My New Healthy
I’ve always had a sensitive system but I never really knew what was causing my problems. You see, I was blessed to grow up in a household with not 1 but 2 fabulous cooks. My mom, who is from Thailand, made all sorts of wonderful exotic Thai dishes (that I didn’t appreciate at the time) and she is a wonderful baker. She makes the best homemade apple pie and Christmas cookies I’ve ever tasted. My dad is all about gourmet. I grew up watching The Frugal Gourmet and Julia Child on TV with my dad. He owned countless cookbooks written by both of them and I was lucky enough to taste test all of his creations. Thanksgiving was always a 2-3 day production with a theme (think First Thanksgiving, New England, and even southwestern). My dad would always have the caloric breakdown of the meal and I always jokingly said, “If you want me to eat your dinner, you won’t show me how many calories are in this.” Looking back on it, I was also lucky because none of our meals came from boxes. My parents cooked with real butter, lard (yes, sticks of lard can be found in my parents’ refrigerator), buttermilk, olive oil, etc. Even our pasta was made from scratch. Nothing with preservatives were made in our house. I had it made.
But one thing always plagued me, especially around festive holiday meals which tended to be on the rich and decadent side, I’d be sick immediately after dinner and a couple of times for the rest of the night (yes I know, TMI). I couldn’t figure it out but I just went with it because the food was just too good to turn down. (Yes, I would like a piece of apple pie a la mode with homemade whipped cream, pumpkin pie, AND pecan pie.)
As I got older into my college years, I noticed after eating certain foods I would have the worst stomach cramps (goodbye Velveeta shells & cheese, pizza, & DP Dough). This then branched out to any kind of “fake” cheese or cheese that doesn’t need to be refrigerated and eventually into deep-fried foods. You are probably thinking that I shouldn’t be eating those foods to begin with, but come on now deep-fried twinkies? Hello – pure bliss!
Even though I knew these things upset my stomach, I couldn’t stop eating them. They tasted so good and besides it wasn’t like I was eating like this every day. So I figured a little splurge here and there or mainly on the weekends wouldn’t hurt anything.
Fast forward to the last two years. My symptoms had become increasingly worse. I was not only suffering from upset stomachs but my whole GI system was turned upside down. (I’ll spare your the details but let’s just say it wasn’t/isn’t pretty.) I had begun taking a dietary supplement as an easy breakfast on the go and a “nutritious” way to get extra protein into my diet. Plus I thought that I was being healthy and it would help alleviate my symptoms. I was drinking 2-3 of these shakes a day plus all of the add-ons like energy drinks and protein cookies. But not only was I having GI issues, now I was moody, depressed, and fatigued. Even my best friend said I wasn’t myself. I blamed it on stress… well, stress had a little to do with it but it wasn’t the main culprit. After about 6 months of feeling like total crap, I finally broke down to see a doctor. I thought maybe I had hormonal issues or even a thyroid issue. I came to find out that my hormone and thyroid levels were completely normal. In fact all of my tests came back really healthy except for my liver enzymes. My liver enzymes were through the roof! So much so, that the doctor actually asked me if I drank alcohol. I told him rarely (I prefer to eat my calories). He explained to me that they usually see those types of levels in alcoholics. WOAH!
I immediately got off all supplements that day and just started eating like normal again. I agreed to have my labs done again in 4 months to see if my liver enzymes would return to normal after getting off all of the supplements. While my moodiness and fatigue subsided, all of my GI issues remained. I was stumped. I had no idea what to do, where to go, or who to turn to. It was really frustrating because I worked out 5-6 days a week, I tried to eat relatively healthy, and I take good care of myself. Why was I having this problem? Would I have to live with these embarrassing issues the rest of my life?
That brings us to present day. I met with an AMAZING internist who really took the time to listen to me and really think through all of the possibilities. I had my labs redone to make sure everything was still okay and if there were any changes in my liver enzymes. He also ran a food allergy panel. At my follow-up appointment with my doctor, he informed me that my labs were refrigerator worthy. He said that I’m in optimal health and that they don’t see labs that good in most patients. The best part? My liver enzymes were back to normal, which tells me that those supplements were causing my liver to malfunction. (This just reiterates me thought that anything you need for your body should come from nature.) But my doctor also pointed out to me that I was lactose intolerant and had a gluten sensitivity. Because my body is small and as sensitive as it is to everything, just a tiny amount of gluten and lactose can set my GI system off kilter. It took me a minute to digest this (no pun intended) but realized that this would be my new normal.
I’m not on some new diet fad. I’m not trying to lose weight. I’m just trying to be the healthiest me possible and if that means goodbye dairy and goodbye pasta, cookies, cakes, cupcakes, pancakes, bread, rolls, crackers, BBQ sauce, gravy, taco seasoning etc. – then so be it. I’ll be updating my blog with little things that I find along the way that are gluten-free and dairy-free and taste good for any of you out there who are also suffering from the same types of issues.
I’m super thankful to have a supportive husband, family, and a group of friends who understand and try to make my adjustment as easy and non-depriving as possible.