Journey to Health: Steps in the right direction

Journey to health series: Journey to health, Gratitude, Relaxation and breathing

Thank you for your comments on Fridays post. I’d like to think that the more we’re all aware of the issues that can threaten our health, the better care we’ll take in prevention. Many of you have asked for more details of my journey, so here goes!

First step: Family doctor

I suspected that my doctor wouldn’t be able to help me, but in an attempt to save money, it’s the first place I went. After a bit of pressure, I convinced her to send me for blood work.

Second step: Naturopath

My family doctor was quite nonchalant about my blood test results, so I decided to visit a Naturopath.

After discussing my symptoms, we decided to try allergy testing to determine if certain foods were contributing to my symptoms. Also, we decided to perform an IgA allergy test for gluten to finally confirm whether or not I’m actually sensitive to gluten [I was instructed to go off gluten by another Naturopath in 2007 but was never tested].

Third step: Allergy testing

We chose to test IgA, IgE and IgG responses in my blood, but to get the most accurate reading, you need to eat all the foods that you may be sensitive to for a period of 1-2 weeks. The longer you eat the foods, the stronger a reading. That meant I had to eat gluten, dairy, corn, yeast, and oranges. I was nervous, really nervous. What would eating gluten do to me? How would I feel?

After the appointment I stopped by a health food store on the way home. If I was going to eat these foods, I was going to get the highest quality products I could find. I stocked up on wheat berries, sprouted bread, muesli, and liberte yogurt, cheese + Kefir, all organic. It felt weird going into a store and having to look for products with gluten.

I took this testing as an opportunity to reintroduce foods slowly to gauge my reaction. I started with dairy [stomach pains, multiple bathroom runs, definitely sensitive]. 3 days later I started with gluten [no reactions at first, but on day 4 I noticed I was going to the bathroom a lot more]. 3 days after I introduced corn and that changed everything. The next morning I was in severe pain and felt like I’d been hit by a bus.

I couldn’t wait to get off the ‘allergen diet’. I felt like death after 2 weeks. I was craving quinoa, millet, and almond flour but because I had to have 3-4 servings of gluten a day, it didn’t leave much room for anything else. I felt heavy and lethargic.

I did however enjoy an oatmeal date bar I’d been eying up for the past 3 years and luckily it was everything I’d ever imagined. I had a moment with the bar, sitting outside the bakery in my cold car. I tried to recall the last time I’d eaten without restrictions. Before gluten free it was vegan, before vegan, vegetarian, before vegetarian it was countless missed meals, and calorie counting. I made a promise to myself then and there that I would work as hard as possible to determine how to optimize my health for good and never turn back, no matter how challenging.

Forth step: Reviewing results

2 weeks after returning to my allergen free lifestyle, I felt okay again and it wasn’t long after that that I met with the Naturopath to review my results.

We started with my IgE score. This tells us overall how many allergens are affecting your health. The normal range is anything below 87. Mine is 830. When a high score like this is seen, it’s usually safe to say that there’s something larger going on and that the allergies displayed in the testing may not even be allergies, but sensitivities caused by something environmental or parasitic. But, the allergy testing is a great starting point. Here’s what the test brought up:

  • The IgA test showed that I am not celiac. Interesting. The Naturopath advised me to stay off gluten until we figure out what’s causing all my sensitivities and symptoms. Even if I can have gluten someday I know that I will remain 80-90% gluten free just because I love gluten free! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet.
  • Highly allergic: Banana, pineapple, alfalfa, asparagus, broccoli, peanuts, sesame.
  • Moderately allergic: white potatoes, string beans, shrimp, pinto bean, soy.
  • Low allergy: dairy, oranges, corn, corn gluten, wheat.

The great thing about IgG allergies [like the ones listed above] is that they can change. That’s why some children grow out of their allergies, or why some adults struggle with allergies all of a sudden. Our response to food and our environment can be caused by up to 8 factors. To learn more, check out my article on allergies.

Fifth step: Shots, tests, and interim plan

What I’ve learned so far:

  1. My immune system is compromised, by what? We don’t know yet.
  2. My insulin sensitivity is impacting my cycle, hormones and complexion.
  3. I’m not properly absorbing my nutrients.
  4. I could have a parasite, or I’m drastically sensitive to the environment which is what could be causing odd allergy results and my random symptoms.

