Change in Diet, Change in Life
A Guest Post by Gail Kellogg Hope of Oakhill Clothiers.
Heather & I briefly talked about "change-in-diet, change-in-life" and it got me thinking about this very long road of listening to my own body, overcoming social pressures and BEING picky about what I put into it, how I treat it & how I feel both emotionally and physically. We only get one body for this life, and while spare parts are sometimes available, they are a poor substitute for the originals!
Food allergies have been a life-long battle for me, and we'll likely have to do the same monitoring & assessing for our son. I hope he doesn't have my food issues, hopefully he'll have John's constitution, and we'll just have to be aware of the typical childhood food sensitivities that he may (hopefully) outgrow.
As adults, figuring out our own food allergies/sensitivities/intolerances is a little more difficult than for children. We've been eating these things so long it's habit. We don't even think about it.
The Food Diary
So, in order to think about it, the first thing to do is keep a food diary. This is rather difficult for many people because it seems too much like dieting. It makes you hyper-conscious about what you are eating & drinking. You forget to write things down.
Weigh daily - it's just a number. If you treat a food diary like a number, just a record & don't analyze it to begin with, it's easier. It's not there for criticism, it's just there. You do this for yourself because you love yourself, you enjoyed what you ate & drank and now you celebrate it by writing it down. See? Much easier!
Next is to write down how you feel. Physically & emotionally. No judgement. Just facts.
What physical activity did you do? How did you spend your day?
"Dear Diary, Today I played on FB, weeded the garden, worked on X, went out to eat with Dear Husband I had XY&Z and came home cranky/happy/tired/energized."
If you go to the dr. in that time, what was your BP, blood-work, etc?
Just write it down.
Analyzing the Diary
Now, after several months of this, you can go back & read through what you've done. VERY IMPORTANT!!!
Are there any patterns to moods or energy levels relating to foods or activity?
Were you consistently cranky after eating pasta/beans/other?
When did you have to take anti-acids?
Did you have unexplained jumps or drops in weight? Are they food related or attached to your body cycles? (men have cycles too, FYI).
Making it Work
After this brief analysis, it's time to remove/reduce certain foods or ingredients from your diet for 3 weeks - 2 months. Keep recording. Reanalyze.
Have things improved? If yes, put those foods on your "do not eat" list. If no, slowly reintroduce them & see if there's a change or not. If no change, go ahead & eat them... if there is a change for the worse, reduce or eliminate. If a change for the better, go ahead!
What are things are your family members allergic to? Target those first.
It's important to only do a few foods at a time. Once you've isolated certain problem ingredients, look to their close kin. I'm allergic to latex & tropical fruits - all related! Yet I can still eat bananas... go figure.
Read labels! You'll be amazed how many ingredients go into commercial foods. If there's something in it you can't eat, just move on to the next brand & read that label. Write down the brand names of foods you CAN eat, but never stop reading the labels. A change in packaging usually means a change in ingredients. If you don't know what an ingredient is, google it. Be proactive about what you put in your body. Just because something has packaging that claims it's "health food" doesn't mean its healthy for YOU (or healthy at all for that matter).
Other things you can do is go see an allergist & have a food test done. They screen for the most common food allergies & those tests are pretty good. Not fun, but they work. They won't help you change your eating habits, but they will show you any major red flags... of course, sensitivities & intolerances are NOT included in those tests, only allergies. But it should give you a place to start.
As a side-note, sensitivities & intolerances can be just as harmful as allergies. All 3 are reactions to substances. You aren't allergic to arsenic, but you sure are intolerant of it.
There are a multitude of medical tests you can have done, but again, they won't change habits. Only give you the information - it's up to you what you do with that.
Just because a food doesn't cause intestinal discomfort doesn't mean you should eat it. Foods are a Whole Body experience. It's your fuel. If you are putting crap in, you'll get crap out. Many foods won't hurt your body, they'll hurt your moods. Lactose intolerance is often associated with anxiety disorders... and that's just one of many examples; too many to get into here.
I can't eat commercial apples. Not because I'm allergic to apples, but because I'm horribly allergic to a chemical used on them. Which one that is is beyond me, and there's no real way to isolate it... so I buy organic. No problems.
It's complex, and it's hard work and it's habit.
And she adds:
I still struggle with weight, but once I found my weight trigger foods (barley mostly) I've been able to maintain or lose (with a lot of exercise).
I should mention that this is just how I've managed my food issues. This won't work for everyone, and it's certainly not the only way.
Food issues can be just as much psychological as physiological & every person is going to have a different combination of those factors. Do what works for you. But it's all going to take work. (I don't even care what your goals are - healthy is a good goal, but how you define that is up to you).
Thank you, Gail. That's really good advice, and it's how I know things like going without protein breakfast makes me flakey, and just never to drink ruby red grapefruit juice no matter how much I love it. Among other things. Listen to your body, and it will talk to you.