You Probably Have Food Allergies & Don't Even Know It

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All my life, I never had a problem digesting lactose. I grated parmesan over most meals I ate. I slathered an ample amount of butter over the whole chickens I'd roast every Sunday night. I indulged in ice cream, even for breakfast (um, isn't that when you're supposed to eat coffee ice cream?).  Up until four years ago, I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, not just dairy, but spicy foods, all nuts and seeds, wheat, soy - I didn't think twice when perusing a menu at a restaurant.

Then, my body changed. I can still remember the very weekend: I made a quinoa salad with feta and herbs, which I ate for dinner, then lunch the next day, and it was so delicious, I even had some that night, which is when my stomach went crazy. I spent the whole night in the bathroom, and the next day, I still had an upset stomach. I felt bloated, and my stomach was doing that thing where it gurgles and sounds like it's talking in tongues, sending a secret message from the great beyond.

From that point on, every time I ate dairy, it upset my stomach. But it didn't end there: Over the next few months, other physical symptoms popped up. My acne got worse. I felt bloated even when I didn't eat dairy. My stomach spasmed a few times, which felt like my insides were twitching. I knew something was off. 

I began researching stomach problems, and I read book after book on food allergies, even how our digestive systems are affected by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which I had been diagnosed with. And what I found was this crazy syndrome known as leaky gut. 

There are several theories about leaky gut, as it has been linked to hormonal disorders (PCOS), autoimmune disease (people in my family have lupus, as well as multiple sclerosis), and even has been said to be the result of our tendency to eat over processed, chemical-riddled food that wreaks havoc on our gastrointestinal lining, creating tiny holes, and causing a series of symptoms that can be hard to diagnose. Insomnia? Hair falling out? Acne? Bloating? These are just a few symptoms of leaky gut.

The problem is that most people suffer from things like indigestion, bloating, or acne, and they pop a Tums, apply some cream from the drug store on their face, and tell themselves that it's normal.

Newsflash: If your'e bloated, burping, feel gassy, have acne, or suffer from insomnia, fatigue, or rosacea, your body is telling you that something is wrong.

When I realized that I had leaky gut, I started the GAPS diet, which meant I eliminated all common allergens and foods that were hard to digest from my diet and then slowly reintroduced them after a month of eating only foods that were good for my gut. For over a month, I didn't eat things like seeds, eggs, beans, or butter, and then one by one, I reintroduced each food.

Low and behold, when I ate eggs and butter, I broke out.

When I ate beans, my stomach hurt, and I felt bloated.

When I ate peanut butter, I broke out AND my stomach hurt.

When I ate garlic, I burped it up all night, and the next day, my stomach felt off.

When I ate certain vegetables, like leeks, or even too many onions, I felt bloated.

I had been so used to feelings of discomfort; being bloated and having acne had been so normalized, that I had never even realized that my body reacted negatively to certain foods. I was under the impression that unless I went into anaphylactic shock, I was allergy-free. I didn't realize that food allergies can be subtle. I didn't realize that if there is a history of autoimmune disease in the family, the body can treat certain foods as allergies and become inflamed as a result of ingesting them.

I didn't release that garlic, or peanut butter, or eggs, were causing inflammation in my body.

So now, I eat foods that my body loves. My body loves most vegetables, fruits, and some fats and proteins. My skin loves food that isn't cooked in lots of oil, isn't covered in cheese, doesn't have seeds as an ingredient. My stomach loves potatoes, rice, and lots of green smoothies.

I became conscious of what my body was communicating to me. I stopped to listen. The body tells us (often, subtly) what is working and what isn't. The body tells us what it likes. Now, I eat mindfully, and each meal is a chance for me to fuel myself with the specific foods to which my body responds positively. Everything I put in my stomach is an offering of love, is gentle on my digestive system, is healing, rather than inflammatory, and I use food to heal myself - to make me feel light and healthy.