I’ve had food intolerances for 15+ years. About six years ago they really started messing with me – irritable bowel, hives/other skin rashes, asthma, vomiting, bloating, hay fever type allergies and constant colds …. It got to the point where I could barely leave the house. I would react almost instantaneously to every food. My body could barely tolerate lettuce and carrots without inflicting some hell on me. So, finally, I started listening.
With the help of a naturopath/nutritionist, I stopped eating wheat, yeast, dairy, eggs, seafood, corn, the “night shades” (tomato, potato, capsicum, eggplant), mushrooms, coffee…and most preservatives/additives. That might sound like a nightmare, but eventually it became second nature. I learned which foods to eat, which not to eat.
Mostly I ate lots of fresh food – meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, etc – and very little processed food. I became good friends with the health food store and the relevant aisle at the supermarket… and I learned which companies use some of the “naughty” foods as sneaky additives when they really didn’t need to (like putting wheat in ham and cordial. Who needs wheat in ham or cordial, for heaven’s sake?)
In some respects I’m lucky because when I was paying attention I could eat small quantities of the “naughty” foods (cooked tomatoes and cream being notable exceptions), it just took some planning. If I knew I’d be out for dinner one night in the week, I’d make sure the other nights were sensible. If I wasn’t going out, I’d allow myself one night of take away – usually something half decent as I knew the reaction to food was never far away.
On a good day, I was generally eating:
Breakfast: Rice flakes (like corn flakes, but made with rice) with soy milk and LSA (linseed, sunflower and almond mix), sometimes with a spoonful of soy yoghurt, sometimes with dried fruit. Sometimes stewed apple instead of the rice flakes.
Lunch: Chicken and salad with some fruit; or rice crackers with hummus and may be some vegies.
Dinner: Chicken or lamb with salad; or soup; or vegetable patties; something along those lines. Sometimes poached pear and maple syrup for dessert. Usually some chocolate (mostly the 70%-80% cocoa kind)
Snacks: Handful of almonds with pumpkin and sunflower seeds; sesame seeds; fruit; water; herbal teas. Oh, and chocolate, don’t ever forget the chocolate.
Health-wise I felt great. No more of the health conditions or food reactions that had plagued me for so long. And I started losing weight – something I’d NEVER been able to do before. Over the course of about three years I lost 30-35 kg (66-77lb).
I felt great, but I was still the fat girl on the inside, and I still hated my body. I was buying clothes eight or ten sizes smaller than before, but I still felt the size of a house. I’d reluctantly go into clothing stores, ashamed because I didn’t believe that anything would fit me. I was constantly amazed when it did. When I realised I could wear “normal” clothes I started shopping… and shopping… and shopping. I couldn’t buy enough clothes from regular stores – I think just to prove that I could.
When I lost all that weight, the only thing my father could say to me was “you’re too skinny.” He’s never happy with me, or anything I do. Never has been, and I guess the inner child (or whoever it is) needs to realise that he never will be.
Then my father got sick last year and my life started to unravel. I started therapy and for a while food was the least of my worries (hey, who cares about food when you’re living in flashback/nightmare hell and thinking about topping yourself?) Then I went on the evil anti-depressants.
Apparently these particular anti-depressants have a secondary use in treating food intolerances – they change the way your body digests food. Lucky me. Food intolerances miraculously “cured”, but constant hunger and food addiction were back again. I started using food as more of a “support” than I had in recent years. And I started gaining weight again. My biggest nightmare back to haunt me.
I’m not really sure how much weight I’ve gained as I’m too scared to get on the scales. I know if I do the number will surely tip me into that space where I’m afraid to leave the house because I’ll think everyone is looking at me, laughing at me and being repulsed by me. I will certainly be repulsed by myself.