Monday, October 4, 2010

What the heck is a rotation diet anyway?

Hmmm...It all started with pineapple.  That was about ten years ago.  It stung every time I put it in my mouth.  Oh, I could eat the canned kind, just not the good so beautiful and juicy and sweet and fresh kind that always looks so appetizing to me.

That went on for a while--a few years, actually--and (just sneak a taste now and then, but never too much!) I pretty much ignored it.  Until strawberries decided to hop on board.  Now, that's just not right.  How could those gorgeous delectable little red treats be painful?  Then it was the perfectly almost ripe banana.  Then the kiwi, then grapes.  Then, at its worst, until about a month ago, every time I took a bite of food, I experienced mouth pain.

I know I'm not alone.  Give a shout out if you have food allergies!  Or sensitivities!  Woohoo!  But, the thing is, I didn't really.  FINALLY, I went to a holistic MD who really took the time to investigate my full range of symptoms (thank you Dr. Sebastian!), and she had some insights into why I might be feeling drained of energy nearly all the time, suffering from anxiety and depression for most of my life, enduring chronic joint pain (not to mention mouth pain).  Maybe...just maybe...it was food.

Ok, she also came up with a few other things, too, like adrenal gland issues and generally weakened cells.  But in the process, she gave me a food sensitivity blood test.  When it came back, we were both a bit flabbergasted, because it said I was highly sensitive to almost everything in my diet that was healthy.  Let's see, just off the top of my head...onions, garlic, olives (there goes italian food), lettuce, spinach, cucumber, mushrooms, corn, (there goes salad), salmon, crab, potatoes, rice!  And these are just the +3 foods (highly reactive).  Beets and goat cheese at +2, and a whole bunch more that were +1 (mild sensitivity).

And fruits, ALL fruits except for blueberries, were just fine.  WTF??

Wheat, meats, cheese, beans, milk, coffee, chocolate, sugar, and all fruits had either no or very low reactivity.  What kind of diet is that?  I can eat all the fattening or sweet stuff but I can't have a salad?  I spent a few months simply trying to avoid the +3 foods.  Actually, it was kind of tasty, but  I didn't really feel that much better.

At the time I got my results, my doc suggested a rotation diet, and gave me some literature on it.  Even now, I don't completely understand it, but here goes.  In a rotation diet for food sensitivities, you have to eat certain foods only on certain days, and every four days you can repeat foods.  This is to avoid eating too much of any one food family so your system won't begin to react to it.  At least I think this is basically right.  Feel free to comment with any further insight, please!

Admittedly, I did not understand it at the time.  I sort of half-ass tried it.  But I would move things around, and try different food combinations.  I would look at foods that weren't anywhere on the list and say, I guess I can have this!  My ignorance was my enemy then.  I eventually gave it up.  Plus I travelled to Ireland over the summer.  How can you go there and not eat potatoes?

Once the kids went back to school and I could breathe again, I knew I needed to see a nutritionist.    For one thing, the mouth pain had not gone away, and in fact was worsening, and it didn't have anything to do with food sensitivities.  According to the test results, fruits were not reactive at all.  Plus I started feeling weird pain around the base right of my ribs.  Isn't that where your liver is?  I got worried.

When the nutritionist returned my call and I gave here a simple run-down of what was going on, she said, "Oh, you have a leaky gut."  Just like that.  Like she'd seen it a million times, and she knew exactly what I was going through and what to do about it.  Do I trust her?  Coming from a family with two traditional MDs, I'll admit I was hesitant.  But then, I just felt relieved to get a confident answer from someone.

I saw here about a month ago, and we discussed all these issues.  Turns out I may not even be allergic to any of those foods!  (But I might be so let's go slow)  Apparently, with a "leaky gut," my cells don't fit together too well in my intestinal wall and stuff leaks through into my bloodstream.  My immune system can't tell the difference between healthy food and foreign objects so it's in a constant state of inflammation, and that's probably why so many foods showed up on the blood test as highly reactive.  Unfortunately, from what I've read, NSAIDS (anti-inflammatories like Advil) just make it worse--too much probably caused it in the first place.  So there is no miracle cure.

I am on so many supplements now I need 3 pill cases to fit them all in.  These are to heal the gut and the mouth pain (which is probably a vitamin deficiency).  Plus, I'm totally off bread and most sugars, off all processed foods, and on a strict rotation diet.  This is to deal with the food sensitivities my body is perceiving, and possibly candida.

I'm doing it.  I'm actually putting in the work and making the sacrifices.  And guess what?  My mouth doesn't hurt every time I eat.  That's the positive side.  Plus I've lost about 4 pounds.

It was incredibly hard at first.  And still incredibly boring.  I love food.  I really even love most of the food I'm allowed to eat.  But not being able to eat them in the combinations that I want (or at all) is so frustrating!  To top it off, my jaw has been killing me for a week.  Chewing on nuts and seeds and raw fruits and veggies all the time has taken it's toll.  I miss bread.  And brownies.

Some days I'm either just not in the mood for what I get to eat that day, or I'm afraid to eat it because my jaw will hurt if I do.  And then I get really low because I haven't had enough to eat.  I have a lot of mood swings.  There have been times of tears.  Serious, hard tears.  But then, the good times seem a little cleaner and purer.

I have no idea how it will all turn out.  The purpose of this blog is to record my symptoms, progress, and recipes for a food rotation diet.  Maybe it will help someone else out there.  This stuff is hard and I've been changing my food habits for five years.  I'm just now at the point of being ready for this strict diet.  It's true, I've had a couple of lapses.  (Stupid brownies).  But I'm working on it and will share the wealth if there is any.

I just really want to feel better.  In the next blog, I will start recording some of my recipes.  The creative juices had to flow for some of these.  Here's to getting healthy!

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