Sunday, May 18, 2014

Allergic to Whole30

Hello friends!

As I have mentioned the past few posts, I am sorry for the absence as of late: life has been busy! Get ready for my list of excuses:

  • School is winding down for the semester, and as a result, I have been insanely busy trying to plan lessons, write final assessments, contact parents of failing students, grade papers, etc. It's been crazy.
  • Tennis has been keeping me busy until fairly late into the evenings, rendering me too tired to do much of anything once I get home.
  • Other activities -- judging a talent show, going on a couple of dates, heading to doctors' appointments, and running races -- have taken up a lot of my time.
Essentially, I'm trying to tell you that in three more weeks -- as soon as school is over and summer hits -- my blogging will become much, much more regular.

But, enough with my excuses: let's get to the meat of this post.


I have mentioned several times that over the course of the last two months, I have had some really horrible allergic reactions. I cannot remember, however, if I actually showed you photos. So, let's take a trip back in time:

This is the rash that has cropped up pretty much all over my arms, torso, abdomen, butt,
and back over the last couple of months. It's really, really pleasant. Also, I'm not sure what's
going on with my tummy in this picture; it's lumpy, for sure, but I swear it's not this lumpy.

This is the reaction I had at school one morning -- the one that finally prompted me to
call a doctor. This was also the reaction with which the doctor gave me an EpiPen -- and
the one where I was certain I looked like Sloth.

This is where I got collagen injections in my lips my mouth swelled up and became
super painful after eating Chipotle.

Interestingly, these reactions occurred when I finally started taking care of my body, especially nutrition-wise. I had cut out all preservatives/processed foods, all added sugars, all gluten, all alcohol, all dairy, all legumes, all white potatoes, etc. I was eating nothing but good, clean, whole foods.

And my body rejected this lifestyle.

Starting about halfway through my Whole30, I had major allergic reactions. When my Whole30 (or Whole56-ish) ended and I started adding in "non-compliant" foods, I stopped having reactions: my body was back to normal.

And, I had five doctors' -- dermatologist, family practice, and allergist -- appointments during that time as well. Finally, on Friday, I received some answers after the allergist tested me for food allergies (which included lying on my tummy for 15 minutes while the nurse poked me with 72 different potential allergens).

Here are the results, friends:

Let's review in more detail:

Cantaloupe: Interestingly, I hated cantaloupe as a kid. I have two theories on this: either my body knew I was allergic to this fruit so automatically disliked it, or I became allergic to it because I was not exposed to it. Either way, I'm not too disappointed. I mean, I like cantaloupe now, but oh well.

Grapes: I bought a bag full of grapes on Thursday, the day before my test. Awesome. I'm not too bummed by this one -- aside from the fact that the doctor also reminded me that this meant no wine! Say what?!

Milk: And yes, this also means no cheese, no sour cream, no ice cream, no yogurt, no cottage cheese, etc. I don't eat much dairy at all, but I do enjoy the occasional ice cream or fro-yo (and who doesn't like cheese?!), so this is kind of a major bummer. Interestingly, my tummy doesn't react super well to a glass of milk or a slab of cheese, so it could be somehow related? 

Lamb: I like gyros, but other than that, who cares?

Pork: No bacon?! Ugh. This is yet another interesting one to me: I have disliked pork (with the exception of bacon) almost my entire life. Hmm...

Onion: I'm allergic to onion?! I didn't even know this was a possibility!

Potatoes: Unfortunately, this includes both white potatoes and sweet potatoes. This is the worst for me: I eat at least one sweet potato per day. And now I can't have any?!

Raspberry: Yep, I am allergic to my favorite fruit. Wow.

So, it's no wonder that I was so allergic during my Whole30: I mean, all I was eating was food that I was allergic to! Seriously, I ate more pork, onions, and especially sweet potatoes than I have in my entire life. When I introduced non-compliant foods into my diet, my body had more to work with and wasn't just being inundated by allergens.

On Friday, I thought this was absolutely hysterical: I was cracking up at the fact that I was allergic to all of this stuff. I posted on Facebook that the whole "no wine" thing was going to kill me, I called my mom and my sister-in-law to joke about what a freak I am, etc. It was hilarious.

Now, however, I'm thinking it's a heck of a lot less funny. And, I'm thinking that meal-planning has gotten a heck of a lot tougher.

But, I am trying to keep it in perspective, too: these aren't allergens that cause me to go into anaphylactic shock, I don't suffer from celiac disease (which would limit a heck of a lot more foods), I don't have an auto-immune disorder (which is what I was fearing after the first round of tests), etc. I just have a few foods that cause rashes and swelling. I can deal with that.

It's going to be difficult, though.

I mean, Katie and Emmy Jean and I headed to Eatery A yesterday for happy hour, and we were trying to order a couple of pizzas to share. Because the white sauce obviously included dairy and the red sauce contained onions, I basically ordered a sauce-less pizza with fig jam and greens. Yum, yum. (And obviously this would not be a Whole30 meal, but that's besides the point...)

Game Plan:

The doctor told me that I needed to completely cut out all eight of those foods for one week. He then told me that I needed to reintroduce each of the foods individually into my diet for a couple of days to see how I react.

So, that is what I'll do: I'm going to start another Whole30 (with a couple of exceptions), and add the above eight items into the "non-compliant" category. I'll add those back in after the fact and see how it goes, I suppose.

Prior to this whole diagnosis, I was reading labels like crazy: that's kind of the point of Whole30, after all. Now, though, I need to read labels even more closely.

While the doctor said that they all reacted with the same intensity, I'm just guessing that sweet potatoes and onions are the biggest culprits.


Do you have food allergies? Any great advice for me to meal plan (especially sans sweet potatoes and onions)?

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  1. No wonder you had so many problems. You started the day off with allergens. Hopefully you can have some things in moderation after the week off them. At least now you have answers.

    1. Exactly, Kristin! Thank you for making your way through this "brain dump" of a post! And thank you for your thoughts! If you have any ideas as to non-SP and non-onion meals, I'm all ears! :)

    2. Oh man, I don't even know. I love onions and most of the food on your list. If I run across a recipe that looks good I'll pass it along.

  2. Oh man, I feel your pain...Since eating more clean the past few years, I have had all kinds of issues:( Skin rashes, gut stuff, I get it all. It's so frustrating. I have gone to a NAET practitioner, which is an allergy elimination technique. It's something that is spendy tho and takes many visits. I did see some improvement, but I haven't gone in a year or so. Sounds like you've got a hold of it!

    1. That sounds exactly like me, Cara! Ugh. I'm going to have to look into the NAET -- I've never heard of it, but it sounds fascinating! Did it work for you?

  3. Hang in there! It's okay to be frustrated, you have to take some time to "grieve" the loss of eating those foods. It's sounds silly, but you really do. I know you your optimism will kick back in, but let yourself be annoyed for a bit. IF anyone can make this work, it's you!! You're amazing and I love you.

    1. Thanks, girl. At first I thought it was absolutely hilarious, but now I'm thinking it's not so funny. I think I'm honestly going to still keep eating sweet potatoes and onions -- in moderation. But, I'm going to also have to eat other (non-Whole30) things to balance 'em out. We'll see. At least I know what's causing the reaction and can gauge how much and how often I can eat the allergens. And, just in case shit hits the fan, I have the EpiPen. :)