LEAP MRT Diet Update


Since yesterday, my diet has been free of all common allergens (gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish) and caffeine for 8 weeks. In addition to this, on May 27, I also eliminated all my moderately and strongly reactive foods indicated by my MRT blood test results (lettuce, black pepper, blueberries, caffeine, cashews, cola, corn, garlic, grapes, green peas, hazelnuts, hops, lamb, mango, millet, mustard, sulfites, turmeric, and vanilla) . Most of my food cravings have died away, but two remain as strong as ever. Everyday I wake up thinking, I can finally make myself a cup of tea, and then realize I can’t. The other is bread. Not donuts or pastries so much, but like a French baguette from Panera Bread. Just pure gluten! Yum! Alas, I can’t have either of those yet, but this week I did start Phase 3, which brought with it potatoes (imagine me saying “potatoes” with an Irish accent)!

fba33bf40e8a971135171038a5a7724dWhen it comes to my affection for potatoes, I’m a walking Irish stereotype. As a child, all my brother and I wanted to eat was meat and potatoes for every meal, which according to my food sensitivity test results are fantastic for me! We would tell my Mom that we wanted “mashed potatoes,” but she knew we meant baked potatoes that we would mash and obliterate ourselves. It makes me laugh because most of my non-reactive foods are the foods I see most often in Facebook rants, and the foods that are supposed to be “anti-inflammatory warriors” wreak havoc in my body.

For example, I cannot tell you how many social media posts I have seen on the ills of gluten and how NO ONE should eat it. I wonder if they even sell wheat products in California anymore. Every Hollywood starlet talks about how she avoids gluten, and that is how she stays so trim. Let’s be clear, if you have Celiac Disease, a diagnosed gluten allergy (Sorry WebMD doesn’t count), or an actual gluten intolerance, wheat and the like need to be completely avoided for very legitimate and serious reasons. However, cutting gluten from your diet isn’t always the healthiest option.

Personally, every time I ate gluten-free products in the past, I would feel sick shortly after with strange gnawing pains in my stomach. I thought this was weird. However, after my blood test results I began to understand why. The LEAP MRT 150 tests a number of different grains, both gluten and gluten-free. I tested on the higher spectrum for almost every gluten-free grain, except for oats and rice, and two of them cause bad reactions in my body: corn and millet.

No diet is one size fits all. That’s why I truly appreciate the LEAP diet. It is personalized and specialized for my body. Many autoimmune cleanses and diets are too generalized. It might work for you. It might not. Or worse, it might make you sicker. If I had decided against this test and just followed the typical diet assigned to Eosinophilic Esophagitis patients, I wouldn’t have gotten better. Actually, I can tell you from experience that I didn’t get better. When I followed the typical protocol, I would have good days followed by an agonizing EoE episode. I felt even more miserable than before I changed my diet because I couldn’t understand why I was still experiencing terrible symptoms. I had cut out all gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. Why was I still suffering?  I had no clue that the salads I was eating, the corn I was consuming, and the garlic and mustard in my baked beans, were only exasperating my problems.


Now I’m not only avoiding eating dishes that cause inflammation, but I’m eating foods that promote healing. I’m no longer playing a torturous game of “Would You Rather.”  How do I know the diet is helping? Here are my biggest symptoms that I had before starting this process:

