Let's Discuss: Struggling With Food Sensitivities and Listening To Our Bodies
Last summer I think I had the most insane tummy and psoriasis / eczema flare up of my life. This included constant stomach pain, bloating, indigestion, and horrible acid reflux. I was so freakin’ uncomfortable for probably 3-4 months straight before I finally was able to find some relief. These stomach issues were pretty random for me because I had never previously experienced any type of acid reflux or even heartburn much of my life until then. This could’ve been brought on from a number of things...that summer I started a major three month internship and a summer class, so I was pretty stressed out about. I also could’ve been experiencing these issues because of food sensitivities I had no idea about!
My acid reflux was horrible! I would cough for hours to the point where I think I messed up my throat for a little while. I could not understand why it was happening to me. I changed my food around a little and tried to eat different things but didn’t find much relief. I thought I was eating too much acidic foods so I cut some out but still no relief. I had never considered I had food allergies or sensitivities that could be making my stomach have these issues. After some research and two doctors visits about my acid reflux, I decided I should go get a food allergy test. It also made sense because a couple months before this, I had discovered a new food allergy I hadn’t known about prior…so I was curious if there were more I didn’t know about.
Food Allergy Testing & My Results:
I found out I was allergic to shrimp in January/February of 2018. This was not fun...I ate shrimp one night for dinner and was violently sick that night. I thought it was a stomach bug so I didn’t think much of it. But then three weeks later I have shrimp again with my sushi and become violently sick again! I went to an allergist who determined it’s definitely a sensitivity and I should avoid shrimp at all costs. Luckily tests showed that I am not allergic to the point of going into anaphylaxis. Keep in mind, I didn’t grow up eating shrimp because I thought they were creepy! So I discovered I liked the taste of shrimp that one night in January 2018 I had it for dinner with my family. Come to find out it was NOT my friend later that night. So I only really eat salmon if I eat fish. Out of safety, I stay away from all shellfish/crustaceans.
The random food allergy discovery caused me to consider if there were other foods that were possibly making me have such awful acid reflux, stomach pains, acne, cold sores, and eczema/psoriasis flare ups. Another thing that made me think that I could possibly have food allergies and sensitivities was because I’ve had eczema and psoriasis flare ups since I was a child. *Carrie Bradshaw voice* I couldn’t help but wonder… could my skin issues be linked to food sensitivities that I never knew I had?
Enjoy these pictures of my flare ups…
I did the blood work required for this allergy panel the (IgE test) and it revealed that my highest allergens were peanuts, eggs, corn, and sesame seeds. I hit fairly low for clams, scallops, cows milk, wheat, shrimp, soy, and walnuts, but still can be considered sensitivities. This totally sent me for a shock! I was super confused and kinda opposed to removing the mainly 4 allergens my doctor instructed me to avoid. I was lost! How could I be allergic to foods I was eating my whole life and was never getting hives or going into anaphylaxis (typical allergic reaction symptoms). But I realized that my body could’ve been telling me that it wasn’t liking the things I was putting into my body for years. My skin conditions said it all! Listening to our body is so important!
I haven’t been following my allergen protocol very strictly for about a year of knowing about it (BAD GIRL I KNOW!) because I really wasn’t ready to make the adjustments to my diet, and I was kinda sad about it too. So i haven’t seen much relief in my skin condition, but the acid reflux has backed off. Now I’m at the point of acceptance. Ready for a change.
Here is some more pictures of skin flare ups…
Why We Need To Listen To Our Bodies:
I consulted with a nutritionist who warned me that if I continue to stress out my digestive system and immune system, I could actually cause harm to my body. If I continue eating my allergens, I can risk causing damage to my intestines and even cause IBS or colon cancer down the line. I basically have been putting my body into a constant state of inflammation. Inflammation can make it super hard to heal from normal sicknesses like a cold or lead to weakening of the immune system and cause autoimmune diseases, which I’m already prone to because of my mother and grandmother’s genetics. Prolonged inflammation in the body can unfortunately even lead to cancers and other serious illnesses. After learning about this and speaking to a nutritionist, I learned how important it is to LISTEN to what my body is telling me through the stomach pain, discomfort, acid reflux, and persistent skin problems! I’ve finally decided to surrender to it and I’m really hoping to start feeling better soon!