Next steps with the Naturopath:

  • Parasitic + environmental testing
  • Vitamin B injections
  • WBC count blood draw

I’m just beginning to figure out what I need to do while we wait for the results. Chances are they will take 6 weeks or so, so I’ve devised a plan until then. Have I said how thankful I am that I went to school for this stuff? Being a Nutritionist was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I digress [it's always good to pause for a moment to be thankful!], to the plan:

  • Reduce sugar. This includes maple syrup, brown rice syrup, agave, molasses, and sucanat. The only sweeteners I will be having are honey [helps to control blood sugar if combined with fiber], stevia [natural sweetener – whole/green leaf is the best], and as a treat, palm/coconut sugar [very low GI].
  • Increase fiber. I will be adding the following to my daily routine to help me hit 50g of fiber a day: 2 tablespoon flax (4g fiber), 2 tablespoon chia (6g), 2 apples with almond butter (11g)
  • Increase antioxidants. Bring on the camu camu.
  • Control blood sugar. Increase legumes, take up meditating again [stress reduction helps blood sugar levels], eat liver healthy foods, reduce inflammatory foods [I don’t have many in my diet as is], and increase foods that will balance blood sugar.
  • Remove all allergens. Good bye banana, you’ll be sadly missed :(
  • Improve absorption. Shift to liquid and powdered supplements – multi-vitamin, probiotics, and EFAs.
  • Continue gluten free until we figure out what’s happening.

Liver healthy foods: garlic, onions, beets, apples, artichokes, brussel sprouts, turmeric, dandelion, legumes, licorice.

Inflammatory foods: vegetable oils, sugars, alcohol, processed meat, feedlot-raised meat, dairy, potatoes.

Balance blood sugar foods: cinnamon, raw honey, figs, dates, maca, sweet potato, chia, onion, legumes, sea vegetables, blueberries, apple cider vinegar.

Here we go!

Have you ever had a problem that came up in your life that you were determined to fix, no matter what challenges lay ahead?

As a side note [because this IS a food blog after all] I’m pretty excited about tomorrow’s recipe! I can’t stop snacking on it…

mmm stay tuned!

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Comments | Leave Your Comment

  1. thanks for sharing your story, I respect you for getting to the cause rather than just medicating yourself!

  2. This is my first time reading your blog. I really enjoyed this post and can’t wait to read more about your journey to health! :-)

  3. I recently found your blog and love it!! My husband has Crohns disease, so he has lots of restrictions, that I’ve had to adapt to. He did those same allergy tests, and it came back that he was slightly allergic to everything! So, we rotate and eat lots of variety. He is also sugar, processed food, bread and milk free (yogurt and cheese were ok). I blog about what we cook and some of the changes i had to make. I, live your recipes though because they are all ok with his diet!!

  4. Thanks so much for sharing your story, it’s nice to see the route that others take. Now that my life has calmed down a bit, I’m at a point where I can fathom trying to get a better handle on all my food sensitivities.

  5. Your story really resonates with my daughter Rita and I. We refer to ourselves as our own ‘lab rats’ because experimenting never ends. Rita, like you, pursues answers from the medical community. I gave that up years ago and am too cynical to go back unless there is some huge breakthrough and maybe not even then. You are young – stay strong in your battle!

  6. This was really informative. I’m thinking about getting tested for food allergies, and at the moment, I’m cutting out gluten to see if my symptoms (bloating, face rash) subside after 9 months of having them and not knowing what’s up.

    I do have a question – I’ve read that oats, though controversial, don’t have the allergenic type of gluten in them, so celiacs can eat them. Is this true? Why do you not eat oats?

    Thank you! I’m so excited to have found your blog!

    • Hi Michelle – it’s great to hear that you’re working towards determining what the culprit is. With the symptoms you’ve mentioned, have you considered dairy?

      If you’re willing, before you go off gluten, go to your family doctor and ask him for a celiac test. It’s a blood test that checks for your IgA (antibody) reaction to gluten. The only reason I say this is if you are sensitive to gluten, and you go off of it but want to be tested later, you will have to go back on gluten and that’s not a fun experience. If your result comes back negative for celiac, you could try going off gluten to see if it’s a sensitivity you have to gluten.

      You’re right, oats are quite controversial. Regular oats usually contain a small amount of gluten from cross contamination. That’s why celiacs opt for gluten free oats. In my case, I’m actually sensitive to oats themselves [as many celiacs are] so I avoid them 100%.