  • Difficulty Swallowing – When I would eat, food would get lodged in my throat. It was scary and it hurt a lot. It went from being a rare occurrence to happening all the time no matter what I ate. I never ate without a can of Sprite to drink. The bubbles helped create an up and down motion in my esophagus to get my food to move into my stomach. Now I can eat almost a whole meal without drinking water, and I’m not in terrible pain an hour after eating.
  • Insomnia – I had this constantly, especially when I went through any kind of hormone shift in my body. I have had only 1 episode in the past 2 months.
  • Migraines – Sometimes they were as often as multiple times a week to as few as a couple of times a month. After eliminating all my food and food chemical sensitivities, I’ve had only 1 bad migraine/headache in the past 4 weeks.
  • Depression – I cried about everything. I felt hopeless. At my lowest I wished I could just end it all. I felt like I was already dead. Now my moods are more even and balanced. I don’t feel like I’m riding a disastrous see-saw that is about to throw me off at any moment.
  • Anxiety/Panic Attacks – This was my absolute worst symptom. I had these daily multiple times a day, especially when it was time to eat anything. I lived in constant fear and dread that every breath was going to be my last. They would last hours sometimes, which isn’t normal. At most, they shouldn’t last more than 30 minutes. My anxiety has started to lessen with each day, and my last eventful panic attack was at the start of the diet.
  • IBS – Since I’ve had my gall bladder removed a decade ago, I developed this lovely and ladylike struggle. Over the last few years, it has gotten worse. There have been times where I’ve had to run to the bathroom and just made it (TMI…sorry). Now, I haven’t had even 1 episode!
  • Fatigue – For the last year and a half, I have gone from little energy to no energy to “What is energy?” I knew I was dealing with chronic fatigue because of all the above symptoms. I wasn’t functioning. I just felt winded all the time. Now I’m starting to feel like me again. Taking a shower doesn’t feel like an Olympic event (I wish I was joking about this…)

Since January, I’ve gone from a size 14 to a size 10, and from 212 pounds to 172 pounds. If you are battling serious health issues, please look into the LEAP MRT 150 test. If you have EoE, you need to work with a nutritionist as well as an allergist and gastroenterologist. It’s amazing how much damage the wrong foods can do. Yet, the right foods truly are the best medicine. Here is the website for the nutritionist I consulted with in Atlanta: http://nicolesnutrition.com/food-sensitivity-testing/. Even if you aren’t located in Atlanta, she may be able to work with you, or at least be able to refer you to a dietician in your area.

I’m still on this journey, and have a long way to go. Hopefully, as I add new foods, my body responds well. Even though this has been an uphill battle and the least fun diet I have ever been on in my life, I’m starting to see real results.

Bittersweet Is Not Sweet Enough

Yesterday, I was watching The Office (what else is new?), and there was a funny, but meaningful monologue delivered by Steve Carrell as Michael Scott. David Wallace (Michael’s boss) asks him to check out a small, local paper supply business to figure out how they can run them out of business. Michael goes in ready to take advantage of this family, but by the end really likes them and doesn’t want to take down their shop. Despite Michael’s extremely amusing attempts to thwart the collected information from getting to Mr. Wallace, Dwight convinces him it has to be done. After Michael delivers the list of Prince Family Paper’s biggest clients to the CFO, he addresses the camera and says:

I guess this is what they call a bittersweet moment. It is bitter because I slightly destroyed a… wonderful little family. But sweet, because David Wallace thought I did a good job. That’s why I hate bittersweet chocolate. I don’t even– What’s the point of that? Why not just sweet? I mean who- who are you helping?

William Shakespeare in his plays often used the “fool” to speak truth and wisdom. The people that were supposed to have it together, such as the kings and queens, often didn’t. King Lear and his court jester most infamously come to my mind. In comedy there is truth hidden in all the craziness and hilarity. Often, when you hear a comedian delivering a funny bit, you don’t just hear people laughing, you hear: “That is so you!”, “That’s totally Mom!” or “So true!”

Like Michael, I’m not a fan of “bittersweet” anything, including chocolate. Please don’t sell me on how amazing dark chocolate is for my health because actually it’s not. It’s like people that say they drink red wine because it helps their hearts. Sure you do…and I drink tea because of the antioxidants not because of the caffeine and the pound of sugar I add to it…

Bitterness can ruin good things. Over the few years I have thought a lot about Naomi in the Old Testament. Naomi was the mother-in-law of Ruth (there is whole book in the Bible dedicated to Ruth, an ancestor of Jesus. Definitely worth checking out, especially since it is on the shorter side). Naomi lived through a great many hardships: endured a famine, had to leave her homeland to survive, lost her husband, and outlived BOTH of her sons!  That’s A LOT! After all this she decides to go home. She sends her daughters-in-law back to their families, but Ruth decides to stay with Naomi and make the journey with her. In Sunday School Naomi gets a bad rep because of a particular dramatic moment in Ruth 1, where she changes her name from “Naomi” to “Mara”. Naomi means “pleasant,” and Mara means “bitter.”

