and then sometimes I find myself bingeing on it (and feeling awful after). But I’m wondering if my failure to also cut out eggs from my diet is part of the reason I’m still not feeling as great as I could. So I’m going to cut out eggs for a while and see if it makes any difference in how I’m feeling.

Fortunately, I don’t eat eggs for breakfast all too often anymore. After my second Whole30, I was pretty well sick of them. More recently, I had been making frittatas, which was nice to have for a quick meal throughout the week. For now, I’ll be skipping the frittatas and eating leftovers or salads for breakfast.

Something I didn’t get tested for is nightshades: tomatoes, eggplant, white potatoes, and all varieties of peppers. All my research has revealed that nightshades are another possible culprit of conditions such as IBS. The idea of cutting tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers from my diet sounds horrifying. I did read though that peeling potatoes and making sure you eat cooked tomatoes and peppers can cut down on the alkaloids that are present in nightshades, which is what tends to cause problems.

So, in addition to cutting out eggs, I’m going to start peeling my potatoes (ugh) and avoid eating uncooked tomatoes and peppers to see if that helps. I’m tired of the skin issues and the digestive issues, and if this can help me feel better, then I’m going to give it a try. Yes, it’s inconvenient, but so is feeling bad all the time.

My First 5K in a Year

On Saturday I ran my first 5K–the annual Race to the Shrine in Florissant–in about a year. Thanks to illness and injury, I hadn’t done any of the training I had planned on doing since at least August. The good news is, I survived! Not only that, but I finished in 38 minutes. I can’t seem to find my time from last year’s race, but I think it was around the same. My pace was about 12 minutes/mile (I’m a super slow runner), and I unfortunately walked several times throughout the race.

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Our pre-race selfie.

My husband, Chris, agreed to run the race with me, but I started walking too early in the race for him, so he went on without me. I was kind of okay with that, because he was there with water when I crossed the finish line 😉 He ran the race in 31 minutes. He had to stop to walk one or two times too though. This route (and the city in general) are hilly, so that makes it a tougher race.

I felt so motivated after the race that I decided I want to sign up for one of the Turkey Trots taking place early on Thanksgiving morning. That gives me just a little over a month to train properly. I kicked my training off with a 2-mile run yesterday. Unfortunately, I ended up walking some of that too. I’m hopeful that if I keep training and keep eating right, eventually I’ll be able to run much more than I walk.

I ran the race with brand-new earbuds. I was a little nervous to be running with new earbuds, but they worked out. I recently purchased the Jaybird Sport X2 wireless earbuds (on sale!!) and they were great. I plan to write up a full review for you guys later this week, after I’ve got a couple more runs in with them. In short, they stayed put (which is a major hurdle for me), and they were wireless, so I didn’t have to worry about accidentally pulling on the wires.

Today I’m starting a new challenge. It’s call the Harder to Kill (HTK) Challenge by Stupid Easy Paleo’s Steph Gaudreau. It’s a six-week program that focuses on building strength, renewing energy, eating nourishing foods, and having a positive mindset. Today was the first day of the challenge, and we were instructed to create a pledge for the duration of the challenge. My pledge reads: Every day I will honor my body and treat myself with the love and respect I deserve

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I’m so excited to start this new journey. I think the strength training will perfectly complement my 5k training plans, so I’m hoping to get faster and stronger! I also want to focus on the energy and positive mindset. I have seriously been lacking in energy for several months now. Everything–even activities I enjoy–all feel so exhausting. I’d like to get back to a place where I have energy to get my work completed and still work out and do other activities at the end of the work day. As I’m on day 28 of my Whole30, I plan to mostly stick with those eating habits for the six weeks. The HTK does provide meal plans, but since I have food allergies, I will probably have to modify the meals.

I’m planning to write more on the HTK Challenge later this week as we get going with the program.

Anyone else out there training for an upcoming race or starting a health/fitness journey? I’d love to hear about it!

-AB

The Whole30: A 3-Week Recap

I am currently just past my third week of my fifth or sixth Whole30. The program is an excellent way to reset your diet and learn more about your body and how it reacts to certain foods. In fact, it’s how I learned I had food allergies at the age of 25 back in 2014. Previous Whole30s were challenging for me, especially after I had to permanently cut out certain foods from my diet (mainly beef and pork). I’ve been eating chicken and turkey, mixed in with the occasional fish, for two years now, and I’ve mostly gotten used to it. That has made this particular Whole30 a little easier.

I’m also a pro at reading labels now, which also helps. I know all the different, sneaky names they come up with for sugar (dextrose, sucralose, etc). I have also had the confidence to try new things on a more regular basis this time around. Although I have previously perfected homemade mayo (pro tip: use an immersion blender!), I shied away from things like homemade ranch–because I had no idea what “coconut cream” was–and clarified butter. Instead, I bought the outrageously expensive Ghee found at my local Dierbergs.

This time around, I finally bought some cans of coconut milk and stored them in my fridge. Lo and behold, the cream rises to the top–just like they said it would! (“They” being the lovely people behind The Whole30.) With that, I whipped up some homemade ranch, and it was more delicious than I thought was ever possible. My husband even liked it! I also finally decided it was time to try my hand at making clarified butter. The process is actually pretty simple. The most frustrating part is trying to skim the milk solids off the top after the butter melts. I’ve made it twice now, and both times I have felt like I didn’t quite get them all, which worries me that they’ll end up in my clarified butter thus making it non-Whole30 compliant.

I bought coconut flour for the first time and made some meatballs and paleo buffalo chicken nuggets. Those chicken nuggets are a little work, but totally worth it. In addition to my small victories in the kitchen, I’ve experienced one other non-scale victory so far, which is clearer skin. I haven’t noticed a major difference in how my clothes fit so far (so I may or may not be losing weight). I also haven’t experienced higher levels of energy or an easier time waking up like I have in the past. I partly blame the fact that I’m working a full-time job and a part-time job (both from home) and for the past week or so, that has meant working until 9 p.m. or later several nights a week.

I’ve also been struggling with a sore knee for the past week, which has made working out difficult. Unfortunately, I’m running a 5K this weekend and have not trained at all, so I’ll probably end up walking much of the hilly course. I’m hoping by the time the race rolls around my “tiger blood” will have kicked in and that will help get me through.

If you’ve never done a Whole30 (or if you’ve never even heard of it), I highly recommend checking out their website. You don’t need to read any of the books to do the 30-day reset, but It Starts with Food is a great place to start if you do want to learn more about the Whys of the program. They have several new and upcoming books out now as well. I’m hoping to buy Food Freedom Forever soon (and when I do, you can expect a thorough review!).

Thanks for reading! Come back next week for my complete 30-day recap!

-AB