      I hope that helps, please feel free to ask me questions anytime. Good luck :)

    • I was scared too but I keep reminding myself that IgG testing shows you what you’re sensitive to, all you have to do is avoid it for a bit, fix what’s causing the issue, and then go back to eating it. Plus you feel better at the end of it. The part I’m scared over the most is knowing more about my health. I guess there’s always this fear that they’ll find something really bad, you know? But, it’s better to just get it over and done with and move on! I hope you’re having a good night, Chelsey!

  7. I’m definitely determined to fix my so called “IBS”, it’s really mucking up my social life and it’s depressing me. I need to try testing out different allergens

    • I was given the whole “IBS” thing too. Have you tried chia seeds? They were really, really helpful for my IBS symptoms. Best soaked overnight in milk and added to cereal or banana pudding!

  8. You are beautiful and you sound just like me ;) My story is So Similar to yours and I can relate the whole way!

    isn’t it beautiful when you find the healthy feeling within? Love it!

    Keep rocking the inspiration and teaching all of us true health!

    xxoo

    • Health is the most amazing journey, that’s for sure! Thanks for stopping by, Kris. Hope you’re having a fantastic Tuesday :)

  9. Thank you! I’m going to talk to my naturopath about doing this for myself.

  10. Get tested for LYME DISEASE!!!!!!!!! I can’t suggest it enough! Get tested right though, don’t go to your family dr or it’ll most likely come back as negative and it very well isn’t. Myself and my 4 year old had our allergy testing come back as well over 12 foods we were allergic to. Foods like banana and rice, a babys first foods, things that we shoipuldnt be allergic to. Because of all the allergies we were suggested to tube tested for Lyme because something auto immune must be going on. We both have it!! My daughter is done here treatment and I’m struggling to overcome it as vie had it longer. I could go on and on, but why not just get tested?

    • Thanks for the suggestion, Jen. I’ll chat with my Naturopath about it. I’m glad to hear you and your daughter figured out what was going on with you health. It’s such a great feeling when you know how to fix your issue! Thanks again :)

  11. Thanks for the post and sharing what you are going through. I go to an ND as well. Mine was initiated due to stress. I haven’t had the allergy testing as of yet. However I do powdered vitamin and B12 shots.(which I love). Isn’t interesting how the body is so complex. I believe in the whole mind, body connection as part of the picture as well. Hope they figure out what is making you compromised. I love the camu camu too.

    • It’s great to hear you’re working on you health too. It can be frustrating at times, but completely worth it. Keep up the pursuit! How are you with the B12 shots? I had my first one yesterday and at first I had lots of energy, then I crashed hard. I was so tired and had a pretty bad headache.

  12. I’ve really been enjoying your journal the past few weeks, and have gone through my own journey with poor digestion, food sensitivities since 2005, and have been gluten free-ish (I avoid it, but am not overly careful at restaurants and other peoples houses) since 2006.

    I had electro-dermal food sensitivity testing done through my naturopath and was sensitive to so much, and very high on all the gluten grains and all sugars. Did an elimination diet to see what was up and I never felt better in my life! Of course, as I added things back and became less careful, I have started feeling very un-well again, and I know it’s food related, so I’m determined to eat well again.

    By the way – I just successfully added banana back to my diet after 5 year absence (used to give me severe stomach pains), and can’t wait to try your sleepy banana muffin smoothie!

    • Thanks, Sara. It sounds like you and I have experienced similar challenges with our health. As hard as it is to remove the foods that hurt our bodies it’s totally worth it in the end [that's what I keep telling myself when I'm craving potatoes or yogurt]. Just as you did with bananas, I’m sure your sensitivities can be healed if you live without your problem foods for awhile. I’m interested to hear how your journey goes! I don’t like to toot my own horn, but that sleepy banana smoothie sure is tasty!

  13. Hi Leanne! This post is hitting home for me and some issues I’m having. However, I’m having trouble finding a follow-up post. How did things turn out? What happened with the parasitic and environtmental testing? Anxious to find out! Thanks!

    • Hi Jessica – I didn’t so much as write a follow-up post as I just mentioned my progress in the months following. Things are great now. No more yeast and far less sensitivities to foods!

  14. I just wanted to let you know I am a student of natural health and I have studied for years. My IGG, IGE and IGA showed my tolerance to wheat and gluten was ok. The score showed them both in the 1 and slightly 2 category for gluten which most doctors would tell you are insignificant. However, my prick test did have a welt with wheat. The bottom line is that wheat and gluten make me very very sick even though i am not producing a ton of antibodies. Always go with what your body tells you over what a test tells you. http://www.foodieswithacause.com EmmaSara

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