When they came to Bethlehem, the entire town was excited by their arrival. “Is it really Naomi?” the women asked. “Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty. Why call me Naomi when the Lord has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me?” (Ruth 1:19-21 NLT)

To be fair, she has had a rough life, but this is also extremely petty with a side of “drama queen” thrown in for good measure. I relate to Naomi. It is so easy for me to dwell on the negative things in my life and blow them out of proportion or find a way to blame God for the hand I’ve been dealt. We can experience sour things in life, but we don’t have to be poisoned by them.

Being chronically ill, I don’t always know when I’m going to have a good or bad day. I can make plans, hoping for the best, but I may have to cancel or postpone them until a later date. What sucks even more are the things that have passed me by because they were once in a lifetime and I missed it. I’m grieving a life that will never be. I can’t get the first 5 years of my marriage back. I’ve lost friends and potential friends because I wasn’t able to be a great friend. My career path…well, it’s easier to say what career path? To see friend after friend welcome sweet, precious babies into their lives, and know that wasn’t an option for me. What has happened, has happened. It is what it is. I can only move forward, but I would be lying if I didn’t say bitterness wasn’t constantly waiting each morning like a programmed alarm clock.

I find myself embittered when I feel slighted by a friend or rarely invited for hangouts. I want to ignore their texts or post amazing Instagram posts that declare, “YOU are the one missing out, not ME.” When I hear someone I love and care about is having a baby, resentment comes in and blinds me from all the amazing blessings I have to be thankful for in my life. When someone complains about how hard their new “diet” is and how they can’t wait for their cheat day in 2 days, I physically want to scream and throw something at him or her, while simultaneously stealing all the gluten from their house. However, every time (well maybe almost every time. As Hannah Montana sings, “Nobody’s Perfect”)  I want to do something that proclaims a “righteous grudge” (is there really such a thing?),  I hear a gentle voice whispering, “This isn’t you. This isn’t who you want to be. Don’t listen to the lies. I know you are hurting, but soften your heart.”

Some days it’s easier to keep back the acidic lava of bitterness, and other days not so much. It’s a discipline. Slowly each day my dam is getting stronger and more capable of banning resentfulness and pettiness from taking control in my heart.

Practical Ways to Build a Dam Against Bitterness

  • Pray for your family and friends.
  • Write letters and cards encouraging and celebrating in the triumphs of cherished ones.
  • Spend time with God. Close out the world and hear His voice for a change.
  • Don’t post to Instagram out of pettiness (or not “heart” photos because they didn’t “heart” yours. Just me? Sorry my pettiness runs deep…)
  • Keep your heart soft. Don’t close yourself out from people you care about because your emotions are lying to you. I don’t care if you are an introvert or an extrovert. NO ONE is an island and NO ONE can go it alone.


Eating Beans + Riding Segways= The Good Life

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Atlanta at Sunset

I love city life. The hustle and bustle. The constant noise and movement. Each day is different, even if it is slight and almost unnoticeable. In this season of life I appreciate the beauty of transformation. Sometimes I want to freeze moments in time and hold onto them forever, and other times I wish I could press a fast forward button such as when I’m in line ANYWHERE. Usually, I’ll walk with JJ to a checkout line, and then JJ will turn around and suddenly I have disappeared only to re-emerge once all the items are paid for and it’s time to leave. Patience has never been my virtue. I stopped praying for patience because usually God in His infinite wisdom allows circumstances in my life that require me to develop patience.

