Pain: 6 out of 10
Cravings: 1 out of 10
Mood: Positive and hopeful
Energy: 3 out of 10
Hello, hello. It feels wonderful to be writing again! I am taking a new step towards wellness and it begins today. Today, I become your social calendar’s worst nightmare: The Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Food Sensitivity Riddled Dinner Guest. I never thought I could or would do this, but it turns out when you are desperate enough, you’ll give anything a try. Even giving up cheese. It’s downright blasphemy, but I’m giving it a whirl and I’m inviting you along for the ride.
I have spent most of my life battling my body in public and private ways. No matter what measures I have taken, weight and chronic pain have been a daily struggle. You have to understand, I’m a science gal. I majored in sports medicine. I thought I knew how the body worked and so from January through April of this year, I refocused my efforts. I stopped focusing on the scale and started focusing on lifting. Heavy weight. All I wanted was to see my lean muscle mass % go up. That’s it. Didn’t care if my body fat went down. Didn’t care if my weight went down. I just wanted to see my hard work in the weight room pay off.
Three guesses on what happened.
Not only did my muscle mass not go up, it went down. Down? DOWN???? I lost my mind. Lost it. How could this possibly be? I’m doing all the right things! All the things I prescribe for my clients and wholeheartedly believe in! I followed the plan and yet again, I lost the battle.
I shouldn’t be fighting my body though. I shouldn’t be waging war against the only body I will ever have and a body that has risen to the challenge of some pretty incredible things. What I should be doing is listening to it and nourishing and nurturing it. But how? I am so far out of sync with what’s going on inside me that I wouldn’t even know where to start.
Help, I need somebody!
It was time I talked to a professional. Lindsay Huttman is a Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (Nutritional Therapy Association) at TRUE Health & Wholeness and her passion for this stuff nearly smacks you in the face before you even open the door. I also have to say she’s just super nice. Like, hold your hand while telling you a joke and handing you a piece of chocolate (organic, fair trade dark chocolate), nice. After a thorough interview, a physical assessment and weeks of discussion, I agreed to do an ALCAT test.
The ALCAT Test is a blood test that checks for food, environment, and chemical sensitivities. The test results are broken down into four categories: Severe Intolerance, Moderate Intolerance, Mild Intolerance, and No Intolerance (“safe foods”). If you want the whole skinny, click here for a pretty comprehensive explanation written in fairly understandable language. http://www.bodylogicmd.com/preferred-partners/alcat
The biggest item to note here is the difference between allergies and sensitivities. With a food allergy, even a small amount can cause an immune response as the body sees the food as a threat. You may experience hives or trouble breathing. You could have digestive issues and in some cases it can cause anaphylactic shock. A food sensitivity or intolerance is a little different. If you have a sensitivity to that food, you may be able to have a small amount without noticing a thing. Though, after time, you may begin to feel tired after eating it or just in general notice your energy is down. You may experience mood issues. But what you will almost definitely experience is increased inflammation in your body. It boils down to these two points: First, with an allergy, your body reacts in a way that says out loud: “Hey! Don’t eat that!!” With a sensitivity, your body reacts quietly. It says more like, “Hey…um…so that thing you ate…I’m not sure if….well….never mind…for now…” Second, if you are allergic to something, you will likely always be allergic to it. If you have a sensitivity to something, there is a great possibility with some gut healing, you can reintroduce it later.
PHEW. That was a lot of info. Ready for the first big over share moment? Here are my ALCAT results.
Not the clearest copy, but readable…I think. The good news is that I dislike to borderline hate most items in the Red column. The bad news is that the Orange and Yellow columns contain, well, everything else I eat. Oh and did you see those little blue boxes at the bottom left? Those say I can’t have sugar, dairy or gluten either. I’ll give you a second to noodle that.
Yeah, yeah, I can’t have noodles either. Got it.
Because I’m such a positive, glass half full kind of person (ahem), here is the positive spin on these results: Maybe this is the reason I feel like crap all the time. Maybe the fact that my daily diet looked like this: Breakfast of whey (dairy) protein shake made with almond milk and banana, Lunch of salads with bell peppers, broccoli and cucumber with blue cheese crumbles and snacks of greek yogurt with raspberries, Dinner of swordfish and basil with portobello mushrooms is why I have zippy energy and can’t lose a pound to save my life. On the surface, that meal plan is pretty good – lots of protein and good fats, lots of non-starchy carbs – great stuff. Just not for me. At least for right now and so now, I have something to work on.
Right now, my body is in full-on fight stage. Super inflamed and unhappy. This is why I couldn’t put on any muscle. My body was fighting so hard just to clear itself of the “toxins” I was giving it and starving for nourishment it could metabolize that it went after the muscle I already had. My body was robbing Peter (my muscle) to pay Paul (the rest of my body functions).
The Now What?
So, with results in hand, an amazing wellness coach in place, and so much support from family and friends (thank you thank you thank you), I begin the process of healing. This week I start by going completely gluten free, mostly dairy free (weening off my half and half in my coffee), and beginning the slightly daunting task of finding things I CAN eat while avoiding gluten, dairy AND my Red and Orange lists. I plan to check in here weekly with progress reports, recipes, pictures, workouts and I’m sure a quirky anecdote or 30. I find myself yet again at Day 1 but this time with a plan and a support system and hope. Real hope.
I’ll leave you with a picture of my “Last Supper.” Damn it was good.