Food Allergies vs. Food Paranoia

BACKGROUND

When I started eating Paleo, I believed everything that was preached to me by the experts. Gluten, grains, and dairy irritate the gut, sugar is the devil, and legumes cause bloat. Through the past 5 years, I have tried different forms of Paleo including ketogenic, Low FODMAP, AIP, and Low Histamine. At one point, I even added rice back into my diet on the regular. Eating primal/paleo has changed my life for the better and those principles are carried out in my daily diet. Feeling so great without grains, dairy, gluten, or legumes must mean that I have severe food allergies to those forbidden foods, right?

Recently I have admittedly gone off the deep end. I diagnosed myself with severe food allergies and have begun to avoid all foods on the high FODMAP list, High Histamine list, and AIP do not eat list. This has severely limited my diet. My days consist of sweet potato for carbs, kale and zucchini for greens, chicken for protein, and ghee for fat. That’s great in the short term but I have completely taken the excitement out of food. Eating is no longer an enjoyable experience. In a sense, I have become a food robot, eating solely to refuel.

A DOSE OF REALITY

My sister, who is finishing up her residency in nephrology, recently sat me down to discuss my diet choices and ‘food allergies’. In summary, she told me I was about to jump off the cliff into a severe eating disorder. Sure my stomach feels great, my eczema is under control, my strength and endurance in workouts has skyrocketed, and I feel no aches and pains. I also have become a dull, boring person. I don’t enjoy family cheat night without anxiety or regretting my choices the next day. It has effected how I feel about my son eating certain foods that all kids should be allowed to enjoy in moderation. It’s time to change. I want my son to grow up knowing how to live a healthful life. I do not want him to grow up with food anxiety. 

I spoke to my doctor about my food anxiety. He recommended that I get tested for food allergies to determine if I really need to live on such a restrictive diet (surely I should be allowed to enjoy
banana with almond butter). I quickly scheduled an appointment with the allergist.

After a brief sit down and download on what I eat today and any concerns I have, the doctor administered a 62 panel test for food allergies covering everything from strawberries to nuts to shellfish and eggs. I had to wait a very long 20 minutes to see which foods my body reacted to. I could hardly wait to see the results. I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve (if only my 7 year old self could see me now).

WHAT FOOD ALLERGIES?

It turns out I am ONLY allergic to oats, rye, corn, and rice. Ironically, I am allergic to all of the grains used to make ‘Gluten Free’ products, but not allergic to the gluten itself. The results do not change the way I feel about gluten and I will not be chugging a gallon of milk anytime soon. I still hold true to the primal beliefs and feel that it has greatly improved my life. What the test did do is confirm that it is okay for me to cheat here and there.

MOVING FORWARD

It is important for me to show my son how to eat a well balanced, nutritional diet. Knowing how negatively some foods can effect health, we will keep the primal lifestyle principles in our daily diet. It is also necessary for me to let loose and enjoy our Saturday night gluten free pizza or the occasional pint of ice cream. After all, life is all about creating a balance. I don’t want to look back and see missed opportunities with my son. Nor do I want him to feel like an outsider or grow up without having ever tasted gummy bears.

Have you gone down the diet rabbit hole? How do you balance your food choices and temptations?