What do you hope for your body? Perhaps, you crave fitness, weight loss, better immunity or overall wellness. Nurturing hope in your life means nourishing hope through your body.
Much like a complex food strainer, our body filters and accepts what we consume based on its needs and its experiences. Yes, your body has food memory, which you may recognize as sensory reactions on your palate (mmmm or yuck), learned cravings (even addictions) and possibly resistance.
About a year ago, I wrote a post on “The Sensitivity Spiral,” if you want to know more about what chemicals, stress and allergies can do to disrupt the body’s relationship with food, as well as tips for lessening the impact, give it a read.
Today, though, I want to shine a light of hope on the complex workings of food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities. My humble disclaimer is that I am not an allergist or nutritionist, both of which I recommend speaking with. However, I was tasked by an allergist to take a deep dive into food mapping, reaction logging and personal testing. I have been poked, scanned, examined, interviewed and tested more than I prefer to recall. So, I have seen firsthand what food choices (even well-intentioned ones) can do to interfere with having a hopeful outlook and healthy body.
For instance, consider if your body does not respond well to a food, it may result in behavioral problems, increased anxiety, panic attacks, digestive sluggishness or rapidity, depression, bloating, diminished energy, an inability to sleep soundly, joint aches and muscle pains, migraines, notable weight gain or loss, irrational outbursts, breathing issues, impaired immunity, food dependence, itching, tingling extremities, swelling and a general feeling that something is not right. Listen to it.
Ok, so you may know some or all of the above from increased media awareness. But did you know that seasonal allergies can cross react with foods, triggering a response 1-3 days after ingesting them?
Example: If you are allergic to grass, you may have a seasonal sensitivity to tomato, melons, orange, peanut, peas and potatoes. Don’t believe it? Access The Cross-Reactors chart to educate yourself. Oral intake of related allergens can exacerbate the sniffly, funky feeling you get when things are in bloom. The challenge is that your reaction may be delayed or recurring, so you don’t think of the food you had for lunch two days ago.
For perspective not drama, I am chart-toppingly allergic to all of these items (and most everything else). So, for my well-being, I recently took them all off my safe foods list. I don’t advise this for you nor to intend for it to be a permanent choice. But I do see noticeable improvements in my body when I am discerning about such foods. The result: I am more hopeful, upbeat and energetic.
Ok, now let’s face the dreaded topic of gluten. It has become the bad guy on the culinary scene in the last few years, much like cholesterol and carbs before it. But do you know the real enemy? It’s inflammation. Regardless of origin or trigger, digestive inflammation is especially impairing to wellness and a hopeful mindset. If your body is feeling constantly attacked, swollen, bloated and achy, it’s difficult for it to accept nutrients, to heal itself and to deliver its best for you.
Here is a summary of the three ways to identify food allergies (source: DrHyman.com):
- Get a blood test. Blood testing for IgG food allergens . . . can help you to identify hidden food allergies . . . work with a doctor or nutritionist trained in dealing with food allergies.
- Go dairy- and gluten-free for six weeks . . . allows the inflamed gut to heal. This one move may be the single most important thing most you can do to lose weight.
- Avoid the top food allergens . . . gluten, dairy, corn, eggs, soy, nuts, nightshades (tomatoes, bell peppers, potatoes and eggplant), citrus and yeast (baker’s, brewer’s yeast and fermented products like vinegar). Try this for a full six weeks . . . When you reintroduce a top food allergen, eat it at least 2-3 times a day for 3 days to see if you notice a reaction.
Don’t even get me started on preservatives, dyes, fake sugars, binding agents and biosynthetics like GMOs. I would never drink from a beaker in chemistry class, so I’m absolutely not going to put these digestive grenades in my body.
In my case (again, I’m not saying this is for you), I am now grain-free, dairy-free, corn-free, bean-free, soy-free, mammalian meat-free, whole nut-free (too dense for my system to process right now) and a variety of other restrictions. My focus is organic green vegetables, a few select fruits, wild caught low-mercury fish, coconut oil and certain seeds. Why meat restrictions? Well, that adage, “You are what you eat,” applies to animals too. I find, funny enough, that what they eat can lead to reactions in me. Interesting how life is so connected, if we think about it.
If you are a brainiac who loves knowing all the scientific details like I do, here is something to make your head spin: “Food Allergies and Other Food Sensitivities.” It is remarkable reading and breaks down the many levels to reactions.
I am hopeful and know, with awareness, I will achieve the balance my body deserves. It may not look like anything anyone else eats and yours may not either. The key is to pay attention to your body, know what feels good, log what you eat for a while and honor its best interest above your urges. Be hopeful and be proactive, friends.