As I wait and pray for complete healing, I have decided to do my best to live fully in this body. I’m on Phase 2 of my individualized LEAP MRT Diet. In addition to turkey, pork, beef, oats, tomatoes, onions, green beans, cucumbers, oranges, strawberries, pineapples, dill, basil, and cumin, I get to add rice, spinach, celery, pinto beans, bananas, and sesame. I’m living the dream! Nightmares are dreams, right? Just kidding…I was most excited about pinto beans! Next phase I get to add garbanzo beans, and you better believe I’m making my own hummus. Still struggling with feeling hungry, but that’s to be expected.

I got to cross some awesome activities off my “Atlanta Bucket List” this past weekend. On Thursday, JJ and I segwayed (a verb which means to ride on segways – created by the Shakespeare of her time) to Piedmont Park. JJ has done this multiple times, but this was my first trip riding all the way to the park. I made it! And drum roll…I didn’t fall! I call that a very successful trip. We rode to the park to watch the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra perform a free concert. You know we are classy like that.

It didn’t disappoint. They almost canceled because of bad weather, but the rain held off and we all got to enjoy beautiful music out in nature. Classical music is wonderful, but I get bored very easily. Riding the segways around the park rather than sitting down to watch them play made it more fun and whimsical. As we rode up and down the winding pathways, it felt as if the musical selections were narrating our mini-adventure through the park.

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Segway Riding At Its Classiest

Then on Sunday we were even more ambitious, and did a 7.25 mile ride! You can just imagine how exhausted we were after all that…standing. All joking aside, though it isn’t much of a workout, you definitely feel it in your legs. Learning to ride a Segway is really easy. It feels very weird and awkward at first, but each time you get on it you feel more comfortable until it feels like second nature. You adapt to bumps and learn how to stop as quickly as possibly if you see something that you can’t go over smoothly.

We rode to Piedmont Park to connect with the Atlanta Beltline. If you live in Atlanta or are planning a visit to the city, it’s a great place to walk(you, yourself, your dogs, etc.), run, or ride a bike.  Even and nicely paved lanes made the ride enjoyable, and there were interesting places to stop and take Instagram-worthy photos. I was sweaty and hot, so I didn’t really want this commemorated for all time on social media. Piedmont Park in Atlanta is very well known, but Historic Fourth Ward Park is a hidden jewel. The Atlanta Beltline takes you right to it. It’s a great place to walk around, and take a breather. While we were there, there was a photographer taking pictures of a model. With so much variety in backdrop options, I could see why they chose that location.

Still feeling energetic we decided to ride to one of JJ’s favorite juice bars. It took us in the direction of the Margaret Mitchell House, so of course I had to stop to take in this architectural sweetheart. Side note: One of my absolute favorite things about historic cities is the architecture. There are so many different styles to admire, and each structure is unique and beautiful in its own way. Along the way, we got asked several times about our Segways. If you are looking for ways to meet new people or start a dialogue, pets and tech gadgets are great icebreakers.

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The Margaret Mitchell House

All in all we had a memorable weekend enjoying our new city. Segways and pinto beans for the win!





Thirty, Flirty, and Thriving…

In honor of just turning 30 earlier this month, here are 30 fun facts about me:

  1. I have lived in 4 states: New York, Florida, Texas, and now, Georgia!
  2. All-time favorite book (if I could only pick one): Persuasion by Jane Austen
  3. In 2010, I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a dual degree in English Literature and History from Florida State University. Go Seminoles!

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    Buttercup and Rosie making themselves at home.

  4. The Office is my all-time favorite TV show. “That’s what she said.” My favorites that are currently on TV: This Is Us and Superstore.
  5. My husband, JJ, and I got married December 23, 2012. Only 2 days before Christmas! This year will be our 5th anniversary.
  6. I’m a proud doggie mama to 2 of the cutest Puggles in existence: Buttercup and Rosie.
  7. I’ve worn glasses almost my entire life. I started wearing them when I was 3 years old.
  8. Ever since I studied abroad in London, I’ve had a major case of the travel bug. I hope to never be cured!
  9. Autumn is my favorite season. I love the cool weather and the vibrant colors of the changing leaves.