What I did to resolve my acid reflux:
First, my doctor had me take the traditional route and take prescription medicine for only 30 days. That definitely helped me for months following that. My acid reflux isn’t nearly as bad anymore but occurs at least a few times a month.
I cut out the allergens for a week, introduce a few again, and kept messing up and giving into temptation. I am really trying to be more consistent but it’s so hard! I definitely seen an improvement in my skin but not much with the stomach! Someone please leave me more tips on how to stick to my plan!
I’m super new to all of this so I’m considering seeking out other medical professionals to help me fix my stomach and digestion issues. It can also be a little expensive and very challenging considering I still live at home with my family (i’m 22, just graduated college!) and there is a lot of temptation around me in the kitchen.
What I’m Still Figuring Out // My Challenges:
+ My biggest challenge is removing eggs and peanuts from my diet. I have yet to be able to do this longer than maybe three weeks for eggs and a week for peanuts. Not only is it hard cause I love both, but I was on a fast paced GO GO GO schedule for the last year until now. And I am starting up a real 9-5 work schedule in a week...so I’m just gonna have to figure this out as I go!
+ I struggle with consistency! Even when i’m super concerned about the inflammation in my body causing harm to my tummy or my immune system.
+ I also struggle with the fear of being JUDGED! I hate being THAT friend that goes out to dinner and has to be super picky on the menu because of their dietary restrictions. I am going to try to just put that in the back of my mind and know that it will be worth the trouble in the end.
How to listen to your body:
+ Something that really helped me figure out more balance is reading The Balanced Blonde. Jordan Younger is a beautiful soul who struggles with chronic lyme and IBS. She has been on a soul-invigorating journey to find health and happiness. Her blog posts are super real and I can definitely relate to a lot of the trial and error she goes through with dealing with her own body. She has amazing words to share about listening to our body, being in tune with our health, and finding that balance. Most of all, she encourages me to enjoy life and not stress about little things! Love that!
+ Take a look at your diet...notice what you ate today, did you feel any symptoms you may have been used to. Symptoms maybe you thought were just “normal” for you but actual are your body telling you something is going on internally that maybe should be happening!? Take a look, write down or log in your phone your diet for two weeks and see what you’re feeling.
+ Incorporate more slow exercise like yoga or walking! You want to release the tension and decrease stress as much as possible in order to get back your normal digestion patterns.
+ If you believe you’re being affected by food sensitivities, for three weeks try to cut out the most common food allergens, including gluten, dairy, eggs, corn, yeast, and peanuts. Some people are sensitive to soy, so you should consider cutting that out as well. I avoid soy as best I can already due to my risk for breast cancer.
My Goals…For Now:
+ Eliminating the foods that were not and are not working for me
+ Warm water with lemon every morning (plenty of dietitians have said this is good for hydration and settling the stomach early in the morning)
+ Eating 3 meals a day separate from each other and avoiding snacking when possible
+ Learning to manage stress daily, whether that means meditation or yoga practices. Or just taking 5 mins each day to breathe and not do anything.
+ Eating more whole foods, less packaged or processed
+ Pack lunch and snacks that follow my plan during the week
+ Don’t be so hard on myself!
+ Research more allergen-free recipes…(Consider reading this blog I love right now called Allergy Girl Eats!)
I would love to be primarily plant-based one day but it will take some time to get to that point. But alas, this is basically about what works for ME. I want you to find what works for you too. Never compare yourself to others! Everyone’s situation is DIFFERENT. Never let anyone make you feel bad or less-than because of what you choose to eat or do not eat.
I really hope this post helps anyone who may be in a similar position. I really didn’t want to just write a post about how much i’ve struggled and go on and on. But I know I have food sensitivities and problems with my tummy and skin, but I haven’t done enough about it! I have been pretty up and down with it too. So I think by sharing this information with my amazing followers and readers that I can connect with people who are going through the same! Or maybe you might have some great advice for me, so don’t hesitate to reach out to me!
More to come soon!
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