As part of The Gluten Free Health Challenge, Marisa will be sharing her journal entries with you the first 3 Tuesdays of every month from now until December. She'll be receiving free health coaching from Eryn McEntee, a naturopathic student in her final year of study, and Iris Higgins of Your Fairy Angel during this period. To learn how to join us from home, click here.
The photo I'm sharing today is a mild example of what my skin looks like should I get a hold of deadly nightshades. At least now I know why I had horrible skin for most of my life. I used to eat tomatoes and/or peppers every single day. And I'm sure that there was a daily potato product in the mix as well. My skin not only looked bad, it hurt! And what is so sad is that I just got used to it hurting and itching until I finally went on the elimination diet. There was at least a month that I went without any nightshades, and it was not until I added one back in that I realized the pain piece of it. I miss the nightshades. Not gonna lie. I may miss them more than gluten. There is really no replacement for spicy salsa or the flavor of a tomato-based sauce. I would love to know if anyone has any suggestions for an alternative option for my tomato/pepper cravings. I don't actually crave potatoes. They are just IN everything. But tomatoes and peppers used to be a huge part of my enjoyment with food. So not being able to incorporate them in my meals or find a feasible substitute has been somewhat frustrating.
Now to be honest, when I found out I would be a part of this challenge, I was actually feeling pretty good physically. I was just over a week into having my IV infusion of vitamins/minerals, and we were leaving for Portland within a matter of hours. My spirits were high, and somehow my energy levels were too. I know that most likely that was connected. My energy and body's ability to function more easily were directly impacted by how incredibly happy I was. Knowing I did not have to go to work for an extended period of time may have even been one of the biggest factors in how relaxed, energized, and healthy I was feeling.
This is great... However, it can be dangerous at times as I will embrace the energy, get overzealous, and end up overextending myself. I took note of that, was fully aware, and acknowledged it. I did still manage to overdo it a bit. But I feel I made progress because the only area I seemed to overextend myself in was staying out too late with out-of-town friends I never see. I did not make too many plans or do too many things. I tried to be mindful of my body's limits and allow myself to rest. I got overwhelmed and excited about all of the options in Portland, and would find myself trying to pack a ton of things into each day, but luckily my supportive and oh-so-smart significant other stepped in and reminded me of my pledge to NOT overextend myself. Ultimately, we did a pretty decent job of "going with the flow." I even managed to get in yoga practice every day except for our departure day when we had an early flight back home.
The trip itself was one of my more successful travel experiences. There have been very few trips in the past few years where I did not somehow end up glutened or accidentally ingesting dairy. I also get distracted by the fun, free feeling, and up end going over my limit of time between meals, thus allowing my blood sugar to drop. In these situations, I have ended up sick, sometimes throwing up, and ultimately going home feeling awful for as long as up to five days (If I had an exposure to an offending food/beverage). In many of these situations, I have also ended up having to buy new shoes (or wear flip flops) for the remainder of the trip, hobbling around, sporting my yoga pants and a t-shirt due to excessive swelling and pain in my entire body.
Great news: This time I dodged the extreme feet swelling and any puking. But I did NOT manage to dodge the overall body swelling, and the soon-to-follow totally bummed out feeling once we returned home to Kansas City.
My clothes still don't fit since the trip. So I'm pretty much just doing yoga pants and jersey knit skirts for the time being. And what do I owe this newfound swelling to? My best guess is the fact that I reintroduced grains during our trip. I was not about to miss out on the opportunity to do something I have not done in years - which is to SHARE a pizza with my dear significant other, and finally try beer at a dedicated gluten free brewery that I am pretty much obsessed with. We even located a pizza option that did not use solely potato starch for their gluten free crust, had vegan cheese, and had meat options that met my criteria. I had four total pieces of this pizza over a three day period. I also went to the beer tasting and had three-ounce pours of a few different beers, and one full pour of my favorite. It is quite possible that those things were enough to cause my entire body to hurt all over (and it still does today, two weeks later).
It is also possible that I made a mistake by eating some cookies which were a very kind and thoughtful gift from a dear friend. She went to St. Louis recently and returned with cookies from a pizza place there that I speak fondly of. They serve cookies called, "Cookies for Everyone - Gluten Free/Vegan." They are chocolate chip sandwich cookies and they are sooo good! But did I bother to research and inquire as to what type of flour was used for these irresistible cookies? No, I did not. I am almost always diligent about this. I did so good in Portland. We went into multiple gluten free bakeries and I walked out of each of them empty handed. I was still thrilled at the existence of the bakeries in the first place, and loved being able to go in and ask questions. Not being able to eat anything due to potato starch being used was a mild disappointment. But oddly I was just so happy to be in Portland that I really did not care as much as I would have in the past.
That is - until I got home apparently. Because when those chocolate chip sandwich cookies were put in front of me, I ate them without even thinking about the flour. I must have been suffering from some residual cravings. So perhaps I should have indulged more than I did on our trip. I think my bad dessert cravings kicked in once I got home because I was so bummed about being back in a city that is, in my opinion, inferior to Portland in so many ways. Specifically, I mean ways that I personally hold as essential criteria for someone trying to live a healthy lifestyle.
(My love for all things sweet is a whole separate journal entry, to be discussed at a later time. I am in a weak enough spot today that I fear even talking about treats will send me into some serious cravings.)
As I was in the midst of completing this Menu of my ramblings, my co-pilot on this flight of food detective mysteries may have shed some light on why my swelling was so significant and long lasting. I know very well I had grains. I made a conscious decision to reintroduce them in Portland. But what I do not know is what was in those cookies. I have sent an e-mail to the restaurant so I can find out for sure. Due to my bad reactions, I very reluctantly gave the last cookie to my dear love. He enjoyed it. But after a few bites, he said, "Um, I think there are oats in here." YES!! Oats! How did that not occur to me? And WHY had I forgotten that three years ago during one of my elimination diet challenges, I added alleged gluten free oats back in as a test and I had a reaction? I cannot do oats, even if they are marked as gluten free. Sigh.
I haven't heard back from the restaurant, so the definitive answer to the food mystery of this week's Menu is: TO BE CONTINUED.
We know that the dangerous grains that I introduced played their part for sure. But stay tuned to find out if there were any nightshades in those cookies. Potato starch has been a culprit many times before. And if it turns out that there were oats in the recipe as well, then no wonder I still can't get my jeans over my knees and my belly looks pregnant!
p.s. My coach, Eryn, is helping me move forward with positing thinking and less self deprecation. And we rested on a very simple mantra to add as one of my intentions that I have made for this challenge. As soon as we hung up, I made a sign and placed it on our fridge.
(I commit to be patient with myself during this challenge; noticing my thoughts while expressing them in a positive light, enabling self encouragement." -Marisa's Team Chocolate Intention)