    JJ took this photo with his drone last November in Waynesville, North Carolina. Gorgeous!

  10. Christmas and my birthday are tied for being my favorite holiday.
  11. I collect typewriters.  I bought my 1960’s Smith-Corona electric typewriter (photo of it on my “Contact” page) for $10 at a thrift store! It’s my favorite one.
  12. Guilty Pleasure (I don’t actually feel guilty for loving this): Hallmark movies! Love every single one of them, especially the Christmas ones. The cheesier the better!
  13. My love languages are Words of Affirmation and Quality Time.
  14. I was born on Pentecost Sunday, and since then my birthday has never fallen on it again.
  15. Tea is way better than coffee in my humble opinion.
  16. Favorite Movies (in no particular order): Anne of Green Gables series, The Mirror Has Two Faces, Beauty and the Beast, The Sound of Music, The Goonies, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, Titanic, What About Bob, and so many more!
  17. I have 22 first cousins.
  18. Favorite Harry Potter Quote: “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.” – Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
  19. Biggest Pet Peeves: Two-Faced People and the noise people make when they flick their fingernails and toenails.
  20. When I was 12, my friend’s little sister accidentally squirted super glue on my eye, and it was glued shut for 5 days. To get my eye open, my dad had to cut off my eyelashes. It’s all good now because, fortunately, eyelashes grow longer.
  21. Since I was a little kid, I have hated mayonnaise. I used to refuse to eat food that even touched it.
  22. My favorite place as a child was The Catskills. One of my secret (not so secret now) ambitions is to someday buy the place we used to stay in, The Weldon House.


    My Mom and me in The Catskills. Yes, I’m still that white/pink.

  23. My favorite Broadway play of all time (and this is really hard!) will always be Les Misérables. It was the first one I ever saw and completely enchanted me.
  24. If I could live in any fictional place, it would be the magical combination of living in charming Stars Hollow and eating at Luke’s Diner everyday with Lorelai and Rory, going to school at Hogwarts with Harry and Hermione, and having spontaneous adventures in Narnia with the Pevensie siblings. Also, in case any of that got too “boring,” I could hop on a plane and visit my bestie Princess Mia in Genovia.
  25. JJ and I share the same eyeglass prescription.
  26. In 7th grade I wrote a letter to the New York Public Library campaigning to save our local branch from being shut down for a year while it was being renovated. I was the only one to get a response from them (Yes, I’m special), and they promised that they would open a temporary space while the library was under construction. Major nerd points!

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    You’re welcome New York! I basically saved civilization as we know it…

  27. New York pizza is the best pizza on this planet! No, Michael Scott, Sbarro’s doesn’t count as New York pizza. Chicago Pizza is good, but New York wins by a landslide.
  28. I have been to 7 countries: England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain, Canada (Niagara Falls), and Chile.
  29. My maternal grandmother was born and raised in Ireland. As a result, I’m ghost white and can do an incredible Irish accent.
  30. I love sending letters to family and friends. I think letter writing is sadly a lost art form.
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    I sent almost 100 handwritten cards last Christmas,



Moving Forward

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Driving to the ATL

On April 18, 2017 I was officially diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE). To say it has been a long road would be an understatement.  When my gastroenterologist said the words, “You have EoE. How did you guess that’s what you have?”  JJ sat speechless in his chair beside me as her words enveloped the room. I burst out in tears. I couldn’t hold the frayed seams together anymore. Finally, a name for the pain, the suffering, the heartache. FINALLY.

