Some of you may know that I decided to enroll in holistic nutrition school, specifically the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition (CSNN). I’ve dealt with my own food allergies for a while now (a little over a year), and it’s something I (along with millions of other people) have to live with daily. It takes constant vigilance when you have any kind of allergy, but you get used to it. It becomes second nature. However, how I got here was an ordeal. So instead of doing a recipe testing post, I’ve decided to post about my journey (and partly because we had a lazy-I-can’t-be-bothered-to-cook dinner).
In February 2015, I had an appointment with a naturopath that changed my life and this is what led up to it.
Years ago, I would develop this really intensely itchy rash. It would start on my shins and you could actually see it spread up my legs. I remember one Christmas at my Dad’s I had a rash. It was SO itchy and I didn’t know what to do, but calamine lotion came to mind. So that’s what I used. It gave me some physical relief but not emotionally. I thought I was allergic to water because I had just taken a shower!
Fast forward another few years to 2012, and I’m still having the rash. But now the rash wasn’t confined to my legs. Sometimes it would start in my scalp and at other times it’d start on my arms. I had NO clue what was wrong with me! I thought I was allergic to our laundry detergent, my shower gel, shampoo and conditioner, and my lotion. I changed all of them in an effort to find out what was causing the rash. Nothing helped. The only other thing I could think of was to take an antihistamine like Reactine (I’ve only seen this in Canada and not in the U.S.). It’s the best antihistamine I’ve ever used. It literally takes 20 minutes to work and not a whole day like Claritin. I needed something to work FAST with my rash. So, here I am thinking I’m allergic to water or some specific ingredient in my body products that I just can’t pinpoint. All I could do was rely on my Reactine.
When I found out I was pregnant at the end of 2012, my doctor told me it was ok to continue taking Reactine (he couldn’t figure out the cause of the rash either). The little one was a fussy baby. The research I did online, the Hubs calls it self-diagnosing, and saw several results mentioning that dairy could cause gas, and was just all-around not agree with your baby. At one of the checkups, I mentioned that we might think he’s colicky and should I cut out dairy to see if that works. The doc said it wouldn’t hurt, so that’s what I did. I went home and cut out ALL dairy. I noticed a change in myself immediately. I felt better and the rashes disappeared!! After all this time, it was dairy that was causing my rashes! The little one was still a bit fussy but we survived…barely.
I would scrutinize the ingredient list on everything I bought. You’d be amazed how many things milk are in and how sneaky the food industry is at disguising the name of milk. I did have some Lactaid at the ready if I couldn’t resist something that had dairy in it. And I’d always have Reactine in my purse.
However, at the beginning of 2015, the Lactaid stopped working. Then I started to develop strange symptoms: I’d feel drunk after eating when I had no alcohol, and I’d get queasy. I didn’t know what was wrong. When I’d feel “drunk,” I’d feel a bit spaced out and if I looked somewhere, I felt like my vision wasn’t in time with my eyes. Does that make sense? It was like I was underwater. Looking back through the food diary I kept, the only thing I could pinpoint it to was wheat. I tried really hard to cut it out of my diet and then miraculously I wasn’t sick anymore!
There was one time on Valentine’s Day where I did get sick. We went to a vegan restaurant in Edmonton, and I had the butter “chicken” and waffles. The waffles were gluten-free but the “chicken” wasn’t. If you’re reading the labels of vegan meat, you know that there is wheat in them. So, that’s why I got sick that day. It was my own damn fault for not asking about the ingredients in the “chicken,” and I paid dearly for it. Two hours after I ate, I was sick as a dog for the rest of the day. I really hit me hard.
I went to my doctor and he sent me for a blood test to see if I’m allergic to the five common foods: milk, nuts, eggs, fish, and soy/wheat. Back in 2012 my doctor had tested me for Celiac Disease because I was complaining of the rashes, which came back negative. So, this time I was expecting some kind of result. My doctor has the “no news is good news” approach and it annoyed me to no end. Three weeks went by and I hadn’t heard from him and I’m STILL feeling sick. I got tired of waiting around and made an appointment with a naturopath. A few friends of mine had great success, so why shouldn’t I?
My naturopath said that my doctor tested for the five common food allergies, but the test he ran was a very black and white one; meaning you either are definitely allergic or you definitely not…there’s no slightly allergic. So that explains why my doctor never called back. The test my naturopath did tests two other immunoglobulins so they get a grayer answer, and gave me hope that they’d pick something up. He also said that since I hadn’t consumed dairy in a while, the test that my doc did might not have picked it up.
I had been stressing about my strange illness since January 2015. I stopped running because I was ill. My goal had been to run a 10k and a half marathon, but didn’t happen. I was hoping to find out what was wrong so I could stop putting my life on hold, stop stressing, and so people wouldn’t think I was crazy and just making stuff up.
Tomorrow I’ll post the results I got from the naturopath. Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow!!