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)!
When 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.