Unfortunately, diagnosis is only a small first step in a long process toward healing and remission. After getting diagnosed I made an appointment with an allergist to confirm through testing that I don’t have any traditional allergies. I’m one of the blessed patients that doesn’t have any IgE allergies on top of EoE. An IgE allergy is an immediate allergic reaction, such as breaking out in hives, wheezing, experiencing stomach distress, and at its worst, anaphylaxis. EoE is a delayed allergic response that causes swelling in your esophagus. So often I would say to JJ “I think my throat is closing” and his response would be: “How could your throat be closing? You’re talking!” With EoE my esophagus is spasming open and shut, but it’s not the part of my throat that controls breathing or talking. EoE is often referred to as “asthma or eczema of the esophagus.” This disorder isn’t life threatening, so you’ll live. You’ll just wish you were dead. Better, right? Bear with me and my sarcasm.

Even though I don’t have any traditional food allergies, it doesn’t mean I’m home-free. This is where this disorder gets really fun. You get checked for IgE allergies, but they don’t really play a part in EoE symptoms. EoE is a delayed reaction and most allergy tests look for an immediate reaction. The only way to find out what foods might be triggering EoE episodes is through an elimination diet. The first step is eliminating all common allergens from your diet for 6-8 weeks.

At the beginning of May I said so long to seafood, peanuts and tree nuts, eggs, soy, gluten, and dairy! I just hit the 6 week mark, which means I can start adding them back into my diet one group at a time every two weeks. By doing that I can monitor if my symptoms get worse. I also decided to meet with a nutritionist and get tested for food sensitivities.

Food sensitivity testing is very different from allergy testing. One of the big differences is insurance doesn’t cover it. Major bummer. The other main difference is sensitivity testing looks more at what is causing inflammation in your body, not what is causing an IgE allergic reaction. It’s a helpful test for EoE for that very reason. If you suffer from unexplained migraines, IBS, Fibromyalgia, or a host of other inflammatory illnesses, you should look into the MRT LEAP 150 test.

The LEAP 150 test tests 150 food items and food chemicals. Everyone’s results are different because it is based on your body’s chemistry. Red items are your most reactive foods and chemicals. Basically, these are the items your body hates the most. Yellow ones are moderately reactive. These usually depend on how much you are consuming in your diet, so you have to be careful not to eat them too much or too often. Green ones mean your body has no inflammatory reaction, so these will make up your diet entirely for the next 3-6 months. This way your body can begin to heal and recover.

Here are my results:

Lettuce was a shocker. I thought lettuce was supposed to be the healthiest food you could eat on the planet. Apparently, not for my weirdo body. Also, I never knew how much corn is literally in everything. It’s like the ninja of vegetables. Crouching Cornstarch Hidden Corn!! It hides in the oddest of places like toothpaste and even bottled water! In the end I could write an ode proclaiming my love to most of these foods and food chemicals, but I will spare myself the embarrassment. Let’s just say I thought we were friends, and they turned out to be foes in disguise. Very Katy Perry and Taylor Swift dynamic.

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LEAP Diet Approved Meal – Ground Beef (No Oil) with Onions and Tomatoes and a Side of Green Beans

I just finished Phase 1 of the Diet and have moved on to Phase 2. There are 5 Phases. I start by eating my lowest reactive green foods, and each phase bring more foods into my diet again. I have to keep away from all my yellow foods for at least 3 months, and my one red food for 6 months. I’m keeping a food journal to keep track of how my body responds in each phase.  The most boring food journal on the planet. Somewhere Tom Haverford is whining.

Having to cut these foods out over the last 2 weeks has been tough. I have lost what little was left of my sanity at times. My 30th birthday sucked! I cried most of the day. If I wrote a book about this process, it would be called, “And Then I Cried.” Yet, I have seen real results since following the MRT results. Zero migraines and my EoE episodes have been less frequent. My trips to the bathroom have been way less eventful (TMI…). Also, reoccurring neck and joint pain have minimized to almost nothing. Since January I have lost 40 pounds. Mostly because of how sick I got at the beginning of this year (I wasn’t able to eat much), and then the diet definitely kept the weight loss ball rolling.  It’s crazy how much damage food can do when it doesn’t agree with your body. I’m taking it day by day. One bowl of gluten-free, sugar-free, flavor-free oatmeal at a time.