Food Allergies vs. Sensitivities

The common misconception is that people who chose to eliminate specific foods are picky eaters, inconvenient and just doing the latest fad.  The truth is that some people have become in tune with their bodies and notice adverse effects when certain foods are consumed.  Everyone’s reactions are different in how they manifest.

For example, while eating out I may ask if something is “gluten-free”. Almost every time the person will ask “Are you allergic or is it a preference?”.  This question erks me. Who cares if it is my preference! If I want something gluten-free I should have the confidence in knowing what I’m eating is just that! And to be honest, now when posed with that question, I tell them I am allergic.  I won’t die if I have it, but my body will tell me it is angry with me for consuming it.  It’s my choice that I don’t want to eat gluten, others shouldn’t sabotage it.
Food sensitivities vs food allergies…what the hell is the difference?!  According to the medical definition, a person can only be truly allergic to some type of protein-based food.  However, many people do experience “allergic-type” reactions to other foods that are not protein based = food sensitivity.  Often people associate a life-threatening reaction when they hear food allergy. Honestly, I was one of them.

For about 2 months, I’ve been “strict” about what foods I consume.  Eliminating eggs, dairy, soy, gluten, grains, alcohol and recently nightshades.  I have seen major improvements in my face – it isn’t itchy, fewer bumps, and the redness has significantly reduced.

Last week was the Nutritional Therapy Association’s 11th annual conference.  It was unbelievable, never have I been surrounded by so many inspirational individuals.  I was able to catch up with fellow classmates from my NTP class, meet some companies that are doing extraordinary things, and listen to passionate speakers that are changing people’s lives on a daily basis through their work.

Rather than stressing about what I was going to eat, I figured (a) all the food at the conference would be healthy and not a problem, (b) brought some powders with the me (protein, carbs, and greens) and all I would have to is mix them with water and it could be a meal replacement, and (c) figured I could easily find a restaurant to eat at.

I ate whatever I wanted, with no regrets!  I moved every morning and had protein and carb powders for breakfast, which kept me satisfied until lunch.  During the conference, I sampled plenty of foods and there was a vendor (Heart 2 Heart Farms) cooking around the clock their delicious Alpaca sausages – ahhh I wish they shipped so I could get some right now!  However, what I quickly learned is that it is not easy to find restaurants on the fly with food restrictions! Lesson learned I will definitely be researching before traveling again.

All the food at the conference and over the weekend was fine and I definitely didn’t avoid everything I have been eliminating.  I didn’t see any obvious reactions, but my face was slightly irritated. But it is difficult to know what triggered it…I was also wearing makeup which I hardly ever do.  Usually I only wear it when I feel like I have to be “presentable” which even at my every day job I don’t feel obligated to do, HA.

Zach had flown out to meet me so we could spend a few days exploring Olympic National Park. Ah-mazing, LOVED IT!  On what was suppose to be our final meal of our vacation Tuesday night, we found this fantastic seafood restaurant Duke’s.  Without a worry in the world I ordered whatever spoke to me. Afterall, I had been eating whatever I wanted, including crap for the past several days, what would be 1 more day?

The food was f’ing delicious! Their seafood is wild and sustainable, the meat grass-fed or pasture-raised, and all sauces are made in house! I seriously thought I had hit the jackpot!  I ate everything: seafood chowder with baby Langostinos and sweet potatoes; mixed green salad with blue cheese, fresh orange and grapefruit, candied pecans; grilled prawns served with an avocado salad; and a dungeness crab cake (to be fair it said “un caked” so I thought it would be a lump of crab meat, wrong!) served with seasonal veggies and roasted potatoes. For dessert we had marionberry pie with vanilla ice cream.  A marionberry is basically a cross between a blueberry and blackberry – YUMMMM!  It is highly probable that my meal consisted of everything I have eliminated for the past 2 months…oh and there was a class of red wine and sour dough bread.  I was elated and satisfied!

I woke up the following morning with hives ALL over my face and it itched like a bitch. My face had NEVER, seriously never been this bad.  The worse part is, I have NO IDEA what caused it. Because I had eliminated so many items and probably consumed all of them in one meal – there’s no way of knowing what triggered it.  The dinner most likely contained dairy, nightshades, gluten, and eggs. Oh and definitely alcohol.

Also, it could have been a pile up of what I consumed over vacation.  The truth is that sometimes reactions to foods can take up to 72 hours to resonate, making it that much more difficult to pinpoint what caused the strong reaction. BLAH!

Back to elimination! Thursday was a travel day so from 8pm Wednesday until 12:30pm Thursday I didn’t eat anything.  I did drink my mushroom coffee while Zach ate breakfast. Surprisingly, I was absolutely fine and was not hungry.  It was 16.5 hour fast!  When I noticed I was hungry I had the Bulletproof collagen protein bar I had bought the previous day and I was good again until dinner a few hours later.

On our way home we stopped at Wegmans and stocked up on fresh veggies and a rotisserie chicken – dinner and lunch!  The minute we got home I threw a bag of freezer bones into the slow cooker to make bone broth.  Friday, I had a cup of broth with every meal and at least one cup a day since.  All meals have been cooked at home since so I can control the ingredients and quality of the food. Five days later, my face is better and almost as good as before I went on vacation.

Going forward my plan is to strictly eliminate foods for 90 days to hopefully allow my gut to heal properly.  After 90 days, I’ll try re-introducing some of the foods to see if I can pinpoint the food that is the trigger.  It isn’t going to be easy but 90 days compared to a lifetime of discomfort is minuscule.  So if anyone has some good recipes that are free of eggs, dairy, soy, gluten, grains, alcohol and nightshades – SEND THEM MY WAY!