The Long

I had a lot of chronic health issues, both large and small, that bothered me throughout my life and every once in a while landed me in the hospital. Most of these issues were deemed cause unknown, and frequently was some kind of inflammation of various organs.

But subjectively my greatest ongoing struggle since my teenage years was my mood and energy level.

I only really stumbled upon this because I was trying to support my partner, otherwise I am one that is very unlikely to have thought this “fad” and other food issues would have anything to do with me. I never suspected I had any problem with any food.

Thus I didn’t expect I would feel any different when my partner and I trialled the gluten free diet for two weeks. We really thought my partner might find some relief as he has various environmental allergies and digestive issues. The changes I started to feel was a huge surprise. After about a week my energy level, thinking, productivity all improved. And when after two weeks we ate gluten for a day, within hours I was irritable, then low mood and energy returned, and by the next day my brain felt literally stuck. I couldn’t even make simple decisions and it was a huge struggle to get any work done. Dizziness, headaches, hunger pangs, and many other minor symptoms returned as well.

Many might have tired of gluten free being trendy, but I for one thank this “fad” for totally changing the state of my health and understanding of my own body. It was not the full answer, but the first large piece of the puzzle without which the rest may never have fallen into place.

As it turns out, gluten was only the tip of the iceberg. Within a couple of weeks my body started to recognize allergies to milk and mold. And when I removed these offenders I recognized reactions to some tree nuts and shrimp. Since I heard that most adults who self diagnose with food allergies aren’t actually allergic, I got tested. Besides I was in disbelief that I could have lived my whole life without knowing, which some allergists say isn’t possible. But to my shock, my skin prick tests actually confirmed positive for milk, some tree nuts and grains, dust mites, and aspergillus mold.

Perhaps gluten has a dulling effect or because I had multiple allergies and all were eaten fairly frequently my whole life, my body was doing its best to adapt and each individual reaction was covered up.

After the gluten free diet we also tried the failsafe diet, as again we suspected my partner may have some food chemical intolerance. At one point we removed all processed foods or eating out and made everything from scratch at home, all the while tracking everything we ate and our symptoms. Sometimes it took a lot of trial and error to figure out what was really going on. For example in the beginning I frequently wondered if I was being “glutened”. Sometimes we were led down strange paths, ironically because we trusted what is supposedly true for most people. Ultimately it took nearly three years but we now have fairly clear answers for ourselves mostly thanks to the data we recorded of our diet.

This journey made me aware of many lesser known aspects of food allergies and sensitivities along with the discrepancy between mainstream knowledge and what can be found in research literature. It was interesting to observe how fervent people can be about their and sometimes even other’s food choices. I noticed possible connections between food and chronic illness. Also this strengthened my hunch that mental illness will eventually be explained as physical illness.

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