Last week I spoke about the food intolerances I have and how having these restrictions in my diet has made me creative in the kitchen. I'm grateful for this as I'm so much more aware of the ingredients in foods and what I'm putting into my body.
This week I'm delving into how my body began refusing individual foods one by one until I could only eat jacket potatoes. I'm also going to fill you in on how I went through the very long process of discovering what my trigger foods are.
I've always had a bad stomach - throughout my childhood I was sent home from school on a regular basis. I would cry, holding my tummy under layers of blankets on the sofa. I was diagnosed with IBS - Irritable Bowl Sydrome. I kept a simple food diary and was told that my trigger foods were deep fried foods and brown bread - yet it continued.
Once I reached my teens I began vomiting a lot, I also had diarrhoea often and stomach pains that would have me bent over in pain. During my late teens it got worse. I began seeking medical help as my immune system seemed to be struggling. I was taken off work with illness after illness - tonselitis, bronchitis, flu, stomach bugs the list goes on. It was during a stint of three months off work that I decided to see a private doctor. I was put under general anasthetic whilst two cameras checked out my stomach in all it's glory. The doctors told me I was too weak to deal with the procedure awake. Nothing was found, and when I was told I had the all clear and was completely healthy I just wanted to cry. Obviously I wasn't.
A handful of years later, I was still battling the constant vomiting which was getting alarmingly worse, I was in a lot of pain with my stomach as well as the pain in my joints (which I had had forever). One day in the shower, I felt something strange on my neck, a lump. My doctor was worried, I was referred for test after test as I was diagnosed with a tumour in my neck. During a medical check other tumours were discovered throughout my body. The doctors wanted to operate - the tumour was causing me to vomit even more and there were no clear results from biopsies. At this point I weighed 44kg - 23kg less than I do today. I was so physically ill that I couldn't really do anything on my own and my body had gradually began rejecting all foods one by one. I was down to solely being able to eat jacket potatoes and drink water - and even this didn't stay down all of the time. I named my tumour Norris - desperately needing to talk about it, about what the future could hold I had to give it a name because the word tumour scared off whomever I was chatting to.
After the operation, I was told that there were still no clear results, it would take months and months of further tests to get anywhere at all. I was later diagnosed with EDS - Ehlers Danlos Syndrome . It's pretty much responsible for my all of my ongoing symptoms - issues with food, vomiting, headaches, tumours, joint pain and a weak immune system as well as heart palpitations to boot!
Once out of hospital and on the mend, I began slowly adding a food item each week into my diets - it was a very long process. I didn't add food groups, but individual food items - which enabled me to pinpoint my exact trigger foods, I also wrote every single thing down. As my body accepted more and more foods, I began to speed up the process, adding something new every 3 days. Whilst all I wanted to do was eat anything and everything, finding out what my trigger foods were taught me a lot. It made me research the foods I could and couldn't have - looking at what the nutritional benefits were for each thing, and working out where I could get important vitamins and minerals from other sources.
This process also changed my tastebuds, I became used to foods that weren't sweetened with refined sugar. It does take time though, so please don't expect to automatically like something you would deem as healthy if you're used to eating the not so healthy foods! If you've ever cut down on sugar in tea or coffee, you'll know it takes a good while to get used to it - however if you try a cup with the amount of sugar you had before it'll seem far too sweet.
I'll see you next Saturday to chat about what ingredient substitutes I use in place of dairy, refined sugar, gluten and meat when making home made free from meals.
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