This is the part that you really don’t want to mess up and that is really easy to do. As a bit of background, after three weeks of living dairy, soy, peanut, egg and gluten-free, you introduce each back to your diet, one by one. For each food item the goal is to incorporate it into two meals a day for two days. Then, you wait and see the results.
This was challenging for me for several reasons. First of all, it’s difficult to find a food that is purely that food and nothing else. Second, you want food items that are particularly rich in the allergen being tested, so thought needs to go into that as well. Third, reacting to the food is awful, plain and simple; It’s emotional, uncomfortable, and confusing. Not only that, it prolongs this phase as you have to wait a day to get your system back on track/at baseline. Fourth, it’s hard to figure out if it’s that specific food you’re reacting to and not something else.
As far as foods for testing purposes went, here’s what we used:
Feta Cheese (includes a higher concentration of the protein we’re testing for)
Peanuts and Eggs: Self Explanatory
Monitoring reactions requires a lot of knowledge of your body and it was quite difficult for me. You’re not only looking for digestive symptoms, but emotional and other physical symptoms as well. An allergy is typically more than just digestive symptoms; that is typically an intolerance. The book we used outlined possible reactions to look for, so that helped.
Reacting to everything. And then some.
Tracking the responses was difficult. I would recommend writing it down (I didn’t) or at the very least discussing it with a friend or spouse.
Typically our social outings revolve around food, so this was hard. Whether going out to dinner or heading to a friend’s for a meal, it is next to impossible to know what is in everything.
I found that I had the most severe reaction to gluten and moderate reactions to eggs and dairy and corn (not originally included but later realized). Since then I’ve found myself over-analyzing each and protesting well, maybe it could have been X that caused Y…not the gluten! It’s tough and emotional, but my god how lucky am I to be healthy overall?
This “diet” made me feel better than I have felt in a very long time…perhaps ever? This was wonderful and terrible at the same time; wonderful because I felt amazing, terrible because I anything I ate that included what I’ll call unnaturally occurring oils or preservatives or something otherwise heavily processed prompted painful reactions.
Now I heal my gut. I am adopting a diet free of the aforementioned foods until further notice, and several different supplements to support the cause.
I’ve been searching for new blogs and paging through my cookbooks to find new inspiration instead of mourning over the foods I can’t have for now. It takes a little effort, but it also opens a whole new community of resources and ideas that I never knew existed.
My best friend tells me to see the positive in the situation; I am a skilled cook who can likely help other people who are struggling to accommodate the same needs through recipes and my blog. I like that. And I hope so too.
Something to Note:
To cover my bum, I must tell you that in no way am I a professional whose advice should be followed. That’s what doctors are for. I am just sharing my story in hopes that it might help others, meanwhile helping me get through it.